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Ethiopia travel guide

About Ethiopia

Putting its turbulent history behind, Ethiopia has been busy transforming its economy and making remarkable progress in infrastructure development over the past two decades. Today tourists are returning to the country in increasing numbers, keen to discover its wondrous landscapes, ancient religious sites and fascinating indigenous tribes.

Billed as 'The Land of Origins' by the Ethiopian Tourism Organisation, this amazing country is where the Blue Nile begins and home of the 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil 'Lucy', whose discovery has put Ethiopia on the map as the cradle of humanity. One of the oldest Christian nations in the world, Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic and multifaceted destination where the art of hospitality is alive and well. Visitors are typically greeted with a steaming cup of coffee, which is said to be first discovered in the region of Kaffa in southeast Ethiopia.

Most visitors start their Ethiopian odyssey in the capital Addis Ababa, a lively city nestling in the lofty Entoto Mountains. Founded in 1886 by Emperor Menelik II after his wife Empress Taytu chose the site for its hot mineral springs, Addis Ababa has enjoyed a fascinating transformation over a relatively short period of time. The city is now a hub of international missions and embassies, including the headquarters of the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Few linger long in the Ethiopian capital, choosing instead to head north to Lalibela, a pilgrimage site famed for its ancient churches which have quite literally been hewn out of a cliff. Lalibela is one of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ethiopia. Other notables include the ancient Kingdom of Aksum (or Axum), the fairytale castle of Gondar, the walled city of Harar, the Konso cultural landscape, the prehistoric sites of Awash and Omo valleys, the mysterious stelae of Tiya and the spectacular Simien National Park where the indigenous Gelada baboon and Walia Ibex thrive.

Ultimately, it is Ethiopia's epic landscapes that truly capture the imagination of many travellers. From the cloud-shrouded peak of Ras Dashen (the highest mountain in Ethiopia) to the sulphur fumaroles of the Danakil Depression (which is also the lowest point in Ethiopia at 125m/410ft below sea level), the scenery could inspire paintings, provoke poetry.

These wild environments sustain ancient tribes such as the Bodi, whose men live on a diet of blood and milk in a bid to become the region's fattest man of the year, and the Hamer, famous for their dangerous bull-jumping ceremony which is considered a rite of passage for young men.

Ethiopia has come a long way since the famine of 1983-85 which prompted Bob Geldof to write the fundraising hit Do They Know It's Christmas? (by a curious twist of fate, he now owns a stake in a wine company in Ethiopia). This country, long misunderstood by many, is now enjoying a booming economy, posting a strong and sustainable 8% to 11% growth rate since the turn of the 21st-century.

With Ethiopian Airlines boasting a wide network of air routes radiating from Addis Ababa, travelling to and around the country is getting easier, and for those who ride it out, the rewards are immense.

Key facts

Area:

1,104,300 sq km (426,372 sq miles).

Population:

107.53 million (2018)

Population density:

102 per sq km

Capital:

Addis Ababa

Government:

Federal Democratic Republic

Head of state:

President Sahle-Work Zewde since 2018.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since 2018.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Ethiopia 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.

International travel

Commercial flights are operating between Ethiopia and the UK, as well as other European and international destinations. You should contact your airline or travel company for the latest information.

Some countries require you to take a COVID-19 test prior to arrival – check our travel advice for entry requirements for the country you are visiting.

Ethiopia has announced its intention to use the Africa Union Trusted Travel process for validating Covid-19 tests for passengers. All passengers arriving in, departing from or transiting Ethiopia should validate their COVID-19 RT PCR test via the Africa Union Trusted Travel or UNDP Global Haven systems (you will need to register an account on one of these sites). These systems will generate a digital Trusted Travel reference code for your test, which should be presented upon request.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Ethiopia, including quarantine measures.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own pre-departure COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.

From 8 June, direct flights can arrive in England from Ethiopia, but they must arrive at dedicated terminals at Heathrow and Birmingham airports. Different requirements may apply for arrivals into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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 Ethiopia

Travel to the airport

You should arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure time. You will need a printed copy of your itinerary, e-ticket or boarding pass in order to be allowed to enter the airport terminal. You should check whether you need a negative COVID-19 test to travel to your destination; this may be requested before your departure. You should comply with all local restrictions.

Local coronavirus measures

Government directives to help limit the spread of COVID-19 currently include:

  • Any person known to be infected with coronavirus is prohibited from entering the country, mixing or meeting with other people in any way that may spread the virus
  • Gatherings (including religious gatherings, weddings and funerals) are limited to 50 people. Gatherings of over 50 people must be authorised by the relevant authority. Organisers and participants must comply with all measures outlined in the Ministry of Health Directive, from page 20. Personal in-home gatherings such as birthday parties may only include family members.
  • Deliberate physical contact is banned, including greetings by handshake
  • Wearing of face masks is mandatory in all public places (except for children under 6 years or those with a relevant provable condition)
  • Individuals will be expected to ensure that they are 2 adult strides apart at all times
  • Schools, universities and daycare centres are banned from operating until appropriate safety measures are agreed
  • Any person that suspects they have COVID-19 must report to the Ministry of Health or Ethiopian Public Health Institute (call 8335 or 952) to be tested
  • All sectors and businesses (including hotels, cinemas, tour operators) must provide necessary sanitising material and information to customers and staff, maintain 2 strides distance where appropriate and maintain the cleanliness of their premises. Cafes, bars and restaurants are limited to serving three people per table. Occupancy limits are in place for nightclubs as well as rules on no contact. Sports may take place in compliance with coronavirus measures, but no spectators are allowed apart from participants
  • Visits to care homes for the elderly are prohibited. Visits to prisons must comply with coronavirus measures
  • Public transport providers must comply with relevant coronavirus measures, including reduced passenger loads, mask-wearing and ventilation
  • Those required to self-isolate at home should follow the correct procedures (page 13, Ministry of Health Directive)

Failure to comply with these measures is punishable by criminal law. You should comply with all measures, wear a mask in public, and monitor local media for further updates.

There may be local restrictions to public transport to help limit the spread of coronavirus. You should follow the advice of the local authorities. For further information see Local Travel

Accommodation

Most hotels and accommodation remain open. You should follow national coronavirus measures. See ‘local coronavirus measures’ in Travel in Ethiopia.

Public places and services

There are restrictions in place for public spaces, including social distancing, limited gathering and wearing of face masks. See ‘local coronavirus measures’ in Travel in Ethiopia.

Health

What to do if you have symptoms

Residents and people already in Ethiopia who start to feel symptoms should self-isolate and call the Ethiopian coronavirus helplines on either 8335 or 952. You will be asked some questions and may need to be tested.

If you test positive but have mild or no symptoms, you will need to self-isolate at home where possible. The health authorities will make follow up checks by phone or in person. If you test positive and cannot self-isolate you will need to stay at a government designated isolation centre until you have recovered and tested negative with follow up tests. Visitors on holiday who are not staying with family and friends, cannot self-isolate at ‘home’ and will not be allowed to choose where to self-isolate.

Those experiencing more serious symptoms will be provided healthcare at a designated hospital.

Private healthcare facilities

Private healthcare facilities used by the international community with the capability to respond to coronavirus cases exist, but capacity is limited. Most private healthcare facilities continue to offer treatment for other illnesses or injuries. You should check with your insurance company which facilities they recommend and phone the healthcare facility before you visit.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

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 Ethiopia

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Ethiopia

We will update this page when the Government of Ethiopia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Ethiopian national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca (Covishield) and Sinopharm vaccines.

Ethiopia is part of the global COVAX scheme. Resident British and foreign nationals within designated priority groups can obtain a vaccine from their local woreda clinic, where available if they choose to join the programme. You will need to present valid ID. Current priority groups are frontline workers, those over 65 or over 55 with an underlying health condition. Adults over 36 and over 18 with underlying health conditions are now eligible in Addis Ababa only. There are limited supplies of vaccines.

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 Ethiopia, 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.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

If you are staying or living in Ethiopia, further information is available in our guide to Living in Ethiopia.

Useful Ethiopian links during the coronavirus pandemic include:

Crime

Addis Ababa and other major urban areas are comparatively safe compared to many African cities. However, the British Embassy has received increased reports of foreign nationals being targeted by groups of youths or scam artists. Petty theft and mugging is on the rise. There has been a smaller number of more serious incidents, including sexual harassment of women and robberies.

Be vigilant if approached by strangers seeking assistance - criminal gangs are known to use distraction techniques including begging or feigning illness. Take particular care when visiting crowded public places, especially at night. There has been an increase in violent robberies at parks and walking sites in Addis Ababa. If threatened, hand over your valuables without resistance.

Keep belongings on your person while travelling in taxis, and keep valuables like cameras and passports out of sight. Be aware of the risk of pickpocketing, bag and jewellery snatching including from vehicles stopped at traffic lights in Addis Ababa. Keep car doors locked whilst in your vehicle, and when parking leave your car in a well-lit and guarded area. Consider fitting anti-shatter film to all windows on your vehicle.

Large crowds are common on key national and religious dates. These include Ethiopian Christmas on 7 January, Epiphany/’Timket’ in January, Victory of Adawa on 2 March, Ethiopian Patriots’ Victory Day on 5 May, Downfall of the Derg on 28 May, Ethiopian New Year on 11-12 September and The Finding of the True Cross/’Meskel’ in September. Large crowds also gather on Ethiopian (Orthodox) Easter; Eid Al Fitr; Eid Al Arafa and the Birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. Various parts of the country also have local festivals which can lead to large gatherings, often celebrating Saints days.

There have been a small number of cases of arbitrary detention of British nationals in Ethiopia in recent years. There’s a risk that this could reoccur – particularly where tensions are heightened (for example around major events, or in locations that might be deemed sensitive for security reasons). You should carry copies of your passport and the contact details of the British Embassy Addis Ababa at all times. This may help if you’re questioned or detained. However, you should be aware that the Ethiopian authorities will not necessarily notify embassies when foreign nationals are detained. Even if requested, adequate consular access is not always granted.

Health and safety

Health and safety precautions like life jackets in boats or protective railings at historical sites are rarely in place in Ethiopia.

Road travel

Driving standards and vehicle maintenance are often poor and traffic accidents are a regular occurrence in Ethiopia, especially in Addis Ababa and on the Addis Ababa-Djibouti road. In Addis Ababa, it is advised to only use the metered yellow taxis as these generally have higher standards of maintenance than the blue and white taxis.

Under Ethiopian law, drivers involved in car accidents can face severe punishments, including custodial sentences and fines. You should be very careful when travelling by car. If you’re involved in a traffic accident you should remain in your vehicle and call the local police. You should avoid confrontation and await their arrival to resolve the matter.

In the past some localised demonstrations have led to temporary closures of roads or the targeting of public transport. However, not all reports on social media channels of such disruptions are accurate. If you’re unsure, you should contact local authorities or reputable tour operators in the areas you’re travelling to.

If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the road block if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

When travelling outside Addis Ababa, you should avoid driving after dark in rural areas: vehicles often have no lights and livestock may be roaming on the roads. There have been instances where buses from one region have been attacked when passing through another. Medical facilities outside the capital are extremely limited so carry a comprehensive medical pack. You should also consider communications – whilst mobile telephone services are increasingly widespread, connectivity cannot be guaranteed, and there have been multiple examples of mobile internet being closed down with no notice. You may wish to consider travelling in a party and leaving details of your travel itinerary with a reliable person.

Local travel

The Ethiopian authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus. See Coronavirus.

There are frequent incidences of civil unrest in Ethiopia, including protests and strikes. Some of these can cause temporary closure of roads or disruption to local business and transport, and in the past some have escalated into serious violence. Internet and mobile networks may be closed or disrupted during civil unrest. These incidents are often limited in duration and localised. Where they occur, we advise reconsidering any travel plans to the specified area and not to travel until the situation has calmed. This travel advice will flag incidents of concern, where British Embassy staff have received specific advice, but as unrest can occur with little or no notice you are also advised to monitor local news and reconsider travel plans to areas where disturbances are reported. If you’re unsure, contact local authorities or reputable tour operators in the areas you’re travelling to.

Addis Ababa

Due to the ongoing military conflict in Tigray, there are reports that ethnic Tigrayans have been prevented from boarding flights at Bole International Airport and have been detained or arrested by the police in Addis Ababa. You should comply with the instructions of the authorities and monitor local media for further information.

You should be alert to petty theft around Bole Addis Ababa International Airport, particularly pickpockets and bag snatches. When in or around the airport, keep valuables secure and out of sight. Only use buses or taxis from the airport that have been organised by your hotel or travel company, or choose yellow taxis rather than the blue and white ones.

There has been an increase in the level of reported crime against both expats and Ethiopian nationals in the Bole Medhanealem, Bole Atlas, Meskel Square, Yeka Hills and Entoto areas of Addis Ababa. These have included robberies at knife point and the choking unconscious of victims by their attackers. Don’t travel alone in these areas if possible. You should exercise caution if travelling on foot, and consider using road transportation where possible, both during the daytime and especially after dark. If threatened, hand over your valuables without resistance.

Afar Region

The FCDO advises against all travel within 30km of the border between Afar and Tigray Regional States and to the following areas where there is known to be fighting, where there has recently been fighting, or where there is contested control: the whole of Zone 4, Chifra woreda in Zone 1; and Dalol, Kuneba, AbaAla and Megale in Zone 2. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Afar Regional State because of the risk of the conflict spreading to new areas without prior warning.

A military conflict is ongoing in Tigray Regional State, which has now spread into Afar and Amhara Regional States. There are serious tensions between Tigray and Afar Regional States, with a build-up of armed forces across the north-west of Afar Regional State. Some flights across northern Ethiopia remain suspended. Domestic and international land borders may be closed. Mobile networks and internet connections may be disrupted. You should monitor local media for further information and comply with local authority instructions.

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel within 10 km of the border with Eritrea, with the exception of tourist sites close to the main roads, the border crossing with Eritrea at Burre (Debay Sima), and the main road to the border crossing. You should take local advice and should not walk away from roads or towns unaccompanied.

There are ongoing armed clashes between ethnic groups in Hanruka, Gela’alo, Gewane, and Adaytu Woredas of Afar Regional State and the bordering areas of Somali Regional State and Dire Dawa. There are reports of road closures and roadblocks in the area, including on the main Addis Ababa to Djibouti road. If you’re travelling in the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator. If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the road block if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

If you’re planning to visit the Danakil desert area, you should be aware of the risk of excessive heat and the difficult terrain in some areas, notably around the volcano of Erta Ale. Facilities are basic in Danakil; there is no running water and medical options are very limited.

Tourism in the area has previously been targeted by armed groups in 2007, 2012 and 2017. You should only travel to this area with a recognised tour company and when booking check that your group will be supported by an armed police or military escort.

Amhara Region

The FCDO advise against all travel within 30km of the border between Amhara and Tigray Regional States and to the following areas where there is known to be fighting, where there has recently been fighting, or where there is contested control: the whole of North Wello Zone; the whole of Wag Hemra Zone; Ambasel, Tehuleddere and Dessie waredas of South Wello Zone; Ebenat, Kemekem, Lay Gayint, Farta, Fogera, Gayint waredas of South Gondar Zone; Addi Arkay, Beyeda, Debark, Debat, Wegera, Belesa, Janamora, Beyeda, Sanja waredas of North Gondar Zone. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Amhara Regional State because of the risk of the conflict spreading to new areas without prior warning.

A military conflict is ongoing in Tigray Regional State, which has now spread into Amhara and Afar Regional States. There are increasing and serious tensions between Tigray and Amhara Regional States, with a build-up of armed forces and militias across northern Amhara, particularly around the Tigray-Amhara border areas. Domestic and international land borders may be closed. Mobile networks and internet connections may be disrupted. You should monitor local media for further information and comply with local authority instructions.

The FCDO advise against all travel within 10km of the border with Sudan, except for the principal road to the Metema crossing point. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the woredas (districts) of Tsegede, Mirab Armacho and Tach Armacho where political disputes have in the past turned violent. Amhara Region’s major tourist sites of Lalibela, Bahir Dar, Gonder town and the Simien Mountains are not within these areas.

A State of Emergency is in place in North Showa, South Wollo and Oromia Special Zones in Amhara Region, following armed inter-ethnic clashes resulting in fatalities and large numbers of displaced people. Protests against the clashes have taken place across the region, particularly in Ataye. Some protests have become violent leading to fatalities. While attacks are mostly related to inter-ethnic disputes and foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can occur at any time with significant risk of being caught up in violence. If you’re travelling in the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

Violent clashes have previously occurred around Chilga Woreda, Central Gondar Zone, with reports of fatalities, including civilians. While attacks are mostly related to inter-ethnic disputes and foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can occur at any time with significant risk of being caught up in violence. If you’re travelling in the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

There has been an increase in roadblocks across Amhara Regional State recently. If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the roadblock if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

Gambella Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to the Jore woreda of the Agnuak zone and the four woredas (districts) (Akobo, Wantawo, Jikawo and Lare) of the Nuer zone, and against all but essential travel to the rest of Gambella Region.

Incidents of large-scale violence, inter-communal clashes and armed attacks occur regularly in the Gambella region. While foreigners have not been targeted, there’s a significant risk of being caught up in violence.

Oromia Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to within 10km of the Kenyan border with the exception of major towns and crossing points.

The FCDO advise against all travel to West Wollega zone, including the main Addis Ababa to Gambella road, and to Nekemte town in East Wollega. There have been repeated and serious instances of violence in these areas including clashes between armed groups and security forces, violent crime and roadside attacks.

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to Qellem Wollega zone, which has also seen instances of violence, clashes between armed groups and security forces, and violent crime and roadside attacks. There continue to be increased tensions and violence between armed groups and the security forces across Oromia, particularly Shewa, Haraghe and Guji zones. You should avoid military, police and security installations, exercise extreme caution and follow the advice of local authorities.

There is a threat of kidnapping in western areas of Oromia, particularly West Wollega, East Wollega and Qellem Wollega zones. Recent kidnaps have targeted the mining industry. British Nationals working in the area should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement, and aim to only travel during daylight hours.

There has been an increase in roadblocks across Oromia Regional State recently. If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the roadblock if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

Protests and demonstrations occur periodically in a range of towns across the Oromia region. Towns in the Wellega and Shewa zones, and West Arsi zone, including Ambo, Wolissa, Nekemte and Shashemene, have been particularly affected. Demonstrations have also been witnessed elsewhere including in the Bale zone to the south-east. Some protests have turned violent and resulted in casualties; others caused severe disruption to road travel including major roads to and from Addis Ababa.

In some instances international investors have been threatened, although the British Embassy is not aware of foreign tourists having been targeted. You should familiarise yourself with the advice above about avoiding large gatherings, and should follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

Ethiopian Somali Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to the Nogob (previously Fik), Jarar (previously Degehabur), Shabelle (previously Gode), Korahe and Dollo (previously Warder) zones of the Somali Region and to within 100km of the Kenyan and Somali borders in the Afder and Liben zones. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to all other areas of the Somali Regional State, with the exception of the main road and railway to Djibouti through Fafan zone.

There are ongoing armed clashes between ethnic groups in Hanruka, Gela’alo, Gewane, and Adaytu Woredas of Afar Regional State and the bordering areas of Somali Regional State and Dire Dawa. There are reports of road closures and roadblocks in the area, including on the main Addis Ababa to Djibouti road. If you’re travelling in the area, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator. If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the road block if they are present. If you encounter an unattended roadblock, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

There is local instability, lawlessness, military activity and a general risk of banditry in the Somali Region. Since the mid-1990s, insurgent groups, some affiliated with terrorist organisations, have clashed with government forces. Foreigners have been caught up in the violence or targeted. There have also been attacks on staff working for international NGOs.

Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to within 10km of the borders with South Sudan and Kenya.

Tensions are raised in western parts of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) following armed clashes in Konso Zone and surrounding areas. The clashes have led to a number of deaths. Although there are no reports of foreign nationals being targeted, you should exercise extreme caution and follow the advice of local authorities.

There have been some instances of civil unrest in towns in the Sidama zone, including Hawassa, and clashes along stretches of the internal border with the Oromia region, especially in the Gedeo Zone. Whilst such disturbances have been less frequent than in several other areas of Ethiopia, a number have turned violent at short notice. You should familiarise yourself with the advice above about avoiding large gatherings, and should follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

Tigray Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to the whole of Tigray regional state and within 30km of its borders with Amhara and Afar regional states.

There is a military conflict ongoing across Tigray Regional State, which has now spread into Amhara and Afar Regional States. You should exercise extreme caution in Tigray, stay indoors and remain alert to developments that would enable you to leave safely. Domestic and international land borders may be closed. Flights have been suspended across Tigray. You should contact your airline before you travel. Some mobile and internet networks have been restored, but large areas remain disconnected. Families should continue to share details with the British Embassy to enable us to locate British nationals in Tigray. If you are in the Tigray region and are able to, you should call: +251 11 617 01 00. If you are calling from the United Kingdom about family or friends you should call 020 7008 5000.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Ethiopia Committee of the Red Cross (ECRC) has set up a service to ‘restore family links’ across Tigray. You can contact them by phone +251 (0) 94 312 2207 or 251 (0) 11 552 7110, email add_tracing_service@icrc.org, or online. You should monitor local media for further information.

There may be restrictions on travel between towns and cities in Tigray Regional State.

Benishangul-Gumuz Region

The FCDO advise against all travel to within 10km of the border with Sudan. We advise against all travel to the Pawe, Guba, Dangur, Dibati, Bulen woredas in Metekel zone, and against all but essential travel to the rest of Metekel zone.

Local tensions have led to ongoing violent clashes, including reported abductions and fatalities. Clashes remain frequent and unpredictable.

There have been occasional instances of civil unrest in and around Assosa. You should familiarise yourself with the advice above about avoiding large gatherings, and should follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Ethiopia.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants, bars and places of worship and during major gatherings like religious or sporting events.

The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, although based in Somalia, poses a threat across the East Africa region. The group continues to link attacks to regional countries’ military presence in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, and continues to threaten all countries who have military forces in Somalia. The Ethiopian authorities have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests. In November 2016, 8 Somali nationals were found guilty of trying to carry out terror attacks in public areas in Addis Ababa and jailed for 9 years.

Following recent political changes in Ethiopia, a number of indigenous opposition groups have renounced violent activities and have been removed from the Ethiopian Government’s list of proscribed terrorist organisations.

There is 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.

Kidnap

There is a threat of kidnapping on the southern border with Kenya and in Ethiopia’s Somali region, particularly in the eastern areas to which the FCDO advise against all travel. Historically there have also been incidences of kidnapping in the Danakil area of Afar region. You should be vigilant, particularly in towns and cities in the Somali region of Ethiopia, and including in areas where the FCDO does not advise against all travel.

British nationals are viewed as legitimate targets, including those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors. 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 builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

The traditional Ethiopian calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar that is widely used internationally. New Year is in September and there are 12 months of 30 days followed by a 13th month of 5 days (or 6 in a leap year). The Ethiopian calendar is 7-8 years behind the Gregorian calendar. If dealing with official documents, you can expect the date to be written in the Ethiopian calendar.

Time of day is also counted differently by traditional Ethiopian mechanisms. Daytime hours are counted beginning from what would be 0600 using a globally standard 24-hour clock, and nightime hours from 1800. “2am” on the Ethiopian clock is therefore equivalent to 0800. Most hotels and larger organisations’ documents, including all airline tickets, are expressed using the global clock rather than the traditional Ethiopian clock. But many individuals and smaller organisations continue to use the Ethiopian clock. If you are not sure the time of a meeting or an event check with your host which clock is being used (‘Ethiopian time’ or ‘Western time’).

Ethiopia is a religiously diverse and largely tolerant country. However, many believers are devout in their respective faiths and you should make sure to respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious sites of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Outside Addis Ababa, particularly in rural areas, women may wish to dress modestly to avoid the possibility of causing offence. Modest dress is a must when visiting religious sites.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians fast each Wednesday, Friday and in several other periods. In predominantly Orthodox areas, at these times only vegan dishes are likely to be available except in larger hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners.

Homosexual acts (applying to both sexes) are illegal, and carry penalties of between 1 and 15 years imprisonment. Be sensitive to local laws and customs and avoid public displays of affection. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

It’s illegal to carry more than 1000 birr in local currency when entering or leaving Ethiopia. If you’re found to be carrying in excess of that amount the money will be seized and a prison sentence is possible.

You must declare to customs officials on entry or exit any cash in excess of 3,000 US dollars (or the equivalent) in foreign currencies. Travellers leaving Ethiopia with more than USD$3,000 must present a bank advice notice if the currency was purchased from a local bank or a valid customs declaration form obtained at the point of entry. A bank advice notice or customs declaration form becomes invalid if 45 days or more have elapsed since the date of issue.

You will need an export certificate to take antiques out of the country, otherwise the items are likely to be confiscated and you may face prosecution.

Owning ivory is strictly prohibited. A number of British nationals found with ivory jewellery have had their items confiscated by authorities and fined between 5,000 and 25,000 birr.

Drug offences are treated seriously in Ethiopia. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Khat is a legal drug in Ethiopia but it is an offence to take it out of the country. Bags are regularly searched at Addis Ababa Bole Airport and anyone found to be in possession of Khat is likely to face criminal prosecution.

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 Ethiopia 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.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Ethiopia

There are special measures in place at all borders when entering Ethiopia.

Proof of a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test result issued within the previous 120 hours (5 days), starting from the time the sample is given, is required for all air passengers over the age of 10 years entering Ethiopia. Arrivals must then complete 7 days mandatory self-quarantine.

Ethiopia has announced its intention to use the Africa Union Trusted Travel process for validating Covid-19 tests for passengers. All passengers arriving in, departing from or transiting Ethiopia should validate their COVID-19 RT PCR test via the Africa Union Trusted Travel or UNDP Global Haven systems (you will need to register an account on one of these sites). These systems will generate a digital Trusted Travel reference code for your test, which should be presented upon request.

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.

Transiting Ethiopia

If you are planning to travel via Ethiopia to reach the UK, you should be aware that restrictions apply. Transit passengers are those with an onward ticket to another destination, who do not formally enter Ethiopia. Transiting passengers are exempt from the current quarantine restrictions for COVID-19. The maximum transit time is 72 hours.

Passengers transiting for 24 hours or less can remain in the departure lounge of the airport. For transits over 24 hours, you will be taken to a designated transit hotel for the duration of your stay. On arrival in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you should report to the transit desk to confirm your hotel details. After health screening and immigration you will then need to present your hotel details and passport to the desk marked “transit shuttle bus” from where you will be taken to the hotel. You will not be able to leave the hotel during your transit. To the extent airline schedules allow, you should therefore minimise the duration of your transit in Addis Ababa.

Passengers transiting Addis Ababa Bole International Airport are subject to COVID-19 screening measures during transit. See below.

If you have any further questions, you should contact your airline.

Screening on arrival

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (and other international airports) have put in place measures to screen passengers arriving, departing or transiting through Ethiopia. Screening may include checking COVID-19 test results, temperature measurements, completing a health screening questionnaire and answering questions from health officials on recent travel and your accommodation details for your self-isolation (see Quarantine requirements below).

Anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19 will be taken to a government designated isolation centre where they will receive appropriate follow-up care and will be tested. Any person that tests positive for COVID-19 will be prohibited from entering Ethiopia.

Anyone with a pre-existing condition that requires regular medicines should bring sufficient amounts to cover a potential unplanned additional 2 week stay.

COVID-19 Test and Quarantine requirements

Proof of a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test result issued within the previous 120 hours (5 days), starting from the time the sample is given, is required for all air passengers over the age of 10 years entering Ethiopia (except diplomats). Only RT PCR tests will be accepted. You may need to demonstrate you have such a test certificate before boarding your flight.

You will need to complete 7 days mandatory self-isolation on arrival. You must provide the address for your self-isolation upon arrival. However, passengers who have a certificate of recovery from COVID -19 within the last 90 days or have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to self-isolate.

Diplomats are encouraged to present a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test certificate as above. If they do not present a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test certificate, they will be expected to get an RT PCR or Antigen-Based COVID-19 test upon arrival. If the result is negative, they will not be required to self-isolate. If diplomats do not present a negative test certificate or refuse to get the test on arrival, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Ethiopia has announced its intention to use the Africa Union Trusted Travel process for validating COVID-19 tests for passengers. All passengers arriving in, departing from or transiting Ethiopia should validate their COVID-19 RT PCR test via the Africa Union Trusted Travel or UNDP Global Haven systems (you will need to register an account on one of these sites). These systems will generate a digital Trusted Travel reference code for your test, which should be presented upon request.

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.

Quarantine requirements

All passengers arriving into the country (except diplomats) are required to present a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test certificate, dated within the previous 120 hours (5 days). Only RT PCR tests will be accepted. You may need to demonstrate you have such a test certificate before boarding your flight.

Most passengers will be subject to 7 days mandatory self-isolation on arrival. You must provide the address for your self-isolation upon arrival.

Passengers who have a certificate of recovery from COVID -19 within the last 90 days or have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to self-isolate.

Diplomats are encouraged to present a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test certificate as above. If they do not present a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test certificate, they will be expected to get an RT PCR or Antigen-Based RT COVID-19 test on arrival. If the result is negative, they will not be required to self-isolate.

If diplomats do not present a negative test certificate or refuse to get the test on arrival, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Land border quarantine

Measures are in place when arriving into the country across land borders.

Those crossing with a negative RT PCR COVID-19 test certificate dated within the previous 120 hours (5 days) with digital reference code (see Entry to Ethiopia) will be screened for symptoms and required to self-isolate at home for 7 days. Those that do not present a negative test certificate will be screened and required to self-isolate for 14 days. Only PCR tests will be accepted.

Anyone who has a certificate of recovery from COVID -19 within 90 days or who has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be required to complete 7 days self-quarantine.

Anyone who is suspected of having COVID-19 will be taken to a government designated isolation centre where they will receive appropriate follow-up care and a further test. The standard of isolation centres varies significantly around the country.

You should check for the latest information with local authorities before travelling to the border.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

You will need a visa with a valid travel document to enter Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian authorities have now resumed their eVisa service but the visas-on-arrival service remains temporarily suspended. All visitors must get an eVisa or obtain a visa from the Ethiopian Embassy closest to their place of legal residence before travelling. You will need to show a valid visa before boarding your flight and upon entry. Holders of valid Diplomatic ID, Ethiopian Temporary Residents Permits or Ethiopian Origin ID (Yellow Cards) will continue to be allowed entry.

The penalty for overstaying your visit visa is USD10 per person per day. If you overstay you will have to pay your fine in full before you are able to leave Ethiopia. Visitors entering Ethiopia without a valid travel document and Ethiopian visa may encounter imprisonment and/or pay six months or more overstay penalty in USD.

To obtain a business visa for Ethiopia you may need prior approval from the Ethiopian Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Agency office before submitting your application to the Ethiopian Embassy. You should check the latest instructions with your nearest Ethiopian Embassy

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ethiopia. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Immigration status

If you’re visiting Ethiopia on a tourist visa, you will be unable to take employment, including voluntary employment. If visitors are caught in breach of their immigration status they may face severe fines or possible imprisonment.

Once you’re in Ethiopia you will not be able to change your immigration status. If you have any concerns about your immigration status in Ethiopia, you should contact the local immigration authorities.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Ethiopia. UK Emergency Passports (EPs) are accepted for airside transit and exit from Ethiopia.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Ethiopia 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 Ethiopia.

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.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. 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

There are a number of hospitals in Addis Ababa but only private hospitals offer a reasonable standard of basic care for minor health problems. Dentistry options are especially lacking. Ambulance services are also limited. Outside the capital medical facilities remain extremely poor. You should carry a comprehensive medical pack when travelling out of Addis Ababa. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation. You should contact your insurance / medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Other health risks

UK health authorities have classified Ethiopia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Malaria is common in areas of the country below 2,000 metres above sea level. Addis Ababa sits at 2,400 metres but a number of sites popular with tourists are below 2,000.

Bilharzia is present in the vast majority of lakes in Ethiopia - you should check before swimming.

Water-borne diseases are common. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Ethiopia is largely a cash based society. Credit cards are accepted at only a very few outlets in Addis Ababa and it is not normally possible to get currency advances against a credit card. International bank and debit cards are accepted at major banks’ ATMs in the capital but there are very limited banking facilities in most other areas. Make sure you have an adequate supply of cash before travelling outside the capital.

If you change foreign currency into Birr, you should ensure that you keep your receipt, as without this you are unlikely to be able to change any left over money back at the end of your trip.

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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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