Libya

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 22 July 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Safety and Security: Terrorism (Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so; some evidence that recent attacks have targeted foreign workers). We continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel to Libya due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the ongoing threat of kidnapping and the unpredictable security situation throughout the country. Australians who choose to remain in Libya should ensure that they have appropriate personal security measures in place.

Libya overall

Summary

  • We strongly advise you not to travel to Libya due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the ongoing threat of kidnapping and the unpredictable security situation throughout the country. Australians remaining in Libya should ensure that they have appropriate personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice, have contingency plans and take out kidnapping insurance.
  • Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so.
  • Acts of terrorism in Libya are frequent and focus on Libyan government and Western interests. Acts of terrorism occur throughout Libya, most notably in the region around Benghazi, but also in the southern desert regions and in Tripoli.
  • Tripoli and Misrata International Airports are closed until further notice following clashes between armed groups in the areas around the airport. Contact your airline for information on flight disruptions.
  • The United Nations has temporarily reduced its staff numbers at its support mission in Libya due to safety and security concerns.
  • Well-armed militias remain unchecked in many parts of Libya, and serious security incidents are frequent.
  • Australians in Libya who require consular assistance should contact the Australian Embassy in Rome on +39 06 85 2721 or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24-hour Consular Operations Centre on +61 2 62613305 (see under Where to get help for details).
  • You should be aware that the Australian government’s ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Libya remains extremely limited.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Libya for the most up to date information.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from Libya.

Travellers whose passport contains evidence of entry to Israel or to other-country border crossings with Israel will be refused entry.

You should enter Libya at official border crossing sites. Travellers who are unable to provide evidence they entered at an official border crossing may be detained. You should register your passports with the police station closest to your accommodation. Failure to do so may result in fines and problems during your stay or on departure.

Under Libyan law, children born to Libyan fathers are considered as Libyan citizens and therefore need their father's permission to depart Libya.

A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Libya if you are arriving from a country endemic for yellow fever. The World Health Organization provides a list of countries endemic for yellow fever.

Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of Libya. If in doubt, check with your airline.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We strongly advise you not to travel to Libya because of the unsettled security situation and the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping. Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime and anywhere in Libya, including at places frequented by foreigners. Australians in Libya should depart immediately if it is safe to do so. Should you choose to remain in Libya, despite this advice, you should ensure you have appropriate personal security measures in place. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

The US Government issued a Travel Warning on 27 May 2014 warning US citizens against all travel to Libya and recommending that US citizens in Libya depart immediately. We recommend you do the same if it is safe to do so.

There has been some evidence that recent attacks in Libya have deliberately targeted foreign workers, including the reported killing of a Filipino worker following his kidnap on 15 July 2014. Increased violence across Libya, notably in Benghazi and Tripoli, has resulted in residential areas coming under direct attack.

Acts of terrorism in Libya are frequent and are primarily conducted by extremist militia groups, including former regime loyalists, nationalists and religious extremist groups. Attacks occur throughout Libya, most notably in the region around Benghazi, but also in the southern desert regions and Tripoli. Terrorists may use small arms, rocket-propelled grenades or improvised explosive devices in attacks. Attacks typically target Libyan Government or security interests and increasingly, Western interests, in particular diplomatic and international non-government organisations.

As of 13 July 2014, Tripoli and Misrata International Airports are closed until further notice following clashes between armed groups in the areas around the airport.

Recent attacks on Western interests include:

  • On 5 July 2014, three foreign nationals were kidnapped in Zuwara. Two of the abductees were released on 7 July.
  • On 4 June 2014, a Swiss humanitarian worker was shot dead by gunmen in Sirte.
  • On 20 January 2014, a South Korean official was kidnapped in Tripoli.
  • On 17 January 2014, two Italian nationals were kidnapped near the eastern port city of Derna.
  • On 2 January 2014, two foreign nationals were murdered at Mellitah, west of Tripoli.
  • On 5 December 2013, a US citizen working as a teacher was murdered in Benghazi.
  • On 11 October 2013, a car bomb exploded in front of the Swedish and Finnish consulates in Benghazi.
  • On 2 October 2013, the Russian Embassy in Tripoli was fired upon by gunmen.
  • On 23 July 2013, an improvised bomb hit an apartment building in Tripoli in the vicinity of Tripoli Towers (office complex) and the Corinthia Hotel, both frequented by foreigners.
  • On 11 June 2013, the official vehicle of two Italian diplomats was bombed shortly after the two individuals had exited the vehicle.
  • On 23 April 2013, a car bomb detonated outside the French Embassy in Tripoli causing a number of injuries.
  • In January 2013 shots were fired at the vehicle carrying the Italian Consul in Benghazi.
  • On 11 September 2012, an armed attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi resulted in the death of the US Ambassador and a number of staff.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, office buildings, restaurants, schools, places of worship, outdoor recreation events, public transport, embassies, markets and shopping areas, historic sites and tourist areas. Significant concentrations of foreign workers in remote locations may also be targeted.

There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping in Libya and foreigners have been targeted. Such kidnappings are more likely in sparsely populated border areas. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border areas with southern Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Sudan, or undertake cross-border travel between these countries, because of banditry, the presence of armed tribal groups and the very high risk of kidnapping by terrorists.

Civil unrest/Political tension

We strongly advise you not to travel to Libya due to the unpredictable security situation throughout the country. If you are in Libya and fear for your safety you should depart if it is safe to do so.

A General National Congress was elected at elections in July 2012. The Congress elected a new Prime Minister in October 2012. The authorities are yet to exert their influence fully over the entire country. Well-armed militias remain unchecked in many parts of Libya, and serious security incidents are frequent. On 10 October 2013, the Prime Minister was taken by force from the Corinthia Hotel and later released. In October 2013, an Australian working in Libya was detained by militia in Zintan. The security environment remains fragile and further incidents are likely.

The United Nations has temporarily reduced its staff numbers at its support mission in Libya due to safety and security concerns,

Public demonstrations often occur in the central squares of Libya’s cities, and may turn violent without warning. You should avoid all political gatherings and demonstrations. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring you should either leave, if it is safe to do so, or remain indoors and away from windows.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Australians who choose to remain in Libya should be aware that violent clashes between armed militia and tribes may occur across the country. Political violence increased throughout 2012 and 2013, particularly in Tripoli and Benghazi where a number of assassinations and car bombings have occurred. In June 2012, Libyan authorities declared warring mountain towns in the country’s west a ‘military zone’.

Major demonstrations, involving the display of heavy arms, occurred in Tripoli throughout April and May 2013, with further violent demonstrations (with dozens killed) in Benghazi. In November 2013, there were armed clashes between militiasin Tripoli, resulting in the deaths of 43 people. The situation across Libya is unpredictable and security incidents can arise and escalate quickly. Against this background, Australians should be aware that the Australian government’s ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Libya remains limited.

Australians in Libya who require consular assistance should contact the Australian Embassy in Rome on +39 06 85 2721 or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia .

Crime

There is a high risk of crime in Libya as law and order has broken down in many parts of the country. Violent crime continues to be a problem in Tripoli, Benghazi and other parts of Libya. There have been reports of car-jackings targeting foreign-owned vehicles. There have also been a number of reports of robbery by armed groups. Due to the presence of a large number of weapons there is a heightened risk of violent crime.

Money and valuables

Libya is a cash society and credit card use is extremely limited. Accessing money from banks may be difficult, as some banking services may be disrupted due to the security situation. Travellers' cheques are not accepted and the number of ATMs is extremely limited.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Replacing a passport incurs an additional fee. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports. For further information, see Lost or stolen passport.

Local travel

Tripoli and Misrata International Airports are closed until further notice. A no fly zone has been enforced in Western Libya following clashes between armed groups in the region. Contact your airline for information on flight disruptions.

There have been reports of violence and armed robberies targeting vehicles seeking to depart Libya by road, including to Tunisia. You should not attempt to depart Libya via southern Algeria, Chad, Sudan, or Niger due to the very high threat of kidnapping in those areas. Borders may also be closed at short notice.

Although road conditions are reasonable throughout Libya, driving standards are poor and the volume of traffic is heavy. Wind-blown sand can reduce visibility quickly. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Visitors are required to carry identification documents at all times.

Large numbers of unexploded ordnance and landmines remain in the country as a result of the 2011 revolution, much of which has not been secured.

Airline safety

Commercial airlines are operating normally, although occasional disruptions have occurred in response to specific security threats.

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Libya, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

The rule of law is being re-established in Libya. You should not assume that police services are fully operational in all parts of the country.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Other serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Libya and punishments include imprisonment.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Libya and punishments include a minimum three years imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

There are severe penalties for importing and consuming alcohol in Libya.

Photography around military zones, assets and personnel and police assets and personnel is illegal and may result in arrest and detention.

Foreigners involved in business disputes may have their passports confiscated and/or may not be permitted to depart Libya until the dispute has been settled.

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law.

The penalty for illegally exporting antiquities is three years imprisonment plus compensation for any damage caused.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around 28 June 2014 and finish on or around 27 July 2014. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Libya. You should take care not to offend.

Information for Dual Nationals

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Under Libyan law, children born to Libyan fathers are considered as Libyan citizens and therefore need their father's permission to depart Libya.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller’s medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Libya are limited and some medicines are in short supply. Medical facilities in remote areas can be very limited or non-existent. Travellers may wish to consider carrying limited medical supplies for personal use. Foreigners will be required to pay an up-front deposit for medical services. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable (over $A50,000).

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, plague and measles) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australians in Libya can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Rome, Italy:

Australian Embassy, Rome

Via Antonio Bosio 5
00161 Rome, ITALY
Telephone: (39) 06 85 2721
Facsimile: (39) 06 85 272 300
Email: consular-rome@dfat.gov.au
Website: http://www.italy.embassy.gov.au/

We encourage all Australians in Libya to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season extends from November to March. Temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius between June and September. You should follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.