- We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Lebanon at this time because of the unpredictable security and political situation. The situation could deteriorate without warning.
- Violence is possible due to ongoing political and sectarian tensions. Violent incidents resulting in deaths and injuries continue to occur throughout the country. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others. If violence escalates, departure options may be severely limited. You are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Lebanon and that your travel documentation remains up-to-date.
- The primary road between downtown Beirut and the international airport can be blocked without warning. Access to the airport may be cut off, potentially for extended periods, if the security situation deteriorates.
- If you do decide to travel to Lebanon, you should exercise extreme caution. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media and other local information sources about possible new safety or security risks and political developments.
- You should ensure that you carry personal identity documentation at all times.
- On 22 March 2013, Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned from office, leaving Lebanon with a caretaker government until a new Cabinet can be formed. It is possible that the already volatile security situation could deteriorate further during this period.
- On 19 October 2012, a car bomb targeting a senior security official detonated in the inner city suburb of Achrafieh, a residential and popular shopping district in eastern Beirut. Violence and disruptions to road access were reported throughout the country.
- You should avoid any large gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they could turn violent. In the event of protests or civil unrest you should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information affecting your safety and security.
- We strongly advise Australians not to travel to north-eastern suburbs of Tripoli, including Jabal Mohsen and Bab al Tabbaneh, due to ongoing fighting between rival factions. Further violence and armed clashes are likely to occur. For more information see Safety and security: Civil unrest/political tension.
- Terrorist attacks are likely and could occur throughout Lebanon. Western interests have been attacked in the past and could be targeted again. Embassies, international hotels, fast-food outlets and restaurants, including those frequented by foreign military personnel, and other commercial and public places remain possible targets.
- We strongly advise you not to travel south of the Litani River due to the danger posed by landmines, unexploded ordnance, cross-border artillery strikes and the uncertain security environment.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to border regions in northern Lebanon (especially in the vicinity of the Wadi Khaled area). Tensions in this area are ongoing and further cross-border clashes are likely. See Safety and security: Civil unrest / Political tension for more information.
- Since July 2012 there have been regular reports of kidnapping for ransom, including some foreign nationals, mainly in the Bekaa Valley.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to Palestinian refugee camps at this time. The situation is unpredictable and could deteriorate without warning. The Lebanese state has no formal security presence in the camps. Outbreaks of violence could spread to other areas of the country, including other refugee camps.
- There are significant numbers of unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, and landmines in Lebanon, particularly in southern Lebanon. Australians are strongly advised to keep to well-travelled paths and travel with local guides.
- 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. You should call ahead for advice before going to the Embassy. Australians requiring emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra. See Where to Get Help for contact details.
- Given the volatile security situation, we strongly recommend that you be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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 Lebanon for the most up-to-date visa information.
There have been instances where Australian citizens travelling on emergency passports have been refused entry to Lebanon. When you apply for a full validity passport you must provide original documents that confirm your Australian citizenship and your identity. Details of documents that confirm your citizenship and identity (in Australia and overseas) can be found at the Australian Passport website. Before you travel, you should consider telling your family where to find your original citizenship documents in case you need them for the issue of a replacement passport.
It is against Lebanese law to travel to Israel. If you have any evidence that you have travelled to Israel, or that you intend to travel to Israel, you will be refused entry to Lebanon, or deported. This includes Israeli exit or entry stamps in your passport, and Egyptian or Jordanian stamps from border crossings with Israel, and travel itineraries or tickets that include Israel as a destination. Citizens of Lebanon and other Arab nations, including dual nationals, may be arrested and imprisoned. Other citizens may be held for questioning for lengthy periods (up to several days) before being deported.
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
Civil unrest/political tension
We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Lebanon at this time due to the unpredictable security and political situation. Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others. You should pay close attention to your personal security, monitor the media for updates and follow the directions of local authorities. If you are in Lebanon, and have concerns for your safety, you should consider departing.
On 22 March 2013, Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigned from office, leaving Lebanon with a caretaker government until a new Cabinet can be formed. It is possible that the already volatile security situation could deteriorate further during this period.
Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations: You should avoid any large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should stay indoors during celebratory gunfire, which often occurs after political speeches. Australians are advised to stay away from areas where violence is known to have occurred or is likely to occur. If you are in an area affected by clashes, you should stay indoors and monitor local information sources for updates on the security situation. If you become aware of nearby clashes, you should leave the area immediately if it is safe to do so.
Be prepared to depart Lebanon quickly: You should be aware that in the event of a crisis you are responsible for ensuring you are able to depart Lebanon. You should ensure that your travel documentation remains up-to-date to allow a rapid departure. This includes obtaining passports for children born in Lebanon and ensuring that any family members that wish to travel with you have a current passport. If violence escalates, roads and highways could quickly become blocked, including access routes to airports and borders. As a result, departure options may be severely limited. You should not expect the Australian Government will be in a position to facilitate your immediate departure.
Violent incidents resulting in deaths and injuries continue to occur throughout the country.
Following a car bombing in Beirut on 19 October 2012 violence and disruptions to road access, including to the international airport in Beirut, were reported throughout the country. You should avoid all protests, demonstrations and public gatherings as they may turn violent.
During the period 2005-08 a number of bomb attacks and political assassinations took place throughout Lebanon. Targets included buses, an intersection and a shopping mall car park. In May 2008, dozens of people were killed in clashes between rival factions across the country. Other episodes of localised violence have occurred throughout Lebanon since 2009, resulting in injuries and deaths.
On 30 June 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) delivered to Lebanon’s Prosecutor-General an indictment, which is reported to have contained arrest warrants for four men, all believed to be members of Hizballah. Previously, Lebanese political leaders and security officials have warned publicly that the indictments could lead to civil unrest. If you intend to travel to Lebanon you should monitor ongoing political developments, particularly in relation to the STL.
Political developments elsewhere in the region and international events may prompt large demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. Both planned and spontaneous demonstrations related to the domestic and regional situation do occur.
Clashes in Beirut: In May 2012, armed clashes occurred in parts of Beirut, and a number of roads and highways were closed temporarily. In August 2012, the reported kidnappings of Syrians and other foreign nationals resulted in escalating tensions in Beirut and elsewhere. Armed groups were mobilised in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Main highways, including between central Beirut and the international airport, have been subject to sporadic closure by groups seeking to protest against Government policies, the situation in Syria, or to destabilise the security environment.
Clashes in Sidon: In November 2012, clashes in Sidon reportedly killed three people and injured several others. Further such incidents could occur in all parts of Lebanon.
Violent clashes in Tripoli: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to north-eastern suburbs of Tripoli, including Jabal Mohsen and Bab al Tabbaneh, due to ongoing fighting between rival factions. Fighting has occurred on several occasions since June 2011, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries. Simmering tensions and regular clashes throughout 2012 and 2013 culminated in heavy fighting and loss of life in March 2013. Heavy fighting occurred in May and June 2012. Clashes were also reported in Tripoli in October 2012. Further violence and armed clashes are likely to occur in these neighbourhoods.
Southern Lebanon: We strongly advise you not to travel south of the Litani River. An exchange of rocket and artillery fire across the Lebanese/Israeli border occurred on 29 November 2011. Previously, a border clash between Israeli forces and LAF occurred on 1 August 2011. The security situation in the area of the Lebanon-Israel border could deteriorate without notice and further conflict could occur. Rocket attacks launched from Lebanon could provoke retaliatory attacks throughout Lebanon.
Israeli forces remain in the southern border town of Ghajar and there are ongoing tensions in the surrounding region. This has led to occasional cross-border artillery strikes. While the presence of the LAF and UN forces in southern Lebanon has led to a general improvement in the security environment, further clashes could occur. As highlighted by the conflict between Israel and Hizballah in 2006, the security situation could change without notice and Australians could be caught up in any violence directed at others. You should avoid any areas where military activity is ongoing.
Border regions in northern Lebanon: We strongly advise Australians not to travel to border regions in northern Lebanon (especially in the vicinity of the Wadi Khaled area). Tensions in this area between Syrian forces and those who have sought refuge in Lebanon from the unrest in Syria – including Syrians opposed to the regime of President Bashar al Assad – are ongoing. Repeated cross-border clashes occurred throughout 2012, resulting in deaths and injuries of civilians due to shells having been fired from the Syrian side of the border. Further cross-border clashes and exchanges of fire between opposing forces are likely to occur.
Palestinian refugee camps: We strongly advise you not to travel to Palestinian refugee camps in any part of Lebanon. Extremist groups are known to 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 and they experience high levels of crime. There are frequent armed clashes between rival factions within some of the camps.
Terrorist attacks are likely and could occur throughout Lebanon. The greatest threat comes from extremist groups, whose presence is greatest in and around Palestinian refugee camps, in the Tripoli region, parts of the Bekaa Valley and south of the Litani River. In the past, such groups have attacked Western interests and embassy officials and may do so again. Other potential targets include embassies, international hotels, businesses, fast food outlets and restaurants frequented by foreigners, including licensed premises.
Australians could inadvertently be caught up in attacks directed at others.
Targets associated with the Lebanese Government, such as government institutions, senior politicians and officials, and infrastructure, including airports and public buildings, could also be attacked.
On 19 October 2012, a car bomb targeting a senior security official detonated in the inner city suburb of Achrafieh, a residential and popular shopping district in eastern Beirut. According to media reporting, up to eight people were killed and up to 78 injured. This is the first major bombing to have occurred in Beirut since 2008.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Lebanese Government interests, particularly the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), are high priority terrorist targets. LAF and UNIFIL facilities and vehicles and places frequented by their personnel may also be targeted. In the past, there have been a number of attacks, some fatal, against both UNIFIL and the LAF. Separate attacks targeting UNIFIL vehicles occurred in May and July 2011,when roadside bombs damaged vehicles travelling in the vicinity of the southern city of Saida (between Beirut and Tyre), and a similar attack occurred in December 2011 in the vicinity of Tyre. Italian and French military personnel serving with UNIFIL were injured in these incidents.
In planning your activities, consider the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. In addition to the possible targets listed above, 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, Lebanese Government and military interests, hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centres, markets, promenades, bars, schools, places of worship, cinemas, outdoor recreation events, public transport and tourist areas.
Militants 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. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Since July 2012, there have been regular reports of kidnapping for ransom, including some foreign nationals, mainly in the Bekaa Valley.
On 15 and 16 August 2012, there were reports that a number of kidnappings, including targeted kidnappings of Syrians and some other foreign nationals, took place in the southern suburbs of Beirut and the Bekaa Valley in retaliation for kidnappings of Lebanese nationals in Syria.
On 21 September 2011, Lebanese officials warned publicly that foreigners could be targeted and detained against their will, for ransom, by kidnappers or other militant groups, particularly in parts of the Bekaa Valley. In March 2011, seven Estonian nationals were kidnapped near Zahle in the Bekaa Valley. They were released unharmed in July 2011 but members of the group responsible are believed to remain at large. If you do decide to travel to the Bekaa Valley, you should keep to major travel routes, exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant at all times.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
The Australian Government’s longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers paying ransoms increases the risk of further kidnappings.
Although crime in Lebanon is moderate by international standards, crime rates have increased significantly in recent times, particularly the incidence of vehicle crime, petty theft such as bag snatching (including by youths riding motorbikes), home break-ins and armed robberies.
We recommend against travelling in service (shared) taxis. There have been an increasing number of reports of armed robberies of foreign passengers travelling in service (shared) taxis in which victims were diverted to isolated locations where they were robbed at gunpoint. It is advisable to only use taxis from recognised companies and not to use service (shared) taxis or taxis hailed on the street, particularly late at night.
Money and valuables
Before you travel, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which currency is most appropriate to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. Both US Dollars and Lebanese Lira (also known as Lebanese Pounds) are accepted throughout Lebanon.
Make two photocopies of valuables 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 and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
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 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.
You should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for updates.
Roads, including access routes to the airport and border crossings, may be blocked during demonstrations and civil unrest. The airport may also close at short notice. If this occurs, you should check with your airline for up-to-date information and departure options.
There is an armed security presence throughout Lebanon, including at road check points. You should ensure that you carry personal identity documentation at all times and obey 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 alike. For further advice, see our road travel page.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.
South of the Litani River: We strongly advise you not to travel south of the Litani River due to the uncertain security environment and danger posed by landmines, unexploded ordnance and possible cross-border artillery strikes.
Unexploded ordnance, including cluster munitions, and landmines are numerous throughout Lebanon with the highest concentration in the south of the country. Minefields are not always clearly marked and those that are can shift away from signage. You should inform children of the risk, seek advice from local residents, stay on paved roads and avoid walking or driving cross-country.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Lebanon, 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 cannot 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 drug offences are severe and include mandatory prison sentences.
Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, can carry the death penalty.
Under Lebanese law, homosexual acts are illegal.
Access to some areas of Lebanon is restricted. Photographing or filming military personnel or installations, government buildings and major civilian infrastructure (such as power stations) may result in detention and/or the confiscation of photographic equipment.
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 you should ensure you 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.
Under Lebanese law, Lebanese nationals and non-nationals may prevent family members (even if they are Australian citizens) from leaving Lebanon. Australians (including mothers with children) have been prevented from leaving Lebanon when relatives have legally placed border alerts (known as ‘stop orders’) on them. The Australian Government cannot prevent or overturn the issue of a ‘stop order’ on an Australian citizen.
If you intend to marry in Lebanon, you will need to apply for a single status certificate. Please check with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your state or territory for further information.
Under Lebanese law, the use of reduced-price call-back telephone systems is illegal. Cards or accounts purchased in Australia cannot be used in Lebanon.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, 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 modest standards of dress and behaviour in parts of Lebanon, particularly at religious sites. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Public displays of affection may cause offence in conservative and religious areas.
Some hotels may refuse accommodation to couples who are unable to provide proof of marriage.
Information for dual nationals
Lebanon recognises dual nationality, but Lebanese citizenship takes precedence over the second nationality. If you are an Australian/Lebanese dual national you will be treated as a Lebanese national by Lebanese authorities. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Lebanese dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
Dual citizens re-entering Lebanon on their Lebanese passport/identity document should ensure their Lebanese documentation is in order and that all entry requirements are met. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Lebanon for the most up-to-date information.
Our Dual Nationals brochure 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.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Travelling Well brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities and care in many of Lebanon's large hospitals is of comparable standard to those in Australia. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services. Treatment can be very expensive.
A decompression chamber is located at the American University Hospital in Beirut.
It is recommended that all drinking water be boiled or that you drink bottled water.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
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. Australians requiring emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.
Contact details for the Australian Embassy are:
Australian Embassy, Beirut
Telephone: (961 1) 960 600
Fax: (961 1) 960 601
If you are travelling to Lebanon, 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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Lebanon is in an active earthquake zone.
Bush and forest fires often occur during the summer months in Lebanon (usually June to September), particularly in heavily forested areas. You should avoid fire affected areas and monitor the media for the latest information.
Sand and dust storms are common and may pose health risks, especially to people with respiratory problems.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas, we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.