Armed conflict can escalate rapidly, making the security situation volatile and becoming a threat to your safety. Your ability to leave a country may be impacted. Flight availability could change or be suspended at short notice. You should not rely on the Australian Government to evacuate you.
This page provides information about:
- what to do if armed conflict is threatening to break out, or has broken out
- where to get help
- how the Australian Government can help you overseas
This page is for Australians already travelling overseas. If you're looking for information about staying safe and avoiding problems, see our general information and advice about armed conflict.
What to do if armed conflict is threatening to break out
Be aware that this is general advice. Every armed conflict has unique risks. Regularly check the travel advice for your destination, for information specific to the situation.
- Stay safe and avoid danger
- Contact your loved ones
- Make plans to leave or shelter in place
- Follow instructions from local authorities
- Stay up to date
- Contact us if you need urgent help
1. Stay safe and avoid danger
If you're in a destination where armed conflict has broken out, or is threatening to break out, take all extra precautions for your safety. Your safety is your first priority.
Stay in a safe place and limit your movements.
If you have a need to go out and about, adopt effective personal security measures.
- Always be alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds.
- Keep a low profile. Avoid standing out or looking like a tourist.
- Have a list of emergency contacts on you.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations or large crowds are gathering.
- Avoid areas with large numbers of armed forces.
- If you’re out and notice something suspicious, leave the area immediately.
- Don’t take photos of security forces or local authorities. You may appear suspicious and put yourself at risk.
The Australian Government can't guarantee your safety and security in another country.
In some destinations experiencing conflict, security forces have inspected the personal phones and laptops of travellers at checkpoints. Consider what information you’re storing on your devices, including photos and social media accounts. Especially if they may link you to political causes or social views that could put you at risk.
2. Contact your loved ones
Tell family and friends where, and how, you are. If they've heard about the conflict from the news, they'll fear for your safety.
Contact them as soon as possible. Don't wait. You may find it difficult to do so later. Especially if communication infrastructure is damaged in the conflict. Or if local authorities disable infrastructure, or block the internet, to control the flow of information
3. Make plans to leave or shelter in place
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether to remain in your current location.
The Australian Government can't make decisions for you when there's a threat of armed conflict. However, if we advise Australians to leave, take our advice seriously.
If you choose to stay when our advice is to leave, you're putting yourself at serious risk. You may also void your travel insurance.
If you choose to leave, do not delay. Conflict may escalate to a point where it’s no longer safe to leave. Don’t rely on the possibility of Government assistance or evacuation flights. In some situations, these may be impossible.
If it’s not safe to leave, prepare to shelter in place.
Getting ground transport away from your location
You may find it difficult to travel by road if armed conflict has escalated.
Authorities may cordon off roads or set up checkpoints.
Before you leave your accommodation:
- Make sure it’s safe in the immediate area
- Find out what your options are and if any roads are closed
- Try to organise transport in advance if possible
- If you're leaving with a group, make plans to account for their whereabouts if you become separated and communications are down
Any travel options you pursue are taken at your own risk. You're responsible for your own safety and that of your family.
Getting flights out of the country
Be aware that if conflict escalates, it may be difficult to get flights out.
- Airlines often cancel flights in and out of destinations affected by armed conflict. Especially if there's increased activity at or near the airport.
- The airport may be shut down by the local authorities or taken by opposing forces.
- Even if airlines haven't cancelled flights, tickets may be in short supply and in high demand. If you can get a ticket, it may be much more expensive than usual.
If you're choosing to fly out, take any available flight if possible. If you turn down a flight, you may not have another chance.
Sheltering in place
If you choose not to leave or can’t safely do so, prepare to shelter in place.
- Gather supplies. Consider cash, torches, radios, batteries, non-perishable food and bottled water. Have enough to last you several days. Avoid venturing out as much as possible.
- Prepare a go-bag with essential items for immediate travel if you’re forced to evacuate.
- Know where your identity documents are, including your passport. Keep them safe and close to hand.
- If you’re in an apartment, familiarise yourself with the emergency exits.
If you're told to evacuate an area, do so as soon as safely possible. Take official warnings seriously.
4. Follow instructions from local authorities
Regularly check our travel advice for your location for the latest information on the situation. Follow instructions given to you by the local authorities unless we advise otherwise.
Try to avoid situations where you have to engage with security forces. If it's unavoidable, follow their instructions and leave the area as soon as possible.
If you don't follow their instructions, you could be putting your safety at risk. Authorities may use force or detain you. The Australian Government can't get you out of jail.
5. Stay up to date
Stay informed and in contact. Check local media and social media often. Follow @Smartraveller and the local Australian embassy or consulate on social media.
Subscribe to updates to the travel advisory for your destination. Subscribing gives you travel advice updates straight to your inbox. We'll send an email alert when we update the travel advice or advice level. You may also receive an SMS for critical alerts if you’ve opted to receive them.
We strongly encourage you to subscribe so you’re well-informed for your trip overseas.
As conflict escalates, you may find it hard to stay up to date.
In some destinations, authorities block all communications. This includes blocking the internet and switching off mobile phone towers. In others, they may just block specific websites and social media channels.
Get as much information as you can, as soon as you can, while you can. Especially in a destination with a history of blocking all communications during periods of conflict or unrest.
6. Contact us if you need urgent help
To contact the Australian Government in an emergency:
- Contact the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate
- Phone the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305
You can also contact us if you have serious concerns for the safety or whereabouts of Australian family or friends who might have been affected by a crisis overseas.
Our ability to provide consular help may be limited in situations of armed conflict. The local embassy or consulate may be evacuated if the situation becomes too unsafe.
Learn more about crisis response.
Where to get help
- Local authorities, if safe. We publish local emergency contacts in the travel advisory for each destination.
- Local hospitals. If injured, seek medical assistance. Go to the nearest hospital. If possible, choose a hospital away from any unrest.
- Your accommodation manager. They may have local knowledge about what's going on and advice on what you can do to stay safe.
- Your travel companions. Stick together. Look after each other. Share information that will help others stay safe during the conflict.
- Your family and friends back home. They may be able to help book your flights out. If you've got financial problems, ask your family and friends for money.
- Your airline. If you need to get an earlier flight out, ask your airline if they'll change your flight. You may have to pay to change it. They may have a policy on flight changes when there's a crisis.
- Your travel agent. They may be able to assist you in getting transport out of the country.
- Your travel insurer. Some travel insurance policies cover cancellations and changed plans if there's a crisis. However, if the destination you’re in is level 3 or 4 you may not be covered.
- If you've exhausted all other avenues, the Australian Government may be able to help. But we're limited in how and when. Read the Consular Services Charter to understand how we can and can’t help.
How the Australian Government may help
If you need emergency consular help, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate (DFAT). Or contact the 24-hr consular emergency centre on +61 2 6261 3305.
- We can update the travel advice in your destination to reflect the current situation.
- We can give you a list of local hospitals with doctors who speak English if you need medical assistance.
- We can help you contact your relatives or friends with your consent.
- We can provide emergency consular assistance. Understand how and when. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- We can initiate a crisis response to the unrest when we know Australians are, or could be, affected.
- We can't guarantee your safety and security in another country or provide you with personal security services.
- We can’t get you out of jail or detention.
- We can’t force local authorities to act.
- We can't make decisions for you, or make you leave a country.
- We can't make your travel arrangements or guarantee flights out.
- We can't give you legal or medical advice.
- Understand how and when we may help. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- What to do if you're overseas and need help. See information about crisis and emergencies overseas.