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Algeria travel guide

About Algeria

For the intrepid traveller, adventure awaits in Algeria. A beguiling blend of cultures, landscapes and traditions, this vast chunk of land contains everything from tranquil fishing ports and bustling cities to the unmatched drama of the Sahara Desert and Hoggar Mountains.

As the largest country in Africa, Algeria’s terrain is hugely varied yet underexplored: few visitors travel beyond the country’s Mediterranean port cities (namely Oran and the capital, Algiers), which lie amidst fertile land and the scattered vestiges of Phoenician and Roman colonies.

Sometimes called ‘Algiers the White,’ the capital’s bustling showpiece is its UNESCO-listed Casbah. This whitewashed medina encompasses both crumbling ruins and newly-renovated spaces and is well worth a visit despite its shady reputation (taking a guide is recommended).

The ancient port city of Oran has a decidedly European vibe: French colonial influences are evident in everything from the soaring Sacré-Cœur Cathedral (now a library) to the richly ornamented Palais de la Culture. The city has long been a popular trading post and remains one of the busiest ports in North Africa.

The Sahara Desert is Algeria’s defining feature and one of its biggest drawing cards. It covers more than four-fifths of the country and is the source of myriad myths and legends. Nomadic Berbers still live here, eking out traditional lives in difficult conditions.

The security situation makes independent travel difficult in the Sahara, but under the guidance of reputable tour operators, travellers can visit attractions like the oasis towns of Ghardia and Timimoun, or venture deep into the heart of the desert to view the prehistoric rock art in the Hoggar Mountains and Tassili N’Ajjer National Park. 

The desert is also home to the world’s most remote film festival. FiSahara takes place annually in the Wilaya of Dakhla, a Western Sahara refugee camp, to highlight the plight of the Sahrawi people.

War and tumultuous politics have deterred many from visiting Algeria – rerouting them towards Morocco instead – but if you’re looking for a North African destination with a difference, this country has much to offer.

Key facts

Area:

2,381,741 sq km (919,595 sq miles).

Population:

40,375,954 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

16.6 per sq km.

Capital:

Algiers.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune since 2019.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Nadir Larbaoui since 2023.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to areas within:

  • 30km of the borders with Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger
  • 30km of the border with Tunisia in the provinces of Illizi and Ouargla and in the Chaambi mountains area

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 30km of the remainder of the border with Tunisia

Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Algeria’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.

If you are a British national and need consular assistance, call our 24-hour helpline on +44 20 7008 5000

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

There is a possibility of an increased threat against Western interests, including against British nationals. You should remain vigilant and keep up to date with the latest developments, including via the media and this travel advice.

Demonstrations and other forms of protest, are subject to various restrictions. However, different types of protests take place at short notice throughout the country, particularly on Fridays. You should take precautions for your personal safety by avoiding political gatherings and demonstrations. See Political situation

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Algeria, including kidnappings. On 15 February the US Embassy issued a security alert warning of increased risk of kidnap of Western nationals in the Tindouf region ahead of the Sahara Marathon of 28 February. Terrorist attacks have focused on the Algerian state, but attacks could be indiscriminate and include foreigners. There’s also a risk that lone actors could target foreigners. You should be vigilant at all times and take additional security precautions, especially in the southern, Libyan and Tunisian border areas; rural and mountainous areas in the north; and the Sahara. See Terrorism

When moving around Algiers and the other main cities, avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. When travelling in rural areas and at night it’s advisable to travel with a reputable guide or companion. Avoid travel by road at night outside the major cities and motorways. See Crime and Local travel

You will need to get a visa before you travel. See Visas

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support is severely limited in parts of Algeria where the FCDO has existing advice against all travel, and limited where the FCDO has existing advice against all but essential travel (see above).

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Algeria.

Political situation

Demonstrations and other forms of protest, are subject to various restrictions. Different types of protests can take place at short notice throughout the country, particularly on Fridays. You should take precautions for your personal safety by avoiding political gatherings and demonstrations. Follow instructions given by local security authorities.

Crime

Outside of business and diplomatic travel, currently there are few British visitors to Algeria. While most visits to Algeria are trouble-free, in certain areas of larger cities incidents of robbery, pickpocketing and petty thefts do occur. Avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. Avoid carrying large amounts of money or valuables around with you.

You are advised to maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK and take care when walking or travelling alone.

Local travel

You should check the latest guidance of local authorities before moving around the country. If possible you should arrange to be met on arrival in Algeria.

Mobile phone coverage can be patchy or unavailable in more remote areas, particularly in the south of Algeria. Some online maps may not be accurate in remote areas.

Business visitors without established contacts should seek advice in the first instance from the British Embassy Algiers or the Algeria desk in the Department for Business and Trade.

If you’re travelling as a tourist, confirm your travel plans before you arrive in Algeria, using a reputable tour operator with good local knowledge. Where possible, stay in pre-arranged accommodation at your destination.

If you plan to tour the Casbah area of Algiers, use a good local guide and make sure your hosts/hotel know about your plans.

Wildfires caused significant damage and numerous deaths in wilayas east of Algiers in the summers of 2023, 2022 and 2021. Similar fires could flare up in the same or other areas without warning, especially during periods of extreme weather. You should follow local advice and avoid travelling to areas where fires may break out.

Security arrangements

The Algerian authorities devote considerable resources to the safety of foreign visitors. In cities there’s a clear security presence, which can feel intrusive. Authorities will want to know your travel plans when travelling outside major cities and may assign police or gendarmes to protect you.

Road travel

Although you may drive in Algeria with a valid UK driving licence for a maximum of 3 months, the Algerian authorities may also request an International Driving Permit (IDP). You’re strongly advised to apply for a valid IDP for your temporary stay in Algeria. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. For more information on local regulations, visit the Algerian Interior Ministry website.

If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

Algeria has a very high road traffic accident rate and driving standards can be erratic. There is very little lane discipline and often confusion about the right of way, especially at roundabouts. Take particular casre when crossing roads on foot, even where there is a signal allowing you to do so.

Roads are over a reasonable standard, although large potholes can appear quickly, particulary after heavy rain. Most towns have large speed bumps.

Driving at night can be hazardous, particularly out of towns, due to a lack of road lighting and unlighted vehicles. Exercise caution and slow down if you approach sand drifts on the roads.

You may come across military or police security checks. If you do, approach slowly, don’t cross boundaries without permission and be prepared to present photo ID if asked.

You should check the availability of fuelling stations before traveling long distances in remote areas.

Rail travel

Rail travel is generally safe, although safety standards tend to be lower than those in the UK. There is a risk of petty crime on trains.

Dual nationals

Algerian family law is different from UK law. If you’re a dual British-Algerian national, take particular care if child custody or forced marriage is likely to become an issue during your stay. Children (under the age of 19 years and one day) leaving Algeria need written authorisation from their parent with legal guardianship to travel if they’re travelling alone or accompanied by an adult. If you have any concerns, seek advice before travelling to Algeria or agreeing to family members travelling to Algeria.

You can read a non-official translation of some sections from the Algerian Family Code.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Algeria, including kidnappings.

Terrorist attacks have often focussed on the Algerian state, but attacks could be indiscriminate and target foreigners. There is also a risk that lone actors target foreigners. You should remain vigilant at all times and follow specific advice and direction of the local security authorities.

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

The main terrorist threat is from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and other regional Islamist groups including Al Murabitun and Daesh-affiliates. There’s also a threat from individuals inspired by Daesh. These groups have been active across the country and pose a threat throughout Algeria, including in Algiers and other major cities.

The threat from terrorism is higher in some parts of the country:

  • the southern border (where the kidnap risk is concentrated)
  • the Libyan and Tunisian borders;
  • rural, and in particular mountainous, areas in the north and between Tunisia and Algiers;
  • the Sahara.

The Algerian authorities continue to conduct effective counter terrorism operations to disrupt terrorist activity but there’s a continuing threat of further terrorist attacks. You should be vigilant at all times.

There have been attacks against Algerian government interests and security forces, including:

  • On 14 October 2021, a soldier was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device whilst conducting a routine patrol in the province of Tlemcen
  • on 6 August 2021, two soldiers were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device whilst conducting a search and sweep operation in the province of Ain Defla
  • on 2 January 2021, two soldiers were killed whilst conducting a search and sweep operation in the province of Tipasa
  • on 20 June 2020, an ambush in Ain Defla, North West Algeria, led to the death of an Algerian army corporal. AQIM is reported to have claimed responsibility
  • on 9 February 2020, one Algerian soldier was killed in a suicide attack on a military outpost in Timeaouine, close to the Malian border. Daesh is reported to have claimed responsibility
  • on 18 November 2019, during an operation by the Algerian army in the southern Tamanrasset region, two alleged IS members were killed. Daesh have reported this same incident as an attack killing eight Algerian security forces

There have been attacks and threats made against foreign and economic interests, including oil and gas facilities:

  • on 18 March 2016, AQI-M attacked the In Salah Gas Joint Venture in central Algeria with explosive munitions fired from a distance. There were no injuries or casualties
  • on 16 January 2013 Al Murabitun attacked a gas plant near In Amenas killing 40 foreign workers, including 6 British nationals

Indiscriminate attacks are not common but on 8 October 2021, 3 civilians were seriously injured by IED explosions in Tebessa and Batna and on 16 January 2021, a roadside bomb killed 5 Algerian citizens in Telidjane, Tebessa province, on the border with Tunisia. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for placement of the landmines, but denied that they were targeting civilians.

Kidnap

There is a kidnap threat to visitors in Algeria, particularly in the southern and eastern border areas (bordering Mali and Libya respectively).

On 15 February the US Embassy issued a security alert warning of an increased risk of kidnap of Western nationals in the Tindouf region ahead of the Sahara Marathon on 28 February.

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Local laws reflect the fact that Algeria is a Muslim country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See Travelling during Ramadan.

The weekend is on Friday and Saturday. Most restaurants do not serve alcohol and many are closed during the day throughout the month of Ramadan.

Women dress in a wide variety of styles in Algeria, including European, and don’t have to cover their head unless visiting a mosque. To avoid unwelcome attention, women may wish to dress modestly, particularly outside of the main towns.

Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences in Algeria and carry custodial sentences.

You don’t have to carry your passport at all times, but take it with you if you are making a longer journey. You will need your passport if travelling internally by air. Keep a photocopy somewhere safe.

Homosexuality is illegal in Algeria. Sexual acts between people of the same sex are punishable by imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Don’t attempt to take photos of any government building or security installation. This includes police and police checkpoints.

Smuggling antiquities is a criminal offence in Algeria that carries a custodial sentence. If you purchase any souvenirs during your stay in Algeria, you should obtain appropriate documentation for anything that looks old or antique; otherwise you may be held at the airport when departing and prevented from leaving the country with it.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

Facilities at private clinics are usually better than at government hospitals. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 16 or (0)21610017 and ask for an ambulance. You can call the civil protection by dialling 14 for other emergencies. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, there have been some reports of hospitals coming close to treatment capacity.

This page has information on travelling to Algeria.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Algeria set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Algeria’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

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

On 30 October 2022, the Algerian authorities announced the lifting of all entry requirements related to Covid-19.

Visas

Before you travel, you will need to get a visa from the Algerian Consulate in London, unless you will arrive in a designated airport in the south of Algeria which allows for obtaining a tourist visa upon arrival. Please be aware you will need a confirmed reservation with an approved local travel agency in order to obtain such a visa. For further information on designated airports and approved local travel agencies you should contact the Algerian Consulate in London.

You should check the details of your visa, including validity dates, before travelling. Should you overstay the duration of your visa or the time you are permitted to stay in country as granted upon arrival, you are likely to be detained by the immigration police at the airport whilst attempting to exit Algeria. This may result in a criminal prosecution and up to 3 months in jail. If you need to stay in Algeria for a longer period than your visa or entry stamp allows, you may be able to extend your visa at the Wilaya (Town Hall) nearest to you.

Algerian border

The land border between Algeria and Morocco is closed. Do not attempt to cross it.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all travel to areas within;

  • 30km of the borders with Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger
  • 30km of the border with Tunisia in the provinces of Ilizi and Ouargla and in the Chambi mountains area

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 30km of the remainder of the border with Tunisia.

Passport validity

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

Leaving Algeria

When exiting Algeria, the Algerian authorities usually require sight of the document you used to enter the country. In the event that your passport was lost or stolen during your stay in Algeria, you will need to present a police report to the border police to show why you are no longer in possession of the passport you used to enter Algeria.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Travel with children

In Algeria, the age of majority (when a child is legally recognised as an adult) is 19 years and 1 day old. Any person under this age whose father is an Algerian citizen will be regarded as Algerian if the father’s name is on the birth certificate. Any such child leaving Algeria without their parents will only be able to travel with parental consent ‘Autorisation Parentale’ or, if travelling with just one parent, the parent (whether mother or father) will be expected to prove their parental link through a Livret de famille or a certified copy. Unaccompanied minors will need a letter from their parent or guardian granting them permission to travel out of the country.

For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration, you can check the website of the Algerian Ministry of Interior or you can contact the Algerian Consulate in London

Parts of Algeria are prone to severe and dangerous flood damage. Northern Algeria is also within an earthquake zone. In May 2003, a severe earthquake struck the Algiers area. There were over 2,200 dead and more than 10,000 injured. Smaller earthquakes occur regularly. In July 2014, an earthquake killed 6 people and injured 420.

You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The use of ATMs and credit cards is largely confined to a limited number of hotels in the bigger cities. Most ATMs and businesses will only accept local bank cards, not international credit or debit cards. You should check in advance whether the supplier (eg business, hotel etc) is able to accept your international debit or credit card. It’s understood that only certain branches of certain banks (BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Credit Populaire d’Algérie) have ATMs that can service international credit or debit cards, and even these don’t always work. Algeria has strict foreign exchange laws and the Dinar can’t be exported. Only exchange money at bureaux de change in the international airports and larger hotels, or at banks in the main cities. Don’t change money on the streets or via individuals that may approach you at the airport.

The Government of Algeria is putting in place measures to encourage and enable the use of online and card payments, but these are not widely available and are only for Algerian bank accounts.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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.

Travel safety

The FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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