- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Timor-Leste because of the uncertain security situation. The situation could deteriorate without warning. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- Timor-Leste has been stable for a number of years. However localised unrest occurs, including street gang clashes and anti-government demonstrations. You should avoid spontaneous gatherings, demonstrations, protests, street rallies and other large public gatherings as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
- Sexual harassment of foreigners is common, including indecent exposure and sexual assault in the form of groping. Be particularly careful in isolated areas and travel in groups where practical.
- Checkpoints can operate throughout Timor-Leste. You should carry all relevant personal identification and vehicle documentation at all times. See Local travel.
- Opportunistic crime occurs and risks increase at night and if travelling alone.
- Medical facilities are extremely limited and evacuation, at significant expense, is often the only option in cases of serious illness or accident.
- We recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
A visa on arrival (of up to 30 days' duration) is available to valid Australian passport holders who arrive at Nicolau Lobato International Airport or Dili Seaport, based on the purpose and period of stay indicated by the applicant at the time of entry and provided entry into Timor-Leste is regarded by local authorities as being for a legitimate purpose. Visa on arrival is only available for Australians arriving by air or sea. There is a charge of US$30 on arrival at Nicolau Lobato International Airport for an entry visa. There are no money exchange facilities at the airport.
Australians arriving at the land border near Atambua/Batugade will need to obtain a visa prior to arrival. This can be arranged through the Timor-Leste Immigration official email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A departure tax of US$10 applies to departing travellers.
If travellers can demonstrate that they have a valid reason for extending their stay beyond 30 days in Timor-Leste, an application to extend a visa may be submitted to the Immigration Department of Timor-Leste located at Vila Verde.
If you wish to work or operate a business in Timor-Leste you should consult the Timorese Immigration website for the current requirements.
As 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 Timor-Leste for the most up-to-date information.
It is illegal to import currencies other than US dollars into Timor-Leste, above certain limits, without a permit issued by the Central Bank of Timor-Leste (CBTL). It is not permissible, for example, to import more than the equivalent of US$2,000 in Australian dollars during each calendar month without approval from the BPA. For queries regarding importation of currency the CBTL can be contacted on (670) 331 3712; 331 3714; 331 7151 and 331 3718 or by e-mail to info@bancocentral.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of departure and that there are two blank pages in your passport.
Safety and security
Emergency contact numbers
The National Operations Centre (NOC) is staffed by Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL) officers, and can be called 24 hours a day on (670) 3331283 for emergencies. For fire and ambulance services call 115. English language skills are limited.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Timor-Leste because of the uncertain security situation. Timor-Leste has been stable for a number of years. However, the situation could deteriorate with little warning. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
Localised unrest occurs in Timor-Leste, including street gang clashes and anti-government demonstrations. You should avoid spontaneous gatherings, demonstrations, protests, street rallies and other large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
Violent disturbances, often resulting from minor disputes, can erupt without notice and escalate quickly. Be particularly vigilant in the vicinity of Comoro Road and markets and in other areas where there is a concentration of people. You should immediately leave the area if a dispute breaks out and move to a safe location.
Demonstrations are known to occur in front of the Australian Embassy in Dili, most recently in March 2016.
Robbery (in some cases armed), assaults, theft and bag snatching, while not common, have been directed at foreigners in Timor-Leste. Incidents have occurred in Dili and on nearby beaches and in the districts. The risk of being a victim of crime increases at night and if travelling alone. 'Smash and grab' style theft of property from vehicles occurs. There have also been cases of intruders breaking into homes known to be occupied by foreigners.
There is a history of gang-related violence, robbery, arson and vandalism in major towns, particularly Dili. Rocks have been thrown at vehicles and property, particularly during the early evening and at night.
Sexual harassment of foreigners is common and can occur to males and females, but predominantly affects women. This can include lewd remarks and indecent public exposure. Sexual assault in the form of indecent touching and groping is also reported. Violence against local women is widespread in Timor-Leste, but physical harm or rape of foreigners is rare.
Incidents can occur at any time, including in highly frequented public locations such as Beach Road or Timor Plaza. Incidents have also been reported in less populated areas such as Christo Rei (the Jesus statue) and in the vicinity of Back Beach (behind the Jesus Statue). Due to the prevalence of these incidents, we recommend that you remain aware of your surroundings and travel in groups where possible, including when exercising outdoors. Particular caution should be taken when visiting isolated areas alone or travelling alone on public transport or in taxis, especially at night.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets includes hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, embassies, schools, churches and other places of worship, shops, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and transport hubs or identifiably western businesses and interests.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Timor-Leste. The official currency of Timor-Leste is the US dollar. This is the only currency accepted as legal tender. Do not expect that establishments will accept credit cards (including hotels, shops and restaurants). Consult with your bank whether your credit card and ATM card will work in Timor-Leste. US dollar notes issued prior to the year 2000 are not accepted.
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.
Australians are advised to check the security situation and road conditions with local authorities before undertaking travel.
Driving conditions are frequently hazardous due to poor road quality, heavy traffic, poor signage and a lack of street lighting. Large crowds can form quickly after traffic accidents and can become violent with little warning. If you are involved in a traffic accident you should report it to the local police station.
For further advice see our road travel page.
Police may set up checkpoints anywhere in Timor-Leste. Australians are advised to carry their car registration papers and drivers licence with them for presentation to police if requested. Makeshift barricades are sometimes used as unauthorised road blocks and may appear anywhere in Timor-Leste. Police may shut down roads in Dili during significant events such as commemorative ceremonies or major sporting events. This can cause traffic disruption and block major thoroughfares.
Take care if using taxis, microlets or trucks used as public transport due to the poor condition of many of these vehicles and poor driving standards. There is also an increased risk of robbery or sexual assault.
Caution should be exercised when travelling by boat, ferry or other sea-craft in Timor-Leste as seaworthiness cannot be relied upon, passenger limits are not always observed and sufficient lifejackets may not be provided. You should ensure that any vessel you intend to board is carrying appropriate safety equipment and that life jackets are provided for all passengers, including those suitable for children. Check with your tour operator or crew to ensure appropriate safety standards are maintained.
Crocodiles have been sighted on beaches and in-land waterways around Timor-Leste, including near Manatuto, Baucau and some beaches in Dili. There have been reports of crocodile attacks taking place, particularly in the eastern districts and along the southern coast.
Some sites may have special religious or cultural significance and require permission to visit. Visitors are advised to check with local authorities in advance and be conscious of local reactions to your presence and activities.
For advice on travel to Indonesia (including West Timor), travellers should consult our Indonesia travel advice.
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 Timor Leste.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Timor-Leste, 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.
There are severe penalties for drug offences in Timor-Leste. See our Drugs page.
Foreigners who interfere in local political processes or engage in political activity may be subject to fines, detention and deportation.
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.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
There are conservative standards of behaviour and dress in Timor-Leste. Revealing clothing should not be worn in public places, including churches and markets. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Religious days are closely observed. Loud noise and frivolous behaviour are frowned on during these times.
Public displays of affection are not socially acceptable.
Information for dual nationals
Timorese authorities may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Timorese dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
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.
Medical facilities in Timor-Leste are limited and evacuation, at significant expense, is often the only option in cases of serious illness or accident (including diving accidents). The cost of medical evacuation can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances. Generally all emergency cases are treated at Dili National Hospital, which only has limited facilities available. Dental facilities are extremely limited. A limited supply of basic medicines is available.
There is no hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in Timor-Leste. Travellers who plan to dive should ensure that they have a current medical clearance to do so and that their insurance covers such activities.
Mosquito-borne diseases: Malaria, chikungunya, dengue, filariasis and Japanese encephalitis are prevalent in all areas of Timor-Leste. Chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria are reported in some locations. We encourage you to consider taking medication against malaria and taking measures to avoid mosquito bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (such as gastroenteritis, typhoid and hepatitis) are prevalent. 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 diarrhoea. Tuberculosis is endemic in Timor-Leste. Healthcare workers are at particularly risk of exposure and should be tested prior to extended travel and on their return to Australia.
Rabies: While there have not been any confirmed cases of rabies by tissue diagnosis in Timor-Leste, rabies is present in neighbouring islands and there has been suspicious clinical cases reported at Dili Hospital. Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease that can be found in dogs, monkeys, bats and other mammals. See our health page for further information.
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.
For criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 112. 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:
Australian Embassy, Dili
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Timor-Leste, 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 Embassy 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
Timor-Leste is in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis in the Indian and Pacific Oceans because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.
Tropical cyclones are unusual in Timor-Leste. Severe storms may occur during the wet season, November to April, when flooding is common. These conditions may also cause landslides and affect roads and bridges.
You should monitor the information available through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and plan accordingly. Further information can also be obtained from the World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre or the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of the local authorities.