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Mongolia

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Mongolia. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Violent crime occurs in Mongolia and foreigners can be targeted. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You need a visa to enter Mongolia.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Mongolia for the up-to-date information.

Other formalities

You must provide evidence of a return airfare or onward travel to enter Mongolia.

Adults entering and departing Mongolia in the company of a child who isn't their own should carry a notarised letter from the child's legal guardian granting them permission to accompany the child. More information: Travelling with children

You must obtain prior permission from Mongolian Border Protection Authority to travel to Mongolia by car. To obtain permission, you'll need to provide proof that you'll exit the country with the car and it won't be abandoned in Mongolia.

If you're staying in Mongolia for longer than 30 days, including on a working visa, you need to register with the Office of Immigration in Ulaanbaatar within 7 days of arrival. If you don't register, you can be fined. If you hold a working visa, you must also deregister before leaving Mongolia. Confirm with your employer if they register on your behalf.

If you intend to work in Mongolia (including voluntary work) or marry a Mongolian national, local authorities may require you to have a HIV/AIDS test.

The importation of electrical and some high technology equipment is strictly controlled. The Mongolian Border Protection Authority will check the equipment and the Customs Authority will determine if tax is applicable. This also applies to any items being donated, such as medical equipment. This doesn't apply to common personal items, such as laptop computers and iPads.

More information: Embassy of Mongolia

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

By law, you must carry your passport at all times when travelling in Mongolia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to handover your passport, contact the Australian Embassy in Mongolia for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is Mongolian Tugrik (MNT).

A number of banks in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, exchange Australian Dollars. Check the banks' websites in advance.

The US Dollar, Euro, Russian Rouble and Chinese Yuan are popular currencies for exchange. However, these currencies may not be accepted in all establishments. Older US currency (prior to 2000) may not be accepted in Mongolia, even by banks. Bank notes of different nominal value are exchanged at different rates, with lower value notes at a lower rate. Outside Ulaanbaatar carry MNT.

The number of ATMs in Mongolia, particularly outside Ulaanbaatar, is limited.

Some smaller shops, supermarkets and restaurants in Mongolia don't accept credit cards.

Travel between Mongolia and Russia

Travellers have reported border and customs difficulties when entering Mongolia from Russia by train. Make sure you declare all goods and cash when entering and exiting Russia.

The Embassy of Russia in Mongolia can issue tourist visas for Russia, however this takes 14 working days.

Travel between Mongolia and China

If you travel between Mongolia and China, you must abide by China's entry and exit requirements, even if you are only transiting through China.

The Embassy of China in Mongolia can only issue a visa for China to residents of Mongolia. All other travellers must obtain a visa for China before travel.

More information: China travel advice

Safety and security

Crime

Incidents of violent crime in Mongolia are increasing, particularly in Ulaanbaatar. There have been a number of unprovoked, random assaults on foreigners, including during the day and in busy areas. This includes physical assaults on foreign men in the company of local women, and harassment and sexual assaults of foreign women.

Incidents of crime targeting travellers are particularly frequent around the Tsaagan Sar (January or February) and Naadam (July) Festivals, and during the summer tourist season.

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 Khaan International Airport, the Gandan Monastery, the State Department Store, the Naran Tuul Covered Market ('Black Market'), the Central Post Office and the Ulaanbaatar Railway Station.

Be alert to thieves when using public transport. Thefts frequently occur on trains travelling between Mongolia and Russia.

Travellers have reported being robbed by criminals posing as police officers, particularly in the Sukhbaatar Square area of Ulaanbaatar.

Travellers have been robbed and harassed when using taxis. Seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book through a reliable, licensed taxi company.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. 

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

Be alert in areas where there are large crowds. Avoid demonstrations as they may turn violent.

Local travel

Road 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 Ulaanbaatar. According to the World Health Organization, you are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Mongolia than in Australia. Take care as a pedestrian as drivers don't always give way, even at marked pedestrian crossings.  

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

When driving beyond city limits, take maps, a GPS and/or compass, communications equipment, such as a satellite phone, and emergency medical supplies. Communication and medical facilities are often limited in non-urban areas. 

Heavy snowfall can restrict access to many regional areas and greatly increase risks of car travel between towns for long periods of the year (See Natural disasters). Allow for additional travel time and ensure your travel insurance policy covers delays and cancellations. Severe weather and snowfall can also restrict medical evacuations from remote locations.

Take extra care as a pedestrian during severe weather, such as heavy snow which can cause build-up of black ice on footpaths and road crossings.

More information: Road safety and driving

Taxis

Travellers have been robbed and harassed when using taxis. Seek assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book through a reliable licensed taxi company.

Public transport

Local transport providers, including bus and private car operators, may not carry accident liability insurance. Always use seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Mongolia.

More information: Air travel

Regional travel

Access to some regional districts is occasionally restricted for quarantine purposes, such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, and bubonic or pneumonic plague.

Restrictions are subject to change. Speak to the Mongolian authorities or the nearest Embassy of Mongolia if you plan to travel to regional areas.

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

By law, you must carry your passport at all times when travelling in Mongolia. If you live in Mongolia, you must also carry your residency card.

Foreign nationals involved in legal proceedings may be denied permission to leave Mongolia until the issue is resolved. This includes when criminal investigations have commenced following commercial disputes.

Drug laws

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

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Mongolia doesn't 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. 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. If you're a dual national, contact the nearest Embassy of Mongolia before you depart.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Mongolian law doesn't specifically prohibit homosexuality and same-sex relationships, however the Mongolian National Human Rights Commission has reported LGBTI individuals can face violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBTI community has also reported harassment.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

The range of medicines available in Mongolia is limited.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to
  • get medical documents authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before you depart (if required).

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Rabies

Avoid contact with dogs and other animals as they may carry dangerous diseases, such as rabies. If bitten or scratched, immediately use soap and water, and wash the wound thoroughly. Seek urgent medical attention.

More information: Infectious diseases

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), hepatitis, measles, meningitis, rabies, typhoid and tuberculosis) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases, such as schistosomiasis.

Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Air pollution

During winter (October to March), the air in Ulaanbaatar is highly polluted due to the burning of coal and rubber for heating. If you have respiratory or other breathing-related issues, speak to your doctor before travelling.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical care is poor, particularly outside Ulaanbaatar. Bring basic medical supplies with you.

Doctors and hospitals require cash payment prior to providing services, even for emergency care.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation is difficult to arrange and expensive. Delays may occur while required approvals are obtained. Payment is usually required up-front for a medical evacuation and costs can be considerable.

Severe weather and snowfall can impede or preclude medical evacuations from remote locations. 

Natural disasters

Climate

Climate conditions in Mongolia vary from +35 degrees Celsius in summer to -40 degrees Celsius in winter.

Winter in Mongolia is long (October to March) and the weather is severe. A large number of accidents, including involving pedestrians, occur during winter due to black ice, particularly in urban centres. Snow storms can occur outside of the winter months. Ensure you have adequate clothing and appropriate footwear at all times of year.

Weather conditions can change quickly, including in summer, heightening the risk of hypothermia.

Earthquakes and natural disasters

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.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. Monitor media reports for the latest information.

More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS)

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 101
  • Medical emergencies: 103
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 102

Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

The Mongolian Tourist Information Center may also be able to assist.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Mongolia.

Australian Embassy, Ulaanbaatar


Australian Embassy
Shangri-La Centre, Level 20
Olympic St 19A, SB District
Ulaanbaatar 14241, Mongolia
 
Tel: +976 7013 3001
Email: mongolia.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Website: http://mongolia.embassy.gov.au/
Facebook: Australian Embassy in Mongolia
Twitter: @AusAmbMongolia

If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305  (or 1300 555 135 within Australia).

Additional information

Additional resources

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see: