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Summary

 
  •  Do not travel to Syria because of the extremely dangerous security situation, highlighted by ongoing military conflict including aerial bombardment, kidnappings and terrorist attacks.
  • The Australian Government has recommended, since April 2011, that Australians in Syria depart immediately by commercial means while it is possible to do so.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Syria. Australian Government consular assistance is no longer available within Syria. See Where to get help.
  • It is illegal under Australian law for Australian citizens, including dual citizens, to provide any kind of support to any armed group in Syria. This includes engaging in fighting, funding, training or recruiting someone to fight and supplying or funding weapons.  
  • The widespread fighting in many areas of Syria may cause disruptions to essential services and further limit your options for departure by air and road.
  • Since 2014, there has been an increase in the number of reported kidnappings of NGO workers and journalists. Hostages are often killed.
  • Due to the security environment, should you travel to, or remain in, Syria you should register your travel and contact details so we can contact you in an emergency.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

In 2015, Lebanese authorities implemented new border regulations governing entry into Lebanon from Syria. Australians may need to prove they have an appointment with the Australian Embassy in Beirut before being granted entry to Lebanon from Syria. Australians can contact the Australian Embassy in Beirut on +961 (0)1 960 600 or at Lebanon.embassy.gov.au.

All border crossings from Syria to Turkey are currently closed. Turkish authorities have, on occasion, opened border points to allow Syrian nationals to travel back to Syria, but no entry is permitted from Syria to Turkey.

Travellers visiting for more than 14 days must register with Syrian immigration authorities before their 15th day in Syria. If you stay more than 14 days you need to obtain an exit visa before leaving Syria. Australians who have been issued with Syrian Residence Permits will also need to get an “exit and return” stamp before leaving Syria.

If you are Syrian with Australian citizenship, or your child is, then you may leave Syria within three months from the date of your entry without obtaining an exit visa. If you have stayed more than three months, then you will need to obtain an exit visa for you and your children before leaving.

Children under 18 years of age who were born in Syria must have their father's permission to leave Syria, irrespective of the status of their parents' marriage or whether the mother has been granted full custody by a Syrian court.

Women in Syria can be subject to strict family controls and may be prevented from leaving the country. A Syrian husband may legally prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality.

Australians of Arab origin have been detained by Syrian authorities for long periods without charge.

Failure to declare all foreign currency and electronic equipment on arrival in Syria may result in delays on departure.

Safety and security

Do not travel to Syria because of the extremely dangerous security situation, highlighted by ongoing military conflict including aerial bombardment, terrorist attacks and large numbers of kidnappings involving foreign nationals.

Between 5 December 2014 and 28 November 2017 it was an offence under Australian law for Australians to enter or remain in the Syrian province of al-Raqqa without a legitimate purpose. This province was declared by the Minister for Foreign Affairs under the Criminal Code as an area in which a listed terrorist organisation was engaging in a hostile activity. On 27 November 2017 the Minister for Foreign Affairs revoked the declaration of al-Raqqa province.  The revocation took effect from 29 November 2017. Further information can be found on the Australian National Security website.

Since April 2011, the Australian Government has recommended that Australians in Syria depart immediately by commercial means while it is possible to do so.

The very high levels of violence, the ongoing military conflict and continuing political disorder create an extremely dangerous security situation in Syria.

There have been several instances of chemical weapons use during the conflict in Syria. Further indiscriminate use of such weapons is possible.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Kidnapping

The conflict in Syria has resulted in the kidnapping of a significant number of foreign nationals, including media, humanitarian workers and other foreigners.

Since 2014, there has been a rise in the number of reported kidnappings of NGO workers and journalists. Hostages are often killed.

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 decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. For information see our Kidnapping Threat bulletin.

Departure options

All Australians in Syria should depart immediately by commercial means while it is possible to do so. You should carry a current passport or travel document at all times. You are responsible for ensuring that your travel documents are up-to-date. See Entry and exit.

Commercial aviation services and airports could suspend operations indefinitely at any time. Some commercial airlines have ceased flying to Syria and others may do likewise without notice. The extremely dangerous security environment also has the potential to affect ground transport options to airports and the availability of seats on aircraft.

Civilian airports could come under attack at any time, including in Damascus and Aleppo.

Evacuation options are likely to be limited by telecommunication and travel restrictions. Road networks may become blocked due to demonstrations or violent clashes. Roadblocks and closures have already affected access to some border crossing points. You should check the status of access routes to airports and borders before travelling. Borders and roads may close with little or no warning.

Major highways, including Tartous-Latakia, Tartous-Homs, Latakia-Aleppo, Homs-Hama, Homs-Damascus and Damascus-Jordan, may become, or are already, blocked due to the conflict

Both main border crossings into Jordan, the Jaber/Nasib crossing and Ar Ramtha crossing, are officially closed following fighting and violent incidents. Both may reopen at short notice. Avoid the Tal Kalakh/Hdaideh crossing to north-east Lebanon because of violence in Tal Kalakh. Do not attempt to enter Iraq via the Syrian border. Roadblocks and fighting may limit access to all border crossings.

Lebanese authorities have implemented new border regulations governing entry into Lebanon from Syria. We have received reports of Australians being refused entry to Lebanon from Syria. Australians may need to prove they have an appointment with the Australian Embassy in Beirut before being granted entry to Lebanon from Syria. Australians can contact the Australian Embassy in Beirut on +961 (0)1 960 600 or at Lebanon.embassy.gov.au.

All border crossings from Syria to Turkey are currently closed. Turkish authorities have, on occasion, opened border points to allow Syrian nationals to travel back to Syria, but no entry is permitted from Syria to Turkey.

Advice for Australians remaining in Syria

If, despite our advice to depart immediately, you choose to remain, you should make your own contingency and security arrangements and secure a valid exit visa in your passport in case you need to depart quickly.

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Syria. Australian Government consular assistance is no longer available within Syria. See Where to get help.

Due to the security environment, you should register your presence in Syria with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online.

Australians who choose to remain in Syria should pay very close attention to their personal security at all times. Position yourself in a safe place and limit your movements as much as possible.

Access to basic necessities and fuel can be difficult in some areas. Ample stocks of water, food, toiletries, fuel and any prescription medications should be included in your contingency arrangements.

Avoid any large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Avoid areas where people congregate after Friday midday prayers in all parts of Syria and avoid funerals and mourning processions. Be aware that Syrian authorities have arrested people in the vicinity of demonstrations, regardless of their citizenship.

Under Syrian law, travellers are required to carry identification documents at all times.

Crime

The breakdown in law and order has led to an increase in crime, including violent robberies, kidnapping and carjacking.

Money and valuables

As a result of international sanctions, financial institutions in several countries have suspended their transactions with Syrian counterparts. Credit cards may not be accepted in Syria and you may not be able to access your funds via ATMs. Carry sufficient cash in either US dollars or Euros.

It is illegal to change money on the streets. Money can be changed in government banks or recognised exchange shops. However, many exchange bureaux are no longer able to exchange currency. Syrian pounds cannot be converted into US dollars on departure.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Keep it 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.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passport.

Local travel

Australians who choose to remain in Syria should ensure that they take into account the security environment before contemplating any travel.

Airline safety

Staff at the Australian Embassy in Beirut have been advised against travelling on flights that cross over Syrian airspace due to the conflict in Syria.

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 Syria.

See our air travel page for information about Aviation Safety and Security.

Laws

Local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to offer much practical assistance. Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Syria.

The Consular Services Charter describes what consular officers can do to assist Australian in trouble overseas. However, Australians should be aware that consular services are no longer available within Syria.

Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), should seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. See our Dual nationals page.

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

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty.

Homosexuality is illegal and laws are strictly enforced. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography of military or government installations and other sensitive infrastructure is strictly prohibited.

Under Syrian law, travellers are required to carry identification documents at all times.

Anyone considering preaching a religion other than Islam should seek local advice as restrictions may apply.

It is illegal under Australian law for Australian citizens, including dual citizens, to provide any kind of support to any armed group in Syria. This includes engaging in fighting, funding, training or recruiting someone to fight and supplying or funding weapons. Australia has imposed sanctions against Syria, including an arms embargo.

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.

Australia has strengthened legislation relating to female genital mutilation and forced marriage to protect Australian residents from being taken overseas for these purposes. The new criminal offences carry significant penalties ranging up to 25 years imprisonment. For more information about these crimes, please refer to the forced marriage and female genital mutilation pages.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between mid-May and mid-June 2018. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. 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 conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Syria, particularly around religious sites. Women are advised to wear loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs and a headscarf. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Information for dual nationals

Syria recognises dual nationality, but Syrian citizenship takes primacy over the second nationality. If you are an Australian/Syrian dual national, you will be treated as a Syrian national by government authorities.

Children of Syrian men acquire Syrian citizenship at birth.

Syria may allow dual nationals who have been resident in Australia to enter and stay for up to 3 months before becoming liable for military service, but dual nationals should seek this advice in writing from the nearest embassy or consulate of Syria before departing Australia. Payment of fines in lieu of military service is possible in certain circumstances.

Children under 18 years of age must have their father's permission to leave Syria, irrespective of the status of their parents' marriage or if the mother has been granted full custody by a Syrian court.

Women in Syria can be subject to strict family controls and may be prevented from leaving the country. A Syrian husband may legally prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality.

Our dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

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.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. 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 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.

Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria access to hospitals may be limited. The quality of healthcare has deteriorated significantly. Medications may also be in short supply.

In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation out of Syria to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation are considerable. An evacuation may prove very difficult to arrange in current circumstances.

Syria is vulnerable to the international spread of polio. Australian travellers planning to visit Syria, and staying for periods greater than 4 weeks, are required to carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Syria. If you do not have documented evidence of polio vaccination within this 12 month period, you may be required to be vaccinated prior to departure from Syria. Further information is available from the Australian Department of Health Polio website.

Insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis) are prevalent in Syria. Malaria occurs in the northern border region, particularly Al Hasakah Province. Take prophylaxis against malaria where necessary. Take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent, and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including brucellosis, typhoid, hepatitis and tuberculosis) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes, unpasteurised dairy foods, and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Syria. Australian Government consular assistance is no longer available within Syria. The Romanian Embassy in Damascus may be able to provide limited emergency consular services to Australian citizens in Syria, in conjunction with the Australian Embassy in Beirut.

Romanian Embassy, Damascus

8, Rue Ibrahim Hanano,
PO Box 4454, Damascus, SYRIA
Telephone:  +963 11 332 75 72
Facsimile: +963 11 332 75 71
Email: consulara@gmail.com or damasc@mae.ro

Australian Embassy, Beirut

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

Due to the security environment, you should register your presence in Syria with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online.

In a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Syria is subject to earthquakes. Dust and sand storms also occur.

Additional resources