Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the
Pakistan High Commission for the most up-to-date information.
Foreign passport holders who do not comply with their visa conditions may face heavy penalties, including fines and detention. This applies to people travelling on Australian passports, including dual nationals. Take care not to overstay the limit of your visa. To exit Pakistan, you must have a valid visa, a Pakistani national identity card or a valid Pakistani passport. If you are travelling on an Australian passport and your visa has expired, you will not be allowed to board your flight. If your visa has expired contact the Ministry of Interior to get an exit visa.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
If you are a dual national and hold a Pakistani passport, seek advice about how it should be used. See
Dual nationals. Use your Australian passport to depart from and return to Australia. An Australian citizen does not require a visa to enter Australia.
If children are unaccompanied or travelling with only one parent or a guardian, local immigration authorities may ask for documents to prove that the children have consent to travel or proof of parental responsibility. This is particularly the case if the children are of Pakistani origin. Please refer to our
Travelling with children page for information on the type of documentary evidence that may be required.
If you are travelling with prescription medicines, carry a signed, dated letter from your doctor listing all of the medications you are carrying to show to customs officials if requested.
Australian travellers planning to visit Pakistan, and staying for periods longer than four weeks, will be required to carry documented evidence of having received a polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Pakistan. If you do not have this, you may be required to be vaccinated prior to departure from Pakistan.
Reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack and volatile security situation. If you do decide to travel to Pakistan, exercise a very high level of caution. If you are in Pakistan and concerned for your safety, consider leaving if it is safe to do so.
The UK Government advised its citizens that Pakistani authorities are investigating reports of planning for a potential terrorist attack at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad. If you are using the airport, anticipate increased security, exercise caution and remain vigilant.
Australians intending to travel to Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi for business or academic reasons should undertake such travel in close consultation with local business partners and academic institutions and take appropriate security precautions.
Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere at any time in Pakistan. Exercise a high level of caution.
On 28 February 2017, the Punjab Home Department issued threat alert that terrorists may target schools in and around Peshawar, and English medium schools in Lahore.
A number of attacks have occurred in February 2017 in Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Sehwan (Sindh Province) and Charsadda (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province), causing a large number of deaths and injuries. Security forces have increased their presence across the country. Further attacks could occur at this time, including in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
On 22 February 2017, the Pakistan Army launched a major urban counter-terrorism operation which could lead to retaliatory attacks.
Security at airports has been increased. Allow additional time to pass through airport security checkpoints.
High Commission and US Embassy staff are frequently restricted in their
movements with Islamabad. These restrictions are often applied at short notice.
Areas placed ‘out of bounds’ can typically include markets, shopping centres,
restaurants and hotels. Further information on these restrictions can be found
on the British High Commission or US Embassy websites.
When planning activities in Pakistan, always consider the kind of locations that may be terrorist targets and the level of security provided at venues.
The Pakistan Army continues to undertake a counter-insurgency operation in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of northern Pakistan, resulting in military action and a large number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Security forces across Pakistan have been placed on high alert in response to retaliatory attacks by militants. There may be an increased presence of security forces, and restrictions on movement at short notice. We strongly advise against all travel to this region. Australians in FATA should depart immediately.
Many terrorist attacks in Pakistan have involved multiple, consecutive explosions. At times where there are heightened threats of terrorist incidents, or immediately after an incident, security officials may also cut mobile phone service in affected areas until the threat has passed.
During 2016 and 2017, there have been a number of deadly attacks. Some are listed here:
A significant number of terrorist groups hostile to Western interests operate in Pakistan. Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in Pakistan.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided at venues. Possible targets include crowded locations likely to result in a large number of casualties, places frequented by foreigners; clubs, restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets; embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic interests; educational facilities including universities and international schools; international hotels; places of worship, such as mosques, shrines and churches; shopping centres, banks, hospitals, markets (markaz) and bazaars; airports and aviation interests (including foreign flagged airliners); compact disc and video shops; convention centres, outdoor recreation events, demonstrations, tourist areas and other crowded places; and identifiably Western interests, premises and symbols, including businesses and non-government organisations (NGOs).
Premises and symbols associated with the Pakistani Government, Pakistani military and security forces are frequent targets for attacks. Judicial buildings, such as courts, public transport and transport infrastructure, including trains and airports have been attacked, along with military and police personnel, police stations and checkpoints.
Attacks against religious sites in Pakistan have resulted in large-scale civilian casualties. Attacks against religious sites or religious processions could occur in any part of Pakistan, especially at times of religious festivals.
Militants may mount attacks in the lead-up to and on occasions of national or commemorative significance, such as Pakistan National Day (23 March), the storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad by government troops (which occurred in July 2007) and Independence Day (14 August).
Humanitarian workers and foreign aid agencies have been targeted by militants in the past.
There is a high threat of kidnapping across the whole of Pakistan, but particularly in Karachi, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
There is a continued risk of kidnappings involving foreign nationals from locations across Pakistan.
Ensure you have personal security measures in place and seek professional security advice.
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, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. See our
Kidnapping threat page.
Advice to High Commission staff
Due to the very high threat of terrorist attack in Pakistan, security at the Australian High Commission in Islamabad is at a high level. The Australian Government has a "no children at post" policy for Islamabad.
Staff have been advised to minimise their use of restaurants and international hotels, to limit visits to shopping areas and avoid walking in Islamabad.
The Australian Consulates in Karachi and Lahore have been closed until further notice for security reasons.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our
Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Civil unrest/political tension
The security situation in Pakistan remains unpredictable and could deteriorate at short notice. You could be caught up in violent unrest. You are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Pakistan at short notice and that your travel documentation (including visa) remains up-to-date.
Avoid all demonstrations, political events, rallies and processions and large-scale public gatherings, as they may turn violent. Demonstrations could also be targeted at perceived western interests. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations, find a safe location, remain indoors and heed local advice. Closely monitor local information sources for details about possible safety and security risks.
As a precaution, avoid areas where people congregate after Friday prayers in all parts of Pakistan.
International events and political developments in the region or elsewhere may prompt demonstrations or violent protests in any part of Pakistan. Perceived western interests may become targets of such violence.
Political and sectarian violence in Karachi
Political, sectarian and gang violence continues in Karachi, with a high death toll. Pakistani police and para-military Rangers are conducting intermittent counter-terrorism operations in the city, resulting in a heightened level of public security across a wide part of the city. Reprisal attacks by militants or criminals may occur anywhere. There are also regular demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings in Karachi which can turn violent. Reconsider your need to travel to Karachi.
Border regions with Afghanistan
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): Do not to travel to the FATA due to security concerns and ongoing Pakistani military operations in border areas with Afghanistan. With the exception of the official border crossings, foreigners are prohibited from travelling within 50 kilometres of the border with Afghanistan in Gilgit Baltistan.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) Do not to travel to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (except Chitral district) due to the volatile security environment. Reconsider your need to travel to Chitral district. If you visit Chitral, fly on commercial aircraft as the road passes through areas where we advise against all travel. Keep clear of border areas with Afghanistan.
Balochistan: Do not to travel to Balochistan due to the volatile security environment. Attacks against government, security and military interests in Balochistan are likely, as are attacks against oil, natural gas, power and communications infrastructure and transport, including the railway network.
Border regions with India
Do not to travel to border areas with India (except to the cities of Lahore, Wagah, Kasur, Narowal and Sialkot) due to the volatile security situation and heightened security arrangements along the border. If you are in an area close to the Pakistan-India border, consider leaving. Be aware that foreigners are prohibited from travelling within 15 kilometres of the Kashmir Line of Control and the entire border with India, except for official border crossings.
An attack at the Wagah border crossing, near Lahore, in November 2014 killed 60 people and injured 150.
Violent crime, including armed robbery, carjacking and kidnapping, occurs in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi. Drive with the doors locked and windows up.
There have been recent incidents in various cities in Pakistan (including Islamabad) of individuals impersonating police officers, including with fake police identification cards.
Pick-pocketing and petty theft is common.
While banned in most areas, firing guns into the air, or celebratory gunfire, is common across Pakistan. On 1 January 2017, 20 people were killed by celebratory gunfire in Karachi. Be cautious, especially around major holidays and celebrations, including celebrations following sporting victories.
Money and valuables
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 online or contact the nearest
Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Severe flooding of major waterways occurs regularly in Pakistan, causing loss of life and widespread damage to transport infrastructure. See
Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for further information.
The security situation in Pakistan is uncertain and could deteriorate at any time. Contact your travel agent and airline regarding temporary disruptions or suspension of transport services.
According to the World Health Organisation, motor vehicle accident fatalities in Pakistan are almost three times higher than in Australia.
Road accidents are a common cause of death and injury. Road conditions and driving standards are poor, requiring a high level of caution at all times. For further advice, see our
road travel page.
Dense fog in northern Pakistan during the winter months may disrupt air and road travel as airports and motorways may be closed until the fog lifts.
Avoid the use of public transport, including buses, trains and taxis, due to the security risk and avoid travelling after dark where possible. Use transport services provided by accredited tour operators and hotels.
If you visit Chitral district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa from Islamabad, use commercial aircraft as the road passes through areas where we advise against all travel.
Pakistan's civil aviation facilities have been targeted by terrorists. In June 2014, a group of terrorists attacked the cargo-handling section of Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, resulting in a prolonged battle and up to 30 deaths (including all the terrorists). In June 2014 gunmen fired at a passenger airliner as it was approaching Peshawar Airport to land, killing one passenger and injuring two crew members. Similar attacks could occur in the future. Check flight status and airport operations prior to travelling and remain alert for security developments.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Pakistan.
Please also refer to our general
air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Pakistan, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular Services Charter. But we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for drug offences are severe in Pakistan and include the death penalty. Possession of even small quantities of "soft drugs" for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences, large fines and deportation. See our
There have been instances where Australian parents of Pakistani origin return to Pakistan and one parent decides not to return to Australia, withholding the passports of the children from the other parent who wishes to return to Australia. Parents travelling with children, where these circumstances may apply, should carefully consider the risks of not being able to return with their children before leaving Australia. They are strongly advised to consult a lawyer to resolve possible child custody and other family law issues before travelling to Pakistan.
Forced marriages are illegal. Causing another person to enter into a forced marriage and being a party to a forced marriage is an offence under Australian law, including for actions carried out overseas. For more information see the
forced marriage page.
The death penalty may be imposed for crimes including terrorism, murder, rape, blasphemy and unlawful assembly.
Homosexuality is illegal. The act of sodomy is illegal in Pakistan and penalties include life imprisonment. See our
LGBTI travellers page.
It is illegal for unmarried heterosexual couples to live together.
Although rare, corporal punishment may be imposed for some offences including robbery, public drunkenness and consumption of alcohol by a Muslim.
Importing alcohol and pork products is illegal in Pakistan.
Do not to take photographs of airports or military and government buildings and installations.
Attempting to convert a Muslim or encouraging a Muslim to abandon their religion is illegal.
Kite flying has been banned in some provinces due to injuries and deaths caused by tainted or fortified kite strings used in kite fighting competitions. (It is not uncommon for competitors to coat kite strings with metal, crushed glass or chemicals to help cut opponents' kite strings.) The sale of kite flying equipment and the use of premises to fly kites are also banned. Penalties include prison sentences and/fines. Do not bring kites with you, or fly kites, in Pakistan.
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.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan will begin in late May 2017. During Ramadan, 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 public and 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 Pakistan. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Wearing short-sleeved garments and shorts should be avoided, as should physical contact between men and women in public. Women may be targets of harassment, particularly if they are unaccompanied.
Information for dual nationals
If you or your father were born in Pakistan, you may be considered by authorities to be a Pakistani national even if you do not hold a Pakistani passport. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide you with consular assistance if you are arrested or detained.
Dual nationals page provides further information.
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.
The standard of medical facilities and care in Pakistan is generally limited, with the exception of a select number of clinics and hospitals in major cities which approach Western standards. In most towns, as well as rural and remote areas, medical facilities are extremely limited. Hospitals in Pakistan usually require up-front payment, confirmation of insurance cover or guarantee of payment prior to admission. In the case of a serious illness or accident, a medical evacuation to Australia or a similar destination would be considered necessary. Depending on the immediacy, severity and circumstances of the case, a medivac could cost more than $A100,000.
Malaria is common in Pakistan, except in areas above 2000m. Chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistant strains are reported. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever) are present in Pakistan with outbreaks occurring from time to time. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue. Take prophylaxis against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases where necessary; ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof; and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis and measles) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and uncooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Cases of cholera have been reported periodically in Sindh.
Reports of malaria, skin infections, acute watery diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections usually increase following flooding.
Poliovirus (Poliomyelitis) remains endemic in Pakistan with travellers at risk of infection. In May 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a "public health emergency of international concern" and has issued
temporary recommendations that may affect your travel to Pakistan.
Australians travelling to Pakistan should be up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose, prior to departure.
Australian travellers planning to visit Pakistan, and staying for periods longer than four weeks, must carry documented evidence of having received a polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Pakistan. If you do not have this, you may be required to be vaccinated prior to departure from Pakistan.
Please see your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Further information is available from the Australian Department of Health
Travelling with medicine
If you are travelling with prescription medicines, carry a signed, dated letter from your doctor listing all of the medications you are carrying to show to customs officials if requested.
Be aware that some bottled water in Pakistan may be contaminated. The
Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources produces regular reports listing safe and unsafe bottled water brand names. Reports are available under the publications and information tab.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 15.
Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas.
The Australian High Commission in Islamabad may close temporarily to the public at short notice should concerns arise about security in the vicinity of the High Commission. Telephone ahead before going to the High Commission. If you require emergency consular assistance, you should first telephone the High Commission or the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra.
Access to the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, where the High Commission is located, has been restricted by the Pakistani Government for security reasons. Access is only possible after you have scheduled an appointment with the High Commission, via the following methods:
- Diplomatic Shuttle Service (DSS): this service has an office and bus station located on the corner of Third Avenue (Quaid-e-Azam University Road) and Murree Road. Bus tickets are available for sale at this office. Further information about this service can be obtained directly from DSS (telephone 051 260 1521 or 051 260 1524). Arrive at the shuttle bus station at least one hour before your scheduled appointment to allow time for security checks.
- Using a private vehicle or on foot: from either the Foreign Office gate entrance on Constitution Avenue, or from the Shams gate entrance on Ispahani Road. Access is subject to prior entry clearance, obtained from the DPD (Diplomatic Protection Department) through the High Commission.
You can obtain consular assistance from the:
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission, you can contact the 7 day 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre from anywhere in the world on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
During the monsoon season (July to September), flooding and landslides can occur with little warning throughout the country. In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after the floods recede. Services and transport are often affected.
Cyclones can occur in coastal areas of Pakistan. For further information, see our
severe weather page.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
Some mountainous areas of Pakistan are subject to winter avalanches.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links