Depending on what you need, contact your:
- family and friends
- travel agent
- insurance provider
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Do not travel to Somalia due to the high risk of terrorist attack, kidnapping, armed conflict and violent crime.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Terror attacks happen very often in Somalia. Terror attacks can take place anywhere, at any time.
Somali militants have threatened attacks throughout the country. This includes in Mogadishu, Puntland and Somaliland. They have the proven capacity to carry out such attacks.
Mogadishu International Airport is a high-priority target because of the large numbers of Westerners there. Terrorists have targeted aircraft and airports.
Many recent attacks have targeted Somali government officials, foreigners and UN workers.
Significant recent attacks include:
Deadly attacks against government targets, including buildings, are common.
Westerners and people working for international organisations and the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are also targets.
Many attacks involve multiple explosions, car bombs and armed gunmen.
Other possible targets for attacks include:
Days of national significance and religious festivals such as Ramadan have seen more attacks than usual.
Somalia isn't safe. It doesn't have an effective police force.
Don't travel to Somalia, or leave Somalia as soon as possible.
If, despite our advice, you decide to stay:
To reduce your risks if there's an attack:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
The kidnapping risk is very high in all parts of Somalia. This includes Puntland and Somaliland.
Kidnappers may be motivated by crime or terrorism.
Many foreigners, including those of Somali descent, have been kidnapped in Somalia.
Armed groups in Somalia have held Westerners kidnapped from Kenya.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
Don't travel to Somalia. If, despite our advice, you are there, leave Somalia as soon as possible. Until you can leave:
Residential areas and markets in south-central Somalia have experienced shootings and grenade attacks.
If you're in Somalia despite our advice:
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
There's no effective police force in Somalia. There's a breakdown in law and order. Lawlessness, clan violence and looting are common.
Anti-Western attitudes are strong in some parts of Somalia. Foreigners are sometimes violently harassed. This includes people of Somali descent.
Droughts and delayed rainfall in southern and central Somalia have added to the unstable security environment. Areas bordering Ethiopia and Kenya are also affected.
Food shortages and military attacks have left thousands of people without a home. This has led to more disease and more crime.
If you're in Somalia despite our advice:
HIV/AIDS is widespread. If you're a victim of violent crime, including rape, see a doctor as soon as possible.
If, despite our advice, you travel to or stay in Somalia and a natural disaster occurs:
If you're near the coast, move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities, or if you:
Don't wait for official warnings, such as alarms or sirens. Once on high ground, check local media.
Somalia's weather can be extreme. There are regular droughts and floods.
Because of severe weather, many areas of Somalia suffer from food shortages. Thousands of people are left without a place to live. This leads to more disease and higher security threats to foreigners.
Somalia is often very hot. The average maximum temperature can be more than 45˚C.
Stay out of the sun and drink water to avoid dehydration.
The monsoon season runs from May to October in the south-west. It's from December to February in the north-east.
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.
You'll need a specialised insurance policy that covers travel to high-risk destinations. Most Australian policies won't cover you for travel to Somalia.
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.
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 Somalia. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Malaria occurs throughout the year in all parts of Somalia. Current treatments aren't effective against some strains.
Other insect-borne diseases also occur. These include:
To protect yourself from disease:
Get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel.
Consider taking medicine to prevent malaria.
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) called the spread of wild poliovirus a 'public health emergency of international concern'. It issued recommendations that may affect travel to Somalia.
To protect yourself against polio:
If you're staying longer than 4 weeks, you'll need to show proof on exit that you've had the polio vaccine or a booster within the past 12 months. If you don't, you may need to be vaccinated before leaving Somalia.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Somalia is high.
Protect yourself from infection if engaging in activities that expose you to risk.
If you're a victim of violent crime, including rape, get medical help as soon as possible.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common. These include:
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Medical facilities in Somalia are extremely limited.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a place with suitable facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive. It can also be difficult to organise.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
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.
Somalia hasn't signed the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations.
If you're arrested or detained, you may not be able to contact the Australian Government or access consular services.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. They may include prison and heavy fines.
Courts operate under both Somali and sharia law.
Strict sharia law is in force in areas under Al-Shabaab control. Sentences include physical punishments such as flogging and the death penalty.
Get professional advice on local legal matters, particularly about:
Be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
Criminal laws are enforced inconsistently in Somalia. Due process isn't always followed.
Same-sex relations are illegal in Somalia. Punishments under strict sharia law include flogging or death.
It's also illegal to preach a religion other than Islam in Puntland or Somaliland.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
It's illegal to support military activities of any armed group in Somalia without permission from the Australian Government. This includes:
If you're an Australian-Somali dual national, Somali officials will treat you as Somali.
You may not be able to contact the Australian Government if you're arrested or detained. Consular help may be limited.
Strict conservative standards of dress and behaviour are followed in Somalia. If in doubt, ask for local advice.
The Islamic holiday month of Ramadan will be from late April to late May in 2020. Respect religious and cultural customs and laws at this time.
Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and around people who are fasting.
Don't travel to Somalia. If you're in Somalia, leave straight away if it's safe to.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can't help you.
Entry and exit requirements can change. Contact a Consulate-General of Somalia for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Consulates-General and other diplomatic missions of Somalia have connections with the central government. However, the central government's authority isn't recognised everywhere.
Visas might not be valid in areas where the central government's authority is challenged.
Permanent Representative of the Somali Republic to the United Nations
425 East 61st Street, Suite 702
New York, 10021, United States
Phone: (+212) 688 9410/5046
Fax: (+212) 759 0651
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 Somali Shilling (SOS). US dollars are widely accepted.
The government regulates currency transfer and exchange.
Australian currency, credit cards and traveller's cheques aren't accepted.
ATMs are usually not available.
Landmines are a danger throughout Somalia.
Road travel in Somalia is dangerous.
Hazards include terrorism, poor road conditions, landmines and criminal activity.
Illegal roadblocks are common. See Safety
If you need to travel by road:
Pirate attacks in and around Somalia's waters, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden are a serious threat. This includes far off the Somali coast.
Pirates are heavily armed.
Attractive targets for pirates include:
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) publishes piracy reports.
Don't travel in Somali waters or surrounds.
To protect yourself if you need to travel by boat in Somali waters or surrounds:
Mogadishu International Airport is a high-priority target for attack due to the presence of Westerners.
Other airports and aircraft are also possible targets for terror attacks.
In February 2016, a bomb exploded on a commercial flight to Djibouti from Mogadishu. The terrorists carried the explosive device onto the plane.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Somalia's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
The security situation in Somalia limits the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular help.
Australia doesn't have a diplomatic mission in Somalia. Contact the Australian High Commission in Kenya for consular help.
Check the High Commission 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:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.