- We advise against all travel to Yemen due to the very high risk of terrorist attack. We strongly urge all Australians in Yemen to depart.
- Australians in Yemen should be aware that any identifiable Western interest could be targeted for attack. Further terrorist attacks are very likely and could occur at any time throughout Yemen.
- Terrorists may be planning suicide attacks against Yemeni and foreign interests, including foreign officials, embassies, diplomatic premises and vehicles, and hotels. These locations have been attacked in the past and are very likely to be attacked in the future.
- There is a very high risk of kidnapping throughout Yemen, including in the capital Sana’a. A number of foreigners were kidnapped in Sana’a in 2012. Foreigners, including Australians, have been targeted in the past. Some hostages have been killed.
- Yemeni Government interests are routinely targeted for attack by terrorists. Australians in Yemen should exercise extreme caution near facilities and installations belonging to the Yemeni authorities, including deployments of security forces and ministries
- Political and economic developments in Yemen and the region may prompt large demonstrations. You should avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Yemen as they may become violent.
- Routes in and out of Sana’a and the other major cities may be blocked and airports closed or inaccessible with little notice. The international airport in Sana’a may close without notice.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Yemen and our ability to provide consular assistance is severely limited.
- Piracy occurs against all forms of shipping in and around Yemen's waters and the Gulf of Aden. We strongly advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters. For more information about piracy, see our Piracy bulletin.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
We advise against all travel to Yemen. Visas are no longer granted on arrival in Yemen. Visa conditions change without notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Yemen for the most up-to-date information.
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.
Women in Yemen can be subjected to strict family controls and may be prevented from leaving the country. A Yemeni husband may legally prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality.
If you are arriving from a country infected with yellow fever, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be granted entry into Yemen.
If a traveller's passport contains evidence of entry to Israel, or another country's border crossing points with Israel, entry to Yemen will be denied.
Local customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the import or export of items such as alcohol, firearms, pornography and antiquities.
Children under 18 years must have their father's permission to leave the country, regardless of the status of their parents' marriage and who has been granted custody.
Safety and security
We advise you not to travel to Yemen because of the very high threat of terrorist attack.
Be aware of the ongoing high threat security environment: Ask yourself whether, given your own personal circumstances, you're comfortable travelling to Yemen knowing that there is a very high threat from terrorism and you may be caught up in a terrorist attack. Ask yourself whether travel could be deferred or an alternative destination chosen. If, having considered these issues, you do decide to travel to Yemen, you should exercise extreme caution, avoid, where possible, all locations known to be frequented by foreigners and maintain a low profile at all times. You should seek advice from professional security consultants on your safety and security arrangements.
Australians intending to travel to Yemen should be aware that violent anti-Western terrorists are based in many parts of the country and have demonstrated a capacity to launch attacks in all parts of Yemen. These groups have also demonstrated their continuing intent to cause mass civilian casualties, particularly among Westerners. Yemen-based terrorists are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methodology, scale of operations and ambition to maximise harm to Westerners. These groups have also claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist plots outside of Yemen in which their sole objective was to inflict civilian casualties. The presence of these groups in Yemen poses a very high threat to the safety and security of Australians.
Australians in Yemen should be aware that any identifiable Western interest could be targeted for attack. Further terrorist attacks are highly likely and could occur at any time anywhere in Yemen with little or no warning. In this highly dangerous and unpredictable environment, Australians should adopt strict security procedures and carefully consider the necessity of all travel against the very high risk of terrorist attack. Australians of all backgrounds should consider themselves to be a potential target for attack, regardless of location or length of stay in Yemen, occupation or ethnic or religious background. You should remain vigilant at all times and ensure that you vary your routines to ensure patterns in behaviour and movement do not become apparent to observers.
On 7 August 2012, a suicide bombing at a funeral in Abyan province killed 45 people and injured many more. On 17 July 2012, a police academy in Sana’a was bombed, killing at least 26 people. On 21 May 2012, a suicide attack against Yemeni Government security forces in Sana’a reportedly killed around 100 people.
Statements by Yemeni-based terrorists indicate a continuing intent to attack Westerners and Western targets. An increase in violent incidents over the past year has demonstrated the ongoing very high threat of terrorist attack in all parts of Yemen, including in Sana’a.
Recent terrorist attacks involving Western interests: A number of attacks against Westerners and Western interests have occurred in Yemen in recent years. Foreign tourists are particularly vulnerable to terrorism in Yemen. Attacks against tourists have increased in urban and provincial areas and are expected to continue to do so, including in Sana’a and Hadramaut provinces where a number of tourist attractions are located.
Previous examples of attacks on Westerners and Western interests include:
- On 11 October 2012, a Yemeni employee of the US Embassy in Sana’a was shot dead while off duty.
- On 20 June 2012, Yemeni authorities announced the disruption of a plot to attack foreign embassies in Sana’a.
- On 20 May 2012, a US citizen was shot and injured while travelling through Hodeida.
- On 1 May 2012, militants attacked a vehicle carrying a foreign oil worker in Haradamaut province.
- On 18 March 2012, a US citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz.
- On 20 July 2011, a UK citizen was killed in a suspected car bombing in Aden.
- On 15 December 2010, a vehicle belonging to Westerners was targeted by an explosive device while in the Haddah district of Sana’a.
- On 6 October 2010, a British Embassy vehicle was targeted in a terrorist attack. A number of individuals were injured, including one UK national.
- On 15 March 2009, four foreign tourists were killed by a suicide bomber in Shibam, southern Hadramaut, and a suicide bomber targeted a convoy carrying foreigners close to Sana'a International Airport.
- On 17 September 2008, an attack on the US Embassy in Sana'a killed 17 people. The group claiming responsibility for the attack has also threatened to target British, Saudi and Emirati missions in Sana’a.
Possible terrorist targets: Terrorists may be planning suicide attacks against Yemeni and foreign interests, including foreign officials, embassies, diplomatic premises and vehicles, and hotels. Terrorists may also be planning attacks on oil infrastructure in Yemen. Several attacks against oil interests and kidnappings of foreign oil workers were reported in 2010. Further such incidents could occur in any part of Yemen.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Targets include areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, fast food and retail franchises, schools, places of worship, embassies and diplomatic interests, foreign residential compounds, international organisations, outdoor recreation events, public and private transport, including convoys; and Yemeni government interests, security, police and military infrastructure and personnel, oil industry facilities, tourist areas and attractions, markets and shopping centres. No location in Yemen should be considered immune from violence.
Yemeni Government interests: Yemeni Government interests are routinely targeted for attack by terrorists. Australians in Yemen should exercise extreme caution near facilities and installations belonging to the Yemeni authorities, including deployments of security forces.
Threats to Western interests exist across the Arabian Peninsula: Terrorists have continued to issue statements pledging to launch further attacks against all Westerners in the Arabian Peninsula. In past statements, these terrorists have called for attacks in the Gulf region against Western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests. The terrorist group responsible for these statements is believed to have a significant presence in Yemen.
High threat of kidnapping in Yemen: There is a very high threat of kidnapping in Yemen, including in the capital Sana’a as well as on the Aden/Taiz/Sana'a highway, and in the provinces of al-Jawf, Abyan, Sa’ada, Dharmar, Amran, Marib, Sana’a and Shabwah. Foreigners, including Australians, have been kidnapped by tribesmen with grievances against the Yemeni Government. Kidnappers have reportedly demanded large ransom payments. There is a strong possibility that anyone initially kidnapped by a tribe or criminal group could be subsequently sold to AQAP.
In 2012, a number of foreigners were kidnapped in Yemen, including within Sana’a and areas surrounding the city. On 21 December 2012, one Austrian national and two Finnish nationals studying Arabia were kidnapped in central Sana’a and continue to be detained. On 29 July 2012, an Italian citizen was kidnapped in Sana’a. On 12 May, gunmen attempted to kidnap the Bulgarian Ambassador from his car in Sana’a. A Saudi Arabian diplomat was kidnapped in Aden in March 2012. A Swiss citizen was reportedly kidnaped in Hodeida, west of Sana’a, in March 2012. Several foreign aid workers were kidnapped in Sana’a in January 2012. In November 2011, three French hostages were released after over five months in captivity.
Other kidnap incidents have ended with tragic consequences. For example, nine foreigners were kidnapped in Sa’ada in June 2009. The bodies of three foreigners were found several days later. Two children kidnapped at this time were released only in May 2010. The identity of those responsible is not known. The presence of terrorists in the south is likely to lead to a situation more conducive to kidnappings.
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 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.
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
The situation in Yemen remains volatile with continuing unrest and violent clashes reported, particularly in Sana’a. Since January 2011 there has been heavy fighting involving security forces, anti-government protestors and terrorist groups across Yemen. The fighting has resulted in numerous casualties and deaths. Further violence is likely.
Routes in and out of Sana’a and the other major cities may be blocked and airports closed or inaccessible with little notice. The international airport in Sana’a may close without notice.
We continue to advise Australians to depart Yemen by commercial means.
A State of Emergency was declared by Yemeni authorities on 30 March 2011 and remains in place.
The political situation remains volatile and unpredictable. There remains a strong possibility of further violence.
You should take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers due to the risk of further violence and unrest in all parts of Yemen.
If, despite our strong advice that you depart, you decide to remain in Yemen, you should avoid all protests and demonstrations and remain indoors wherever possible. You should also stay in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra or the Australian Embassy in Riyadh (see below under Where to Get Help for details). You should continue to avoid locations known to be frequented by foreigners.
Australians who remain in Yemen should ensure they have appropriate personal security measures in place. Australians in Yemen should also prepare a contingency plan to enable departure from Yemen in the event of a sudden further deterioration in the security environment. Protests and demonstrations may also affect your ability to travel by road. As a precautionary measure, you should ensure you have adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, cash and medications and that your documentation remains up to date. You are responsible for ensuring that your contingency plan is regularly reviewed and is appropriate for your personal circumstances.
Australians remaining in Yemen should be aware that, in the event of a further deterioration, our capacity to assist in evacuations will be severely constrained. Because Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Yemen, we ordinarily rely upon officials from other countries to assist Australians in distress. Due to the deterioration in the security environment, many embassies in Yemen are operating with reduced staff. In the event of any further increase in civil disorder or breakdown in law and order, the capacity of the Australian Government to arrange for your evacuation from Yemen will be greatly constrained. Due to lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints and the very high risk of terrorist attack in Yemen, options for evacuation from Yemen are extremely limited. These factors underpin our very strong advice that Australians should depart Yemen by commercial means.
Australians in Yemen should be aware that insurgent groups opposed to the Government of Yemen have carried out a number of violent attacks across Yemen. These attacks have primarily been focused on the interests of the Government of Yemen. You should be aware that insurgent attacks could take place in any part of Yemen and that Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others.
Avoid all demonstrations and protests: In addition to the current unrest, political and economic developments in Yemen and the region may prompt large demonstrations. You should avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Yemen as they may become violent. Demonstrations took place in front of the US Embassy in Sana’a on 13 September 2012 and further demonstrations may occur.
In the past, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured in stampedes at political rallies in Yemen. Lives have also been lost in election-related shootings. You should avoid all political rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
Significant dates and political anniversaries can act as a catalyst for violence and civil unrest. Events associated with the reunification of North and South Yemen (such as the period surrounding Unity Day on 22 May) have in the past seen significant civil unrest and clashes should be avoided as further violence could occur. Australians in Yemen should monitor the media for information about possible new safety and security risks, including significant political events that may inflame existing tensions.
Despite government efforts to disarm the population, weapons are still readily available within Yemen and the tribes are often heavily armed.
Armed carjacking has occurred in many parts of the country. Drive with your vehicle's doors locked and windows up at all times.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is rare but does occur. Credit card fraud, such as skimming, also occurs.
Unaccompanied women can be vulnerable to harassment. Women should take care when travelling alone, particularly at night.
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 Yemen. Yemen does not have an extensive ATM network. Credit cards and travellers' cheques are not widely 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.
Unclear and unheeded traffic laws, excessive speed, roaming animals and pedestrians are the cause of many road accidents. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Unexploded munitions, including anti-personnel landmines, are a danger in the central highlands and in the southern and eastern regions, particularly around Aden, and in Sa’ada province.
Foreigners wanting to undertake independent travel outside Sana'a are required to apply for permission from the Ministry of Tourism.
Avoid travelling after dark. Do not leave your vehicle unattended due to the risk of explosive devices being left in, on or near it.
You should seek the advice of the Yemeni authorities before entering Yemeni waters or ports. Many areas are sensitive from a security or territorial point of view.
Piracy: There is a high risk of piracy in the coastal areas of Yemen. There have been attacks by pirates against all forms of shipping in and around Yemen’s waters and the Gulf of Aden. Pirates have been using motherships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,850km) from the coast of Somalia.
All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft (yachts etc) and luxury cruise liners. We strongly advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Yemen, 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.
Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. See also Information for Dual Nationals below.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are range from imprisonment and/or fine to death.
Homosexuality is illegal. Penalties for acts of sodomy range from imprisonment to death.
The death penalty can also be imposed for murder and some terrorism-related offences.
Some offences, including consuming alcohol in public, slander and adultery, are punishable with corporal punishment (lashing).
It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military personnel and installations, including airports and equipment, and other sensitive infrastructure. Military sites are not always clearly marked or defined.
Preaching religion other than Islam in public (except in churches) and attempting to convert Muslims is illegal.
There are restrictions on the sale of alcohol and pork. Customs authorities at border entry points will confiscate these products and in some cases travellers have been detained at borders because of the smell of alcohol on their breath.
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 strict Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Yemen. Any disrespect for Islam will cause great offence. You should be modest in both your dress and behaviour. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Women are advised to wear a headscarf and cover their arms and legs, while men should avoid wearing shorts or unbuttoned shirts.
Non-Muslims may not enter mosques in Yemen.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Public displays of affection may cause offence.
It is generally unacceptable for unmarried couples to live together. Hotels may refuse accommodation to couples unable to provide proof of marriage.
Yemen does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Yemeni dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
Australian/Yemeni dual nationals may be required to complete national service obligations if they visit Yemen. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Yemen before you travel.
Our Dual nationals page 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 preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Health page also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities in Yemen is limited and very basic, particularly outside the major cities of Sana'a and Aden. Private health care facilities generally require payment at the time of treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident or for complex procedures, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities could be necessary. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.
Malaria occurs throughout Yemen, except in areas above 2,000 metres. Chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria have been reported. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue, filariasis and leishmaniasis) are common. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an 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 typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, schistosomiasis, polio and rabies) 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. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
The altitude in the Sana'a region can cause problems for travellers, particularly those who suffer from lung, heart or chest problems.
Where to get help
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Yemen. Our ability to provide consular assistance is limited. You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia:
Australian Embassy, Riyadh
Abdullah Bin Hozafa Al-Shami Avenue
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telephone: (966 1) 4887788
Facsimile: (966 1) 4887973
The working week is Saturday to Wednesday, in accordance with local practice.
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.
If you are travelling to Yemen, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend you 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.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The monsoon season is from June to September, sometimes resulting in flooding.
Sandstorms and dust storms also occur.
Yemen is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity.
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 general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.