Algeria travel guide
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.
2,381,741 sq km (919,595 sq miles).
40,375,954 (UN estimate 2016).
16.6 per sq km.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune since 2019.
Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Algeria on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From 1 June 2021, Algeria’s borders have been partially open. However, there remain limitations on routes into and out of Algeria. See Entry requirements for further information on rules for entry to Algeria.
A limited commercial flight schedule is operating. Demand for flights remains high, which you should take into account when making travel arrangements.
Airlines can be contacted via their websites or call centres for more information.
If you are travelling using an indirect route, some transit countries may impose updated restrictions of their own on travel to and from the UK or Algeria. Contact your travel operator before making any booking and consult FCDO Travel Advice for the most up to date information.
As indirect routes to the UK can require an overnight stay, you should consult FCDO Travel Advice for further information on entry and transit requirements.
Many airlines continue to show an online schedule of flights which appear bookable but are cancelled at very short notice with replacements at greater cost. We advise that for any flights, individuals who wish to make a booking should contact the airline directly and receive confirmation from them that the schedule will be running.
Some airlines are requiring passengers to present a printed hard copy of their PCR test certificate before allowing individuals to board. Please ensure you bring a printed certificate.
Please ensure you bring hard copies of any certificates you may require to travel.
Algerie Ferries, Corsicalinea, Balearia and Trasmediterranea are operating a limited ferry schedule between Algeria, France and Spain.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Algeria.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (only available in French).
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Algeria
Travel between provinces is now permitted.
Since 1 July 2020, local authorities nationwide have powers to enact additional measures in cluster areas, with the approval of central authorities. As a result, localised lockdowns are possible, and markets and other areas with a high concentration of shops could be shut down with limited notice for at least 15 days.
All security services and local authorities have been instructed to rigorously monitor and enforce compliance with preventive and other social distancing measures. Penalties include fines up to the equivalent of £600, and 6 months imprisonment.
The wearing of facemasks became mandatory on 24 May 2020 in all public spaces, including when using public transport, and within taxis.
Hotels are open, with compulsory sanitary measures in place; facilities may be restricted.
Public places and services
Recreational areas, beaches, cultural centres, sports facilities, restaurants, fast food outlets, cafes and most markets are open. Weddings, funerals and other large gatherings are allowed within certain rules.
Primary schools, secondary schools and universities reopened in 2020, with additional COVID-19 measures in place. The 2021 to 22 school year began on 21 September. Universities re-opened in October 2021.
Healthcare in Algeria
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call a toll free number (3030) which is available nationwide to alert and help deal with COVID-19 cases. Local authorities will also advise.
Algeria has 32 laboratories nationwide that can carry out approximately 2,500 PCR COVID-19 tests every day.
PCR testing is available in urban areas but you can expect to queue to receive a test at peak times. Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Algeria.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Algeria
We will update this page when the Government of Algeria announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Algerian national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sputnik V, Johnson and Johnson and Sinopharm vaccines. The Government of Algeria has stated that British nationals resident in Algeria are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. You can arrange a vaccination at your nearest local health care centre.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Algeria, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Country-wide demonstrations and other forms of protest, which broke out across Algeria in February 2019, were suspended due to coronavirus and continue to be subject to various restrictions. Different types of protests occur frequently, particularly on Tuesdays and Fridays, and can take place at short notice throughout the country. You should take precautions for your personal safety by avoiding political gatherings and demonstrations. Follow instructions given by local security authorities.
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 and thefts do occur. Avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. Avoid carrying large amounts of money or valuables around with you.
Seek the advice of your hosts about appropriate security measures. If possible you should arrange to be met on arrival in Algiers. You should stay at one of the main hotels where proper security precautions are taken.
Where possible, make journeys by air and stay in pre-arranged accommodation at your destination. 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 International 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.
It’s generally safe to move around the centre of Algiers during the day. Ideally, travel around with someone who knows the city well. Avoid areas that you don’t know, particularly in the suburbs of the city and especially after dark. Don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables around with you. If you plan to tour the Casbah area of Algiers, use a good local guide and make sure local police and your hosts/hotel know about your plans. Don’t accept lifts from people you don’t know - use a taxi service recommended by the hotel.
Dozens of wildfires caused significant damage east of Algiers throughout August 2021. Similar fires could flare up in the same or other areas without warning, especially during periods of extreme weather. The fires resulted in numerous deaths. You should follow local advice and avoid travelling to areas where fires may break out.
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.
If you’re travelling independently, inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or local authorities of your plans. Your hotel should be able to help you with contacting local authorities. This doesn’t apply if you have dual Algerian nationality. You should accept any security escort you’re offered and co-operate with authorities.
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.
While the major road system has improved, take particular care on minor roads and at night. Algeria has a very high road traffic accident rate. If possible travel in a convoy of at least 2-3 vehicles outside the main towns.
If you are taking a taxi, ask your hotel to phone a reputable firm and don’t allow other unknown passengers to join you during the journey. Arrange with the driver to collect you for the return journey as taxis are not widely available, particularly after dark.
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.
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.
A number of terrorist groups are present in Algeria. The largest presence is in the southern desert region and in areas bordering Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali and Mauritania. Terrorists also operate in small numbers in mountainous areas in the north. However, there remains a high risk of terrorist attacks throughout the country including in Algiers and other major cities, and against UK and Western interests. It is possible that terrorist groups will exploit targets of opportunity for attack or kidnap.
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.
There is a kidnap threat to visitors in Algeria, particularly in the southern and eastern border areas (bordering Mali and Libya respectively). Terrorist kidnappers have previously targeted foreigners, government officials and civilians in Algeria and the Sahel region. See our Sahel page for information on the Sahel regional threat.
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.
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.
The presence of violent extremist groups in northern Mali continues to fuel mounting insecurity across the Sahel. AQ-M and its network of Mali based affiliates remain the dominant force within this region. 2016 witnessed an increase in attacks, which is likely to continue through 2017 as the group remains intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. This has been demonstrated by the recent merger of AQ-M Sahel, Ansar al-Dine and al-Murabitun into the new group “Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen”. The threat to western interests in the region remains.
For full information on travelling to the Sahel please refer to our Sahel region advice.
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. Not all restaurants serve alcohol and alcohol is not served anywhere during 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.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Algeria on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Algeria.
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).
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 (0)21711414 and ask for an ambulance. 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 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. For further information 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.
A completed and printed ‘fiche sanitaire’ is required for travel, as well as the printed PCR test results. This can be found on the Air Algerie website.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Algeria
Air, land and sea borders are now partially open.
You should check with the Algerian authorities for any entry requirements.
Testing/screening on arrival
You should check with the Algerian authorities for any entry requirements including COVID testing.
From 20 March 2022, entry to Algeria requires evidence of a vaccine pass issued less than nine months before travel, or a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before the time of arrival for unvaccinated people, and those whose vaccine pass was issued over nine months before travel.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Temperature checks may be undertaken on arrival.
Check with the Algerian authorities for any entry requirements including quarantine requirements.
Contact details are taken on arrival in country, including address.
Testing on departure
Temperature checks are sometimes carried out before entering the airport.
Regular entry requirements
Before you travel, you will need to get a visa from the Algerian Consulate in London. You can’t get a visa on arrival. 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.
The land border between Algeria and Morocco is closed. Do not attempt to cross it.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into 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.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for airside transit and exit from Algeria. If you’re using a UK Emergency Travel Document to enter Algeria, you would still need a valid entry visa.
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 the father will only be able to travel if the father signs an ‘Autorisation Paternelle’ 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, 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 confined to a limited number of hotels and other businesses in the larger 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 (PNP 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.
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.
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.