Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Iraq

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Do not travel to Iraq because of the extremely volatile and dangerous security situation. Armed conflict, air strikes, kidnappings and terrorist attacks are common. If you're in Iraq, including the Kurdish region, depart immediately.
  • Armed groups conduct large-scale, coordinated attacks against the Government of Iraq and civilians. Thousands of people have been killed and injured in these attacks throughout Iraq. See Safety and security.
  • There is a very high threat of kidnapping. Information indicates that terrorists may be planning to kidnap expatriate staff working in Iraq, including journalists and humanitarian workers. See Safety and security.
  • Attacks by terrorists occur frequently and without warning. See Safety and security.
  • Armed opposition groups are active in many parts of Iraq, including in the Kurdish region. The situation could deteriorate further with little warning. See Safety and security.
  • It's illegal for you to enter or remain in the Iraqi district of Mosul (other than solely for a legitimate purpose). You could be prosecuted in Australia. See Laws
  • If you engage in a hostile activity in Iraq, or you enter Iraq with the intention of engaging in a hostile activity, you could be prosecuted in Australia. See Laws
  • The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in Iraq is extremely limited. Consular services are by appointment only. See Where to get help.
  • If you can't contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, call the Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305. See Where to get help.
  • If you plan to enter Iraq despite our advice, you'll need a visa issued in advance by the Government of Iraq, even if you intend to travel only to the Kurdish region. See Entry and exit.
  • If you decide to remain in Iraq despite our advice, seek professional security advice, adopt effective personal security measures and monitor media and other sources for information on possible new safety and security risks. See Safety and security.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.  

Entry and exit

Do not travel to Iraq, including the Kurdish region. If you're in Iraq, depart immediately. See Safety and security.

Visas

If you plan to enter Iraq despite our advice, you'll need a visa issued in advance by the Government of Iraq, even if you intend to travel only to the Kurdish region.

If you're in the Kurdish region without a valid Iraqi visa but with a Kurdish visa or residency permit, you may be permitted to leave Iraq through BIAP, provided you pay an exit fine.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Iraq or the Iraqi Ministry of Interior for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

If a child is travelling without a parent, the child's guardian must carry documentation confirming that the parents of the child consent to the travel.

If an Australian/Iraqi dual national child has an Iraqi father, the child may need to provide proof of permission to leave Iraq from the child's father before they will be allowed to depart. See

Laws

Local laws can change without notice. Confirm legal requirements with an Embassy or Consulate of Iraq before departure.

Land borders

Border crossings can close with little or no warning.

Border crossings in areas under terrorist control or threat of attack are reportedly closed. Sensitive border areas, particularly with Syria and Turkey, are the target of military operations.

Passport

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

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 get access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

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

Money

The local currency is the Iraqi dinar (IQD). Declare all amounts in excess of IQD 100,000 or $US 10,000 (or other foreign currency equivalent) on arrival and departure. $US and Euros are the most readily exchanged foreign currencies at local commercial banks and exchange bureaux.

Safety and security

Terrorism and armed conflict

The security situation is volatile and could deteriorate further with little warning.

Armed groups frequently conduct large-scale, coordinated attacks against the Government of Iraq and civilians. These groups have killed and injured thousands of people in many parts of Iraq, particularly the provinces of Anbar, Ninewa, Salah ah-Din, Diyala and Baghdad. There has also been fighting between armed groups and Peshmerga forces in the Kurdish region.

Attacks by terrorists occur frequently and without warning. Attacks may target or occur during political events, including international meetings and conferences or political rallies. Significant religious events, including Ramadan, Ashura and Arba'een have been targeted in recent years.  

ISIL is increasingly conducting urban terrorist-style attacks in populated areas, including crowded markets. Public transport, mosques, churches, schools, universities, funerals, religious gatherings, foreign embassies and other civilian infrastructure are also targeted. 

ISIL attacks also target Iraqi Security Forces, particularly check-points, police stations and recruiting centres. Critical infrastructure, including Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), is also a target. See Local travel.

In the Kurdish region, terrorist attacks targeted official buildings in Erbil in 2015. Security forces have recently detained ISIL cells planning attacks in Sulaimaniyah and Erbil. 

The US-led Coalition conducts targeted airstrikes against militants in Iraq.

Curfews and other security restrictions can change at short notice. 

Australian officials adopt enhanced security measures in Iraq.

If, despite our advice, you're in Iraq:

  • seek professional security advice
  • adopt effective personal security measures
  • make contingency plans, including keeping ample stocks of water, food, toiletries, fuel and any prescription medications
  • position yourself in a safe place and limit your movements as much as possible
  • be vigilant at all times
  • maintain a low profile
  • vary your routines so patterns in your behaviour and movements don't become apparent to observers
  • avoid possible targets for terror attack
  • wherever you go, have a clear exit plan for if there is a security incident
  • if there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately, if it is safe to do so 
  • avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack because of the risk of secondary attacks
  • monitor media for any new or emerging threats and responses such as curfews
  • leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist Threat Worldwide

Kidnapping

There is a very high threat of kidnapping in Iraq. Information indicates that terrorists may be planning to kidnap expatriates working in Iraq, particularly journalists and humanitarian workers. Some kidnappings are carried out by criminal gangs that demand large ransoms for the release of hostages. A significant number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped and murdered.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers. 

More information: Kidnapping  

Civil unrest and political tension

Political rallies and protests occur regularly in Baghdad and can turn violent with little notice. Large crowds can quickly gather. Most rallies and protests are held in Tahrir Square, outside checkpoints in the International Zone, or in the vicinity of government buildings.

In April and May 2016, protestors gained access to the International Zone (where the diplomatic missions are located) and demonstrations occurred at the Parliament, Cabinet Office and Prime Minister's office.

The KRG held a referendum on independence from Iraq on 25 September 2017. This has led to tensions in the Kurdish region and neighbouring areas, including Kirkuk Province.

Avoid demonstrations, political rallies and large gatherings, which may turn violent. Monitor the media and other sources for information about planned and possible unrest. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations, remain indoors and follow the advice of local authorities or your security provider.

 

Crime

Violent crime and corruption are prevalent across Iraq. Kidnapping, murder and robbery are common. Organised criminal gangs, militia and tribal groups pose significant threats.

If you're in Iraq:

  • travel with your vehicle's doors locked and windows up at all times
  • carry only what you need - leave other valuables in a secure location
  • secure your accommodation against intruders
  • be alert to your surroundings at all times.

Scams

A number of fraudulent websites and Facebook accounts claim to represent the Australian Government in Iraq. Please advise the Australian Embassy in Baghdad should you or your company be contacted by these fraudulent sites.

A number of Australian businesses have been contacted by companies claiming to be Iraqi importers, offering to do business in unusual or suspicious ways. Individuals may have knowledge of the industry and the target company and may appear legitimate. Seek legal advice if you or your company is asked to participate in such activities.

Australian companies have also been contacted by individuals claiming to represent the Government of Iraq, seeking payments associated with recently won contracts. Seek advice from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Canberra before making any payments.

More information: Scamwatch (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)

Local travel

Road travel

Road travel in Iraq is dangerous. Hazards include roadside bombs, attacks against checkpoints, robberies, lack of observation of road rules and poor driving skills. False security checkpoints have been used to stage kidnaps, robberies and murders, or to launch attacks.

Drink driving is illegal. See Laws.

If you need to travel by road, first:

  • seek local advice on possible routes
  • seek professional security advice
  • adopt effective personal security measures
  • make contingency plans.

More information: Road travel

Air travel

In January 2015, shots were fired at a commercial flight on its approach into Baghdad. A number of carriers have since suspended flights into Baghdad International Airport. The situation could change at short notice. Confirm flight arrangements well in advance.

Aviation safety and security standards may not meet those set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Iraq.

More information: Air travel

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. Due to the challenging security environment, the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in Iraq is extremely limited. We can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy jail terms and the death penalty. More information: Drugs

Other laws

Seek professional advice if you might engage in activities that involved local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support). Be aware of your rights and responsibilities.

The death penalty can be imposed for murder, treason, drug and terrorism-related offences.

The following activities are illegal in Iraq:

  • drink driving
  • consuming alcohol in public
  • eating or drinking in public between sunrise and sunset during the holy month of Ramadan
  • removing antiques or artefacts from Iraq
  • photographing or filming government buildings, security infrastructure (such as checkpoints and military bases) or embassies
  • filming in a public place without official prior approval - several foreign journalists have been arrested for filming without approval
  • preaching outside a place of worship
  • attempting to convert a Muslim
  • adandoning the Islamic Faith, if you are Muslim
  • sodomy
  • 'lewd conduct' which can include homosexual acts – more information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia.

It is an offence for Australians to enter or remain in the Iraqi district of Mosul (other than solely for a legitimate purpose). The Minister for Foreign Affairs has declared Mosul as an area in which a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in a hostile activity. More information: National Security

Other offences include, but are not limited to:

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

More information:

Dual nationals

Iraq recognises dual nationality. If an Australian/Iraqi dual national child has an Iraqi father, they may need to provide proof of permission from their father to leave the country before they will be allowed to depart.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Iraq. Public displays of affection are unacceptable. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. More information: Ramadan

Hotels may refuse accommodation to couples who cannot provide proof of marriage.

Health 

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

You're likely to require a specialised insurance policy for travel to "do not travel" destinations. Some travel insurance policies may not cover you for "do not travel" destinations.

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 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 are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will 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.

More information:

Medication

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

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Insect-borne diseases

Insect-borne diseases (such as leishmaniasis and sand fly fever) are common in Iraq. Malaria is widespread in the southern province of Basrah and areas below 1,500 metres in the Northern provinces of Dahuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Sulaymaniyah and Ta'mim.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

Infectious diseases

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is common. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Bird flu

The World Health Organization has confirmed cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in Iraq. More information: Avian influenza

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies) occur, with more serious outbreaks from time-to-time. 

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Polio

Iraq is no longer infected with wild poliovirus but is still vulnerable to the international spread of the disease. Stay up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose prior to departure. More information: Australian ImmunisationHandbook

Medical facilities

Health facilities in Iraq's major cities are limited and in remote areas are very basic or unavailable. Stocks of medical equipment and medicines are severely depleted.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive and may be difficult to arrange due to the security situation.

Natural disasters

Iraq is in an active earthquake zone. More information: Earthquakes

Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly. Daytime temperatures in Iraq can be extreme. July to September daytime temperatures normally exceeds 40 degrees Celsius and often rise above 50 degrees Celsius. More information: Severe weather

If a natural disaster occurs or Mosul Dam fails:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

Where to get help

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

Australian Government

The Australian Embassy is located within the International Zone, Baghdad. Due to access constraints and the challenging security environment, the Embassy's ability to provide consular services is extremely limited. Consular services are by appointment only.

If commercial options for leaving Iraq cease to exist, the Australian Government won't be able to facilitate your departure.  

Australian Embassy, Baghdad

If you need urgent consular advice, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

The Australian Embassy is located within the International Zone, Baghdad. Due to access constraints and the challenging security environment, the Embassy's ability to provide consular services is extremely limited. Consular services are offered by appointment only.

Due to the security environment, register your presence in Iraq with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Additional information

Mosul Dam

The Government of Iraq has begun to take measures to improve the structural integrity of Mosul Dam but concerns remain that the dam could fail. A dam failure would cause significant flooding from Mosul to Baghdad and could interrupt essential services.

If you're in Iraq, particularly in areas near the Tigris River, including Baghdad, make sure your contingency plan covers the need for you and your family to evacuate. The Australian Government won't be able to facilitate your departure if commercial options aren't available.

Additional resources