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Lebanon

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Lebanon because of the unpredictable security situation, the threat of terrorist attack and ongoing political and sectarian tensions. The situation could deteriorate without warning.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to Tripoli (except the neighbourhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab-al-Tabbaneh where you should not travel due to the risk of violent civil unrest) and northern Lebanon north of a line from Tripoli to Sir Ed Dinniyeh and Laboue.
  • Do not travel to the north-eastern Beka'a Valley region, extending east and north from Rayak. This includes the Hermel-Baalbek region, and the towns of Arsal, El Qaa and Ras Baalbek.  See Safety and security
  • Do not travel south of the Litani River, with the exception of the city of Tyre, because of the danger of landmines, unexploded ordnance and the uncertain security environment. See Safety and security
  • Do not travel within five kilometres of the Syrian border, the Golan Heights, and Shebaa farms. Cross-border clashes are likely. See Safety and security
  • Do not travel to Palestinian refugee camps. Extremist groups operate inside the camps. The Lebanese state has no formal security presence in the camps.
  • Do not travel to Beirut's southern suburbs (including Dahiyeh). This includes the area south of the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium to the airport and east of the main airport road including the suburbs of Chiyah, Ghobeire, Haret Hreik, Bir el Abed, Borj el Barajne, Mraije, Roueiss, Lailake, Hay el Sellom, Tahouitit el Ghadir and Bir Hassan. It also includes west of the airport road and the area west of the airport highway to the coast, south from Adnon El Hakim Road to Abbas El Mousawi Road. See Safety and security
  • Pay close attention to your personal security. Monitor the media and other local information sources for developments that could affect your safety and security. See Safety and security
  • Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere, at any time, in Lebanon. Extremists may seek to target Westerners in Lebanon, including Beirut. If you notice a security operation is underway, immediately leave the area. See Safety and security
  • Protests over domestic and regional developments could occur at any time. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations as they could turn violent. See Safety and security
  • Australian Embassy staff in Beirut have been advised against travelling on flights that cross Syrian airspace. Check your airline's flightpath before booking.
  • Kidnapping for political, ideological and for other motives such as ransom has occurred in Lebanon. Targets have included foreign nationals. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Departure options may be severely limited during a crisis. You are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Lebanon. Ensure your travel documentation remains up-to-date. Don't expect the Australian Government to facilitate your departure.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Most nationalities, including Australians, can get tourist visas for Lebanon on arrival.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Lebanon for up-to-date visa information.

Other formalities

It's against Lebanese law to travel to Israel. If there is evidence that you've travelled to Israel, or intend to do so, you'll be refused entry to Lebanon, or deported. If you have travelled or intend to travel to Israel and you're a citizen of Lebanon and/or other Arab nations, or a dual national, you can be arrested and imprisoned in Lebanon. Any citizen can be held for questioning for up to several days and then deported.

Evidence includes:

  • Israeli exit or entry stamps in your passport
  • Egyptian or Jordanian stamps from border crossings with Israel
  • travel itineraries or tickets that include Israel as a destination.

Lebanese Border Control checks all travellers' names on arrival and departure against a database of border alerts (also known as 'stop orders'). Border alerts are raised where there are pending court cases and/or warrants for those wanted for, or convicted of, offences in Lebanon.

If your name matches an entry on the database you may be detained unless you can prove that the record does not relate to you. Carry supporting documentation such as a copy of your birth certificate or other official documentation. Travellers have been detained because of cases of mistaken identity.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain your passport by deception. If you are forced to handover your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

Both US dollars and Lebanese lira (also known as Lebanese Pounds) are accepted throughout Lebanon.

Safety and security

Exercise a high degree of caution in Lebanon because of the unpredictable security situation caused by the conflict in neighbouring Syria, the threat of terrorist attack, and ongoing political and sectarian tensions.

Be prepared to depart Lebanon quickly. In a crisis, you're responsible for your own departure. Don't depend on the Australian Government to facilitate your departure.

  • Ensure your travel documentation is up-to-date so you can leave quickly
  • Make sure you have passports for children born in Lebanon
  • Make sure you have current passports for family members travelling with you.

If violence escalates, roads and highways could quickly become blocked, including routes to airports and borders. Heavy demand for available flights could limit your departure options.

Civil unrest and political tension

Political developments elsewhere in the region and international events may prompt large demonstrations or violence. Planned and spontaneous demonstrations occur.

The ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria is affecting stability in Lebanon. Violent incidents related to Syria, including car bombs, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and rocket attacks, have occurred across Lebanon.

Anti-government protests occur. Some have escalated into clashes between protesters and security forces. Water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition have been used to disperse crowds, resulting in injuries.

Demonstrations and large public gatherings can turn violent. You could be caught in violence directed at others.

  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations where possible.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security.
  • Monitor the news and other sources for information on planned and possible unrest or strikes.
  • Stay away from areas where violence has occurred or is likely to occur.
  • Plan your activities to avoid potential unrest on days of national or commemorative significance.
  • Be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions.
  • If you're in an area affected by clashes, stay indoors.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Stay indoors during celebratory gunfire, which often occurs during and after political speeches.
  • If you're affected by transport disruptions, contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance.
  • Leave Lebanon if you're concerned about your safety.

Beirut

Between 2012 and 2016, several bombs were detonated in central Beirut, in areas popular with international tourists. Several people died and many were injured.

On occasion, main highways, including between central Beirut and the international airport, have been closed by groups protesting (or seeking to protest) against government policies, the situation in Syria, and/or destabilising the security environment.

Southern suburbs (Dahiyeh region) of Beirut

Do not travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut.

The southern suburbs are the area south of the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium to the airport, east of the main airport road and west of the airport highway to the coast, south from Adnon El Hakim Road to Abbas El Mousawi Road. This includes the suburbs of:

  • Chiyah
  • Ghobeire
  • Haret Hreik
  • Bir el Abed
  • Borj el Barajne
  • Mraije
  • Roueiss
  • Lailake
  • Hay el Sellom
  • Tahouitit el Ghadir, and
  • Bir Hassan.

On 12 November 2015, two suicide bomb attacks occurred outside a mosque and a bakery in Borj el Barajne, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 200. Security in the area remains volatile.

Tripoli and northern Lebanon

Reconsider your need to travel to Tripoli and northern Lebanon, north of the line from Tripoli to Sir Ed Dinniyeh and Laboue.

Do not travel to the Tripoli neighbourhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab-al-Tabbaneh. Historical tensions between Sunnis and Alawites in these neighbourhoods escalated into violent clashes in the early stages of the Syrian conflict, killing over 200 people. While violence largely ended in late 2014, the risk of civil unrest remains high.

Do not travel within five kilometres of the Syrian border, or north of the Halba-Qoubaiyat road in the north Akkar province, due to the on-going conflict in Syria. Lebanese authorities assess that extremists have sought refuge in northern Lebanon, including throughout the Akkar district.

On 10 January 2015, a suicide bomb attack outside a café in Jabal Mohsen, Tripoli, killed at least nine people.

North-eastern Beka'a Valley

Do not travel to the north-eastern Beka'a Valley region, extending east and north from Rayak. This includes the Hermel-Baalbek region, and the towns of Arsal, El Qaa and Ras Baalbek. Clashes between Lebanese security forces and militants are possible. The conflict in Syria has led to regular violent incidents in these areas, including suicide bombings, air raids, rocket attacks, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and kidnappings.

Other parts of the Beka'a Valley

Exercise a high degree of caution in the Beka'a valley south of Zahle/Rayak, as the security environment is unpredictable. On 31 August 2016, a road side bomb exploded in the town of Zahle, killing two people and severely injuring many others.

Regions within five kilometres of the border with Syria

Do not travel to regions within five kilometres of the border with Syria (including north Akkar, Arsal, Hermel Wadi Khaled, the Golan Heights, and Shebaa farms). Tensions between communities in these areas, as a result of the conflict in Syria, have led to repeated violent incidents.

Southern Lebanon

Do not travel south of the Litani River, except to the city of Tyre, because of the threat of armed conflict. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) maintains peacekeeping activities south of the Litani as a result ongoing tensions.

The city of Tyre has experienced few security incidents in recent times. However, visitors should continue to pay close attention to personal security, monitor the media for developments and follow local authorities' advice. When entering and exiting Tyre, do not stray from the main highway north of the city.

Israeli forces remain in the southern border town of Ghajar. There are ongoing tensions in the surrounding region, including the Shebaa Farms, with shelling reported. While the presence of the Lebanese Armed Forces and United Nations forces in southern Lebanon has improved the security environment, more clashes could occur. The security situation could change without notice. You could be caught up in violence directed at others.

Avoid areas where military activity is ongoing. Be ready to depart at short notice.

Palestinian refugee camps

Do not travel to Palestinian refugee camps in any part of Lebanon. Extremist groups operate inside the camps. The security situation in the camps is unpredictable and could deteriorate without warning.

The Lebanese state has no formal security presence in the camps. Armed clashes between rival factions and violent crime are common in some camps.

Sidon

Reconsider your need to travel to Sidon. Violent clashes between the Lebanese Armed Forces and local militias occur sporadically in Sidon, particularly around the eastern suburb of Abra and the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ein El-Hilweh. Heavy weapons are used. Sniper activity has taken place. Numerous deaths and injuries have occurred.

Terrorism

Extremists may seek to target Westerners in Lebanon, including in Beirut.

Terrorist attacks are likely and could occur anytime at any location in Lebanon. Security services are on a high state of alert and continue to carry out operations to prevent attacks. If you notice a security operation is underway, immediately leave the area.

In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Targets associated with the Lebanese Government, such as government institutions, senior politicians and officials, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and infrastructure, including airports and public buildings, have been attacked in the past and will continue to be targets. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has also been targeted.

Other targets could include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as buildings associated with foreign governments and companies and international organisations, embassies, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centres, markets, grocery chains, promenades, bars, schools, places of worship, cinemas, outdoor recreation events, public transport and tourist areas.

Extremists have mounted attacks in the lead-up to and on days of national and religious significance, but attacks could occur at any time.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Kidnapping

Kidnapping for political, ideological and for other motives such as ransom has occurred in Lebanon. Targets have included foreign nationals. Exercise a high degree of personal security awareness. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers.

More information: Kidnapping

Crime

Crime in Lebanon is moderate by international standards. But vehicle crime, petty theft such as bag snatching (including by youths riding motorbikes), home break-ins and armed robberies, as well as assault and sexual assault, may occur. Be aware of your surroundings.

More information: Female travellers 

Local travel

Pay close attention to your personal security. Monitor the media for updates on developments which may impact your safety and security.

Road travel

Armed security is present throughout Lebanon, including at road check points. Carry personal identity documentation at all times. Follow the instructions of security personnel.

Driving in Lebanon can be dangerous due to inadequately maintained roads. Snow and ice compound the danger in winter. Traffic conditions and poor local driving habits pose a danger to drivers and pedestrians.

There are many unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions, and landmines throughout Lebanon. The highest concentration is in the south, especially south of the Litani River. Minefields aren't always clearly marked. Those that are marked can shift away from signage anyway.

  • Seek advice from local residents
  • Stay on paved roads
  • Avoid walking or driving cross-country.

Roads, including access routes to the airport and border crossings, may be blocked during demonstrations and civil unrest. The airport can close at short notice. Check with your airline for up-to-date information and departure options.

More information: Road safety and driving

Taxis

Do not use service (shared) taxis or taxis hailed on the street, particularly late at night. There have been reports of armed robberies of foreign passengers travelling in service (shared) taxis, in which victims were taken to isolated locations and robbed at gunpoint. Only use taxis from recognised companies.

Safety standards

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Lebanon.

Staff at the Australian Embassy in Beirut have been advised against travelling on flights that cross Syrian airspace. If you have concerns, contact the relevant airline before booking. Flights paths are subject to change.

More information: Air travel

Laws

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.

Crimes under Lebanese laws may not be considered offences in Australia. Religious law has the same standing as civil law, in particular with regard to Family Law (marriage, divorce, custody).

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.

Family law

All family law matters, including child custody and divorce decisions, are based on local religious laws. If you are involved in custody or other family disputes consult a lawyer before you leave Australia for advice on how religious law may impact upon your family circumstances. Lebanon is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Lebanese nationals and non-nationals may prevent family members from leaving Lebanon if there are pending family court charges, even if the family members are Australian citizens. Australians and Australian-Lebanese dual nationals, including mothers with children, have been prevented from leaving Lebanon when relatives have legally placed border alerts (known as 'stop orders') on them where there are pending family court charges. The process of raising a 'stop order' may not be complicated. The Australian Government cannot prevent or overturn the issue of a 'stop order' on an Australian citizen.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.

More information: Drugs

Other laws

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include imprisonment.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, may attract the death penalty.

Access to some areas of Lebanon is restricted. You may be detained and/or your photographic equipment confiscated if you photograph or film military personnel or installations, government buildings and major civilian infrastructure (such as power stations).

Australians may be prosecuted under Australian law if they fight in other countries.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Lebanon recognises dual nationality, but Lebanese citizenship takes precedence over the second nationality. If you're an Australian/Lebanese dual national you'll be treated as a Lebanese national by Lebanese authorities. This may limit the Australian Government's ability to provide consular assistance if you're arrested or detained.

If you're a dual citizen re-entering Lebanon on your Lebanese passport or identity document, ensure that your Lebanese documentation is in order and that you meet all entry requirements.

More information:

Local customs

Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

There are modest standards of dress and behaviour in parts of Lebanon, particularly at religious sites.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

More information: Ramadan

Public displays of affection may cause offence in conservative and religious areas.

Some hotels require proof of marriage before granting accommodation to couples. You can be refused accommodation if you can't provide proof.

Health

Healthcare in Lebanon is expensive. Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Be aware of possible health risks of Lebanon's ongoing waste disposal dispute.

Health concerns include possible water contamination, water-borne illness and increased air pollution caused by the burning of waste.

To minimise health risks:

  • Limit exposure to uncollected waste
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.

Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been reported in a number of countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon. Other countries outside the Middle East have also reported imported cases from returned travellers.

More information: MERS

A decompression chamber is located at the American University Hospital in Beirut.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities and care in many of Lebanon's large hospitals is of comparable standard to those in Australia. However there is no comparable public health system. Most recommended hospitals are private and very expensive.

There is no reciprocal medical agreement between Australia and Lebanon.

Doctors usually expect immediate cash payment for services and treatment can be very expensive.

Before admitting patients, hospitals usually require:

  • guarantee of payment
  • confirmation of medical insurance
  • up-front deposit for services.

Natural disasters

Lebanon is in an active earthquake zone.

More information: Earthquakes

Bush and forest fires occur during the summer months (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested areas. Avoid fire-affected areas. Monitor the media for the latest information.

Sand and dust storms are common and may pose health risks, especially to people with respiratory problems.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

Firefighting and rescue services: 175

Medical emergencies: 140

Criminal issues, contact police: 112. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact

Australian Embassy, Beirut

Embassy Complex
Serail Hill
Downtown Beirut
LEBANON
Telephone: (961 1) 960 600
Fax: (961 1) 960 601
Website: lebanon.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

The Australian Embassy in Downtown Beirut may be temporarily closed to the public at short notice due to demonstrations and concerns about security in the vicinity of the Embassy. If this occurs, you should call ahead for advice before going to the Embassy.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources