Libya witnessed a popular uprising against the regime of Colonel Muammar Qadhafi that lasted from February to October 2011 and included fighting throughout the country. Libyans cast ballots July 7, 2012 in elections deemed to be free and fair according to election observers. Libya’s General National Congress replaced the Transitional National Council in August 2012 and will lead the country until elections are held on the basis of a new constitution. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws, and practices. On September 11-12, 2012, armed extremists attacked the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, killing four U.S. government personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Due to the current security situation, the ability of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in Libya is extremely limited, especially outside of Tripoli.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Libya for more information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION:
If you are going to live in or visit Libya, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
U.S. Embassy Tripoli
Walee al-Ahad Street
Airport Road District
Tel: 218 91 220 4560 between 1:00pm and 4:00pm Sunday through Thursday Libyan time.
For emergencies involving U.S. citizens only: telephone 218 91 220 5203
American Citizen Services Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS:
Passports and visas are required for all U.S. citizens traveling to Libya. Currently, Libyan embassies abroad are operating under varying conditions; travelers are encouraged to contact the Libyan embassy in the country in which they reside to obtain the latest information on visa procedures.
U.S. citizens with dual nationality are advised to take care to use the same passport when exiting the country of origin and entering Libya. Libyan immigration officials may request to see the exit stamp from the traveler’s previous destination. If that stamp is not in the same passport the traveler presents to the official (whether in the U.S. passport or a passport of other nationality), the traveler may have difficulty at the Libyan port of entry. If the traveler chooses to use a non-U.S. passport to enter Libya to avoid Libyan visa requirements, and the Libyan official discovers that the traveler is also a U.S. citizen, the traveler may be delayed and/or face a lengthy interview by Libyan Immigration. Dual citizens are advised to maintain consistency in which passport they use to travel to Libya.
Tourist Visas:In June 2010 the Libyan government began issuing visas to U.S. tourists. Travelers should contact the Libyan embassy in the country in which they reside to obtain the latest information on visa application procedures. Visas for U.S. passport holders are not available at the port of entry.
Under no circumstance should a traveler use a tourist visa for business travel to Libya. Using a tourist visa to travel to Libya for business purposes contravenes Libyan law, and places the traveler at risk of arrest.
Business Visas: U.S. citizens traveling to Libya on business visas require an invitation from/sponsorship by a company operating in Libya. U.S. citizens who apply for Libyan business visas often experience significant delays, regularly waiting several weeks or months for their visas. All visas are vetted and approved by Libyan immigration departments in Tripoli and are only issued by the appropriate Libyan Embassy upon receipt of that approval. There may be an additional wait for actual visa issuance once approval has been received by the Embassy.
The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli cannot provide assistance to U.S. citizens seeking Libyan visas.
Inquiries about obtaining a Libyan visa should be made through the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. The Embassy is located at 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington, DC 20037; 202-944-9601, fax 202-944-9606. Libya’s land borders with Egypt and Tunisia are subject to periodic closures even to travelers with valid Libyan visas. Short-term closures of other land borders may occur with little notice. Within three days of arrival in Libya, visitors must register at the police station closest to where they are residing or they may encounter problems during their stay or upon departure.
The Libyan government requires all Libyan citizens, including dual nationals, to enter and depart Libya on Libyan documents. In some cases, U.S. citizens of Libyan descent have entered Libya on an old or expired Libyan identity document and then discovered that they cannot depart Libya without obtaining a valid Libyan passport, which can be a time-consuming, cumbersome process.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreign residents of Libya. Please verify this information with the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C., before you travel.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable. U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel. While in Libya, make contingency emergency plans and maintain security awareness at all times.
Recent worldwide terrorism alerts, including the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East region, including Libya. Any U.S. citizen who travels to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel.
Terrorist incidents have occurred recently in Libya. On September 11, 2012, a group attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi resulting in the deaths of four U.S. government personnel, including the Ambassador. There have been several recent attacks on diplomatic embassies, offices and vehicles, as well as against Libyan government officials and private Libyan citizens, though many of these attacks have also been the result of criminality and lawlessness. Since the February 2011 revolution, thousands of anti-aircraft missiles are still unaccounted for in Libya and extremist groups may use them against aircraft, including commercial flights.
Various militias have supplanted the police in maintaining internal security. Militia members operate checkpoints within and between major cities. Libyan militia members are poorly trained and may be unaffiliated with the interim government, which has not yet fully reconstituted the national army and police. The Embassy receives frequent reports of clashes between rival militias and occasional reports of killings and vigilante revenge killings. Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary or unclear reasons, without access to a lawyer or legal process. Carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times. The Embassy has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained by militia groups.
Public demonstrations occur frequently in Libya in the central squares of cities, such as Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli and Freedom Square in Benghazi. Exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid all demonstrations and take cover if you hear celebratory gunfire.
If travel in desert and border regions of Libya is critically necessary, exercise caution and comply with local regulations. Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, continue to threaten the region. Recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the border region, and extremists have kidnapped Westerners in the border regions.
Stay up to date:
CRIME: Crime levels in Libya are rising. There have been increased reports of armed robbery, carjacking, burglary, and crimes involving weapons. The Libyan police and internal security institutions have not fully reconstituted themselves since the revolution. Thousands of criminals who were released from prisons by the former regime or who escaped following the revolution remain at large. Hundreds of thousands of small arms looted from government storage facilities are now in the hands of the local population, contributing to the rise in violent crime.
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:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Libya is 1515. This number is generally monitored only in Arabic. At times, the number may not be answered and response times may be much longer than in the United States.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES:While you are traveling in Libya, you are subject to Libyan laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be very different from our own. You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, especially military and government facilities. Driving under the influence can result in immediate detention. There are also some things that might be legal in Libya, but still illegal in the United States. 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 Libya, 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 before you go.
Persons violating Libyan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Libya are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Alcohol is also prohibited in Libya, and possessing, using, or trafficking in alcohol can carry severe penalties. Libyan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the introduction into Libya or removal from Libya of firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, and currency. The importation and consumption of alcohol, pornography, and pork products are illegal in Libya. Please see our Customs information.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Libya's economy operates on a “cash-only" basis for most transactions, even though U.S. law now permits the use in Libya of credit cards and checks drawn on U.S. banks. Some hotels, restaurants, and major airlines are the only businesses known to accept credit cards (Visa is accepted more often than MasterCard). Travelers should consult their banking institution prior to travel to ensure that transactions from Libya can be accepted. A small number of ATMs are in service in the country, but their availability and functionality are sporadic. Foreign visitors should be aware that the penalties for use of unauthorized currency dealers are severe. Banking institutions often operate at sporadic hours. The Libyan workweek is Sunday-Thursday.
A number of Libyan entities have assets frozen by economic sanctions. For further information, please contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department.
In addition to being subject to all Libyan laws, U.S. citizens of Libyan origin may also be subject to laws that impose special obligations on Libyan citizens. The Government of Libya considers all children born to Libyan fathers to be Libyan citizens, even if they were not issued a Libyan birth certificate or a Libyan passport. Dual Libyan-American nationals may not enter or leave Libya on their U.S. passports and must obtain a Libyan travel document before traveling to Libya. Persons with dual nationality who travel to Libya on their Libyan passports are normally treated as Libyan citizens by the local government. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide U.S. consular assistance to those traveling on Libyan passports is extremely limited. For additional information, please see our information on dual nationality.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Libya. Penalties include fines or jail time. For further information on LGBT travel, please review the LGBT Travel Information page.
Accessibility: While in Libya, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States.
Libyan law provides for the rights of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, and provides for monetary and other types of social care. Additionally, a number of government-approved organizations care for persons with disabilities and protect access to employment, education, health care, and other state services. However, few public facilities have adequate access for persons with physical disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: While some health care providers have been trained in the United States or Europe, basic modern medical care and/or medicines may not be available in Libya. Many Libyan citizens prefer to be treated outside Libya for serious medical conditions.
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. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out before you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
Most health care facilities in Libya expect payment in cash at the time of service even if you are hospitalized. They will not bill your insurance. It will be the traveler’s responsibility to file the necessary paperwork with the appropriate insurance provider. Regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. In these cases, travelers should consider travel-specific insurance. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Libya is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Libya can be hazardous, and there is a high accident rate. Enforcement of traffic laws is rare. As a result, it is often difficult to anticipate the actions of other drivers on Libyan streets and highways. Wind-blown sand can reduce visibility without warning. Road conditions are poor, and limited public transportation is poor. Taxis are available, but many taxi drivers are reckless and untrained. English-speaking drivers are extremely rare. The sidewalks in urban areas are often in bad condition and cluttered, but pedestrians are able to use them.
Paved roads in rural areas are satisfactory; however, many rural roads are unpaved. Major highways along the seacoast and leading south merge into single-lane highways once they are outside major cities. These roads are heavily trafficked and can be precarious to navigate, especially at night and during the winter rainy season. The presence of sand deposits, as well as domestic and wild animals that frequently cross these highways and rural roads, makes them even more hazardous.
The availability of roadside assistance is extremely limited and offered only in Arabic. In urban areas and near the outskirts of major cities there is a greater possibility of assistance by police and emergency ambulance services, although emergency care providers are usually ill-equipped to deal with serious injuries or accidents. Very few streets are marked or have signage, and highway signs are normally available only in Arabic.
Please refer to our Road Safety Overseas for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Libya, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Libya’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page. In addition, the FAA maintains prohibitions on flight operations over or within Libya by U.S. air carriers, commercial operators and airmen under a Special Federal Aviation Regulation. More information is available on the FAA website.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Libya dated February 8, 2013 to update the sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens, Threats to Safety and Security, Victims of Crime, Criminal Penalties and Special Circumstances.