Algeria

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 03 April 2014.   It contains new information in the Summary and under Safety and Security: Civil unrest/Political tension (presidential elections were held on 17 April 2014. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, monitor the media for developments which could affect your safety and follow the instructions of local authorities). We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Algeria and not travel to border areas with Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Libya. We now advise against all travel to border areas with Tunisia, south of the Algerian town of Souk Ahras.

Algeria overall

Border areas with Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Libya

Summary

  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Algeria at this time because of the high threat of terrorist attack. If you do decide to travel to Algeria, you should exercise extreme caution.
  • Presidential elections were held on 17 April 2014. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, monitor the media for developments which could affect your safety and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • The deteriorating security environment across the Sahel has adversely affected Algeria. In 2013, attacks have occured in Tizi Ouzo (90 km east of Algiers), Tipasa (70 km west of Algiers), Bouira (100 km southeast of Algiers) and Khenchela (540 km southeast of Algiers), demonstrating the high threat of terrorist attack across the country. In January 2013, terrorists attacked a gas facility near In Amenas in the Illizi province near the border with Libya, killing at least 37 foreign workers.
  • We regularly receive information indicating that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners and Western and Jewish interests, as well as premises and symbols associated with the Algerian Government. Terrorists have in the past mounted attacks on significant dates and anniversaries, but attacks could occur anywhere and at any time.
  • You should reconsider your need to travel to the Kabylie region in Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia provinces (east of Algiers) due to the high threat of terrorist attack.
  • You should reconsider your need to travel by road beyond the municipality of each of the major towns. All planned road travel beyond town limits should be cleared by local police authorities. We strongly advise against road travel in all parts of Tamanrasset and Illizi provinces in southern Algeria due to the presence of armed groups and high threat of terrorist attack, banditry and kidnapping.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to border areas with Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia, south of the Algerian town of Souk Ahras, due to the threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
  • There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners in the north and west regions of Africa, including Algeria. Terrorists may be planning to kidnap Westerners in southern, western and south-eastern Algeria, the remote and desert areas of Mauritania, northern Mali, Niger and Libya. Australians in Algeria should ensure they have appropriate personal security protection measures in place and avoid unnecessary travel in remote areas.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Algeria. The Canadian Embassy in the Algerian capital, Algiers, provides consular assistance to Australians in Algeria (except the issue of passports). The Australian Embassy in France can also assist Australians in Algeria.
  • Given the high terrorist threat in Algeria, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Algeria for the most up to date information.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for all passengers over one year of age who arrive from an area/country where yellow fever is endemic. See the WHO website for a list of yellow fever countries.

Algerian minors, including dual nationals, require the written consent of their father before they are permitted to leave Algerian territory.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

If you are working in Algeria you should consult our business travel advice which provides advice on risks for Australian employers and individual business travellers for short-term overseas travel for meetings and conferences, longer-term deployments overseas and travel to high-threat remote locations. It aims to assist employers and the employees undertaking business travel to make safe travel decisions.

Terrorism

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Algeria at this time because of the high threat of terrorist attack.

There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets by extremists in Algeria given the instability in neighbouring Mali and Libya. There is a high risk of kidnapping and terrorism across the West African Sahel region. Despite a strong police presence in Algeria’s major cities, there remains a risk of extremist attack, particularly in the south and east of Algeria.

In January 2013, terrorists attacked a gas facility near In Amenas in the Illizi province, near the border with Libya. At least 37 foreign workers and one Algerian worker were killed.

We regularly receive information indicating that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners and Western and Jewish interests, as well as premises and symbols associated with the Algerian Government. Increasing calls to abduct foreigners point to a growing threat against places frequented by foreigners in the region. Terrorists have in the past mounted attacks on significant dates and anniversaries, but attacks could occur anywhere and at any time.

Algerian terrorist groups have been fighting to overthrow the Algerian government since 1992. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has signalled its intention to target foreigners, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Algeria and in neighbouring countries since 2006.

Terrorist incidents in Algeria over recent years include:

  • On 8 September 2013 extremists attacked a military convoy 40 km southeast of Tizi Ouzo, killing two soldiers and injuring five others.
  • On 16 July 2013, four soldiers were killed when their military convoy drove over two underground bombs in the Tipasa wilaya (province), 70 km west of Algiers.
  • On 28 April 2013, three municipal guards were killed in a terrorist attack in the vicinity of Bourkika, in the Tipasa wilaya
  • On 6 February 2013, militants attacked an Algerian army barracks in Khenchela, 100 km from the Tunisian border. Two militants died and six soldiers were injured.
  • On 27 January 2013, an armed group carried out a mortar attack against a camp protecting a gas main in Djebahia, in the Bouria province, 125 km southeast of Algiers.
  • On 16 January 2013, 38 people were killed, including foreigners, when extremists attacked a gas facility in Tigantourine, near In Amenas, 100 km from the Libyan border.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include Algerian government offices, clubs, restaurants, foreign embassies, schools, international hotels, expatriate housing compounds, churches and other places of worship, shopping centres, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas, shipping and transport infrastructure, ports, airports and aircraft, security installations and police stations, petroleum and electrical infrastructure and installations or identifiably Western interests including businesses.

You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times in Algeria. Australians in Algeria should ensure they have appropriate personal security protection measures in place and avoid unnecessary travel in remote areas. You should reconsider your need to travel to Tizi Ouzou, Bouira, Bourmedès and Bejaia provinces (east of Algiers) in the Kabylie region due to the high threat of terrorist attack.

You should reconsider your need to travel by road throughout Algeria, especially in the Tamanrasset and Illizi provinces in southern Algeria due to the presence of armed groups and high threat of terrorist attack, banditry and kidnapping. All road travel outside city limits must be cleared in advance by police authorities. Caution should also be observed in the Kasbah in central Algiers.

Border areas with Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia, south of the Algerian town of Souk Ahras:

We strongly advise you not to travel to border areas with Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia, south of the Algerian town of Souk Ahras, due to the threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping. There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners in the north and west regions of Africa, including remote areas of southern, western and south-eastern Algeria. Credible information indicates that terrorists are planning to kidnap Westerners in these areas. The threat is especially high in the Djanet district in Illizi province and Tamanrasset province, as well as the remote and desert areas of Mauritania, northern Mali, Niger and Libya.

AQIM has taken a number of hostages from remote areas in Algeria and neighbouring countries. A number remain in captivity.

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, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

Demonstrations take place periodically in Algeria. Large demonstrations have occurred in Algiers and Oran. Incidents of civil unrest have also occurred in Constantine, Annaba, Bejaia, Boumerdès, Sidi Bel Abbes and Tizi Ouzou.

Presidential elections were held on 17 April 2014. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations, monitor the media for developments which could affect your safety and follow the instructions of local authorities.

International events may prompt further demonstrations and protests. You are advised to avoid protests and demonstrations, particularly outside mosques and educational institutions, as they may turn violent without warning. You should exercise particular caution in the period surrounding Friday prayers.

There may be political unrest in the lead-up to the Algerian Presidential elections, scheduled for 17 April 2014. Two political parties have indicated they will boycott the elections.

The Algerian Government lifted the longstanding State of Emergency in February 2011. However, demonstrations remain illegal in Algiers.

Crime

Petty crime such as pick-pocketing, bag snatching and theft from motor vehicles does occur, and is especially a risk in the larger cities. Crime levels are higher after dark.

Deserted beach areas should be avoided, even during daylight hours, because of the threat of banditry and carjacking. You should use a local licensed guide for tours of the Kasbah area of Algiers. Criminals, posing as police officers, have been reported to have carried out robberies, carjacking and to have erected illegal road blocks. Avoid carrying large amounts of money or valuables with you.

Money and Valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money in Algeria, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques or foreign currency. Consult your bank as to which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Algeria as some Australian debit and cash cards may not be accepted.

ATM cards and credit cards can be used in hotels and a limited number of businesses in the larger cities. Most international credit cards are accepted by ATMs available in major cities and large international hotels. You should only buy Algerian dinars at bureau de change at international airports, large hotels, and banks in major cities. The dinar cannot be exported.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery, cameras and electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops may be tempting targets for thieves. Airport customs authorities may insist that all foreign currency be declared even when taking domestic flights.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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 dry 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.

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 passports.

Local travel

We strongly recommend you stay at international hotels which provide a high level of security.

Australians travelling in Algeria should avoid travelling outside Algiers by road due to the risk of attack and robbery. The government imposes travel restrictions in certain parts of the country. Travellers should check with Algerian authorities for details. Bandits may use illegal checkpoints and blockades on roads to stop vehicles, including buses. It is recommended that internal travel be undertaken by air. However, if travel by road is necessary it should be done during daylight and police authorities should be advised of your itinerary.

Road and traffic conditions in Algeria are very dangerous. A large number of people are killed and injured in traffic accidents, including buses, each year. See also our road travel page.

The land border between Algeria and Morocco is currently closed. There are reports of unexploded landmines in the area of Algeria bordering the Western Sahara region. Mines have been known to shift in sandstorms. A previously unknown minefield was reportedly discovered at Bir El Ater, 75km south of Tebessa, near the Tunisian border, in early October 2010.

The areas bordering the Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali and Niger are known to be frequented by bandits and armed smugglers. Credible reports indicate that terrorists may be planning to kidnap foreigners travelling between Algeria and Mali.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Algeria, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can’t get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for possession of illegal drugs, including soft drugs, include imprisonment.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Algeria and penalties include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography of military or sensitive sites, including military or security personnel, may lead to arrest and detention.

Serious crime, such as murder or treason, may attract the death penalty.

In Algeria it is against the law to attempt to convert Muslims to another faith or to distribute material that may be seen by local authorities as an attempt to convert Muslims to another faith.

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.

Local Customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Algeria, and you should take care not to offend. Women are advised to wear loose-fitting clothes that cover the arms and legs. Women should consider wearing a headscarf, particularly in rural and traditional areas and near mosques, religious shrines and religious educational institutes. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Physical contact between men and women in public should be avoided. Public displays of affection can cause offence, particularly in rural and traditional areas and near mosques, religious shrines and religious educational institutes.

The normal work week in Algeria is Sunday to Thursday.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for Dual Nationals

Algeria does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Algerian dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Australian/Algerian dual national males may be subject to compulsory military service and other obligations when in Algeria and should seek advice from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Algeria, well in advance of travel.

Children born of an Algerian father automatically acquire Algerian citizenship at birth. Child custody decisions are based on local religious laws. Australians involved in custody and other family disputes should consult a lawyer before they leave Australia for advice on the impact of religious law on their family circumstances, including their departure from Algeria.

Dual national Algerian/Australian citizens should note that Algeria has been listed by the Government of the United States of America as one of the 14 countries whose citizens will be subjected to a full body and cabin baggage search on entering the United States.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

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 standard of medical facilities in Algeria varies. Public medical services and facilities in the capital, Algiers, vary from adequate to limited. Private medical facilities, especially in the capital, Algiers, are generally better equipped than public facilities and can meet normal international accreditation standards. Medical facilities in remote areas, including mountainous and desert regions, can be very limited or non-existent. Travellers may wish to consider carrying limited medical supplies for personal use. Foreigners will be required to pay an up-front deposit for medical services.

In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities such as Marseille or Paris in France would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could range between $A7,000 and $A50,000.

Insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and West Nile fever) are prevalent in Algeria. There is also a risk of malaria. 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, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food, particularly outside metropolitan areas. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). 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 Algeria. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the local Canadian Embassy provides consular assistance to Australians in Algeria. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports, but can issue a Provisional Travel document allowing you to travel from Algeria to the nearest Australian Embassy. Contact details are:

Canadian Embassy
18, rue Mustapha Khalef
Ben Aknoun
Algiers, 16000, Algeria
Telephone: (+213) (0) 770 08 30 00
Facsimile: (+213) (0) 770 08 30 70/ 770 08 30 40
E-mail: alger@international.gc.ca
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 09:00-11:00hrs

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in France:

Australian Embassy
4 rue Jean Rey
75724 Cedex 15
Paris, France
Telephone: (+33 1) 4059 3300
Facsimile: (+33 1) 4059 3315

If you are travelling to Algeria, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly 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.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Parts of Algeria, including Algiers, are subject to earthquakes and floods. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.