Mongolia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 19 December 2013.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Mongolia.

Mongolia overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Mongolia.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Because of the risk of criminal activity, you should avoid walking alone at night and exercise caution when using public transport.
  • 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.
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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 Mongolia for the most up to date information.

A visa is required for all travellers to Mongolia.

If you intend to visit Mongolia, your passport must be valid for at least six months after the duration of your intended stay. Travellers are also required to provide evidence of a return or onward airline ticket.

Local authorities may require you to have a HIV/AIDS test if you intend to stay in Mongolia for longer than one month.

Overland entry, other than by train, is not allowed unless special permission is obtained in advance from the Mongolian authorities.

If you are intending to travel to China from Mongolia, you will not be permitted by the Chinese authorities to enter unless you have a valid entry visa for China. If you are intending to enter Mongolia from China and then re-enter China (e.g. transiting Beijing on a return journey) you must have a double or multiple entry visa for China.

Many travellers have reported border and customs difficulties when entering Mongolia from Russia by train. Problems may occur if all goods and cash have not been declared on customs declarations when entering and exiting Russia. There have also been reports of difficulties in obtaining Russian visas in Ulaanbaatar. You should ensure you have all necessary visas for onward travel before arriving in Mongolia.

Concerns about international child abduction have prompted governments, including the Mongolian Government, to implement more stringent exit/entry procedures. Adults entering and departing Mongolia in the company of a child other than their own should carry a notarised letter from the legal guardian granting them permission to accompany the child.

You are required to register with the Office of Immigration, Naturalisation and Foreign Citizens if staying in Mongolia for longer than 30 days. Failure to do so may result in a substantial fine. Residents who have registered with the police are required to de-register with the police before departing Mongolia. Those who do not may not be allowed to exit through Mongolian border controls or may have to pay a substantial fine.

The importation of electrical and some high technology equipment is strictly controlled. This extends to the importation of equipment in accompanied baggage. Certification and approval is required. This does not apply to common items such as laptop computers.

In line with local requirements, 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

Terrorism

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

Australians should avoid large crowds and demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Crime

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

The incidence of violent crime in Mongolia continues to increase, particularly in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Foreigners have been robbed and assaulted, especially when walking at night. You should avoid walking alone at night.

In addition to assaults carried out at night, there has been a recent increase in unprovoked, random assaults on foreigners which have occurred during the daytime and in public. We recommend you avoid travelling alone.

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is prevalent. Thieves typically operate on public transport and in crowded areas in Ulaanbaatar such as Chinggis Khan International Airport, the Gandan Monastery, the State Department Store, the so-called "Black Market" or the Naran Tuul Covered Market, the Central Post Office and the train station. You should exercise caution when using public transport. Travellers have reported being robbed by criminals posing as police officers, particularly in the Sukhbaatar Square area of Ulaanbaatar. Incidents of crime targeting travellers are particularly frequent around the festivals Tsaagan Sar (January or February) and Naadam (July) and during the summer tourism season.

Thefts frequently occur on trains travelling between Mongolia and Russia.

Travellers have also been robbed when using unlicensed taxis. You should seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book through a reliable licensed taxi company.

Money and valuables

Before you go, 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 is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Mongolia. Some banks in Ulaanbaatar, including the central bank (Mongolbank) and head branches of other commercial banks, may exchange Australian dollars. Check the banks’ websites in advance for details.

The number of ATMs in Ulaanbaatar is limited. Older US currency (prior to 2000) may not be accepted in Mongolia, even by banks. The US dollar, Euro, Russian Rouble and Chinese Yuan are popular currencies, however, these currencies may not be accepted in all establishments. Bank notes of different nominal value are exchanged at different rates, with smaller notes at a lower rate. Most shops, supermarkets and restaurants in Mongolia do not accept credit cards. Outside Ulaanbaatar you should carry local currency.

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 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.

Australian travellers should be aware of attempts to obtain access to their passport by deception. If compelled to handover their passport, travellers should contact the Consulate-General for advice.

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

Driving in Mongolia can be hazardous, particularly at night, due to poor visibility, road conditions, vehicle maintenance and local driving practices. There are few sealed roads outside of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Dust storms occur during May and June, which may affect visibility, particularly when driving.

GPS, maps, communications equipment such as a satellite phone and emergency medical supplies can assist travellers visiting non-urban areas, where communication and medical facilities are often limited.

Insurance policies should have provisions for delays to your itinerary as heavy snowfalls in Mongolia can hamper access to many regional areas (and can also hamper medical evacuations from remote locations).

Local travel and bus operators may not carry accident liability insurance.

Quarantine restrictions to access some regional districts are occasionally in place for diseases such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, and bubonic or pneumonic plague. Restrictions are subject to change and you should seek information from the Mongolian authorities or the nearest Mongolian Embassy or Consulate if you are planning to travel to regional areas.

Airline safety

Airline and air charter safety and maintenance standards vary throughout the world. It is not known whether maintenance procedures and safety standards on aircraft used on domestic flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by airline insurance.

For further information, please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Mongolia, 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.
You are legally required to carry your passport at all times when travelling in Mongolia and, if living in Mongolia, a residency card.

Foreign nationals involved in legal proceedings may be denied permission to leave Mongolia.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment served in local jails.

Homosexual acts are not illegal in Mongolia, however you should be aware of local sensitivities. See our LGBTI travellers page.

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.

Information for dual nationals

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

Australian/Mongolian dual nationals intending to reside in Mongolia may be required to complete national service obligations. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mongolia well in advance of travel.

Our Dual Nationals brochure 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 care and range of familiar medicines available in Mongolia is often limited, particularly outside Ulaanbaatar. You are advised to bring basic medical supplies, including any regular prescription drugs, with you. Doctors and hospitals require cash payment prior to providing services, even for emergency care. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation can be provided but is expensive and difficult to arrange with possible delays to obtaining required approvals. Payment is usually required up-front for a medical evacuation and costs may exceed $60 000.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), hepatitis, meningitis, rabies, typhoid and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world, including in Mongolia. 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.

Heavy air pollution occurs during winter, particularly in Ulaanbaatar due to the use of coal for heating purposes.

You should avoid contact with domestic or stray dogs as it is unlikely they are vaccinated and they may carry dangerous diseases such as rabies.

Where to get help

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Consulate-General in Mongolia:

Australian Consulate-General, Ulaanbaatar

4F, Naiman Zovkhis (“Eznis”) Building
21 Seoul Street
Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Tel: +976 7013-3001
Fax: +976 7013-3014

If you are travelling to Mongolia, 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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Climate conditions in Mongolia vary from +35 degrees Celsius in summer to -40 degrees Celsius in winter. Even in summer, weather conditions can change quickly, heightening the risk of hypothermia.

Mongolia is subject to earthquakes. The rainy season occurs between July and September when flooding may occur. Forest or grass fires can also be common in the drier months.

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.