EthiopiaOfficial Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Max/$3,000 US; Max/200 Birr
Embassies and Consulates
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telephone: (+251) 11 130-6000
Emergency Telephone: 011 130-6000
Fax: (+251) 11 124-2435
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a developing country in East Africa. It is comprised of nine states and two city administrations (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa). The capital is Addis Ababa. Tourism facilities can be found in the most populous regions of Ethiopia, but infrastructure is basic. The government is led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Despite several years of high economic growth, the country remains vulnerable to external economic shocks.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
To avoid possible confusion or delays, travelers are strongly advised to obtain a valid Ethiopian visa at the nearest Ethiopian Embassy prior to arrival. This is a necessary step if you plan to enter Ethiopia by any land port-of-entry. For example: travelers wishing to enter Ethiopia from Kenya at the land border at Moyale must obtain an Ethiopian visa first. Ethiopian visas ARE NOT available at the border crossing point at Moyale or at any other land border in Ethiopia. Ethiopian tourist visas (one month or three month, single entry) may be available to U.S. citizens upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa in some cases. NOTE: A Government of Ethiopia policy prevents travelers born in Eritrea, regardless of their current nationality, from receiving tourist visas at the airport. The on-arrival visa process is available only at Bole International Airport and is not available at any of the other airports in Ethiopia. The visa fee at Bole International Airport is payable in U.S. dollars. Business visas of up to three months validity can also be obtained at Bole International Airport upon arrival, but only if the traveler has a sponsoring organization in Ethiopia that has made prior arrangements for issuance through the Main Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. In some cases, U.S. tourist and business travelers have not been permitted to receive visas at Bole International Airport or have been significantly delayed.
Travelers whose entry visa expires before they depart Ethiopia must obtain a visa extension through the Main Immigration Office in Addis Ababa and pay a monthly penalty fee of $20 USD per month. Such travelers may also be required to pay a court fine of up to 4000 ETB (USD $300) before being permitted to depart Ethiopia. Court fees must be paid in Ethiopian Birr. Travelers may be detained by immigration officials and/or required to appear in immigration court, and are required to pay the penalty fee before they will be able to obtain an exit visa (USD $20, payable in dollars) permitting them to leave Ethiopia.
Business travelers or employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who intend to stay for 90 days or more must apply for a residence card/work permit in order to continue working and living in Ethiopia. Travelers must apply for this permit within the first 30 days of their stay in Ethiopia and must not work until this permit is approved.
Travelers should check with their sponsoring organization to ensure they have the correct documentation in place, or risk penalties, including detention, fines, and deportation. The Government of Ethiopia’s regulations also allow for similar penalties for those who assist others to reside illegally in Ethiopia.
If you plan to stay in Ethiopia for a prolonged period of time, you are advised to contact the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington prior to traveling. Some long-term visitors may be eligible to apply for a residence permit before they depart for Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Embassy is located at 3506 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 364-1200; fax (202) 587-0195.
Yellow Fever Information:
Requirement: A vaccination certificate is required for travelers over one (1) year of age coming from countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission.
Recommendation: Recommended for travelers over nine (9) months of age: All areas (including Addis Ababa) except the provinces of Afar and Somali. Daytime insect precautions are essential for unvaccinated travelers.
Not recommended except for highly risk-adverse travelers and long-term travelers: Itineraries limited to the provinces of Afar or Somali. No human or non-human primate cases of Yellow Fever have ever been reported from these areas. Data indicate that the only historical evidence for Yellow Fever virus transmission is from several surveys conducted over 40 years ago that demonstrated very low rates of possible exposure.
Custom Requirements: Non-residents traveling to Ethiopia must declare any/all foreign currency in excess of 3000 USD (or its equivalent). Non-residents departing Ethiopia may carry a maximum of 3000 USD (or its equivalent), unless they can produce a customs declaration, bank slip showing the purchase of foreign currency, or letter confirming that they were paid by an embassy or foreign organization in Ethiopia. Residents of Ethiopia must produce a bank slip showing the purchase of foreign currency, or customs declaration that is not more than 45 days old, in order to carry any foreign currency out of Ethiopia.
Any traveler entering or exiting Ethiopia may carry a maximum of 200 Ethiopian Birr on their person or in their luggage. Ethiopian customs rules limit the amount of precious metals or minerals imported or exported for personal use to a) 100 grams for gold and other precious metals; b) 30 grams for precious stones; c) 100 grams for semi-precious stones.
Permits are required before exporting either antiques or animal skins from Ethiopia. Antique religious artifacts, including "Ethiopian” crosses, require a permit for export. These permits can be processed by the Export Section of the Airport customs office. Even tourist souvenirs, especially crosses, may require such documentation if customs authorities deem it necessary, and/or may be confiscated by customs authorities if in excess of the allowable limit of precious metals as noted above. Animal skins must have an export permit, which can be obtained from the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority. Please also note that large Ethiopian crosses may not be taken on aircraft as hand luggage, as some airlines consider them to be potential weapons.
The ivory trade is banned in Ethiopia. Recently, travelers wearing ivory jewelry have been detained, even if the jewelry pre-dates the ivory ban. Jewelry has been confiscated and fines imposed for violating this ban.
Travelers found violating any of the above customs rules have been detained at the airport and in some cases have been sentenced to prison terms of three months or more. For the most current visa and travel information, visit the Ethiopian Embassy website or the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority website. U.S. citizens located overseas may also inquire at the nearest Ethiopian embassy or consulate.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Ethiopia.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Throughout Ethiopia: U.S. citizens are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant, and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks. While Ethiopia is generally stable, domestic insurgent groups, extremists from Somalia, and the heavy military presence along the border with Eritrea pose risks to safety and security.
A number of al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa. Since the July 11, 2010, terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, for which the Somalia-based, U.S. government-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility, there have been increased threats against public areas across East Africa. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Africa. In February 2012, leaders of al-Shabaab and al-Qaida announced a merger of the two groups.
U.S. citizens should strongly consider the risk of attending or being near large public gatherings, or venues where westerners gather on a routine or predictable basis, and which have no visible security presence. Such gatherings or venues can provide vulnerable targets for extremist or terrorist groups. U.S. citizens should avoid, if possible, using public transportation, including mini-buses, and should vary their travel times and routes to the extent possible. You are advised to avoid unattended baggage or packages left in any location, including in taxis.
There are periodic attacks on civilians as well as security forces in the Somali region of Ethiopia. In 2011, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces initiated an offensive against al-Shabab in Somalia, together with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which has been in Mogadishu since 2007, resulting in an increase in the threat level in Ethiopia and neighboring countries.
In southern Ethiopia, along the Kenyan border, banditry and incidents involving ethnic conflicts are also common. You should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, and South Sudan, and avoid travel outside of the major towns in these border areas.
U.S. citizens are advised that, due to serious safety and security concerns, U.S. government personnel and their families are presently restricted from traveling to the following areas:
Ethiopia/Eritrea Border (Northern Ethiopia): Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement in December 2000 that ended their border war. However, the border remains an active issue of contention between the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The border area is a militarized zone where the possibility of armed conflict between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces continues. U.S. government personnel are restricted from travel north of the Shire (Inda Silassie)-Axum-Adigrat road in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Personnel are further restricted from travel north of the road from Dessie through Semera to the Galafi border crossing with Djibouti, including the Danakil Depression and the Erta Ale volcano. In January 2012, a group of foreign tourists were attacked near the Erta Ale volcano in the Afar region near the Eritrean border, approximately 100 miles southeast of Adigrat in the Danakil Depression. The attack resulted in five deaths, three wounded, and four people kidnapped. The victims were European and Ethiopian citizens. The two Europeans who were kidnapped were subsequently released. On February 15, 2012, Ethiopia, which blamed Eritrea for the attack, retaliated by striking military camps in Eritrea where the attackers were allegedly trained. This episode illustrates the continuing volatility of the border area.
Somali Region (Eastern Ethiopia): Travel to Ethiopia's Somali regional state is restricted for U.S. government employees, although essential travel to the region is permitted on a case-by-case basis. Since the mid-1990's, members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have conducted attacks on civilian targets in parts of the Somali regional state, particularly in the Ogaden zones. Expatriateshave been killed in these attacks. In 2010, the Government of Ethiopia initiated peace talks with the ONLF, which are ongoing. Despite these talks, there have been isolated incidents of violence continues. In May 2011, gunmen affiliated with the ONLF attacked a vehicle belonging to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), killing the vehicle’s driver, wounding one other, and kidnapping two other WFP employees. The kidnapped employees were later released.
Gambella Region (Western Ethiopia): Sporadic inter-ethnic clashes are a concern throughout the Gambella region of western Ethiopia. While the security situation in the town of Gambella is generally calm, it remains unpredictable throughout the rest of the region. Intensified conflict between Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan has increased refugee flows into Western Ethiopia. Travel to the border areas in the Beneshangul (Asosa) region is restricted to major towns.
Important Note: The Government of Ethiopia rarely informs the Embassy of arrested or detained U.S. citizens, even those detained at the airport by immigration or customs authorities. In some instances, U.S. citizens have been detained for weeks or even months without Embassy notification. If you are arrested or detained in Ethiopia, you have the right to request that Ethiopian authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your detention or arrest in accordance with the 1951 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Ethiopia . If you are detained or arrested in Ethiopia you should use whatever means of communication available to alert the U.S. Embassy of your situation.
Stay up to date by:
- Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution;
- Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook;
- Downloading our free Smart Traveler Enrollment App available through the iTunes store or the Google play market to have travel information at your fingertips;
- Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries and;
- Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling abroad safely.
CRIME: U.S. citizens are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks. Varying your travel times and routes is advised. Pick-pocketing, “snatch and run” thefts, including from occupied vehicles and other petty crimes are common in Addis Ababa. These are generally crimes of opportunity rather than planned attacks. Beginning in 2011, purse snatchings and harassment by gangs of youths in the Bole area of Addis Ababa have increased. These incidents have occurred in both the daytime and nighttime. There were also beatings and stabbings of expats in the area. The number of residential burglaries has also increased. Travelers should exercise caution in crowded areas, and especially in the Mercato in Addis Ababa, a large open-air market. You should limit the amount of cash you carry and leave valuables, such as passports, jewelry, and airline tickets in a hotel safe or other secure place. You should keep wallets and other valuables where they will be less susceptible to pick-pockets. If you have a cellular phone, carry it with you.
You should be cautious at all times when traveling on roads in Ethiopia. Highway robbery by armed bandits in some border areas has been reported. Some of these incidents have been accompanied by violence. You are cautioned to limit road travel outside major towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible, in case of breakdowns. When driving, be wary of other motorists warning you of a mechanical problem or loose tire. This may be a ruse used by thieves to get you to stop the vehicle. Most of all be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times to ensure that you aren't being followed.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, we can contact family members or friend.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Ethiopia is 991.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Ethiopian law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely marked clearly. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera and arrest.
Persons violating Ethiopian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ethiopia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
If you are arrested in Ethiopia, you have the right to request that authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your detention or arrest in accordance with the 1951 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Ethiopia. If you are detained or arrested in Ethiopia you should use whatever means of communication available to alert the U.S. Embassy of your situation. Please be aware that the Government of Ethiopia does not recognize dual nationality, so U.S. citizens born in Ethiopia are accorded the same rights as any other U.S. citizens in the case of arrest or detention.
Dual nationality: Ethiopia does not recognize dual nationality. The government of Ethiopia considers Ethiopians who have naturalized as U.S. citizens to be U.S. citizens only. Such individuals are not subject to Ethiopian military service. The Ethiopian government has stated that Ethiopian-U.S. citizens in almost all cases are given the same opportunity to invest in Ethiopia as Ethiopians. Ethiopian officials have stated that Eritrean-U.S. citizens are treated as U.S. citizens and are not subject to arrest simply because of their ties to Eritrea although, as noted above, they are not permitted to receive tourist visas at the airport. For additional information, see our dual nationality flyer.
Currency: Ethiopia is still primarily a cash economy. Dollars and some of the more popular travelers checks can be changed at the airport, and at some banks. There are some ATM machines at the major hotels and commercial centers that accept the major international credit and debit cards, although connectivity problems sometimes limit their availability. While credit cards are gaining acceptance with some hotels, travel agencies, and merchants, it is best to check ahead and ensure you have sufficient cash reserves.
Foreign currency should be exchanged in authorized banks, hotels, and other legally authorized outlets and proper receipts should be obtained for the transactions. Exchange receipts are required to convert unused Ethiopian currency back to the original foreign currency. Penalties for exchanging money on the black market range from fines to imprisonment. Credit cards are not accepted at most hotels, restaurants, shops, or other local facilities, although they are accepted at the Hilton, Sheraton, and Radisson Hotels in Addis Ababa. Some hotels and car rental companies, particularly in Addis Ababa, may require foreigners to pay in foreign currency or show a receipt for the source of foreign exchange if paying in local currency. Many hotels and establishments, however, are not permitted to accept foreign currency or may be reluctant to do so.
All travelers are permitted to carry $3,000 in foreign currency in and out of Ethiopia with proper evidence of its source. Employees of embassies and foreign organizations or individuals entering into the country through embassies or foreign organizations on temporary employment (e.g., to attend seminars, to give training) may leave the country carrying more than $3,000 in cash only when they can produce evidence that they were paid directly from a bank. Residents may carry foreign currency upon departure, but only by producing evidence that the currency was purchased from a bank, or by producing a customs declaration not more than 45 days after it was issued. Travelers can only carry up to 200 Ethiopian Birr out of the country.
Ethiopian institutions have on occasion refused to accept 1996 series U.S. currency, although official policy is that such currency should be treated as legal tender.
Residence permit: Business travelers or employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who intend to stay for 90 days or more must apply for a residence card/work permit in order to continue working and living in Ethiopia. Travelers must apply for this permit within the first 30 days of their stay in Ethiopia and may not work until this permit is approved.
Travelers should check with their sponsoring organization to ensure they have the correct documentation in place, or risk penalties, including detention, fines, and deportation. The Government of Ethiopia’s regulations also allow for similar penalties for those who assist others to reside illegally in Ethiopia.
For additional information on immigration, customs, and business registration, please contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
International NGO and Ethiopian civil service Directorate
Tel: 251 11 515 5570
Charities and Societies Agency
NGO Licensing and Registration section
Tel: 251 11 157 7627
Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority
Tel: 251 11 662 9887 or 251 11 662 9818
Consular notification: If you are arrested or detained in Ethiopia, it is unlikely that government authorities will notify the U.S. Embassy. Therefore, you should use should use whatever means of communication available to alert the U.S. Embassy of your situation.
Earthquakes: There is a risk of earthquakes in Ethiopia. Buildings may collapse due to strong tremors. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Please see our Customs Information website.
Accessibility: While in Ethiopia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodations to be very different from what you find in the United States. The Ethiopian Building Proclamation (no. 624), gazetted in May 2010, contains an article that mandates building accessibility and accessible toilet facilities for persons with physical disabilities. In addition, landlords are required to give persons with disabilities preference for ground floor apartments, and this is respected in practice. In general, public buildings are not accessible to individuals with disabilities.
LGBT Issues: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment under the law. There are some reports of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals; reporting was limited due to fear of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatization. Persons did not identify themselves as LGBT persons due to severe societal stigma and the illegality of consensual same-sex sexual activity. Activists in the LGBT community stated they were followed and at times feared for their safety. There are periodic detainments of some in the LGBT community, combined with interrogation and alleged physical abuse. LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
Health facilities in Ethiopia are very limited and are generally inadequate outside the capital. Even the best hospitals in Addis Ababa suffer from inadequate facilities, antiquated equipment, and shortages of supplies (particularly medicines). There is a shortage of physicians. Emergency assistance is limited. Psychiatric services and medications are practically nonexistent. Serious illnesses and injuries often require travelers to be medically evacuated from Ethiopia to a location where adequate medical attention is available. Such “medevac” services are very expensive and are generally available only to travelers who either have travel insurance that covers medevac services or who are able to pay for the service in advance (often in excess of USD 40,000). See Medical Insurance information below. Travelers must carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines, as well as a doctor's note describing the medication. If the quantity of drugs exceeds that which would be expected for personal use, a permit from the Ministry of Health is required.
Malaria is prevalent in Ethiopia outside of the highland areas. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and explain to the health care provider their travel history and which anti-malarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention malaria website.
Ethiopia is a mountainous country and the high altitude may cause health problems, even for healthy travelers. Addis Ababa is the third highest capital city in the world, at an altitude of 8,300 feet. Travelers may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches and an inability to sleep. Individuals with respiratory (including asthma) or heart conditions should consult with a health care professional before traveling to Ethiopia. Travelers to Ethiopia should also avoid swimming in any lakes, rivers, or still bodies of water (other than Lake Langano). Most bodies of water have been found to contain parasites. Travelers should be aware that Ethiopia has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Ethiopia has had outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea, possible cholera, typhoid, and other bacterial diarrhea in the recent past, and the conditions for reoccurrences continue to exist in both urban and rural settings. Further information on prevention and treatment of cholera and other diarrheal diseases can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases webpage. To avoid such diseases, health professionals strongly recommend:
- Strict adherence to personal hygiene, hand washing with soap and water before handling or eating food.
- Eating food that is cooked and served hot.
- Avoiding fruits and vegetables unless they have been personally peeled and soaked in a bleach-treated solution before eating.
- Drinking only distilled or bottled water/beverages and using ice made from distilled, boiled or chlorinated water. This includes avoidance of rinsing toothbrushes with tap water.
Travelers developing voluminous watery diarrhea should start oral rehydration quickly and seek medical care immediately for possible IV rehydration.
Ethiopian authorities are monitoring the possibility of avian influenza following the deaths of poultry and birds; preliminary results have been negative. For additional information on avian flu please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Avian Influenza website.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Ethiopia. Please verify this with the Embassy of Ethiopia before you travel. Please refer to the “Entry Restrictions” section of this notice, or the Ethiopian Embassy website.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Ethiopia. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Peak meningitis transmission season in Ethiopia starts annually in January and extends through April up to the beginning of May. In January 2013, the World Health Organization announced that there have been reports of sporadic cases in the Southern Nation, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and Oromia Region. The WHO reported an upsurge in cases in certain local municipalities in SNNPR and Oromia, with the following local municipalities reporting increased cases of meningitis: Arbaminch Zuria, Halaba, Hawassa town, Dale, Shebedino, Gorche and Wonsho in SNNPR, and Arsi Negele, Shalla, Shashemene Town, Shashemene Rural, Dodolla, Siraro, Wondo and Gedeb Assassa in Oromia Region.
It is recommended that U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Ethiopia avoid travel to these areas unless they have been vaccinated against meningitis within the past 3 years. If vaccinated recently, do not travel to these affected areas for at least 14 days after receiving the vaccination. (Meningitis vaccinations do not take effect for 14 days.) All personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy who have not been vaccinated for meningitis are advised against traveling to the affected areas during the peak meningitis transmission season. Specific questions should be addressed to a health care professional.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia has the highest rate of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world. Roads in Ethiopia are poorly maintained, inadequately marked, and poorly lighted. Road travel after dark outside Addis Ababa and other cities is dangerous and discouraged due to hazards posed by broken-down vehicles left in the road, pedestrians walking in the road, stray animals, and the possibility of armed robbery. Road lighting in cities is inadequate at best and nonexistent outside of cities. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of adherence to basic safety standards for vehicles are daily hazards on Ethiopian roads. Many vehicles are unlicensed and many drivers lack basic driver training or insurance. Emergency services are limited or nonexistent in many parts of the country. Drivers should always carry spare tires, fuel, and tools on long trips as there is no roadside assistance. USG personnel must limit road travel outside towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible, in case of breakdowns. Public transport is unregulated and unsafe; if travelers do use public transport, they should use taxis, not minibuses or large buses and should ensure they are the only passengers in the vehicle.
While travel during daylight hours on both paved and unpaved roads is generally considered safe, land mines and other anti-personnel devices can be encountered on isolated dirt roads that were targeted during various conflicts, especially along the Eritrean border. Before undertaking any off-road travel, it is advisable to inquire of local authorities to ensure that the area has been cleared of mines.
It is unlawful to use a cell phone or other electronic communications device while driving in Ethiopia (even if it has a hands-free feature), and use of seat belts is required. Be sure to carry your valid Ethiopian driver’s license with you, as well as proof of comprehensive local insurance coverage, and your Ethiopian Identification card. While in a vehicle, keep your doors locked and the windows rolled up at all times. Keep bags, purses, and valuables out of sight — in the trunk, on the floor, or in the glove compartment. Do not carry unnecessary items in your bag; leave your credit cards, social security card, etc., at home. Do not open your doors or windows to give to beggars. Police can fine people for giving money to beggars.
If you are in a traffic accident, do not leave the scene unless you fear for your personal safety. Special units of the traffic police investigate traffic accidents. Normal investigative procedures require the police to conduct on on-scene investigation, after which all involved parties go to the Traffic Department for a vehicle inspection and to provide details about the accident for a final report. If possible, obtain the names and contact information of all persons involved in the accident and make a note of the extent of any injuries; make a note of any registration information (tag number) of other vehicle(s) involved; and obtain the other driver’s permit data, and give similar information or registration/permit data to the other driver and to the police upon request.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Ethiopia’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Ethiopia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
The Ethiopian government has closed air routes near the border with Eritrea and has referred to the airspace as a “no-fly zone.” The FAA currently prohibits U.S. aircraft and U.S. pilots from flying in Ethiopian airspace north of 12 degrees north latitude, the area along the country's northern border with Eritrea. For complete information on this flight prohibition, travelers may visit the FAA NOTAM website.
* * *