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Libya travel guide

About Libya

Travel to Libya is ill-advised at the moment due to the ongoing civil war. And that’s a shame, because this beautiful land has much to offer the intrepid traveller.

One of the largest countries in African, Libya boasts a stunning Mediterranean coastline, gorgeous desert landscapes and no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These ancient sites are a reminder that Libya’s history has always been tumultuous: before Gaddafi’s regime and the ensuing civil war, the country endured Greek, Roman and Italian rule.

But Libya has more to offer than war stories. From the mystical desert town of Ghadames to the stunning Sahara Desert, this is a land of empty beaches, ancient mountain trails and shimmering oases. It is a land where sand dunes stretch to the heavens, palm trees reflect in desert lakes and prehistoric rock carvings decorate the dramatic Akakus Mountains.

Rural Libya is characterised by neatly cultivated olive groves, fat lemons dangling from trees and remote Berber settlements. In the cities, merchants sell wares in rose-scented souks, flogging silver, spices, henna, hijabs and Tuareg scarves. The smell of spicy lentil soup and Benghazi seafood hangs deliciously in the air.

The population of Libya is mostly of Arab and Berber descent. Berbers make up about 10% of inhabitants and live in more remote areas. The rest of the population lives largely in coastal cities like Tripoli and Benghazi, although recent fighting has forced many to flee.

Libyan hospitality is legendary and its people love showing travellers around. But tourism faltered after the Arab Spring and has been paralyzed by the ensuing Civil War. At the time of writing, tourist visas were not being issued and most tour companies have closed their doors – many guides now work as fixers for war reporters instead.

It’s impossible to say how current events will pan out, but, like many travellers, we hope the doors to Libya will swing open again soon.

Key facts


1,759,500 sq km (679,347 sq miles).


6,330,159 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

3.6 per sq km.



Head of state:

Chairmen of the Presidential Council Muhammad Younes al-Menfi, since 2021.

Head of government:

Acting Prime Minister Osama Saad Hammad Saleh, since 2023.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to Libya. This advice has been in place consistently since 2014. If you’re in Libya against this advice, you should seek to leave immediately by any practical means.

All travel to, from and within Libya is at the traveller’s risk. Local security situations are fragile and can quickly deteriorate into intense fighting and clashes without warning.

Consular support is severely limited in Libya and the British Embassy in Tripoli does not provide consular services. If you are in Libya and need urgent help from the UK government (e.g. if you have been detained) you can contact the British Embassy in Tunis on +216 71 108 700 or contact us online. If you are in the UK and are concerned about a British national in Libya, you can call the FCDO in London on +44 (0)20 7008 5000.

If you plan to travel against FCDO advice, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Libya’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning.

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

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

Military clashes and inter-militia fighting pose significant risks to air travel in Libya. It has periodically caused the temporary suspension or closure of airports. All airports are vulnerable to attack. Mitiga Airport, Tripoli’s only functioning civilian airport, has been regularly shelled by artillery, most recently on 9 May 2020. See Air travel

Since April 2019, there has been a significant build-up of militarised forces across western and central Libya. There is an increased risk of localised inter-militia clashes throughout Libya amid tensions about the postponed 24 December 2021 presidential elections and the wider political process. See Safety and security

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Libya. There remains a high threat throughout the country of terrorist attacks and kidnap against foreigners, including from Daesh-affiliated extremists (formerly referred to as ISIL) and Al Qaida, as well as armed militias. Daesh and Al Qaeda have attacked a number of oil and gas installations and killed or kidnapped workers, including foreign nationals. See Terrorism

In August and September 2020 both Tripoli and Benghazi saw demonstrations against deteriorating living conditions and corruption. Pockets of violence were seen, with reports of civilians being shot and wounded.

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, you should get the right visa, or risk deportation. See Entry requirements

If you’re entering Libya as a media representative, you should get press accreditation from the relevant Libyan authorities.

Coronavirus travel health

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

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Libya.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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

What should you do if you test positive in Libya before returning to the UK?

You will be required to self-isolate in either a hotel or private accommodation until you test negative for COVID-19. If medical assistance is required, you should call the Ministry of Health operations room:

  • Central Operations Room: 199
  • Operations Room - western and southern regions: 0214631334 - 0910912743 - 0910912724
  • Operations Room: eastern region: 06147474602 - 0614747609 - 0920123444
  • COVID-19 Operations Room - for quick response and emergencies: 0214629191 - 0214629022

Whilst self-isolating you can expect to be contacted by the municipality you are quarantining in.

If you leave the hotel or private accommodation you are quarantining in, you will not be able to receive any assistance from the authorities. You will not be stopped from leaving Libya but you must ensure you check onward travel rules.

Travel in Libya

Libya has announced a number of measures and restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. Implementation of these measures has been relaxed but they may be tightened again at short notice.


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

Political situation

The political situation in Libya remains fragile and the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable. Uncertainty about when postponed Libyan elections will take place is likely to heighten tensions throughout the country, which may lead to security incidents such as inter-militia clashes and oil blockades.

Since April 2019 there has been a significant build-up of militarised forces across western and central Libya. Regular and heavy armed clashes took place to the south and west of Tripoli.

Reports suggest that between April 2019 and July 2020 there were over 3,300 deaths, including over 330 civilians.

Fighting can break out anywhere without warning, including between local militia groups, and many civilians have been killed in outbreaks of conflict in residential areas.

There’s a high risk of civilians, including journalists, humanitarian and medical workers, being caught in indiscriminate gunfire or shelling, including air strikes, in all areas where there is fighting.

In May 2020 there was significant fighting in and around Tripoli, including at Mitiga Airport, and indiscriminate fire into residential areas in Tripoli including near the Italian Residence and Turkish Embassy. There were airstrikes on both Al-Watiya airbase and Abu Qrain, with reports of large quantities of mines and IEDs that have been left in Tripoli and the surrounding area by the retreating forces.

Reports of violence, protests, reprisal killings, looting and human rights abuses continue across the country. If you choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, you should monitor the local security situation carefully. Political events may impact on the security situation.

Humanitarian crisis

The ongoing political impasse and conflict has seriously affected public infrastructure and services, resulting in power cuts, water, fuel, food and cash shortages, absence of medicines, and high inflation.

The UN High Commission for Refugees assess that more than 1.3 million people – including internally displaced people (IDPs), as well as vulnerable Libyans, host communities, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers – are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

Power outages can last for 18 hours per day in Tripoli and several days in the South and are affecting mobile phone and internet signals.


You should be aware that if you are detained in Libya, especially by non-state actors (eg militia groups), your health and welfare may be put at serious risk and the British Embassy will have an extremely limited capability to assist you or intervene on your behalf. Any assistance will be even more limited for dual nationals of Libyan origin as you will be in your home country and dual nationality is not recognised by the Libyan authorities.


There’s a very high risk of criminal kidnap for ransom in Tripoli and coastal towns to the West of Tripoli. There’s an elevated risk of kidnap for ransom and arbitrary detention by local militias throughout Libya.

Ongoing conflict and the proliferation of armed militias has led to a rise in crime in most areas, including violent robbery, carjacking and kidnapping.

In recent years, a number of foreign nationals have been shot dead in Libya. Foreigners are also increasingly targeted for kidnappings by both criminal and extremist groups. See Terrorism

Local travel

If you travel to Libya against FCDO advice, you should regularly reassess your security arrangements and carefully plan your movements. Take security advice from competent security experts before any travel within the country. Close security protection is extremely important.

In the event of a further deterioration of the security situation, routes in and out of major cities and towns may become blocked and airports closed or inaccessible at little or no notice.

Don’t advertise your travel or other plans through social media. Avoid routine, vary your travel routes, and keep a low profile at all times.

Travel for media/journalism purposes

If you’re entering Libya as a media representative, you should get press accreditation from the relevant Libyan authorities.

Journalists, including foreign nationals, are vulnerable to mistreatment by armed groups in Libya. Intimidation, attacks, detentions and kidnapping of local journalists are a serious problem, and a number have been killed. There is a real risk of hostility from those who object to media reporting. Regular, semi-regular and irregular detention of foreign nationals occurs regularly in all parts of Libya.

Road travel

Road travel within Libya remains highly dangerous. There continues to be a risk of being caught up in outbreaks of hostilities. There’s also a high risk of carjacking and robbery. The coastal road between Zawiyah and Tripoli presents an elevated risk. There’s a risk of striking unexploded ordnance off-road.

Road traffic accidents are frequent and often result in fatalities.

All land borders into Libya are subject to closure at short notice.

Air travel

Flights to and from all airports in Libya are likely to be cancelled at short notice.

Inter-militia fighting poses significant risks to air travel in Libya. It has periodically caused the temporary suspension or closure of airports. All airports are vulnerable to attack.

  • Mitiga airport, Tripoli’s only functioning civilian airport, has been regularly shelled by artillery. An attack on 9 May 2020 involving 70 rounds caused considerable damage.

  • Tripoli International Airport has been closed since July 2014, following clashes that broke out between armed groups in the area surrounding the airport. Other airports may change their flight schedule without notice.

Due to a number of ongoing safety concerns, the European Union has agreed with the Libyan authorities to continue a voluntary restriction on Libyan airlines flying into the EU. However, some Libyan airlines operate flights to the EU using aircraft leased from other airlines. The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Libya.

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. Extremist groups including Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) are responsible for the majority of attacks, which have targeted foreign and diplomatic personnel and premises, international hotels, commercial and oil installations, and government and other official security institutions.

Although government - aligned forces, supported by U.S. airstrikes, declared the end of operations against Daesh in Sirte in January 2016, Daesh remain a serious threat to security in Libya.

On 7 and 14 June 2021 Daesh claimed responsibility for two separate bomb attacks on Libyan security forces in Fezzan province, southern Libya. These attacks killed at least four people.

Daesh claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack on the High National Election Commission in Tripoli on 2 May 2018, in which at least 13 people were killed and many injured, and further attacks on the National Oil Corporation in central Tripoli on 10 September 2018, in which at least 2 people were killed, and on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli on 25 December 2018, which killed at least two people. In August 2019, a car bomb explosion in the eastern city of Benghazi killed five, including three foreign nationals.

On 24 November 2018, Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack on the central Libyan town of Tazerbo, in which at least 9 people were killed, 5 injured and 20 others kidnapped.

On 4 October 2017, at least 4 people were killed and many were wounded in a Daesh suicide bomb attack at the main court building in the city of Misrata. On 23 August 2017, at least 11 were killed in a Daesh attack on a checkpoint in the central Jufra region. On 2 October 2016, a Dutch journalist was killed in Sirte, while reporting on the fighting between pro-government forces and Daesh. In Dernah, there’s an ongoing conflict between the Libyan National Army and local armed groups.

Terrorist groups in southern and south-west Libya are also of concern and are using the area as a safe haven and transit route. Attacks have been launched in Libya and across the wider region, for example the In Amenas attack in Algeria in January 2013. Armed groups remain largely autonomous due the unstable political and security situation across large areas of Libya.

Travel in border regions is especially risky. Regional extremist groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, operate in the border areas of northern Mali, Niger and Algeria. They have a proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including in neighbouring countries and Libya.


There remains a continuing high threat of kidnap from criminal groups, armed groups and terrorist groups across the whole of Libya. Security precautions do not mitigate the threat.

Terrorist groups including Daesh, Al Qaeda and their affiliates routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and are capable of conducting kidnapping across borders. Terrorist groups within Libya have both intent and capability to carry out further kidnappings. It’s a realistic possibility that they will target foreign nationals. Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings, and there’s a realistic possibility that they would sell hostages on to terrorist groups. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Libya in the last 12 months. Four foreign nationals were kidnapped in south-west Libya in November 2017 and most recently, 4 foreign nationals were kidnapped in south-east Libya in July 2018. See our Sahel page for information on the 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.

If you do choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, you should pay careful attention to your safety and security. Security precautions don’t remove the threat and FCDO advice remains against all travel to the country.

You must get permission before taking any photographs or interviewing at or near military facilities.

This page has information on travelling to Libya.

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

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


A Libyan visa issued overseas may not be recognised in some areas, due to the current political conflict.

Previous travel to Israel

Passports showing previous travel to Israel are not accepted for travel to Libya.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK emergency travel documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Libya. If exiting on a UK emergency travel document you may need to obtain an exit visa/permission from the Libyan authorities.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Registering with the Libyan authorities

All short stay visitors must register with the police within a week of arrival. This is usually arranged by the company you’re visiting or the local travel agency you’re travelling with. If you don’t register, you may be fined when you leave the country.

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

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, 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).

Healthcare in Libya is on the whole below the standard available in the UK and suffers from acute shortages in skilled personnel and medical supplies, particularly for chronic conditions such as diabetes. COVID-19 has put further pressures on the healthcare system, with hospitals struggling to cope with the influx of patients. There are private clinics in Tripoli. If you need treatment you may be evacuated to Malta or mainland Europe. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Medical help in remote areas may not be available. Even if your travel or insurance company has arrangements with an international air ambulance provider, they may not be allowed to carry out a rescue operation within Libya. The current status of Libyan rescue services is uncertain.

Libya is a cash society. Although the GNA have made efforts to maintain the supply in cash in banks, there continue to be severe shortages of cash and restrictions on bank withdrawals throughout the country.

Credit cards are not widely used although Visa and Mastercard are accepted in some places.

Consular support is severely limited in Libya and the British Embassy in Tripoli does not provide consular services. If you are in Libya and need urgent help from the UK government (e.g. if you have been detained) you can contact the British Embassy in Tunis on +216 71 108 700 or contact us online. If you are in the UK and are concerned about a British national in Libya, you can call the FCDO in London on +44 (0)20 7008 5000.

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.


There is a range of financial support from the government that you can access while you are unable to return due to coronavirus restrictions.

For further UK government guidance on support you can access whilst abroad, visit our waiting to return guidance. This includes guidance on finance, health, and staying connected.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

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

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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