Jordan travel guide
It’s easy to see why Lawrence of Arabia was so taken with Jordan. Probably the most appealing destination in the Middle East, this ancient Arab kingdom is a hospitable land packed with epic scenery and momentous relics.
Many travellers visit Jordan with its history in mind, and understandably so. The country is steeped in stories from the distant past, with the ruins to prove it. There’s the 2,000-year-old “lost city” of Petra, carved from rose-red sandstone cliffs by the Nabateans, and the legendary Lawrence of Arabia trail, which takes visitors from his crumbling fort at Azraq to the magnificent deserts of Wadi Rum.
Important biblical sites abound; visitors can trek along pilgrimage routes mentioned in the Old Testament, take in views of the Promised Land revealed to Moses and visit Bethany-by-the-Jordan where John baptised Jesus.
If Jordan’s overwhelming historical sites begin to wear you out, take a restorative dip in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea, go scuba diving over coral reefs in the Red Sea or stay in the desert with Bedouins, who offer travellers a glimpse into their traditional way of life.
For all its history and natural beauty, though, Jordan looks forward. Its relatively stable economic and political position in the Middle East has fuelled modernisation, particularly in the capital Amman. With new upmarket hotels, restaurants and bars, the city is no longer just a base from which to explore the ancient sites, but a destination in its own right.
In Jordan, hospitality is king. Everywhere you visit you will hear heartfelt words of welcome, and will often be invited into shops or peoples’ homes for a glass of sweet tea and a conversation. In other places this might prelude a hard-sell campaign of carpet-flogging, but in Jordan, it’s almost always borne simply of an interest to engage with a visitor. As the Jordanians say; “Ahlan wa sahlan” – come in and make yourself at home.
89,342 sq km (34,495 sq miles).
7,747,800 (UN estimate 2016).
90.9 per sq km.
King Abdullah II since 1999.
Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz since 2018.
Last updated: 01 July 2018
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to within 3km of the entire Syrian border, and to within 6km of the Syrian border between routes 15 and 35. This is due to the risk of small arms fire, stray mortars, or other attacks in the area.
Due to regional tensions and proposed changes to local tax laws, there is an increased risk of demonstrations in both Amman and other towns and cities. You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations which can arise at short notice, often in downtown Amman and the centres of other towns and cities after Friday midday prayers. Follow the advice of local authorities and stay informed of the security situation through the media and this travel advice.
From time to time, incidents have also occurred on several university campuses. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Jordan. There were a number of incidents in 2016, some serious. Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners, particularly hotels, shopping malls and tourist sites. You should take extra care, and in the event of an incident, follow the advice of the Jordanian authorities.
There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. Additional security measures have been in place on flights departing from Jordan to the UK since March 2017. You should co-operate fully with security officials. Restrictions on carrying large electronic devices in the aircraft cabin, introduced as part of these measures, have now been lifted for the vast majority of airlines operating from airports in Jordan. However, some airlines have decided to maintain the restrictions for operational reasons. For more information and advice about what items you can take into the cabin on your flight from Jordan to the UK, contact your airline or travel company.
The Desert Highway (highway 15) has occasionally been closed due to unrest in Ma’an, and parts of the highway between Karak and Aqaba may also be blocked at times. If you’re using the highway in the area you should exercise caution and follow police instructions.
Around 65,000 British nationals visited Jordan in 2016. Most visits are trouble free.
You can contact the emergency services by calling 911.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Jordan. Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners, particularly hotels, shopping malls and tourist sites.
There were a number of incidents in 2016, most of which have targeted local security forces. The most high profile of these included:
On 18 December 2016, 10 people were killed, including 3 civilians, and at least 29 injured in a terrorist attack in Kerak; it’s not clear if tourists were deliberately targeted.
In June 2016, 5 people were killed after a Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) -inspired gunman gained access to the General Intelligence Directorate’s base in Baqa’a, 10km north of Amman city centre. There was also an explosion near Rukban on the north-eastern border resulting in some 20 casualties.
The authorities in Jordan have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests.
You should be vigilant at all times and keep updated on the situation in the country through local media and travel reports, and by subscribing for updates to this travel advice.
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.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Terrorist groups operating in Syria, who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas.
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.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Safety and security
War in the surrounding region, continued pressures of large refugee populations and economic reform programmes have helped create an atmosphere in which protests often occur. These have taken place in many parts of Jordan on Fridays and sometimes on other days of the week. Demonstrations may occur in town centres, refugee camps and other locations. Violent clashes have also been known to occur on university campuses.
Follow news reports and be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Avoid all political gatherings and demonstrations. Take care, especially at night, when travelling to or via towns outside of Amman. Stay away from downtown Amman and the centres of other major towns and cities after Friday midday prayers and be aware of the possibility of spontaneous demonstrations and road blockages occurring elsewhere, particularly after sunset.
Clashes between feuding tribes, clans or families periodically erupt without notice and sometimes involve violence and the use of firearms. You should follow news reports and, if caught in an incident, leave the area and follow any police instructions given.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to within 3km of the entire Syrian border, and to within 6km of the Syrian border between routes 15 and 35. This is due to the risk of small arms fire, stray mortars, or other attacks in the area.
Jordan’s land borders are closed from time to time. Take care at all border crossings, particularly when travelling by taxi into neighbouring countries.
Jordanian army and police units patrol the entire border area with both Syria and Iraq. They have been known to engage vehicles and people in the border area and will continue to monitor traffic.
Terrorist groups operating in Syria, including those like Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas.
There have been cases where passengers travelling into Iraq have been handed over to kidnappers once over the Iraqi border.
Landmines may be located near military installations and borders. Minefields are usually fenced off and marked with a skull and crossbones sign, but fences and signs may be in a poor state of repair.
Crime levels are generally low: most crime is limited to pick pocketing, occasional bag snatching and theft from cars. Be vigilant and keep your money, passport and valuables secure.
Reports of cases of sexual assault against foreign women are still low, but there has been an increase in reports of harassment in recent years. Female visitors and residents should take care when walking or travelling alone even during daylight hours, and consider dressing modestly when in public. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK.
Jordanian police advise anyone who finds themselves stranded - even in daytime - to call the police on 911.
Don’t accept lifts from strangers. If you have to use a taxi ask your hotel to recommend a reliable driver. Women shouldn’t ride in the front seat of a taxi, particularly when travelling alone.
You can drive in Jordan using an International Driving Permit. Make sure you have third party insurance. In Jordanian law a driver is always considered guilty if they hit a pedestrian. If you’re involved in such an incident, you could face imprisonment and be liable for the payment of hospital bills and other compensation.
According to World Health Organisation data, Jordan ranks 36th in the world for the number of deaths as a result of road traffic accidents. Drive with care, especially at night, and avoid driving on unlit roads. Stray animals, broken-down vehicles and unmarked road works are common. If you have an accident, don’t leave the scene before the police have arrived and taken a statement. You can contact the police by calling 911.
The police carry out random security checks. Keep identification documents with you to present at these checkpoints. The police also strictly enforce the speed limit with fixed and hand-held speed traps. They issue on the spot fines of between 15 to 150 Jordanian Dinars.
Front seatbelts are required by law. Failure to wear one can result in a fine. All cars must carry a fire extinguisher and warning triangle. Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal.
Cars and coaches can become trapped by occasional heavy snow falls in winter and roads in mountain areas, including Petra and the surrounding area, can become blocked.
There are around 80 wadis (valleys) in Jordan. During the rainy season (November to March) there’s a risk of flash floods in these valleys. Before travelling to a wadi check the weather forecast and don’t travel to places where heavy rain is expected and for at least one day afterwards. If you’re caught in a flash flood go to a high point and don’t attempt to cross the water. If you’re in a vehicle try to drive to a dry spot. Contact the civil defence if the situation continues.
Water sports (Aqaba)
If you’re considering diving or snorkelling in Aqaba, be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably. Never dive or snorkel unaccompanied. Where possible make bookings through your tour representative and make sure the operator is accredited with an internationally recognised scheme such as PADI.
Local laws and customs
Local laws reflect the fact that Jordan is a predominantly Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend. In 2018, the holy month of Ramadan started on 16 May and will finish on 14 June.
Whilst some cafes and restaurants are open all day during Ramadan, it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke ouside of these areas/anywhere in public during daylight hours. It’s considered a crime for which you can be prosecuted and fined. You should take extra care if you’re attending a special occasion, such as a wedding, since celebratory live gunfire regularly occurs at such events despite being illegal in Jordan.
For additional information see Travelling during Ramadan
The Jordanian government doesn’t interfere with the practice of Christianity but encouraging conversion to the Christian faith is illegal. It is also illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.
Jordan is a conservative society. You should dress modestly and behave courteously.
It’s illegal to drink alcohol on the street but permissible in bars, clubs, hotels and private homes. There are strict alcohol limits for drivers, similar to that of the UK. If you’re found guilty of drink driving you could face a driving ban, a fine or even imprisonment.
Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in a lengthy prison sentence and a heavy fine.
While Jordanian law may not explicitly prohibit homosexual acts, Jordan is a conservative society and public displays of affection between homosexual couples are not generally tolerated. You could be arrested under other Jordanian laws. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
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.
You’ll need a visa to enter Jordan. You can get a single entry visa valid for 1 month on arrival at the airports or the Sheikh Hussein/North Border crossing at the Jordan/Israel border.
Check with the Jordanian authorities if you’re planning to cross the Wadi Araba/south border crossing (Aqaba/Eilat) or the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge.
An exit tax, currently 10JD, is payable at all border crossings, except the airports.
If you wish to combine travel to Jordan with a visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it’s usually better to get a multiple entry visa before you travel from the Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London.
You can extend your visa after you arrive in Jordan up to a maximum period of 6 months. If you overstay your visa you will be fined.
If you’re entering for tourism you can get a combination of a visa and reduced cost entry to the major tourism sites by applying for a Jordan Pass online.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Jordan.
Previous travel to Israel
Evidence of a previous visit to Israel like an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport does not normally cause any difficulties when entering Jordan. It is, however, for the Jordanian authorities to determine the right of entry into the country. If you have any concerns, you should contact the Consulate of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in London.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
You must undergo an HIV test if you intend to stay in Jordan for more than 30 days, either as a resident or as a long-term visitor. The fee to obtain the health certificate is currently 20 Jordanian Dinars.
If you are a British/Jordanian national, you are allowed to use your British passport on arrival, but will need to show your Jordanian passport on departure.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK emergency travel documents are accepted for entry, transit and exit from Jordan. However, for entry and transit using an emergency travel document, you’ll need to get a visa from the Jordanian Embassy in the country where the document was issued. For exit using an emergency travel document, you’ll need to get a stamp from the Immigration & Residency department in Amman (not at the airport). A minimum of one month remaining validity is required on an emergency travel document.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.
Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website or from NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Medical facilities outside Amman are basic. In an emergency you should seek treatment in Amman. Emergency treatment is also available in Aqaba. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Temperatures in summer months can be very high. Drink plenty of water and use high factor sun-block.
Cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in patients from Jordan have been reported to the World Health Organization. You can find more information on this virus on the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Cash machines are available throughout Amman and in other major towns and cities. ATMs are less widely available in rural areas, though most petrol stations on major roads offer ATMs.
Travel advice help and support
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 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (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 FCO 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 FCO 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 FCO travel advice
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.
Flights to the UK from Jordan are subject to additional hand luggage restrictions, as from 25 March 2017. All phones, tablets or laptops are banned from carry-on luggage and must be placed in hold luggage if they are larger than:
- 16 cm in length
- 9.3 cm in width
- 1.4 cm in depth (thickness)
The UK Foreign Office advises travellers to contact their airline before travelling to find out if they will allow specific electronic devices or electrical items on the flight.
Flights to the USA from Jordan do not allow any electronic devices larger than a smartphone in carry-on baggage. These restrictions prohibit any laptops, tablets, electronic game units and e-readers larger than a smartphone. All electronic items of this size should be carried in hold luggage. For more information visit the Department of Homeland Security website.