EthiopiaOfficial Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Polio vaccination up to 1 year before travel is recommended. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
3,000 USD or equivalent or 200 ETB maximum
Embassies and Consulates
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Telephone: +(251) 11 130-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 011 130-6000
Fax: +(251) 11 124-2435 and +(251) 11 124-2419
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a developing country in East Africa. It is comprised of nine states and two chartered cities (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. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Ethiopia for additional information.
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. You must obtain a visa prior to arrival if you plan to enter Ethiopia by any land port-of-entry. Ethiopian visas ARE NOT available at the border crossing point at Moyale or at any other land border in Ethiopia. Visit the Embassy of Ethiopia website for the most current visa information. The Embassy of Ethiopia is located at 3506 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 364-1200; fax (202) 587-0195.
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. 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 Ethiopian Main Department for Immigration & Nationality 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 (300 USD) 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 (20 USD, 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.
Following the failed October 2013 bombing attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for which the U.S. government-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, the U.S. Embassy received reports that ALL individuals of Somali origin, including naturalized U.S. citizens, were being stopped for questioning when entering and exiting 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.
Customs 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.
Individuals bringing recording equipment into the country are advised to seek the necessary clearances from the Ethiopian Ministry of Communications prior to their arrival. Journalists entering Ethiopia require clearance from the Ethiopian Ministry of Communications to bring recording equipment into the country. Ethiopian Customs occasionally prohibits individuals from bringing cameras and other equipment into the country for personal use. The Embassy cannot assist with the return of such confiscated equipment, or help individuals obtain the necessary clearances from the Ethiopian Ministry of Communications.
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.
Yellow Fever and Polio Information:
All travelers over one (1) year of age coming from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission are required to show proof of vaccination (International Certificate of Vaccination, known also as a yellow card.)
It is recommended that all travelers over nine (9) months of age be vaccinated before traveling outside of the provinces of Afar and Somali. Daytime insect precautions are essential for unvaccinated travelers.
According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, in 2013, 10 cases (one case in 2014) were reported from the Somali Region of Ethiopia. These are the first wild poliovirus cases reported in Ethiopia since 2008.
The CDC recommends that all travelers to Ethiopia be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. As of May 5, 2014, people of all ages staying in Ethiopia for longer than 4 weeks may be required to show proof of polio vaccination when departing Ethiopia. Polio vaccine must be received between 4 weeks and 12 months before the date of departure from Ethiopia and should be officially documented on a yellow vaccination card (International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis). Travelers should talk to their doctor about making sure they are properly prepared for any requirements they may face exiting 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
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 when traveling in Ethiopia. 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-Qa’ida and al-Shabaab operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa.. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Africa. In February 2012, leaders of al-Shabaab and al-Qa’ida announced a merger of the two groups.
Ethiopia formally became part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2013 and currently has several thousand soldiers engaged in counterterrorism operations in Somalia. These forces remain largely concentrated along the countries’ shared border and are working with other AMISOM members to eliminate al-Shabaab. Ethiopia’s contentious history with Somalia and continued military presence in the country has led al-Shabaab to indicate that Ethiopia remains a primary target.
On October 13, 2013, a bomb exploded in a residential neighborhood of Addis Ababa. The bomb detonated prematurely and killed two individuals believed to be members of al-Shabaab who had intended to attack Ethiopian soccer fans attending a World Cup pre-qualifying match. The Government of Ethiopia subsequently released a November 2013 warning that al-Shabaab intended to carry out attacks in Addis Ababa and other areas of the country. Accordingly, 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. Travelers are advised to avoid unattended baggage or packages left in any location, including in taxis.
Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. In April of 2014, violent clashes were reported between student demonstrators and police in the Central Oromia Region town of Ambo approximately 80 miles west of Addis Ababa. An Ethiopian government statement claimed that eight people were killed.
Travelers should exercise caution when visiting any remote areas of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, and South Sudan, and should avoid travel outside of the major towns in these border areas. U.S. Citizens should also be aware that checkpoints in the border areas are constantly changing. Please be aware of your surroundings and stop at checkpoints as appropriate. There have been altercations which have occurred that have led to violence.
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:
Ethiopian/Kenyan Border (Southern Ethiopia): In southern Ethiopia along the Kenyan border, banditry and incidents involving ethnic conflicts are common. Security around the town of Moyale is unpredictable, and clashes between Ethiopian forces and the Oromia Liberation Front (OLF) have been reported.
Ethiopia/Eritrea Border (Northern Ethiopia): Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement in December 2000 that ended their border war. However, the border remains disputed. The border area is a militarized zone where there is the possibility of armed conflict between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. 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 predominantly Ogadeni zones. Expatriates have been killed in these attacks. In 2010, the Government of Ethiopia initiated peace talks with the ONLF, which are ongoing. Despite these talks, incidents of violence continue to occur. Throughout 2013, skirmishes between the ONLF and regional government security forces took place. Some of these incidents involved local civilians. Al-Shabaab maintains a presence in Somali towns near the Ethiopian border, presenting a risk of cross-border attacks targeting foreigners.
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 (RSS) has significantly increased refugee flows into Western Ethiopia. Ethiopian refugee camps are strictly controlled. All access should be preapproved by the UNHCR, and most importantly, by the host government. In the past, journalists have been detained and deported for not possessing the proper permissions when attempting to gain access to these refugee camps. Travel to the border areas in the Beneshangul-Gumuz Region (Asosa) is restricted to major towns north of the area where the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being constructed due to political sensitivity.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
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 are not being followed.
Do not 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, contact family members or friends.
- 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 for 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 will not 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.
Following the failed October 2013 bombing attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for which the U.S. government-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, the U.S. Embassy received reports that ALL individuals of Somali origin, including naturalized U.S. citizens, were being stopped for questioning when entering and exiting Ethiopia. More recently, the Embassy has been notified of several cases of U.S.-Somali dual citizens being detained by Ethiopian security services in Addis Ababa for extended periods without charges brought against them. These cases indicate that the detention of Somalis is not limited to Bole Airport or upon entry or exit to Ethiopia. Individuals of Somali origin are advised to prepare for this contingency, and are recommended to carry copies of all important documents and the contact information for the U.S. Embassy. As U.S. citizen, you have the right to request that the U.S. Embassy be notified if you are detained.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
The Government of Ethiopia rarely informs the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 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 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 Blu 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 up to 3,000 USD 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 USD 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 (ETB) 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 Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC
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.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults 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. There is no law prohibiting discrimination against LGBT persons. Persons did not identify themselves as LGBT persons due to severe societal stigma and the illegality of consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults. Activists in the LGBT community stated they were followed and at times feared for their safety. There are periodic detentions of some LGBT persons, combined with interrogation and alleged physical abuse. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Ethiopia you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
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.
Health facilities in Ethiopia (both urban and rural areas) are very limited and are considered adequate only for stabilization and emergency care. Hospitals in Addis Ababa suffer from inadequate facilities, outdated equipment, and shortages of supplies and medications. All facilities require a cash deposit (dependent on the type of medical condition) before admittance and forbid medical release until all accrued charges are paid. There is a shortage of physicians and other qualified medical personnel. Emergency assistance is limited. Some hospitals have ambulance services but these are limited, unreliable, and require an on-scene cash payment. Psychiatric services and medications are very limited. 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. The cost for medical evacuation may range from $40,000 to $200,000 USD. 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 excluding Addis Ababa. Extremely high malaria transmission occurs throughout the year below 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Altitudes between 2,000 m and 2,500 m are subject to infrequent epidemics. 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 report their travel history and anti-malarial medication taken. For additional information on malaria, insect precautions, 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.
Ethiopian authorities have taken preventive measures against the spread of the Ebola virus to Ethiopia. As of the time of this update, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ethiopia. Please visit the Department of State’s Ebola Fact Sheet for Travelers website and that of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Ebola 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 Ethiopian Embassy before you travel. Please refer to the “Entry Restrictions” section of this notice, or the Ethiopian Embassy website.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water). Talk to your doctor about short course antibiotics and loperamide to take with you in case of diarrhea while traveling.
All routine US immunizations should also be up to date prior to arrival in Ethiopia. This includes measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis A and tetanus all of which are more common in Ethiopia than in the US. It is also recommended that all travelers receive typhoid immunization but it is not required for entry.
Meningococcal Meninigitis Quadrivalent vaccine (A-C-Y-W135) is recommended for all travelers throughout the year, especially if prolonged contact with the local populace is anticipated, and for all children and health care workers. Epidemic activity occurs in most regions, but is predominant in the western half of the country. Note: A non-IHR entry requirement for vaccination for all travelers has been registered with WHO.
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.
Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Even in urban areas dogs may have rabies and bites and scratches from dogs, bats or other mammals should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and medical evaluation sought to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that is spread by fresh water snails. The larval stage of the worm can burrow through your skin when in contact with contaminated fresh water. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs. Significant risk exists throughout the country, except in the Ogaden desert region in the southeast. Highest risk exists in the Omo River and surrounding areas.
You can find detailed 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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Ethiopia. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Ethiopia, 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 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.