Sudan travel guide
Sudan is hardly your archetypal tourist destination, but behind the unsavoury headlines is a country of exquisite natural beauty, ancient historical attractions and inhabitants well versed in the art of hospitality.
A vast country, three times the size of Texas, Sudan is as much about people as it is natural or man-made wonders. It is a nation where travellers can learn more drinking freshly prepared smoothies with the residents of Khartoum (Sudan is officially alcohol free) than they can by visiting one of the capital’s excellent museums.
A relatively young city, Khartoum was built in 1821 at the confluence of the Blue and White Niles while the country was ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt. History and traditionalism jostle with modernity in the city, where stunning classical Islamic architecture in red ochre hues stands beside modern glass and steel skyscrapers paid for by the country’s oilfields (which were mostly lost with the independence of South Sudan in 2011).
Centuries before colonial rule Sudan comprised a series of city-states. One of the longest lasting was Meroë, which sits some 200 km (125 miles) northeast of Khartoum. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient city features more than 200 steep-sided pyramids, which were built as elaborate royal mausoleums. They rise from the sandy dunes of the Nubian Desert and date from between 300 BC and AD 300, when the kingdom was at its most powerful.
Worth visiting in itself, the Nubian Desert – in reality part of the Sahara – offers solitude and unspoiled natural beauty stretching east all the way to the Red Sea and Port Sudan, the centre of Sudan’s burgeoning diving scene.
One of the least visited countries in East Africa, but one of the friendliest, Sudan has a magical mix of history, tradition and modernity that belies its status as a pariah state.
1,861,484 sq km (718,723 sq miles).
41,175,541 (UN estimate 2016).
19.1 per sq km.
Chairman Sovereignty Council: Abdel Fattah Burhan, since 2019.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok since 2019.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Sudan 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.
Flights to and from some regional countries now operate but some commercial options remain limited. Check with your airline or travel company for the latest information and conditions of carriage.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Sudan.
Travel in Sudan
The Sudanese authorities have now removed all national COVID-19 restrictions. There remains the possibility of curfews, travel restrictions or other measures being re-introduced at short notice. You should comply with all local COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Sudanese authorities.
Hotels remain open but may offer limited services.
Public places and services
Many cafes, restaurants and markets continue to operate.
Mosques and other places of worship may be open to the public with social distancing and other preventive measures in place.
For contact details for English speaking doctors, if you are running low on medication or require emergency medical treatment, you should 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 Sudan.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call 9090 or 221 for further guidance.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Sudan
As information is available about any Sudanese national vaccination Wherever possible, British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. further information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated. Sign up to get email notifications.
The vaccination programme in Sudan started in March 2021. The Sudanese Ministry of Health has confirmed that the initial phase of the rollout, which applied to all nationalities over 60 years old, has now been extended to include those over 45 years old presenting either a passport or national ID. British nationals in Sudan can find out more about the local vaccine programme as publicised on the Sudanese Ministry of Health website, where there is a section marked “Foreigners”.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.
British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (only available in Arabic).
Help and support
If you are in need of urgent help, please contact the British Embassy in Khartoum or call +249 156 77 55 00 and follow the option for consular assistance. This telephone number is available 24/7.
If you are vulnerable with health issues, an older person, or will be travelling with young children, you can call +249 156 77 55 00 and follow the options for consular assistance.
If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the local immigration authorities or the nearest Sudanese Embassy.
The level of street crime in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities, with the exception of Darfur, is low but increasing. Incidents of mobile phone and bag-snatching (including drive-by bag snatching by thieves on motorbikes), aggressive begging (including attempts to open the doors of stationary vehicles), petty theft and burglaries do occur. Remain alert and take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Take care not to leave valuable items on display in your car while travelling and keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. If you’re stopped, you should avoid confrontation.
Following months of political uncertainty, civil disobedience and incidents of lethal violence against peaceful protestors, Omar al-Bashir was removed as President in April 2019. A civilian-led transitional government is now in place, and Sudan is in a period of transition towards elections in in 2023.
The transitional governance arrangements have brought relative calm across Sudan, though there have been protests (primarily around fuel shortages and wheat prices). Further protests cannot be ruled out. You should keep away from any demonstrations, monitor local media and follow advice of authorities.
Voice, SMS and data services, including access to social media sites, are available on most mobile phones. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are not available to download in Sudan.
The FCDO advise against all travel to the Darfur states, the Abyei Region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the southern area of West Kordofan state (that was previously part of South Kordofan), within 50km of the border with South Sudan in White Nile and Sennar states, and within 200km of the border with Libya.
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel within 100km of the border with Egypt in areas west of the Nile Valley, within 20km of the border with Eritrea, within 20km of the border with Ethiopia and to areas of North Kordofan and West Kordofan states south of the Kost-El Obeid-En Nahud road.
States of emergency, which give the authorities greater powers of arrest, are introduced by the Government from time to time. You should seek local advice before travelling. There have been reports of arbitrary detentions in different parts of the country, including in Khartoum and including of foreign nationals. Take great care around any areas which may be sensitive to the government, including military installations, border areas and camps for internally displaced persons. Don’t take photographs in these areas.
Permits are no longer officially required to travel outside of Khartoum for the purpose of tourism. Travel outside of Khartoum for any other purpose must be checked with the Aliens Department at the Ministry of Interior.
If you’re planning to travel outside of Khartoum, make sure you carry enough fuel for your journey or are confident you will be able to refuel en route, as there have been sporadic acute fuel shortages both within the Khartoum and across the country.
Fuel shortages have, at times, led to long queues at petrol stations and reduced public transport options in Khartoum. There have been ad hoc peaceful protests across the city linked to the fuel shortage and wheat prices and also around issues of transitional justice. Sporadic unofficial roadblocks linked to protests can appear in parts of the city with little or no warning. If you encounter a roadblock, remain calm and seek an alternative route. Do not attempt to force your way through it.
The FCDO advise against all travel to the 5 Darfur states (Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Darfur, West Darfur and South Darfur). Reports of protests, armed response and armed clashes in several parts of Darfur are frequent.
The security situation in Darfur is volatile and unstable. Banditry and lawlessness are widespread, and there are frequent violent confrontations between rebel and government forces, between tribes and over economic resources (land, gold), as well as continuing anti-government protests. There are tensions within camps for internally displaced people, which have sometimes resulted in violence and fatalities. Armed robbery and break-ins of guesthouses and other buildings have been reported.
Humanitarian workers and UN/international staff are possible targets of attack or for kidnap, and have been caught up in cross-fire and violent incidents. A number of aid workers and peacekeepers have been killed in recent years.
There is a high threat of kidnapping. Kidnappings can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. There have been a number of kidnappings, including of British nationals and other westerners. Kidnap groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets.
If you are in Darfur against FCDO advice, you should respect any curfews that are imposed and make sure you are aware of any military operations, conflict and crime patterns. Make sure that you have co-ordinated your movements with UN Security and that all necessary parties have been notified. Anyone seeking entry to the Darfur area, for whatever purpose, must first obtain a special permit from the Sudanese government.
North Kordofan, West Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar States
The FCDO advise against all travel to within 50km of the border with South Sudan in White Nile and Sennar states.
The FCDO advise against all travel to the southern area of West Kordofan state that was formerly part of South Kordofan, as shown on the map.
There is a risk of conflict and violence spreading into White Nile, North Kordofan and Sennar states from neighbouring areas. You should maintain high situational awareness and avoid any areas where conflict is reported.
The FCDO advise against all travel to within 200km of the border with Libya. There are ongoing media reports of trafficking in people and goods as well as movement of armed militants between the two countries. The FCDO currently advise against all travel to Libya and the border is closed to non-African nationals.
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to within 100km of the border with Egypt in the area west of the Nile Valley.
Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid
The Hala’ib Triangle remains disputed territory between Sudan and Egypt. If you’re in the Hala’ib Triangle and need urgent consular assistance, you should contact the British Embassy Cairo.
Correspondingly, the Bir Tawil Trapezoid remains unclaimed by either Sudan or Egypt. If you’re in this area and need urgent consular assistance, you should contact the British Embassy in the country you last travelled through (either the British Embassy Cairo or the British Embassy Khartoum).
South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei
The FCDO advise against all travel to the Abyei Administrative Area. The security situation there remains tense and unpredictable.
The FCDO advise against all travel to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, due to continuing internal conflict.
There have been reports of flooding in Blue Nile state and a cholera outbreak. If you are travelling to Blue Nile against FCDO advice you should follow health advice on cholera from NaTHNaC and monitor developments.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance are a threat in areas affected by conflict.
East Sudan: Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea States
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to within 20km of the border with Eritrea and the border with Ethiopia. This area does not include the city of Kassala, which is more than 20km from the border.
On 5 November 2020, Sudan closed its border with Ethiopia following armed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Sudanese Armed Forces have been deployed along the border in Gedaref and Kassala States and are conducting operations against armed militia elements close to the border. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to within 20km of Sudan’s border with Ethiopia.
There have also been clashes between tribal groups in Red Sea State that have resulted in a number of fatalities.
If you’re travelling by road in Kassala State, you should keep to the major roads, as people-trafficking groups are believed to operate in some areas.
Local tensions in the Galabat area have previously resulted in the closure of the Metema-Galabat border post at short notice. Take care in these areas and check with local authorities on the latest situation before starting your journey.
Road traffic accidents are common in Sudan. There is a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when using public transport or vehicles for hire such as rickshaws and ‘amjad minivans’.
Road conditions are poor and many roads, even major ones, are not tarred or have potholes. Many roads are unsurfaced. Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaws, as well as motor vehicles. At night, there is generally no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights.
If your journey doesn’t follow a major route you should travel with an experienced local guide. Many areas south of Khartoum become inaccessible by road during the rainy season from July to October. The wadis (dry riverbeds) are subject to dangerous flash floods and many are not passable during the rains except on a major road.
You can drive in Sudan using a full UK driving licence for a maximum period of 3 months. You can get a local driving licence from the police traffic department. Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many do not have these. Make sure you have adequate insurance.
Sudanese law prohibits the use of mobile phones while driving.
Since 2010, all airlines registered in Sudan have been banned from operating in the EU on the basis of safety assessments by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Incidents of piracy have been reported in the Red Sea around the Gulf of Aden. Be vigilant and seek local advice. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
If you intend to go ashore along the Red Sea Coast, ensure you have the correct documentation.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sudan.
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, places of worship and major gatherings. You should follow the advice of local authorities. On 5 November Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a message calling for attacks in East Africa, including Sudan, against US and Israeli interests.
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. You should be vigilant at this time.
There is a high threat of kidnapping in Darfur. Kidnappings can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. There have been a number of recent kidnappings, including of British nationals and other westerners. Kidnap groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets.
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.
Local laws reflect the fact that Sudan is predominantly Muslim. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
Sudan operates Islamic Sharia law. Although the constitution specifies that in Khartoum non-Muslims shall not be subject to Sharia law, you should expect Sharia law to apply. In July 2020 the Sudanese authorities amended the law on alcohol to allow consumption by non-Muslims, but not in the company of Muslims.
Non-Muslim women are not expected to wear a veil or cover their heads, but should dress modestly and respect local customs and sensitivities.
Homosexual practices and extra marital relations are illegal and subject to severe penalties. This includes inviting guests into hotel rooms. Sudanese society is not tolerant of homosexual relationships. See our information and advice page for the LGBTQ+ community before you travel.
You should carry a form of photo ID with you at all times.
There are severe penalties for drug trafficking.
All photography requires a formal permit, which you can get from the External Information Centre in Khartoum (part of the Ministry of Information). Don’t take photographs or use a mobile phone camera close to government buildings, military installations, public utilities (including petrol stations), and other sensitive areas (bridges, airports etc). Many plain clothed public security officers operate.
It is normal practice for hotels to take a photocopy of your passport. It’s against the law to live together, or to share the same hotel room, with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t married or closely related. Business meetings should take place in lobbies or business meetings room and not hotel rooms. As recently as 2018, British nationals have encountered problems in this respect with the Sudanese authorities. Tourist police patrol the hotels.
If you want to buy property in Sudan, you should seek appropriate professional advice, as you would in the UK. A list of lawyers in Sudan is available on the British Embassy Khartoum website.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques (including post-dated and ‘security cheques’) and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bank accounts and other assets can also be frozen. Bail is generally not available to people who are arrested for financial crimes. Those convicted will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived and they may even remain in jail after a debt has been paid if there is an outstanding sentence to be served.
Equipment like satellite phones, listening or recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras or binoculars may require a licence for use in Sudan. You should seek advice from the Sudanese Embassy in London before travelling.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to 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
Entry to Sudan
Passengers of Sudanese origin are subject to testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) on arrival. All other passengers must possess a certificate confirming a negative result for a test, taken less than 72 hours before arrival.
All arrivals must provide details of their original place of travel, transit and final destination, their address and their contact details in case the authorities need to contact them in the event of another passenger testing positive.
Testing on departure
The Sudanese Civil Aviation authorities require that you undergo a temperature check before entering the airport. Some airlines require evidence of a negative PCR test and have strict rules on face coverings and gloves. You should check the conditions set out by your airline and the authorities in your country of destination.
Regular Entry Requirements
British nationals need a visa to visit Sudan. Apply before you travel via the Sudanese Embassy in London.
You should register with the Aliens Department at the Ministry of Interior within 3 days of your arrival in the country. You will need 2 passport size photos. The fee is the Sudanese Pound equivalent of around £35. If you don’t register within 3 days of arrival, you may be fined. Some of the larger hotels will do this for you but you should ask when you check-in.
Visitors to Sudan on a single entry visa need to get an exit visa to leave the country, though this is not always enforced. Exit visas can be processed at the airport. If requested, you should be ready to show proof of your sponsor and pay the exit visa fee of 50 US dollars.
Most foreign residents, including British nationals, also need an exit permit. You should check the details with your sponsor, ideally before your arrival, and to ensure that you understand and are happy with the process. You should also be aware that this requirement could make it difficult for you to leave the country at short notice, should the need arise.
Children under 18
The rules on children under 18 travelling without being accompanied by their father changed in July 2020. Children no longer need to obtain their father or male relative’s consent to enter and exit Sudan.
Previous travel to Israel
If your passport has an Israeli visa or Israeli entry/exit stamps you will not be allowed to enter Sudan.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Sudan.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into or transit through the Republic of Sudan. However, ETDs are accepted for exit from the country.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Sudan 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 Sudan.
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 are 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).
Other health risks
Sudan’s Ministry of Health has announced an outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV). Cases have been reported in the following States: Blue Nile, Gezira, Red Sea, West Darfur and East Darfur. Further information on this outbreak is available on the TravelHealthPro website as well as vaccination recommendations.
Sudan is prone to seasonal disease outbreaks, including Chikungunya and haemorrhagic fever spread by both insect vectors and contaminated water. Further information can be found on the TravelHealthPro website.
There is a particular risk to public health in conflict affected areas where immunisation coverage is poor.
As a general rule, GP facilities in Khartoum are adequate but the hospitals are not suitable for more serious medical problems. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, medical evacuation and repatriation.
The FCDO can’t recommend any healthcare provider in Sudan, but if you urgently need emergency medical assistance in Khartoum, the following services are available:
- 0183 741 426 (press #236 for English) or 0912 314 621: Fedail Hospital (ambulance: 0122 222 555)
- 0183 279601 ext 222: Sahiroon Hospital
- 0183 745 444/999: Al Zaytouna Hospital
- 0183 481 764 ext 118: Doctors’ Clinic
- 0156 550 150/151: Royal Care Hospital
You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Sudan suffers from drought and flash flooding. Flooding can make areas inaccessible by road during the rainy season.
It’s not possible to withdraw any cash against non-Sudanese credit and debit cards at banks or from ATMs. Foreign credit and debit cards can’t be used anywhere in Sudan, including at international hotels. Make sure you have enough cash in hard currency with you – this should be in US dollars dated 2006 onwards (older ones will not be exchanged). Pounds sterling are rarely exchanged. You should only change money through banks or official bureaux de exchange (eg in hotels). Don’t change any money on the street.
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 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.
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 FCDO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.
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.