- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Djibouti because of the threat of terrorist attack and the uncertain regional security environment.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- The militant group Al-Shabaab has stated its intention to conduct attacks in Djibouti in response to Djibouti’s participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Attacks could be targeted at Djiboutian or western interests.
- Presidential elections are scheduled for April 2016. Australians in Djibouti should avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings as they can turn violent. On 21 December, up to 19 people were killed in a confrontation with police at a religious gathering in the Bouldougo area, near Balbala, west of Djibouti city.
- We strongly advise you not to travel within ten kilometres of the border with Eritrea because of the ongoing border tensions.
- We strongly advise you not to travel within five kilometres of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnapping.
- Australia has a Consulate in Djibouti, headed by an Honorary Consul, which can provide limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa provides full consular and passport assistance to Australians in Djibouti.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest Embassy of Djibouti, located in Tokyo, for the most up-to-date information.
A valid Yellow Fever Certificate is required for entry into Djibouti if you have arrived from a country where yellow fever is endemic.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Djibouti because of the threat of terrorist attack and the uncertain security environment. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
The militant group Al-Shabaab has stated its intention to conduct attacks in Djibouti in response to Djibouti’s participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Attacks could be targeted at Djiboutian or western interests.
An explosion at a restaurant in Djibouti city on 24 May 2014 killed three people and injured many more, including Westerners. Further attacks are possible. Australians should exercise caution in crowded areas and other public places.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, markets and shopping areas, places of worship, embassies, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and historic sites. Djibouti hosts a number of foreign military bases. Airports, aircraft and military interests are also possible targets.
Border with Somalia: We strongly advise you not to travel within five kilometres of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnapping.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Civil unrest/political tension
On 21 December, up to 19 people were killed in a confrontation with police at a religious gathering in the Bouldougo area, near Balbala, west of Djibouti city.
Presidential elections are planned for April 2016. Australians in Djibouti should avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings as they can turn violent.
Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighbouring countries (Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea) may also negatively affect the security situation.
Border with Eritrea: We strongly advise you not to travel within ten kilometres of the border with Eritrea. There were military clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea in June 2008 and further conflict is possible. You should monitor local information sources for up-to-date reports.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, occurs in Djibouti.
There have been reports of banditry outside the capital.
We strongly advise you not travel to within 10km of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnap.
Avoid visiting Dorale and Khor Ambado beaches late in the afternoon due to their isolation.
The risk of crime increases at night. You should not walk alone after dark.
Money and valuables
Djibouti's economy is cash-based. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at major banks, but credit cards are not widely accepted. There are a limited number of ATMs in Djibouti and these are frequently broken.
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Djibouti has been declared a “mine-safe” country, meaning landmines have been identified and marked, however they have not been removed. You should remain on paved roads especially in the northern districts of Tadjoura and Obock and the southern district of Ali Sabieh.
Australians are advised to avoid travelling to remote areas of the country, including the borders with Ethiopia and Somalia where the presence of security forces is limited.
Travel to the northern region of Djibouti (above the 12 degree north latitude line which passes through Obock) requires prior permission from the Government of Djibouti.
Some roads in Djibouti are narrow, poorly lit and badly maintained. Roaming livestock are an additional hazard especially at night. The standard of driving and vehicle maintenance is generally poor. Police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night. Intercity travel is limited to bus and ferry services between the capital city and the towns of Tadjoura and Obock. We recommend that you do not travel at night and that overland travel be undertaken in a convoy. For further advice, see our road travel page.
In the event of an accident, the driver should wait until the police arrive on the scene.
There is currently no train service operating between Ethiopia and Djibouti, but a new line is expected to open in 2016.
Piracy:. There is a high risk of piracy in the coastal areas of Djibouti. There have been attacks by pirates against all forms of shipping in and around Djibouti's waters and the Gulf of Aden. Pirates have been using motherships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,800km) from the coast of Somalia. All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft and luxury cruise liners. We strongly advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters.
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 Djibouti.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Djibouti including ones 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 can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and include long jail sentences and heavy fines. The narcotic khat is legal in Djibouti, but is illegal in many other countries. See our Drugs page.
Homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Djibouti, however local communities are intolerant of homosexuality and same sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Hunting is forbidden by law.
Public displays of drunkenness could result in a two year prison term.
Photography of infrastructure, such as public buildings, ports, airports, bridges and military facilities, is prohibited. It is also illegal to photograph military personnel. Your equipment will be confiscated and you may be arrested. You should use particular care when taking photos near these prohibited places. If in doubt, seek advice from authorities.
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 Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
More than ninety per cent of Djibouti is Muslim. Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs.
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Djibouti and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you 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 outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. For more information on the outbreak and regional travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.
The standard of health facilities in the capital is limited and very basic to non-existent in outlying regions. Medicines are sometimes unavailable in rural areas and can be expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (at considerable expense) to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary.
Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Djibouti. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever and filariasis) are also a risk to travellers. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, meningococcal disease and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea. High summer temperatures can lead to dehydration and sunstroke if adequate precautions are not taken.
There have been ongoing outbreaks of polio in countries across the Horn of Africa. Travellers should ensure they have completed a primary course of polio vaccination and receive a booster dose prior to travel. If you are unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks before you depart.
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 18. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australia has a Consulate in Djibouti, headed by an Honorary Consul, which can provide limited consular and passport assistance. You can obtain full consular and passport assistance from the Australian Embassy, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
Australian Honorary Consulate, Djibouti
Ahmed Osman Guelleh
AlGALUXE building, 5th Floor
Djibouti City, Republic of Djibouti
Tel: +253 21 353844/21 353836
Fax: +253 21 353294
Mobile: +253 77 811800
Turkish compound (off Cape Verde street)
Bole Subcity, Woreda 3
PO Box 3715
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Telephone: +251 11 667 2678
Facsimile: +251 11 667 2868
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Djibouti, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate or the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate
The climate is very hot and dry from May to October, with strong dust storms occurring in June. Daytime temperatures can be over 50 degrees. Djibouti is experiencing severe drought after four years of below average rainfall. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected in certain areas.
Djibouti is in an active volcanic and earthquake zone.
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. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.