Brunei travel guide
Thanks to sizeable deposits of oil and gas, the tiny tropical sultanate of Brunei Darussalam has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Its two non-contiguous territories, situated on the northern coast of Borneo in South-East Asia, are home to some of the region's most pristine rain forest habitats.
The country only gained independence in 1984, but has the world's oldest reigning monarchy and centuries of royal heritage. At the helm of the only remaining Malay Islamic monarchy in the world, the Sultan of Brunei comes from a family line that dates back over 600 years. The current sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, has been on the throne for 43 years and is one of the world's richest individuals.
Visitors to the "Abode of Peace" (the literal translation of darussalam) will find the country surprisingly laid-back and relaxing. In addition to admiring the gilded domes, towering minarets and extraordinary ornamentation of two landmark mosques in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, tourists can explore water villages by boat and on foot, learn about local culture in several interesting museums, sample delicious Malay cuising (some of the best can be found at open-air markets), and experience the incredibly biodiversity of the Bornean rain forest in Ulu Temburong National Park.
5,765 sq km (2,226 sq miles).
428,874 (UN estimate 2016).
74.5 per sq km.
Bandar Seri Begawan (popularly known as 'BSB').
Traditional Islamic monarchy.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah since 1967.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
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.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Brunei set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Brunei High Commission in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Brunei.
Passport validity requirements
Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the day you enter Brunei. It must not be damaged or have any pages missing. If your passport does not meet these conditions, you may be refused entry and detained.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
British citizen passport holders may enter Brunei for up to 90 days without a visa. If you have another type of British nationality, check visa requirements with Brunei immigration authorities.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Brunei government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Brunei High Commission in the UK.
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
Make sure you get your passport stamped when you enter Brunei. Do not overstay your visa, or violate the terms of entry. Penalties include detention and caning.
Brunei does not recognise the dual nationality of Bruneians. The immigration authorities can refuse your entry if you hold a Bruneian passport and a passport of a different nationality.
If you’re a dual national, you should use the same passport to enter and exit Brunei. The passport you use for entry will determine your nationality in Brunei. If you enter on a Brunei passport, you cannot access British consular assistance, as you will be treated as a Bruneian.
You must fill in the e-arrival declaration form to enter Brunei. You should complete this before you travel as it may be requested at check-in. You do not need to complete the arrival form if you are not passing through immigration.
Land and sea travel
Contact the Prime Minister’s Office to check border post opening hours before you travel. They are not open 24 hours. Make sure your exit and entry stamps are correct before leaving the border post.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Brunei guide.
Depending on your circumstances, these may include a yellow fever certificate.
There are strict rules about goods and the amount of alcohol you can take into and out of Brunei. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
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 Brunei
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Brunei, attacks 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.
Protecting your belongings
Crime levels are low, but there are occasional incidents of petty crime against tourists as well as house burglaries. You should:
- take care of your passport
- avoid carrying valuables with you
- not leave possessions in unattended vehicles, even if out of sight
Laws and cultural differences
Brunei is an Islamic country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions. Make sure that your actions do not cause offence, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK but is in Brunei.
Places of business and offices, including shops and restaurants, shut between midday and 2pm every Friday for prayers.
Friday is a non-working day for government offices and local schools. They open on Saturdays instead.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. During this time, do not eat, drink or smoke in public during fasting hours.
You should also dress modestly. For example, do not wear shorts in government and public buildings such as health centres.
Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.
Criticism of the Bruneian Royal Family
His Majesty The Sultan and other members of the Bruneian Royal Family are highly revered and public criticism of them causes great offence.
Relationships outside marriage
Adultery and closeness in private between an unmarried man and woman is illegal if one person is a Muslim.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Firearms, ammunition and explosives
Brunei has very strict laws against the possession of firearms, blank or live ammunition and explosives (including fireworks and firecrackers). Do not carry these items or replicas into Brunei.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal.
Illegal drugs penalties
There are severe penalties for drug offences in Brunei including, in some cases, the death penalty. Other crimes may be punished by caning and lengthy prison sentences.
Alcohol laws and bans
The sale of alcohol and tobacco in Brunei is illegal. Non-Muslims aged 18 and over may import a limited amount of alcohol. This must be declared to the customs authorities on arrival and drunk in private.
Smoking and e-cigarette bans
Smoking is illegal in certain public places, including shopping and eating areas, bus stops and stations, car parks and near buildings.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Hiking and mountaineering
Police advise against hiking alone in the forest, including at well-known recreation areas. It’s easy to get lost when visiting the rainforest. You should:
- use recognised and well-known guides
- stay on paths and trails, rather than pushing through the undergrowth
- always carry food and water with you
- consider carrying a whistle to attract attention and a torch
- wear closed toe shoes
People have been attacked and killed by saltwater crocodiles while fishing on riverbanks around Bandar. Crocodiles have also been seen on beaches and in the ponds of the Panaga golf course. You should:
- pay attention to signs warning of crocodiles
- stay away from the water’s edge
- seek local advice
There are a number of venomous snakes in Brunei. If you see a snake while outdoors:
- keep your distance
- wait for the snake to move away
If you find a snake indoors or outside in a confined space (like a garden), call fire and rescue (‘bomba’) on 995.
If you are planning to drive in Brunei, see information on driving abroad.
You can drive in Brunei with a valid UK driving licence for up to 90 days. You’ll then need to apply for a Bruneian licence from the Land Transport Department.
If your vehicle is not registered in Brunei, you can only buy motor fuel at 14 designated filling stations, to a maximum of 250 litres. Petrol stations will only sell premium “V-Power” fuel to foreign cars. Payments are usually made in cash.
Driving standards are different from the UK. Vehicles do not always stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings. It is common for drivers not to use seatbelts or child car seats and to speed. Road surfaces are uneven and accidents are common. Be aware that animals such as monitor lizards, snakes and monkeys could be on the roads.
If you’re involved in a road accident as a driver, do not leave the scene or move the vehicle until the police arrive.
Small boats carry passengers across to the water village in Bandar and along the rivers on cruises. Before taking one:
- make sure they have adequate life jackets for all passengers, including children
- keep hands inside the boat, as there are river crocodiles
If you’re taking a longer trip, for example, a wildlife cruise:
- seek local recommendations
- arrange your trip in advance
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
Dial 991 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Brunei guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Most branded pharmaceuticals are readily available, though some items available without a prescription in the UK may need a doctor’s prescription in Brunei.
Healthcare facilities in Brunei
Standards of healthcare in Brunei are generally acceptable, though basic hospital supplies can occasionally run low. There are 2 significant medical facilities, the Government General Hospital (RIPAS) in Bandar Seri Begawan and the private Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).
You may need medical evacuation to Singapore if there are complications. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Brunei.
Travel and mental health
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 Brunei
Search and rescue: 998
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:
- finding English-speaking lawyers in Brunei
- dealing with a death in Brunei
- being arrested or imprisoned in Brunei
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you’re in Brunei and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan.
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)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.