Fire and rescue services
Reconsider your need to travel to Eritrea overall due to the high risk of instability and violence.
Higher levels apply in some areas.
Reconsider your need to travel to Eritrea overall due to the high risk of instability and violence.
Higher levels apply in some areas.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Instability is a risk in Eritrea. However, Asmara is relatively stable.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Avoid demonstrations and protests. Monitor the media for news that may affect your security and safety.
In response to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the Eritrean Government has called for a mobilisation of its armed forces. Additional security measures may be introduced at short notice in Asmara and across the country. If you're in Eritrea, you should remain vigilant at this time.
In 2020, there were reports of explosions in Asmara as a result of rockets launched from the ongoing military conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. Further attacks are possible. Exercise extreme caution and follow the advice of local authorities.
Eritrea has extensive unmarked minefields, mainly near the border with Ethiopia. Don't travel within 25km of the border, except for the town of Senafe.
All border crossings between Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently closed - travellers should check local advice before proceeding to the border.
It's not clear where or to what extent de-mining has taken place. Walking and hiking in rural areas may be dangerous.
In most places, the border is neither marked nor obvious.
Conflict and instability between Eritrea and Sudan has created a dangerous situation. There's a high threat of robbery and violence from bandits and insurgents, including bomb attacks. There are ongoing reports of armed groups operating in and around the border area.
Conflict and instability between Eritrea and Djibouti since 2008 creates a high risk within 25km of the border.
Kidnapping is a risk in Eritrea.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to an area where there's a risk of kidnapping:
Street crime is rare but happens in cities and towns, including Asmara. Don't walk around alone late at night.
Robbery and violence are common:
Many local people access weapons under the government's civilian militia program. There's no evidence that these weapons have increased the threat of violent crime.
No recent terrorist attacks have occurred in Eritrea, but they can happen.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Get information on natural disasters from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
In the rainy season from June to September, you may not be able to use unsealed roads in the western lowlands.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
If you have immediate concerns for your welfare, or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Eritrea. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
It may take some time to adjust to the high altitude and low oxygen levels of Asmara and surrounds.
If you suffer from a heart condition or high blood pressure, get medical advice before you travel.
Malaria occurs throughout the year in Eritrea.
Other insect-borne disease risks include:
There are no current reports of Zika virus outbreaks in Eritrea. However, there have been past outbreaks in Africa.
To protect yourself against diseases spread by insects:
Consider taking medicine to prevent malaria.
HIV/AIDS is a risk for travellers. Take precautions if taking part in activities that put you at risk of infection.
Outbreaks of polio have occurred in countries across the Horn of Africa.
Check your polio vaccination status with your doctor or travel clinic at least 8 weeks before you travel. You may need a booster dose.
If you aren't vaccinated, complete the full course of vaccinations before you leave.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are widespread. These diseases include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get urgent medical help if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
Asmara has 3 public hospitals. Public hospitals in other towns have few facilities. Elsewhere, medical facilities are even more limited.
Medicines are often unavailable and can be expensive. Carry a full medical pack if you travel away from large towns.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
There have been recent incidents where Eritrean authorities have refused consular access to detained foreigners.
The Australian Government may not be able to provide fast or full consular help to Australians held in Eritrea.
Penalties for drug-related crimes are severe and include long prison sentences.
Serious crimes may attract the death penalty or physical punishment.
In Eritrea it's illegal to:
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Eritrea doesn't recognise dual nationality.
If you're a dual national, this limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
Always travel on your Australian passport.
Australian males who hold Eritrean citizenship may need to enter military service when they return to Eritrea.
Dual nationals who enter on an Eritrean identity card rather than an Eritrean passport will need an exit visa from the Immigration Office in Asmara.
If you're an Eritrean-Australian dual national, get advice from the nearest embassy or consulate of Eritrea before you travel.
Standards of dress and behaviour are strict in Eritrea. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, ask for local advice.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering.
You'll need a visa to enter Eritrea.
Entry and exit requirements can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy of Eritrea for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Some international flights into and from Asmara have resumed but remain limited. Check with your airline.
You need an exit permit to leave Eritrea. It can take a long time to get one. The Immigration Department may deny you a permit.
The Australian Government cannot influence the Eritrean Immigration Department to issue exit permits.
You must pay a departure tax in US dollars. You're exempt if you hold a valid Eritrean resident permit. Ask local authorities about the cost of the departure tax because the amount may change.
You may need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Eritrea, especially if you're arriving from a country where yellow fever is common. You'll also need to have one when you leave.
Find out about returning to Australia after exposure to yellow fever.
Declare all electronic items when you arrive. These include:
If you don't declare them, Eritrean customs officials could confiscate the items when you leave.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Eritrean Nafka (ERN). Currency controls are in place.
There's no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can bring into the country over 10,000 US dollars or equivalent on entering the country. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash. Make sure you have had your complete foreign currency declaration form approved and stamped before you leave the airport.
Any foreign currency used in Eritrea must be exchanged or used legally. You must have proof of this when you leave.
Access to money
Eritrea's economy is completely cash-based. There are no credit card or ATM facilities in Eritrea. You'll need to pay for everything in cash. Most hotels in Eritrea will require you to settle your hotel bill in US dollars.
It's illegal to change money anywhere other than at a branch of the state foreign currency exchange in one of the 'Himbol' exchanges in town. Some officially recognised hotels can accept foreign currency. Otherwise, it's illegal to use foreign currencies in Eritrea.
You can't take more than 500 Nafka out of Eritrea. Authorities could prosecute you if you do. Nakfa aren’t convertible outside Eritrea. You should convert any excess Nakfa back to hard currency at one of the ’Himbol’ exchanges in town, as there are limits to what can be converted at the ’Himbol’ branch at the airport. You will need the original currency transaction receipt.
Landline, mobile telephone and internet services are unreliable.
Local SIM cards aren't available to non-residents.
Eritrean mobile phone providers don't have agreements with international providers. International roaming may not be available.
Contact your telecommunication provider before travelling.
You must apply ahead for a travel permit to leave Asmara and the surrounding province of Zoba Maekel. Ministries in Asmara process applications.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry handles business travel applications.
The Ministry of Tourism on Harnet Avenue in Asmara handles tourist travel applications.
It usually takes around 24 hours to process applications.
When applying for permission to travel outside of Asmara, give details of your car.
If you're living or working outside of Asmara and want to travel outside your normal area of work or home, you need a travel permit. Apply at your local Zonal Administration Office. Travel applications can take several days to process. Sometimes they're refused or delayed.
Our consular services are severely limited outside Asmara. This includes emergency assistance. Australian consular officials often face long delays to get visas to enter Eritrea. Once in Eritrea, Australian officials must then apply for a permit to travel outside Asmara.
To drive in Eritrea, you must get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you arrive. Otherwise, contact local authorities to get a local licence.
There are extensive mine fields in Eritrea, especially in border areas. Driving on main roads outside of border areas is generally safe. Driving on rural roads and off-road driving can be dangerous. Avoid travel after dark in rural areas. Road signage and barriers are scarce, and steep drops are common. In many parts of the country roads are difficult or impassable during the rainy season.
Roads are sealed between the cities of Asmara, Massawa, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Baretun and Keren. Roads leading to smaller villages are unsealed.
Road maintenance isn't consistent in mountainous regions and steep sloping areas. Narrow winding roads with crumbling edges often don't have safety barriers.
Avoid using motorcycles, particularly in rural areas where standards of driving and road maintenance are lower.
Check with your travel insurer to see if your policy covers riding a motorcycle.
Always wear a helmet.
Use only licensed taxis or reputable limousine services. You can arrange this through your hotel.
Maintenance standards on buses may be lower than in Australia.
Travellers are sometimes not allowed to use public transport to travel outside of Asmara. You may need to rent a limousine or use a private taxi.
Before you arrive, you must get permission and an entry visa to arrive in Eritrea by sea.
Commercial vessels that don't have agreements with Eritrean authorities should avoid Eritrean territorial waters. The Eritrean government has taken control of ships that didn't have an agreement. This has led to lengthy detention for international crew members.
Piracy is a high threat in the coastal areas of Eritrea. Pirate attacks happen against all forms of vessels in and around Eritrea's waters and the Gulf of Aden.
All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, yachts and luxury cruise liners. Stay alert and take extra precautions when anywhere near these waters.
We can't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Eritrea's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Emergency services and the telephone network in Eritrea are unreliable but they exist.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
The Australian Government may not be able to provide consular help if you're detained in Eritrea. Eritrean authorities don't always tell the relevant embassy when foreign nationals need consular help.
Australia doesn't have an embassy or consulate in Eritrea. The Australian Embassy in Cairo provides consular services to Australians in Eritrea.
Australian consular officials often face long delays in getting visas to enter Eritrea or to travel outside of Asmara. These delays severely limit consular help to Australians in Eritrea, especially outside of Asmara.
The Eritrean authorities may not inform the relevant Embassy if a foreign national is in need of help and there have been recent instances where the Eritrean authorities have refused consular access to detained foreign nationals.
If you need consular help, contact the Australian Embassy in Cairo.
11th floor, World Trade Centre
1191 Corniche el Nil
Boulac, Cairo, Egypt
Telephone: +20 2 2770 6600
Facsimile: +20 2 2770 6650
Facebook: Australian Embassy in Egypt
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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