World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Djibouti

Djibouti travel guide

About Djibouti

Tucked away in the Horn of Africa, diminutive Djibouti offers ethereal landscapes, traditional tribes and mega marine life by the camel load – little wonder this slice of East Africa is being touted as the next big thing.

Refreshingly devoid of large-scale tourist developments (for now, at least), you won’t find international hotel chains outside the eponymous colonial capital. Tourists are still something of a rarity and it is not uncommon to be invited into a family’s home to share a pot of tea.

Contrasting strongly with the bright blue skies and the colourful macawis worn by locals, the flat plains outside Djibouti City have a harsh and otherworldly aesthetic, which are celebrated by the local tribespeople in poetry and song. The loose rocks that litter the khaki-coloured ground amid semi-wild herds of camel speak of the country’s volcanic past.

Away from the capital, which is wafted by a cool Red Sea breeze, Djibouti becomes oppressively hot in the summer months. Locals move slowly and purposefully; at least until the daily delivery of khat, a semi-narcotic plant chewed like gum, which seems to stop daily life in its tracks.

If you do manage to defy the heat, there are ample opportunities to connect with the natural world. Visitors can scale the dormant Ardoukoba volcano, explore Lake Assal, the lowest point in Africa, or go snorkelling with whale sharks in the Red Sea. Found in the Bay of Ghoubbet, these slow-moving giants trawl the Djiboutian coast, gorging on plankton.

Exhibiting a blend of African and Arabian culture, the people of Djibouti are equally fascinating. Gracious and welcoming to foreigners, their country still largely works along tribal lines, but it is quiet, unthreatening and small enough to get to grips with. Above all else, though, it’s absolutely stunning.

Key facts


23,200 sq km (8,958 sq miles).


899,598 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

35.7 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Ismail Omar Guelleh since 1999.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed since 2013.

Travel Advice

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). 

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Djibouti-Eritrea border

FCDO advises against all travel to the Djibouti-Eritrea border.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

FCDO provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Djibouti set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Djibouti Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

If you’re fully vaccinated

To enter Djibouti, you may need to show evidence of full COVID-19 vaccination, but this is rare.

If you are a foreign resident, you may need to show evidence of full vaccination (or medical exemption) to leave the country, but this is rare.    

You can find your proof of vaccination in your GP health record on the NHS App.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

If you are unable to show evidence of full vaccination, you may need to show a PCR test certificate or take a PCR test on arrival. 

Children and young people

People aged 24 and under do not have to show evidence of vaccination.  

If you’re travelling through Djibouti

If you’re travelling through Djibouti on your way to another country and staying in the airport (airside) or on the plane, there are no COVID-19 entry requirements.

If you pass through immigration (sometimes known as a layover), for example to stay in a hotel for a flight the next day, you must follow the Djibouti COVID-19 entry requirements. 


You do not need evidence of vaccination if you can show you should not have the vaccine for health reasons or if you:

  • are pregnant
  • are breast feeding a baby aged 6 months and under
  • had COVID-19 less than 4 months before date of travel

Passport validity requirements

To enter Djibouti, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You must have a visa to enter Djibouti.

Applying for a visa

You can buy a tourist visa when you arrive in Djibouti with payment in cash in US dollars. You can also apply for a visa online before travelling or contact the Djibouti Embassy. You must have evidence of your onward journey.

Vaccine requirements

To enter Djibouti, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk.

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Djibouti guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Djibouti. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

This guide also has safety advice for regions of Djibouti.


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. Stay aware of your surroundings 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.

Terrorism in Djibouti

Terrorists are likely to try and carry out attacks in Djibouti.

Terrorism attacks could be indiscriminate, including in crowded areas and places frequented by foreign nationals, such as:

  • transport hubs
  • hotels, restaurants and bars
  • shopping areas
  • religious events
  • sporting events
  • military bases

Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

The terrorist group Al Shabaab may see Djibouti and international interests within Djibouti as legitimate targets. This is because Djibouti participates in the African Union peacekeeping mission, ATMIS, and joins in international support of the Somali government. Al Shabaab has issued public threats against Djibouti. 


Protecting your belongings

There is a risk of petty crime. Take precautions such as:

  • not walking alone late at night
  • keeping valuables, particularly cameras and passports, out of sight

Laws and cultural differences


Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. During this time, do not:

  • eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime, including in your car
  • play loud music or dance
  • swear in public

Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts. You should show respect to those who are fasting and take care not to offend local values.

You should also:

  • check opening hours of shops and restaurants
  • be aware that if hotels and restaurants are providing food or drink in fasting hours, they may separate you from Islamic guests, for example with screens
  • be aware that government offices and public institutions may change their working hours during Ramadan
  • follow local dress codes – clothing that does not meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time
  • be aware that fasting can cause tiredness, particularly during the later afternoon and early evening
  • be patient and show tolerance


Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted. If credit cards are accepted, you often need a Visa card. ATMs are normally available in Djibouti City, but they may not accept Mastercard. Make sure that you carry enough cash.

Alcohol laws

Drinking alcohol is allowed, but you can get a 2-year prison sentence for drunken behaviour.

Using cameras

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

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual behaviour is not illegal but is not common in Djiboutian public life. Same-sex couples showing affection in public could attract the attention of the authorities under laws around “good morals”.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Djibouti, see information on driving abroad.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Djibouti for up to 12 months. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or obtain a local Djiboutian driving licence through the Ministry of Interior.

Driving standards

Driving standards are generally poor. Many drivers use the legal narcotic khat, which contributes to speeding and unsafe driving. Roads are often narrow and poorly lit and maintained.

Stay on paved roads and avoid travelling outside city centres after dark. Vehicles often have no lights and livestock may be on the roads. Many large trucks use the main Djibouti-Ethiopia road.

On some major roads police use wire coils as roadblocks, which are not clearly visible at night.

Air travel

The UK Air Safety List (ASL) lists all known airlines in Djibouti that do not meet international safety standards and are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the UK. Check the UK Air Safety List when considering which airlines to fly with. The list is maintained by the Department for Transport, based on advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Sea travel

There is a significant risk of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Pirates continue to attack fishing dhows around the Horn of Africa. International naval counter-piracy forces advise all sailing yachts to avoid the designated high-risk area where there is risk of hijacking. See piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.


Intense rainfall is rare but can cause flash floods, particularly around Djibouti City. Flash floods can cause:

  • major disruption to travel and infrastructure, including schools and public places
  • damage to buildings and roads
  • water-borne and respiratory disease outbreaks

Stay away from flood areas and follow official advice.

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are a risk in Djibouti. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

This section has safety advice for regions of Djibouti. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.

Djibouti-Eritrea border

FCDO advises against all travel to the Djibouti-Eritrea border.

In 2008 there were military clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea after Eritrean forces entered the disputed Djibouti border region. The situation remains fragile and further conflict is possible.

Djibouti-Somaliland border

Take great care if you travel to the Djibouti-Somaliland border. The Djiboutian military have set up roadblocks and checkpoints. Follow the advice given by the authorities and seek military approval for journeys in this area.

Landmines near borders

There are unmarked landmines near the Djibouti-Eritrea border. In other border areas most landmines have been marked or cleared. Djibouti’s borders with Ethiopia and Somalia are not always clearly identified.

Roads north of Tadjoura

Take great care travelling on roads north of Tadjoura and Obock where there are military roadblocks.

Respect advice given by those operating the roadblocks. If required, get formal military approval for your journey.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 21 35 09 62 or 21 35 27 12 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:  

See what health risks you’ll face in Djibouti, including:

  • dengue
  • Zika virus
  • Schistosoma


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

Healthcare facilities in Djibouti

Medical facilities in Djibouti are limited. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Djibouti where some staff will speak English.

COVID-19 healthcare in Djibouti

If you’re in Djibouti and have COVID-19 symptoms, call the Hospital General Peltier on 21 35 09 62 or 21 35 27 12.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Djibouti

Ambulance: 21 35 09 62 or 21 35 27 12

Fire: 18

Police: 17

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Djibouti and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who provide consular assistance for Djibouti.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

A digital image at

Book a Hotel