Djibouti

741 k
Population
Franc
Currency
When is the best time to visit Djibouti?
  • The very best time to go is from November to January (neither hot nor cold)
  • A good time to go is from November to March (if you pack the right clothes)
  • This is purely from a climate point of view of course.
Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime is not uncommon in Djibouti. Don’t walk around town alone late at night. Keep valuables, particularly cameras and passports, out of sight.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all travel to the border with Eritrea. In 2008 there were military clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea after an incursion of Eritrean forces into the disputed Djibouti border region. The situation remains fragile and further conflict is possible.

Take great care if you travel to remote areas of the country, including the border with Somaliland, in the north-west of Somalia, where the presence of security forces is low.

Road travel

Avoid travelling outside city centres after dark; vehicles often have no lights and livestock may be on the roads. Roads are narrow, poorly lit and maintained. Police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, which are not clearly visible at night. Land mines are common in the northern districts of Obock and Tadjoura and the southern district of Ali Sabeih.

Rail travel

A new railway line from Djibouti to Addis Ababa opened on 5 October 2016, but passenger trains aren’t yet operating.

Sea travel

While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks can’t be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events. Previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed.

Djibouti and western interests within Djibouti may be seen as a legitimate target by Al Shabaab because of its support to the Somali government and its participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission AMISOM. Al Shabaab has previously issued public threats against Djibouti. On 24 May 2014, there was a suicide bombing in a Djibouti restaurant, in which three people died and many were injured.

Follow the advice of local authorities, take care while travelling around the country and avoid large gatherings.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Djibouti has a predominantly Muslim population. You should dress in a conservative manner in the city. Homosexual behaviour is illegal. Drinking alcohol is permitted, but drunken behaviour could result in a two-year prison term.

During Ramadan you should show respect to those who are fasting and take care not to offend Islamic values.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Photographing infrastructure (such as ports, public buildings, airports, military facilities and bridges) is prohibited. Your equipment will be confiscated and you could be arrested. When taking photos near prohibited places you should take care and seek local advice if you are unsure.

French, Arabic and Somali are widely spoken.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals need a visa to enter Djibouti. Visas on arrival are issued at the discretion of the Djibouti Immigration authorities and can’t be guaranteed. You should get a visa before travelling, for further details, contact the French Embassy in London.

British nationals applying for a Djibouti visa in Ethiopia generally require a letter from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa for presentation at the Djibouti Embassy. There is a fee for this service payable in local currency.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Djibouti.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 13,000 adults aged 15 or over in Djibouti were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 2.5% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 35 09 62 or 35 27 12 (switchboard) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

From May to October the climate is very hot and dry. Below average rainfall in the past four years means many regions in East Africa area experiencing a severe drought including Djibouti. You may experience difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of food and water could be affected. 

Natural disasters

Djibouti is in an active volcanic and earthquake zone. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Money

Credit cards are accepted at only a very few places in Djibouti. It is not possible to get currency advances against a credit card. Make sure you have enough hard currency or travellers’ cheques.