Fire and rescue services
Call 1122 or 16.
Call 1122 or 115, or go to the nearest hospital.
Call 15 or visit the nearest police station.
We haven't changed our level of advice.
Reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan due to the security situation and high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and violence.
Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.
Do not travel to Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (excluding Chitral district) and border areas with Afghanistan and India (excluding Lahore, Wagah, Kasur, Narowal and Sialkot).
Do not travel to:
Full travel advice: Safety
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Full travel advice: Local contacts
In 2018, all agencies and tribal regons consisting of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) became part of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province. All recommendations in this travel advice for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa include these former regions of FATA.
Many terrorist groups hostile to Western interests operate in Pakistan. The threat of attack remains very high, especially in Baluchistan and KPK provinces.
Counter-terrorism operations occur across the country. There are fewer terrorist attacks in Pakistan now than in recent years, but they've become more lethal.
Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere and at any time.
Many terrorist attacks in Pakistan have involved multiple explosions, one after the other.
Security officials may cut mobile phone services. This can occur when the threat of terrorism is high or straight after an incident.
If you must go to Chitral district or Gilgit Baltistan, travel by commerical aircraft and not by road, as the safety and security risks are significant.
Since April 2019, the following attacks have occurred:
In 2018, other large-scale or notable attacks include:
In the past, terror attacks have targeted the Pakistani government, military and police including:
Terror attacks have also targeted:
Terrorists may target places associated with foreigners or Westerners, including:
Militants may mount attacks in the days leading up to and on days of national or commemorative significance. These include:
Due to the high threat of terror attack, Australian officials in Pakistan use enhanced security measures at all times. The Australian Government has a 'no children at post' policy for Islamabad.
The Australian Government has also advised staff to:
For the same reasons, the British High Commission and US Embassy often restrict movements of their staff in Pakistan.
They often apply these restrictions at short notice. Areas put 'out of bounds' tend to include markets, shopping centres, restaurants and hotels.
Discuss security issues with tour providers before travelling.
Ask about safety from local business partners and universities before you travel to Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi for business or academic reasons. Take security precautions.
If, despite the risks, you travel to Pakistan, be very cautious and avoid:
When you plan your activities receive updates on the level of security both at venues and your route to them.
Subscribe to this travel advice to stay up to date on new terror threats, and monitor:
Those websites will also contain updates on restrictions on movement that apply to their diplomatic staff.
Check flight status and airport operations before each of your flights.
There's a high threat of kidnapping of foreign nationals across the whole of Pakistan, but it's higher in:
On 25 May 2017, kidnappers took and later killed 2 Chinese nationals in Quetta, Balochistan.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
If, despite the risks, you decide to travel to an area where there's a threat of kidnapping:
The security situation in Pakistan is volatile. It could get worse at short notice.
Political and religious groups often stage protests across the country. These can draw large groups of people and turn violent.
International events and political developments both in the region and elsewhere can prompt demonstrations or violent protests. Western interests can become targets of violence.
In response authorities may suspend mobile phone networks and close roads and highways at short notice.
To stay safe during a period of unrest:
Political, sectarian and gang violence occurs often in Karachi. Many people have died as a result of this violence.
The situation has improved in the past few years. There is a higher level of public security across much of the city, with police and paramilitary rangers conducting counter-terrorism operations in the city from time to time.
Reprisal attacks by militants or criminals can occur anywhere.
Cross-border tensions increase security risks in the regions bordering Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military has ongoing operations in these border areas.
Foreigners are prohibited from travelling within 50km of the border with Afghanistan in Gilgit Baltistan. However, it is legal to cross the border at official crossings.
Attacks against government, security and military interests in Balochistan are very likely. Attacks are also likely against infrastructure for:
If you must go to Chitral district, travel by commercial aircraft and not by road.
There's continuing tension between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir. This follows air force incidents over border areas of Kashmir in February 2019 and the announcement by the Government of India on 5 August 2019 of constitutional changes that will affect the internal political status of Kashmir.
If tensions between Pakistan and India rise again, airspace restrictions may be imposed with little or no warning. This may impact an airline's ability to operate flights, and your ability to quickly leave the country.
Higher security is in place where Pakistan borders India. This reflects the volatile security situation.
Foreigners are prohibited from travelling within 15km of the Kashmir Line of Control and the entire border with India. However, it is legal to cross the border at official crossings. There are ongoing militant attacks and security responses at the Line of Control.
The situation is somewhat more stable in the border region cities of:
Violent crime occurs in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in major cities. This includes:
Incidents can increase around major religious holidays.
Recently, incidents have occurred with people posing as police officers with fake police ID cards. This has occurred in cities across Pakistan, including Islamabad.
Petty crime is common. It can include pickpocketing and theft of mobile phones.
Sexual harassement of women occurs. Travelling alone can pose more of a risk.
Firing guns into the air (in celebration) is common across Pakistan, but it's illegal. It tends to occur on major holidays and at celebrations and sporting victories.
On 1 January 2017, celebratory gunfire killed 20 people in Karachi.
Be careful of celebratory gunfire, especially around major holidays, celebrations and after sporting victories.
Be alert to your surroundings. Pay attention to your safety and security and:
The Pakistan Meteorological Department offers weather warnings.
If a natural disaster occurs:
The monsoon season is July to September. During this time, flooding and landslides can occur. They can happen with little warning.
In the past, floods have affected millions of people and caused many deaths.
During floods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply.
The risk of contracting a waterborne disease stays high after flood waters go down.
Floods often hinder services and transport.
Some mountainous areas of Pakistan experience avalanches in winter.
Cyclones can occur in coastal areas.
Pakistan is in an active seismic zone and experiences earthquakes.
Coastal areas are also at risk of tsunamis. Be alert to warnings. A tsunami could quickly follow a tremor or earthquake.
If near the coast, move to high ground straight away if:
Don't wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media and weather services.
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.
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 Pakistan. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:
There's an outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid fever.
To reduce your risks:
Malaria is common in Pakistan, except in areas above 2000m. Chloroquine- and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine-resistant strains of malaria have been reported.
Other insect-borne diseases occur, including:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur. In late 2019, there has been a severe outbreak of dengue.
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
HIV/AIDS is common. Take precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Many Pakistanis, including children, have recently been reported as HIV+ in interior areas of Sindh Province.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is widespread.
In February 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated its assessment that wild poliovirus was a 'public health emergency of international concern'. WHO extended its temporary recommendations.
Before you leave, make sure your polio vaccinations are up to date. This includes getting a booster dose, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
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 Pakistan.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are common. They include:
More serious outbreaks occur from time to time.
There have been periodic reports of cholera cases in Sindh.
Reports of skin infections, acute diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections usually increase after flooding.
Some bottled water may be contaminated.
The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources produces reports that list safe and unsafe bottled water brand names. Reports are available under the publications and information tab.
To protect yourself from illness:
Seek medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Air pollution is an environmental health risk in Pakistan. The risk is higher during winter, particularly in much of Punjab.
Take precautions when increased levels are recorded.
Medical facilities at a small number of clinics and hospitals in major cities are close to Western standards. However, in most towns, and in rural and remote areas, facilities are extremely limited.
Before they'll admit you, hospitals in Pakistan usually require you to either:
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to evacuate to somewhere with more suitable facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
If you have an accident while hiking or undertaking other adventure activities in the north of Pakistan, medical evacuation can take days and requires your insurance company to guarantee the payment of the flights.
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.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty.
Penalties for small amounts of drugs include:
Australian parents of Pakistani origin have sometimes had trouble leaving Pakistan with their children.
This has happened when one parent refuses to let the children return to Australia. If that parent withholds the children's passports, the other parent can't bring the children back to Australia.
Plan carefully if you think this could happen to you. Before you leave Australia:
The death penalty can apply to crimes including terrorism, murder, rape, blasphemy and unlawful assembly.
Corporal punishment is rare, but can be a penalty for some offences. These include:
Other activities that are illegal in Pakistan include:
Be careful about religious sensitivities. It's illegal to:
Some provinces have banned kite flying. This ban was due to fortified kite strings that have injured or killed people.
These types of strings occur on kites used in kite-fighting competitions. Competitors sometimes coat their kite strings with metal, crushed glass or chemicals to help cut opponents' kite strings.
There's also a ban on the sale of kite equipment and the use of premises to fly kites.
Don't bring kites with you, or fly kites, in Pakistan.
Pakistan recognises dual citizenship.
If you or your father were born in Pakistan, authorities may consider you to be a Pakistani national. This applies even if you don't hold a Pakistani passport.
If you're a dual citizen, this limits the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
Always travel on your Australian passport.
There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Pakistan.
Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice. Also:
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 in the presence of people who are fasting.
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.
You'll need a visa to enter Pakistan.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the Pakistan High Commission for details about visas, currency, customs and other travel requirements.
To exit Pakistan, you must have either:
Authorities may stop you from boarding your flight if your visa has expired. You could also face heavy penalties, including fines and detention.
Take care not to overstay your visa.
If your visa has expired, contact the Ministry of Interior to get an exit visa.
You may need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Pakistan from a country with yellow fever.
If a child travels unaccompanied, or with only 1 parent or guardian, local immigration authorities may ask for either:
This is particularly the case if the child is of Pakistani origin.
Some provinces and cities require you to register with local authorities when you arrive.
Check and follow local registration procedures.
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:
If you're a dual national and hold a Pakistani passport, seek advice about when to use it.
Use your Australian passport to leave from and return to Australia.
The local currency is the Pakistan Rupee (PKR).
US dollars and euros are the easiest currencies to change.
ATMs are widely available in urban areas, though fraud occurs.
International hotels and some shops in major centres accept credit cards.
Pakistan is mostly a cash-based society. Arrange to have enough local currency to meet your needs.
To drive in Pakistan, you need both:
You must get your IDP before you leave Australia.
If you're a long-term resident, you can apply for a local driver's licence. To apply, you have to take a road sign test and provide:
Road travel in Pakistan is hazardous.
You're 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Pakistan than in Australia. Road accidents are a common cause of death and injury.
Hazards include bad roads and poor driving standards.
Severe flooding of major waterways occurs regularly. This causes widespread damage to transport infrastructure.
Dense fog and snow in northern Pakistan during the winter months can disrupt road travel. Motorways may close until the fog lifts.
Check you have the right insurance cover before driving.
To reduce your risk on the road:
Check your insurance policy covers you using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Don't use taxis due to security concerns. Never hail a taxi on the street.
Use transport services from accredited tour operators and hotels.
Australian High Commission staff must not use taxis or other ride sharing services.
Avoid using public transport due to frequent accidents and security concerns. This includes buses and trains.
Only use transport services provided by accredited tour operators and hotels.
Terrorists have targeted Pakistan's civil aviation facilities.
Security at airports has increased, but attacks could occur in the future.
Dense fog, especially in northern Pakistan during the winter months, can also disrupt air travel. Airports may close until the fog lifts.
If you plan to fly within Pakistan:
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Pakistan's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 1122 or 16.
Call 1122 or 115, or go to the nearest hospital.
Call 15 or visit the nearest police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
The Australian High Commission in Islamabad sometimes closes to the public at short notice if security concerns arise.
Always call before going to the High Commission.
Constitution Avenue and Ispahani Road
Diplomatic Enclave No. 1
Phone: (+92) 51 835 5500
Fax: (+92) 51 282 0112
Facebook: Australia in Pakistan
Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
The Australian High Commission is in the diplomatic enclave.
The Pakistani Government restricts access to the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad for security reasons.
You can only access the enclave if you first schedule an appointment with the High Commission.
If you have an appointment, you can access the enclave by using the Diplomatic Shuttle Service (DSS). You can also visit using a private vehicle or on foot.
The DSS office and bus station is on the corner of Third Avenue (Quaid-e-Azam University Road) and Murree Road.
You can buy bus tickets at the DSS office.
Arrive at the shuttle bus station at least 1 hour before your appointment to allow time for security checks.
Find out more about the DSS by calling 051 260 1521 or 051 260 1524.
To enter the enclave by car or on foot, the Diplomatic Protection Department needs to clear you in advance.
Arrange this clearance through the Australian High Commission.
Once you get entry clearance, you can enter the enclave by vehicle or on foot from either:
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.