World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Libya

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

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

FCDO advises against all travel to Libya

FCDO has advised against all travel to Libya since 2014. The local security situation is fragile and can quickly deteriorate, with intense fighting starting without warning. Any travel to, from or within Libya is at your own risk. If you are a British national in Libya, we strongly advise you to consider leaving.

UK government support

UK government support is severely limited in Libya. The British Embassy in Tripoli does not provide support to British people who need help. If you are in Libya and need urgent help from the UK government (for example, if you’ve been attacked, arrested or someone has died) contact the British Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, on +216 71 108 700 or contact us online.

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 travel advice is updated.

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

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

COVID-19 rules

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

Passport validity requirements

To enter Libya, your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.

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.

Previous travel to Israel

If your passport shows previous travel to Israel, it will not be accepted for travel to Libya.

Visa requirements

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, ensure you have the right visa or you may be refused entry. Contact the Libyan Embassy in London for further information on the visa you require. You may require a specific type of visa depending on the nature of your trip.

A Libyan visa issued overseas may not be recognised in some areas or at certain ports of entry, due to the current political situation.

Vaccine requirements

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

Registering with the police

All short-stay visitors must register with the police within a week of arrival. The company you’re visiting or the local travel agency you’re using will usually arrange this. If you do not register, you could get a fine when you leave the country.

Customs rules

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

Taking money into or out of Libya

If you enter or leave Libya with over 10,000 US dollars-worth of cash, you must declare it to the customs authorities. If you do not, you risk having the money confiscated and even being detained.

There is a severe shortage of cash in Libya, and the Libyan Central Bank has imposed restrictions on cash withdrawals throughout the country. 

Libya is a cash-based society. You cannot use bank cards at banks, ATMs or hotels.

The exchange of foreign currency into Libyan dinar is tightly controlled by the Libyan Central Bank. Accessing Libyan dinar through formal methods is difficult for travellers. You can legally use exchange offices approved by the Central Bank, but they operate at black market rates. No bank will change money. Informal methods of currency exchange exist though their use carries the risk of arrest.  

It is illegal to take dinar out of Libya.


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 Libya

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

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. British people and nationals of other western countries are considered high-value hostages. Government buildings and security checkpoints have also been targeted in recent years, leading to deaths.

Extremist groups including Daesh in Libya (formerly referred to as ISIL) are responsible for most attacks, which have targeted:

  • foreign and diplomatic personnel and premises
  • international hotels
  • oil installations
  • government and other official security institutions

In 2021 Daesh claimed responsibility for 2 separate bomb attacks on Libyan security forces in the Fezzan province in southern Libya. These attacks killed at least 4 people.

While there is a greater concentration of terrorist groups in the Fezzan Province, it is highly likely smaller numbers of terrorists can move relatively freely to other towns and regions to facilitate activity outside of the Fezzan Province.

In the north of Libya, it is likely security pressure and violence between armed groups have helped to limit the movement of terrorist groups.

It is likely both Daesh and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are using the Fezzan region in south-west Libya as a base for operations such as people-smuggling and illegally transporting weapons. These resources are essential to support terrorist activity in West Africa.

The risk of terrorism may be higher if you travel in the border regions. Extremist groups operating in the region, including AQIM and Daesh, conduct operations 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.

Terrorist kidnap

Terrorist groups including Daesh, Al-Qaida and their affiliates routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and can conduct 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 is a realistic possibility that they would sell hostages on to terrorist groups. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Libya in the past, including 4 foreign nationals in south-east Libya in 2018.

It is likely that any kidnap for ransom attempt by a terrorist group in Libya would occur in the south of the country, whereas a kidnap for ransom by militias would occur in a northern coastal city.

There is a realistic possibility that a terrorist group, most likely Daesh-Libya or Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, will kidnap a western national in Libya. In recent months, the importance of oil and natural gas production in Libya has increased, and any western nationals working for oil and natural gas companies in Libya are highly likely viewed as high-value targets.

British nationals are seen as legitimate targets, including tourists, humanitarian aid workers, journalists and business travellers. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to protect you or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is to not 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) makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Political situation

The political situation in Libya is fragile and the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable.

There is a UN-facilitated ceasefire in place between eastern and western armed forces. The risk of renewed fighting between them has decreased, but there is still a high risk of localised violence between competing armed groups.

Violence between armed groups can break out with little warning. In 2022, clashes between armed groups in Tripoli killed 32 people and injured over 150. Clashes again broke out in August 2023 in central Tripoli, resulting in temporary roadblocks and Mitiga Airport closure. Tensions have since calmed, with roads now open and no further disruption to air travel from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport.

Foreign forces and mercenaries continue to operate in Libya. The Interim Government of National Unity has limited control of security provision across the country. The lack of political stability has led to security incidents, road and airport closures, and oil blockades.

There have been protests throughout Libya against the continued political deadlock, lack of basic service provision and corruption.

If you choose to travel to Libya against FCDO advice, you should:

  • monitor the local security situation carefully
  • remain vigilant
  • have robust security arrangements and contingency plans in place

Public infrastructure and services

Basic services across Libya vary. Petrol can be difficult to access and there are regularly long queues at fuel stations. There can also be power outages in Tripoli and the south and east, particularly in the summer months.


Crime is widespread across Libya and violent robbery, carjacking and smuggling of fuel, drugs, weapons and people are common across the country. Armed groups and local security services regularly carry out operations against criminal gangs.

Protecting your belongings

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Foreign nationals may be a target for criminals operating in Libya. Be cautious when travelling throughout the country, particularly at night. You should:

  • consider your route
  • vary daily routines
  • hide expensive looking items which could draw unwanted attention


British people have been detained by Libya’s intelligence services or armed groups. You are at higher risk of detention if you work:

  • in private security
  • as a journalist
  • for an NGO

If intelligence services or armed groups detain you in Libya, your health and welfare may be put at serious risk, especially if you have an existing medical condition. The British Embassy will have extremely limited capability to help you or intervene on your behalf. Any help 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.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

By law you must carry your passport. Foreign nationals have been arrested for failing to provide the correct documentation when requested.


Libya is an Islamic country. Always respect local traditions, laws and religious customs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan dates vary by year and country. Ramadan next year is expected to start in March 2025.

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 hotel or business contacts.

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
  • 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


It is illegal in Libya to make any attempt to convert Muslims to another religion.

Alcohol and drugs laws

It is illegal in Libya to drink alcohol or use drugs. Libyan authorities treat drug and alcohol offences seriously. You can be punished for use, possession and trafficking of drugs or alcohol.

Business travel in Libya

There are often complex bureaucratic procedures needed to travel for work in Libya. Follow all relevant protocols and procedures if you intend to travel around Libya for business. You are likely to be at risk of intimidation, harassment and detention if you fail to comply with local customs.

Journalism in Libya

You must get press accreditation from the relevant government authorities. This may reduce the risk of harassment, intimidation and detention by armed groups and Libya’s intelligence services. There is a real risk of hostility from those who object to media reporting. International and local journalists have previously been detained in Libya.

Using cameras near military facilities

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

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Libya. Libyan society is intolerant of same-sex couples showing affection in public.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Transport risks

Road travel

Road travel within Libya remains highly dangerous. There is a risk of being caught up in outbreaks of localised violence between armed groups. There is a high risk of:

  • carjacking
  • robbery
  • striking unexploded bombs or mines off-road

The risk is very high on the coastal road between Zawiyah and Tripoli.

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

If the security situation worsens, routes in and out of major cities and towns may be blocked and airports closed or made inaccessible at little or no notice.

Do not share your travel or other plans through social media. Vary your travel routes and always keep a low profile.

Road traffic accidents are common and often result in deaths. The emergency response to a road traffic accident may be limited.

Air travel

Flights to and from all airports in Libya are at risk of cancellation at short notice.

Tripoli International Airport has been closed since 2014, following clashes between armed groups in the area surrounding the airport. Other airports may change their flight schedule without notice. Mitiga Airport is Tripoli’s only currently functioning civilian airport. Fighting between armed groups in the area caused Mitiga Airport to temporarily close in 2023.

The UK Air Safety List (ASL) lists all known airlines in Libya 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.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Storm damage in eastern Libya

In September 2023 Storm Daniel struck eastern Libya, causing severe flooding and significantly damaging critical infrastructure, including hospitals and telecommunications networks.

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 1415 and ask for an ambulance.

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.

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 Libya, including:

  • leishmaniasis
  • Rift Valley fever
  • West Nile virus
  • schistosomiasis


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.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare in Libya

Healthcare in Libya is generally below the standard available in the UK. There are acute shortages of skilled personnel and medical supplies, particularly for chronic conditions such as diabetes. 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.

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 Libya

Telephone: 1415 (ambulance, fire, police)

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 Libya and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, who provide consular assistance for Libya.

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