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South Sudan travel guide

About South Sudan

There’s off-piste, and then there’s South Sudan. Officially the world’s newest nation, its poor infrastructure and volatile political climate will deter most from visiting this fledgling nation. But the intrepid few who do visit will discover some of the least known and most extreme natural phenomena on Earth.

After a messy divorce from Sudan in 2011, the South Sudanese people are fiercely proud of their hard-fought independence and both surprised and pleased when someone choses to visit.

Somewhat chaotic, and growing rapidly, the capital, Juba, has a superb location on the banks of the White Nile. Founded in the 1920s, it exhibits some excellent examples of British colonial architecture around the Hai Jalaba district, though most visitors will want to leave man-made structures behind and head for the country’s natural wonders.

The vast swampy Sudd region, known locally as Bahr el Jebel or “Mountain Sea” is where the Nile forms one of the world’s largest inland wetlands. A habitat safe from poachers for large populations of hippos, it is a unique experience to explore its vast islands of reeds by canoe.

Boma National Park not only boasts large populations of Africa’s most iconic wildlife species, including elephant, giraffe and lion, but also the greatest migration of mammals on Earth, when an estimated two million grazing animals flee en mass for pastures new. The region is also renowned for its traditional tribal homesteads, which dot the plains.

Not content with rivers, swamps and savannah, South Sudan’s natural prowess extends to the Imatong Mountains, and the star attraction here is Kinyeti, the highest mountain in the country at 3,200m (10,500ft).

The South Sudanese consider their homeland blessed and it’s hard to disagree when you see the sheer diversity of natural landscapes the country has to offer. Road travel can be uncomfortable, but the end result is certainly well worth any hardship.

Key facts


644,329 sq km (248,777 sq miles).


12,733,427 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

18.7 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Salva Kiir Mayardit since 2011.

Head of government:

President Salva Kiir Mayardit since 2011.

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 South Sudan

FCDO advises against all travel to South Sudan due to the risk of armed violence and criminality.

See more about safety and security in South Sudan.

Travel insurance

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

About FCDO travel advice

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

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

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK who choose to travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (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 South Sudan set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the South Sudanese Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules  

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering South Sudan. On rare occasions, some travellers have been asked to show proof of vaccination. You can get proof of vaccination:

Passport validity requirements

To enter South Sudan, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you arrive and have at least 2 blank pages.

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

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

Visa requirements

You must have a visa to enter or travel through South Sudan.

Applying for a visa

You can:

If you want to extend your visa, contact the Ministry of the Interior in person:

Ministry of the Interior, Airport Road, Juba
Phone: +211 (0)926 388 499

If you plan to work in South Sudan, see information on work permits from the Ministry of Labour.

Registering with the police

You must register at a local police station if you’re in South Sudan for 5 days or more.

Vaccine requirements

To enter South Sudan, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination.

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

South Sudan’s security services have harassed, detained and expelled foreign nationals, including non-governmental organisation staff and journalists, when they enter or leave Juba airport. These incidents are often linked to proof of yellow fever vaccination, and visa and work permit issues. Make sure you have the correct visa and any required work permit.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of South Sudan. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. Contact the South Sudanese Embassy in the UK for information.


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 South Sudan  

Terrorist attacks in South Sudan cannot be ruled out.  

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.  

Political situation

Following 5 years of internal armed conflict, a 2018 peace agreement significantly reduced violence. However, slow and uneven implementation of the agreement means the political and security situation remains unpredictable. Conflict and a series of natural disasters have created a humanitarian crisis across South Sudan.

If the unstable security situation deteriorates, routes into and out of South Sudan may be blocked. Juba airport may close or be inaccessible. Flights may be cancelled at short notice.

Regional developments may also affect international transport. For example, in 2019 and 2023 events in Sudan caused South Sudan’s airspace to close temporarily.

If you choose to remain in South Sudan, stay aware of your surroundings and follow political developments closely. If there is civil disorder, stay somewhere safe and limit your movements as much as possible. Avoid all protests, political rallies and large gatherings, and follow the instructions of local authorities and security services. Make sure you have a stock of essential supplies and up-to-date travel documents and visas. 


Robbery and assault

There is a high risk of serious crime such as robbery and assault in Juba and other urban areas, particularly at night and on public transport. There are drive-by robberies by individuals or groups on motorbikes.

There are regular attacks by armed groups and accidents on the Juba-Nimule road, the main supply route from Uganda into South Sudan.

Criminals in South Sudan are often armed.

Criminal kidnapping and violence against aid workers

It is extremely difficult for businesses and non-governmental organisations to work in South Sudan. Although the number of aid workers killed in targeted attacks has fallen in recent years, South Sudan remains one of the most dangerous environments in the world for aid workers. There are incidents of criminal kidnapping, violence, intimidation and arbitrary detention.

Road checkpoints

Checkpoints operated by soldiers or other armed men are common in and around Juba, particularly after dark. Armed men at checkpoints have been known to demand money from drivers and abuse people, especially women. Roadblocks can create volatile and dangerous situations and are often put up after sunset, so it advisable not to travel after dark.

Armed conflict

Armed conflict, including violence targeting civilians is common throughout South Sudan. Fighting often starts quickly and unpredictably.       

Landmines and unexploded weapons    

There is a risk from landmines or unexploded cluster bombs in some areas of South Sudan. 

Affected states include:

  • Central Equatoria
  • Eastern Equatoria
  • Jonglei
  • Central and Eastern Equatoria
  • Lakes
  • Upper Nile
  • Warrap
  • Western Equatoria

Most areas with unexploded weapons have been marked and signposted, but there may still be small, previously unidentified hazardous areas in remote places.

Be cautious near areas with unexploded weapons or where there was previously heavy fighting. Do not enter marked areas with landmines or other explosives. Do not touch any suspicious objects (even to move them to a safer place).      

Limited UK government support

Consular support is severely limited in South Sudan. The British Embassy in Juba does not have a consular section. If you are in South Sudan and need urgent help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya.

If you decide to travel to South Sudan, make sure you carefully consider the threats and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place. Most international organisations in South Sudan employ a security manager to help keep employees safe.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

Police can ask to see photo ID. Always carry a colour copy of your passport with you.

Illegal drugs penalties

There are severe penalties for using or trafficking drugs in South Sudan, including the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Using cameras

Do not take photographs close to government buildings, military installations, bridges, airports, public utilities (including petrol stations) and other sensitive areas. Plainclothes public security officers operate in Juba and across South Sudan.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relationships are not culturally accepted. Same-sex sexual activity between men is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years. LGBT+ travellers are at risk of discrimination and violence.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.


International credit and debit cards are not widely accepted, although some of the newer hotels and supermarkets are starting to.

ATMs are hard to find, and it is often not possible to use international cards. You can use your credit or debit card to withdraw money in some supermarkets. Bring large denomination US dollars (clean, unblemished notes dated 2017 onwards). Dollars are acceptable currency in many places, but shops and restaurants are likely to refuse notes that are marked in any way.

Transport risks

Road travel

It is extremely dangerous to drive in South Sudan due to armed robbery, violent attacks and poor driving standards.

Driving standards are well below those in the UK and other European countries. Very few roads are surfaced and maintained, particularly outside Juba. Residential areas usually have dirt roads. Road traffic accidents are common, particularly on the Juba-Nimule road.

At night there is almost no street lighting, and many vehicles have no lights. Motor vehicles share the road with pedestrians, donkey carts and rickshaw-style cabs.

Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many do not. Make sure you have adequate insurance. Your insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in South Sudan. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP).        

See information on driving abroad

Public transport

Public transport, including small buses, vans and motorbike taxis (‘boda-bodas’), is extremely unsafe. Drivers are reckless, traffic accidents are common and vehicles are in poor condition. There is also a high risk of mugging. Avoid public transport.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

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


During the rainy season from April to November, most roads outside of Juba become impassable. There is a risk of being cut off by floods in areas outside the capital, particularly in Unity, Warrap, Jonglei and Upper Nile states. There is also a risk of flash flooding.

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

South Sudan does not have an emergency medical public phone number. There are limited private ambulance services, but you will have to register with a private clinic first.        

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

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in South Sudan.

Altitude sickness is a risk in Eastern Equatoria near the border with Uganda, where there are mountains of over 3,000 metres. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

Yellow fever

In December 2023, the South Sudanese Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of yellow fever in Yambio Country, Western Equatoria State. There are 3 confirmed cases. They are testing other suspected cases.


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

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

Healthcare in South Sudan

Health facilities are extremely limited throughout South Sudan. Many medical issues require medical evacuation to neighbouring hubs (Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda, are the most common). During the rainy season, flights are often forced to remain on the ground for hours. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any treatment abroad, medical evacuation and repatriation.

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

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 South Sudan

There are no central emergency numbers in South Sudan.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against advice from FCDO.

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 South Sudan and need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, who provide consular assistance for South Sudan.

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

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