- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Timor-Leste because of the uncertain security situation and the possibility of civil unrest. The situation could deteriorate without warning.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks.
- You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and other large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
- Medical facilities are extremely limited and evacuation, at significant expense, is often the only option in cases of serious illness or accident.
- Because of the uncertain security situation, we 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:
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 Timor-Leste for the most up-to-date information.
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 stated 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 email@example.com. 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. People applying for a work visa in Timor-Leste are required to provide proof of their place of employment upon arrival. Foreign businesspeople can apply for a resident visa if they can provide proof of the registration of their business. If you wish to work or operate a business in Timor-Leste you should consult the Timorese Immigration website for the current requirements.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
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.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Timor-Leste because of the uncertain security situation and the possibility of civil unrest. 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.
On 27 March 2011, legal responsibility for policing in Timor-Leste was handed over from the United Nations Police (UNPOL) to the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL). On 31 October 2012, UNPOL ceased to provide operational support to the PNTL. The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) ceased all operations on 31 December 2012.
You should avoid demonstrations, protests, street rallies and other large public gatherings as they may turn violent. From time to time, protesters have expressed anti-Australian sentiments and threats have been directed towards Australians and Australian interests.
Violent disturbances, often resulting from minor disputes, can erupt in Dili without notice and escalate quickly. Be particularly vigilant, especially at night, in the vicinity of markets, particularly Comoro Market and in other areas where there is a concentration of people. You should immediately leave the area if a dispute breaks out.
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. 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, particularly during the early evening and at night. You should avoid armed groups of people, including martial arts groups, both in the districts and in Dili.
Sexual harassment of foreign women, including groping and men exposing themselves is regularly reported. Incidents have been reported on the Beach Road and near the Christo Rei (Jesus statue). Violence against women is also reported, but does not commonly affect foreign women. Women should avoid visiting isolated areas alone and are advised that local standards of dress tend to be conservative.
Concerns remain about criminal activity in the border regions.
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. Few establishments (hotels, shops and restaurants) in Timor-Leste will accept credit cards. Consult with your bank whether your credit card and ATM card will work in Timor-Leste. US dollar notes older then the year 2000 will not be accepted.
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.
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.
For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.
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.
Unexploded ordnance is routinely discovered in open areas outside Dili. You should take particular care when hiking or moving about on foot in rural areas.
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.
Please refer to our travel bulletin for information about Aviation Safety and Security.
When you are in Timor-Leste, 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.
There are severe penalties for drug offences in Timor-Leste.
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, 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 ofup 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 brochure 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.
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 staying healthy and travelling with medicines while overseas.
Medical facilities 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.
Mosquito-borne diseases: Malaria is prevalent in all areas of Timor-Leste. Chloroquine-resistant strains are reported in some locations. Dengue fever is also prevalent, particularly in Dili. Other insect-borne diseases such as filariasis occur from time to time. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis 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.
The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea and is occasionally reported in Timor-Leste. 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 tuberculosis, typhoid and hepatitis) are prevalent. We encourage you to consult your doctor about which vaccinations, including childhood booster shots, you may need before travelling. 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.
Avian influenza: 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 more information see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
In Timor-Leste, Australians and Canadians can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Dili
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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
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 Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of the 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.
Crocodiles have been sighted at various places, including near Manatuto and some beaches in Dili.
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.