Brunei travel guide
Thanks to sizeable deposits of oil and gas, the tiny tropical sultanate of Brunei Darussalam has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Its two non-contiguous territories, situated on the northern coast of Borneo in South-East Asia, are home to some of the region's most pristine rain forest habitats.
The country only gained independence in 1984, but has the world's oldest reigning monarchy and centuries of royal heritage. At the helm of the only remaining Malay Islamic monarchy in the world, the Sultan of Brunei comes from a family line that dates back over 600 years. The current sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, has been on the throne for 43 years and is one of the world's richest individuals.
Visitors to the "Abode of Peace" (the literal translation of darussalam) will find the country surprisingly laid-back and relaxing. In addition to admiring the gilded domes, towering minarets and extraordinary ornamentation of two landmark mosques in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, tourists can explore water villages by boat and on foot, learn about local culture in several interesting museums, sample delicious Malay cuising (some of the best can be found at open-air markets), and experience the incredibly biodiversity of the Bornean rain forest in Ulu Temburong National Park.
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq miles).
428,874 (UN estimate 2016).
74.5 per sq km.
Bandar Seri Begawan (popularly known as 'BSB').
Traditional Islamic monarchy.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967.
Last updated: 12 December 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Around 13,000 British nationals visit Brunei every year (source: Brunei Immigration). Most visits are trouble free.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Brunei, attacks can’t be ruled out.
Crime levels are low, but there are occasional incidents of petty crime against tourists.
To contact the emergency services call + 673 242 3901 (police), 991 (fire and ambulance) or 991 (emergency – crime).
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Safety and security
Crime levels are low, but there are occasional incidents of petty crime against tourists. Take particular care of your passport, avoid carrying valuables with you and do not leave possessions in unattended vehicles, even if out of sight in a locked boot.
Following an incident in September 2014, the police advise individuals against hiking alone in the forest, including at well-known recreation areas.
Drivers of vehicles not registered in Brunei can only purchase motor fuel at 10 designated filling stations throughout the country, to a maximum of 250 litres. Filling a foreign car is more expensive as the purchase price does not include a government subsidy.
You can drive in Brunei with a UK driving licence as long as it is endorsed by the Brunei Land Transport Department in the Ministry of Communications. Alternatively, you can use an International Driving Permit (for up to three months).
Driving standards differ from the UK. Traffic will not always stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings. Speeding and non use of seatbelts is common. Road conditions are generally good but you should take extra care while driving through heavy rain as road surfaces are uneven.
If you are involved in a road accident as a driver, you should not leave the scene or move the vehicle until the police have attended.
It is easy to get lost when visiting the rainforest. Use recognised and well-known guides, and stay on the footpaths.
Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. Keep yourself informed of developments, and if you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Brunei, attacks can’t be ruled out. You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There’s 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
Local laws reflect the fact that Brunei is an Islamic country. You should dress modestly and respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2018, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 17 May and finish on 16 June.
His Majesty The Sultan and other members of the Bruneian Royal Family are highly revered and public criticism of them would cause great offence.
On 22 October 2013 a new Sharia criminal code was enacted. The new code sets out severe corporal penalties and punishments, including death, for a variety of offences and in some cases will apply to non-Muslims. Phase 1 was implemented from 1 May 2014, with offences punishable with a fine, imprisonment or both. Phases 2 and 3, which include more severe penalties, are subject to further legislation before implementation.
Adultery (involving a Muslim) and close proximity between the sexes is deemed an offence under Bruneian Law and may attract a fine, imprisonment or both. In some circumstances, it may also attract corporal punishment. Under the new Sharia criminal code it is also an offence for any person who consumes any food, drink or tobacco in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan. You could be fined up to B$4,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 1 year.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal. Homosexual activity is illegal. There are severe penalties for all drug offences in Brunei including, in some cases, the death penalty. Other crimes may attract caning and lengthy prison sentences.
The sale of alcohol in Brunei is prohibited. Non-Muslims over 17 years of age may import duty free two bottles of wine or spirits and twelve cans of beer on entry into Brunei, but must declare them to the customs authorities on arrival and consume them in private. There must be at least a 48-hour gap between each import. Keep the customs slip in case of inspection. A list of other prohibited and restricted items is available on the Royal Customs and Excise Department’s website.
Smoking is prohibited in certain public places, including shopping and eating areas, bus stops and stations and government buildings. Offenders may be fined. It’s difficult to buy cigarettes in Brunei and there’s no duty-free allowance for tobacco or tobacco products, even for personal consumption.
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.
British citizens may enter Brunei for up to 90 days without a visa. Those with other types of British nationality should check with Brunei immigration authorities about visa requirements. Those who overstay their visa face strict penalties. Make sure the entry stamp in your passport indicates the validity of your stay. Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Brunei diplomatic mission before you travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brunei.
A departure tax (five Brunei Dollars for travel to Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines and 12 Brunei Dollars for all other destinations) is payable in local currency at the airport check in desk on departure from Brunei International Airport.
Brunei does not recognise dual nationality. You can be refused entry if you are found to be holding two passports of different nationality. If you are a dual national, it is advisable to enter Brunei on the passport on which you exited your last country of departure. While in Brunei your nationality will be deemed to be that shown on the passport which you used to enter the country. This may affect the consular assistance that you receive in Brunei.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency travel documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Brunei. They should have at least 6 months validity.
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.
Standards of healthcare in Brunei are generally acceptable, though basic hospital supplies can run low from time to time. There are two significant medical facilities, the Government General Hospital (RIPAS) in Bandar Seri Begawan and the private Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC). Should complications arise, medical evacuation to Singapore may be necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Emergency dental treatment can be provided either at Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) or from local private dentists. Most branded pharmaceuticals are readily available though some items that are available without a prescription in the UK, like decongestants or anti histamines may require a Doctor’s prescription in Brunei.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 991 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Credit cards are accepted at most major establishments although an additional surcharge can be applied. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at banks or major hotels. Singapore dollars may be used in Brunei and are of the same value as the Brunei Dollar. Most other major currencies are convertible at banks, hotels or official moneychangers.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.