Oman travel guide
Camel treks, desert camping and 4-wheel drive safaris through mighty canyons are just some of the adventures awaiting visitors to Oman. From frankincense plantations and atmospheric souks that speak of vanished centuries to gleaming modern cities and 5-star hotels fronting on to perfect beaches, Oman is everything you would want from Arabia.
What marks this desert kingdom out from its neighbours is a complex history of interaction with the outside world. From the ports of Muscat and Salahat, Omani traders roamed across the Arabian Sea, pushing back the borders of the Portuguese empire in Africa and founding trading outposts as far afield as Zanzibar and Mozambique, before aligning with the British after the abolition of slavery.
The result, thirteen centuries later, is an outwardly conservative, but strikingly open Islamic society, with a firm belief in the importance of its own traditions but a strong acceptance of other cultures. Many regard Oman as the most welcoming of all the Arabic nations; this is a place where foreigners are invited to sit and sip tea and eat dates out of genuine hospitality, rather than as a preamble to selling souvenirs.
The ruling sultans have taken great pains to preserve the traditional crafts and customs of their ancient civilisation, and the cities of Oman feel much more historic and lived-in than the skyscraper cities appearing elsewhere in the Gulf. The borders of Oman are guarded by a staggering 2,000 desert fortresses, most meticulously restored. It’s easy here to feel transported back to the days of Arabian Nights.
Along the coastline, enigmatic dhows still sail from port to port, while rugged wadis (river valleys) snake into the interior, studded with date-palm plantations, dramatic rock formations and hidden pools. Beyond, immaculately tarmacked highways cross the desert to neighbouring Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, though many chose to fly to avoid endless drives through barren desert scenery.
More than anything though, Oman is a place to feel safe and at ease. The Omanis are gracious hosts, and visitors will find traditional Arabian hospitality and Islamic culture at its very best.
309,500 sq km (119,499 sq miles).
4,654,471 (UN estimate 2016).
10.6 per sq km.
Sultan and Prime Minister Haitham ibn Tariq since 2020.
Sultan and Prime Minister Haitham ibn Tariq since 2020.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Oman 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.
You should contact the Ministry of Health (24441999) or the aviation authorities for information on testing facilities.
You should stay in touch with your airline, hotel and monitor local media before you travel.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Oman.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Oman
Restrictions on road travel within Oman, including police checkpoints, might be introduced at short notice. You should monitor local news sources or official social media accounts (including the Oman VS COVID19 twitter account) for the latest information. Always follow the instructions of the local authorities.
Failure to follow these instructions could result in a fine and/or prosecution.
Hotels are open. Contact your travel agent, or hotels direct, to find out what rules are in place during your stay.
Public places and services
You should be aware that public places may have limited access or could be subject to temporary closure by the authorities at short notice, across Oman.
Healthcare in Oman
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the Ministry of Health in Oman on +968 2444 1999. They will advise you on next steps, local testing facilities, etc. You should also speak to your healthcare provider and/or insurance company.
For contact details for English speaking doctors 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 Oman.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
You can drive a rental car with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 weeks. If you’re staying longer or living in country, you will need to get a local licence. If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.
Driving is on the right. If you are involved in a major road traffic accident you must stay with your vehicle and call the Royal Oman Police (ROP) on 9999. If you are involved in a minor accident, it may not be necessary to call the police, but you must follow the procedures set out on the ROP website. You must keep a Minor Road Traffic Accident form in your car. You can get one from your insurance company. Car rental companies are responsible for keeping forms in their cars.
Driving can be dangerous outside Muscat; there is a risk of hitting wandering camels and goats on the road. Rainfall can cause sudden and severe flooding in dry riverbeds and on roads that cross them.
The standard of Omani roads is generally good. Driving standards in Oman are not always as disciplined as those in the UK, and the rate of traffic accidents in Oman is significantly higher.
The Omani authorities strictly enforce traffic laws, and there are strong punishments for traffic offences, including fines of up to OMR3000 or jail sentences of up to three years. Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers in a vehicle, and child car seats are mandatory for all children under 4 years of age. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving. There’s zero tolerance towards drink-driving. Speed limits are clearly posted on major roads.
Excursions to the desert and mountains can be dangerous unless you are in an adequately equipped 4x4 vehicle. Always travel in convoy, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone (or satellite phone) and leave a copy of your travel plans with friends or relatives. You should also make sure you’re insured.
Many areas of the Gulf of Aden are restricted. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, sometimes resulting in arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports. You should also consider how regional tensions may affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.
Recent piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, highlight that the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
The safety of tourist boats may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available for all passengers.
There’s a possibility of unannounced demonstrations throughout the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.
Developments in the Middle East continue to have an impact on local public opinion. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which might trigger public disturbances.
Reported cases of sexual assault against foreign nationals are low. Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but do happen. Take care when walking or travelling alone, particularly at night. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK. See advice for women travelling abroad
Terrorist attacks in Oman can’t be ruled out.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests as well as crowded places, including restaurants, hotels, beaches, shopping centres and mosques. You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places.
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.
This page has information on travelling to Oman.
This page 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 Oman set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Oman’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
The Omani authorities have removed all COVID-19 restrictions.
Your airline may have rules in addition to those set out by the Omani authorities (e.g. requiring you to provide a negative PCR test before boarding, wearing a mask etc).
If you’re fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Oman are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Proof of vaccination status
You don’t need to provide your vaccination status for entry to Oman.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Oman are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
Entry requirements for Oman are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Children and young people
There are no specific requirements for children and young people.
If you’re transiting through Oman
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Check with your airline before departing.
Testing on departure
On departure you may have your temperature checked. If you show symptoms of coronavirus, you may be prevented from travelling. You must also comply with whatever the entry and testing requirements are at the country you intend to travel to.
There are no exemptions to Oman’s entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
See ‘entry rules in response to coronavirus’ section.
British nationals can visit Oman without a visa if:
- your stay is less than 14 days (no extensions);
- you have evidence of a confirmed hotel booking
- you have health insurance to cover your stay
- you have a return ticket
For other types of visit, British nationals need a visa to enter Oman. Visit visas are available on arrival at the airport, however it is recommended that you apply for a visa before you travel. Applications can be made through the Royal Oman Police portal. If you are travelling as a tourist, you can apply for an unsponsored visa.
For all other visas, please follow the guidance on the portal or talk to your sponsor/employer in Oman.
Your passport should have at least 6 months’ validity remaining on your date of entry to Oman.
Oman doesn’t recognise dual nationality. If you hold both British and Oman nationalities and this becomes known to the Omani authorities, they may confiscate your Omani or British passport.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are valid for entry, exit and transit in Oman however they must have at least 6 months’ remaining validity. Residents and tourists will need to get an exit stamp before leaving. If you are exiting on an ETD because your full validity passport has been lost or stolen, you must obtain a police report in order to exit Oman. This report can be obtained at the Lost Passport Reporting Office, Royal Oman Police Civil Status Office nearest you. You should allow sufficient time to collect this report as it can take up to two days to be processed. Without this report you may experience difficulties at the airport, including being prevented from leaving on your booked flight. Check your passport carefully to make sure it’s legal and valid so that you don’t need an ETD.
Travelling with medication
Some prescribed and over the counter medicines available in the UK are banned substances in Oman. If you’re travelling to Oman with prescription drugs, carry a copy of the prescription. For further information, check with Oman’s Ministry of Health well in advance of travel.
Oman laws and customs are very different to those in the UK, and reflect the fact that Oman is an 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, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Eating, drinking, smoking, playing loud music and dancing in public places during daylight hours of Ramadan is strictly forbidden and punishable by law, including for non-Muslims. See Travelling during Ramadan.
Carry a copy of your passport, or your Omani ID if you are a resident, at all times for identification and keep the original document in a safe place.
If you are arrested, you may be required to take a blood test – particularly if the authorities suspect you have used drugs or alcohol. Failure to do so could result in additional charges.
You should dress modestly in public areas including shopping malls. Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs (below the knee), and underwear should not be visible.
Wearing tight-fitting clothes is likely to attract attention. You should not wear swimming attire in public areas, except on tourist beaches or at swimming pools.
Cross-dressing is illegal.
Alcohol and e-cigarettes
Non-Muslim residents can get a licence to drink alcohol at home from the Royal Oman Police. Liquor licenses are not available to non-residents, but it is possible for tourists and visitors to buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21.
It is a punishable offence under Omani law to drink alcohol in public, be drunk in a public area or to drink drive. British nationals have been arrested and charged, including in cases where they have come to the attention of the police for a related offence or matter, such as disorderly or offensive behaviour. Passengers in transit through Omani ports whilst under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.
Import and use of e-cigarettes/vape products are illegal in Oman.
Swearing and making rude gestures (including while driving or on social media) are considered obscene acts.
Excessive public displays of affection are frowned upon and may bring you to the attention of the police.
Photography of certain government buildings and military sites isn’t allowed. Don’t photograph people without their permission. Hobbies like bird watching and plane spotting may be misunderstood - particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.
Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques, unpaid debt and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills) can result in imprisonment and/or a fine.
Foreign nationals must pay all outstanding debts and traffic fines before leaving the country. You can pay fines at the airport. If you haven’t paid fines before you leave you may experience delays or be prevented from leaving the country. The same goes if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings or are a child subject to a custody dispute.
You could be fined and/or detained if you overstay or fail to extend your legal residency. You can be fined up to OMR10 per day up to a maximum of OMR500 for overstaying.
There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences. The penalties for importing, trafficking, smuggling and possession, of even residual amounts, of drugs are severe. In some cases, the death penalty could apply. There is no distinction in Omani law between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs; both are treated with equal severity.
It is illegal to create, import and/or share pornographic images and videos, even if created for personal use and with the consent of those involved.
Flying drones or remote-controlled flying devices either without a valid licence or in restricted airspace is against the law.
It’s against the law to live together or share the same hotel room with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren’t married or closely related.
You may struggle to register the birth of a baby born in Oman if you are unmarried or in a relationship the Omani authorities do not recognise as marriage.
Homosexuality is illegal in Oman. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
While Oman’s climate is generally dry, heavy rains do fall, usually in the winter. Flash floods can cause injuries and deaths. Cyclones from the Indian Ocean occasionally make landfall in Oman in the summer months, resulting in a disruption of services and utilities. You should follow any instructions given in an official weather warning. Check local weather forecasts and seek advice about travelling conditions particularly if you are considering any off-road travel or adventure tourism, including to Wadi areas (dry riverbeds).
Some roads remain closed or are unpassable due to floods or debris as a result of cyclone Shaheen which hit parts of Oman on 3-4 October. You should follow any directives or guidance provided by the Royal Oman Police .
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
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. If you’re travelling to Oman with prescription drugs, carry a copy of the prescription. 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.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. 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).
Local medical care
Healthcare facilities in Oman are similar to those in the UK. British nationals are required to use the private healthcare system. Visitors who don’t have travel insurance or the means to settle any charges may be prevented from leaving the country until the debt is paid. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 9999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The heat can be extreme and deaths have occurred due to dehydration and heat exhaustion. When hiking in Oman be sure to follow marked hiking trails.
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, Commonwealth & Development Office (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 FCO 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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.