Yemen travel guide

About Yemen

If it were an authentic taste of Arabia that you're craving, Yemen was long the answer. An antidote to Arabian Gulf bling, this was long the peninsula's most fascinating destination.

The largest city in Yemen, Sana'a is where most visits start. The Old City is UNESCO listed, its multi-storey tower houses and ancient Souk Al Milh lending an overwhelming medieval atmosphere. Being woken pre-dawn by competing muezzins from the city's fortyish mosques is a truly remarkable, unforgettable experience.

Outside the capital, explore fortified cliff-top villages overseeing cultivated plains or hike the foothills of the Haraz Mountains. To the east, walk the shady streets of Shibam, Freya Stark's 'Manhattan of the Desert', where nine-floor mud towers stand testament to Yemeni building skills. On the coast, visit the bustling fishing ports of Al Mukalla or Al Huydaydah. Most remote is Yemen's 'Arabian Galapagos', the Socotra archipelago. Cast adrift at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden, Socotra is two hours by air from Sana'a; 37% of plant species, 90% of reptiles and an estimated 90% of invertebrates here are found nowhere else on earth.

Once characterised as Arabia Felix (Fortunate Arabia) by the Romans and known as the land of milk and honey by Noah's sons, these days an uncertain security profile deters all but the hardiest travellers from visiting Yemen. In 2011, Arab Spring protests led to a revolution aimed at improving economic conditions and ending corruption. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the protests has been ever-increasing violence between different rebel factions and jihadists.

When Yemen eventually recovers from this civil war, tourists will surely be drawn back to the land that the Queen of Sheba called home, and where Gilgamesh came in search of the key to eternal life. A country with such a rich history and culture, Yemen certainly deserves more than the present-day tragedy inflicted upon it.

Key facts


527,968 sq km (203,850 sq miles).


27,477,600 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

50.6 per sq km.





Head of state:

Rashad al-Alimi, Head of the Presidential Council since April 2022.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Ahmad Awad Bin Mubarak since 2024.

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 Yemen 

FCDO advises against all travel to the whole of the Yemen due to the unpredictable security conditions.

If you’re in Yemen, you should leave immediately.  

See Safety and security for more information. 

Iranian military activity against Israel

On 13 April 2024 Iran carried out military action against Israel.

Monitor this travel advice and other media as the situation is changing fast. Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Read FCDO advice on how to deal with a crisis overseas.

UK government support 

Support for British people is severely limited in Yemen. British Embassy services in Sana’a are suspended, and all diplomatic and consular staff have been withdrawn. 

The UK government cannot help British nationals leaving Yemen. There are no evacuation procedures in place. 

FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of travelling to any potential departure point. The UK government’s ability to help with onward travel is severely limited and you’ll be expected to cover the cost of visas, accommodation, insurance and onward travel yourself. 

If you choose to remain in Yemen, you should minimise movement around the country and within cities and towns, monitor developments in the local security situation and follow other precautions in this travel advice. 

If you’re a British national in Yemen and need help from the UK government, you can call FCDO on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours). 

Travel insurance 

If you choose to travel against FCDO advice, 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 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 Yemen set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Yemeni Embassy in the UK.  

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Yemen. 

Passport validity requirements 

To enter Yemen, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.  

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 Yemen.  

Applying for a visa 

Apply for a visa through the Yemeni Embassy in the UK.   

Vaccine requirements  

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

Registering with the authorities 

If you visit Yemen for more than 14 days, you must register your passport with the Yemen immigration authorities after you arrive.  

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Yemen. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. 

Taking money into and out of Yemen 

Import and export of local currency is illegal. There are no restrictions on the import of foreign currencies, but you must declare amounts higher than 3,000 US dollars. Export of foreign currencies must not exceed the amount imported. 

There are not many ATMs outside of Sana’a. US dollars in cash is the most easily convertible currency. 


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 Yemen 

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Yemen.  

The threat is heightened where Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State-Yemen have tribal connections and in the governorates of Abyan, Marib, Hadramawt and Shabwah. 

Western and Houthi interests in Yemen remain a feature in AQAP propaganda, and AQAP views westerners and Houthi as legitimate targets for attacks. Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreign nationals, such as: 

  • hotels and supermarkets 
  • transport routes 
  • oil and gas infrastructure 
  • government buildings 
  • gatherings 
  • airports and transport hubs  

Attacks targeting or affecting British nationals of Yemeni origin cannot be ruled out. Attacks against Yemeni security forces and Houthis are on the rise throughout the country. 

Methods of attack have included:  

  • attacks by militants 
  • firearm assassinations 
  • kidnappings  
  • improvised explosive devices and car bombs left in buildings and roadways 
  • suicide attacks 

Daesh-Yemen has conducted multiple terrorist attacks across the country, including Aden, Sana’a, Ibb, Hodeida and al-Bayda. So far this has been focussed on Houthi, security forces and the Yemeni government but western interests are highly likely to be regarded as targets. 

Terrorist kidnap 

There is a very high and constant threat of kidnap across Yemen.  

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) propaganda has called for continued kidnapping of westerners. However, armed tribes and criminal groups have also carried out kidnaps in the past. There is a high risk that such groups would sell any hostages on to AQAP, who have murdered a number of hostages. 

Kidnaps have occurred at various times of day and in a wide variety of locations, including:  

  • public places in the capital  
  • cars while travelling 
  • victims’ accommodation  

Kidnapping attempts often involve the use of force and have ended in the death of several victims.  

All British nationals are seen as legitimate targets, including tourists, NGOs, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, business travellers, and long-term residents. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to protect you or secure your safe release.  

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to terrorist hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal. 

Red Sea military activity

There is a military response to Houthi militants’ attempts to disrupt international shipping in the Red Sea. The military activity is limited to the Red Sea and Bab-Al Mandab Strait, but travel advice for nearby countries could change at short notice. Monitor travel advice and follow instructions from local authorities. 

Political situation  

The political and security situation in Yemen remains uncertain and volatile.  

Since April 2022 a de-facto ceasefire has remained in place between the Houthis and the Yemeni government. On 23 December 2023, the UN announced that the Houthis and internationally recognised government of Yemen had committed to a ceasefire. However, sporadic incidents continue to occur along frontlines and the security situation remains volatile. Due to ongoing hostilities in the Red Sea, there is a heightened state of alert across Yemen and widescale conflict may resume at short notice. In February, in response to US and UK airstrikes, the Houthi authorities designated the US and UK as ‘hostile states’.  

As a result, we strongly advise against all travel to Houthi controlled areas. The risk of attack to British nationals also extends to areas under Yemeni government control. 

Reports of arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances raise concerns. The Houthis have arrested opponents, including politicians, journalists, academics and activists. British nationals have also been detained by Houthis in the past, including aid workers working for NGOs.  


Regularly reassess your security arrangements and carefully plan your movements if travelling within Yemen. Avoid keeping the same routine by changing routes you use and keeping a low profile at all times. Follow health and security advice given by Yemen authorities and security experts before any travel in the country. Always check routes in advance and do not advertise your plans on social media. Military weapons are readily available and may be used by criminals and terrorists or in security operations. The risk of crime, such as carjacking, robbery or extortion, is widespread throughout the country.  

Tribal disputes over land are common and may involve the use of weapons. The Houthis and other militias run extra-judicial detention centres and arbitrary detention is widespread. Following recent events in the Red Sea there is an especially high risk of British nationals being detained.  

Laws and cultural differences  

Yemen is an Islamic country with Islamic law. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. 


Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country and you should check this before you travel. During this time, do not:  

  • eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime, including in your car  
  • play loud music or dance  
  • swear in public  

Get more advice when you arrive from your guide, hotel or business contacts.  

You should also: 

  • check opening hours of shops and restaurants  
  • be aware that if hotels and restaurants are providing food or drink in fasting hours, they may separate you from Islamic guests, for example with screens  
  • follow local dress codes – clothing that does not meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time  
  • be aware that fasting can cause tiredness, particularly during the later afternoon and early evening 
  • be patient and show tolerance 

Dress code  

Men and women must wear loose-fitting clothing that covers down to the elbow and reaches below the knees. You should also:  

  • avoid tight-fitting clothing   
  • avoid clothes with profane slogans or images  
  • not wear clothing with symbols or slogans that could be viewed as political as this could lead to arrest 

Alcohol laws

Do not drink alcohol in public.  

Using cameras in secure areas 

Taking pictures in or around military sites is likely to result in arrest and arbitrary detention. British consular services will not be able to offer support in this situation. 

Do not take pictures of people without their consent. 

LGBT+ travellers 

Consensual same-sex relations are illegal in Yemen, with penalties including fines, corporal punishment, imprisonment and the death penalty.    

In January and February 2024, criminal courts in northern Yemen reportedly sentenced 20 individuals to death for homosexuality.  A further 26 were sentenced to flogging and prison terms of between 6 months and 10 years on charges of ‘spreading immorality’ and ‘immoral acts’. 

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers


You must get permission from the General Authority for Antiquities before exporting or removing antiques from Yemen. It’s illegal to remove or sell Yemeni antiques without permission.  

Transport risks 

Road travel  

If you are planning to drive in Yemen, see information on driving abroad.   

Driving conditions 

Driving standards are poor and mountain roads are dangerous. Avoid all road travel outside the main cities at night. Landmines from the current and previous conflicts are a risk on Yemen’s roads. Make sure to go with an experienced guide if you’re travelling off well-used tracks. 

Access routes in and out of major cities may be closed or blocked. Always check the road is open before starting your journey. 

There is a severe shortage of fuel in Yemen. 

Air travel 

Yemen’s airspace is currently controlled by Saudi-led coalition forces. Prior permission from the coalition must be obtained before flying.  

Sea travel

The conflict extends to Yemeni territorial waters off the Red Sea and the Bab-Al Mandab Strait. Houthi forces present an ongoing risk to all shipping in the Red Sea and the Bab-Al Mandab Strait due to the potential for misidentification and miscalculation by Houthi forces. 


Piracy in the Gulf of Aden continues to be a threat. For more information and advice, see piracy and armed robbery at sea

Extreme weather and natural disasters 

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

Tropical cyclones 

Tropical cyclones sometimes affect parts of the country. Monitor local and international weather updates.  

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 

Call 191 and ask for an ambulance.  

Due to the current conflict, emergency services may not be able to respond. It may be better to make your own way to hospital if you can. Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Vaccine recommendations and health risks 

At least 8 weeks before your trip:  

 See what health risks you’ll face in Yemen, including:  

  • malaria and dengue 
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome 
  • schistosomiasis 

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Yemen. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro


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

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad

Healthcare facilities in Yemen  

Medical facilities, particularly away from the main towns and cities, are poor. Make sure that you have adequate travel health insurance and access to funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. 

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 Yemen  

As a result of the conflict, emergency services in Yemen have severely limited capacity and are highly unreliable. 

Ambulance: 191 

Fire: 191 

Police: 199 or 194 

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: 

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 

Support for British people is severely limited in Yemen. British Embassy services in Sana’a are suspended, and all diplomatic and consular staff have been withdrawn. 

If you’re a British national in Yemen and need help from the UK government, you can call FCDO on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours). 

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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