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Somalia
Official Name:

Somalia

Last Updated: March 20, 2017
Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kenya

United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya

  • Telephone (254) (20) 363-6000 (Monday through Thursday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
  • Emergency After-Hours Telephone (254) (20) 363-6170
  • Fax (254) (20) 363-6410
  • Email kenya_acs@state.gov

 

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Duration of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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Yellow Fever vaccination is not required but most countries that fly in and out of Somalia require proof of vaccination. 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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None

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U.S. Embassy Kenya

United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya

Telephone: (254) (20) 363-6000 (Monday through Thursday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (254) (20) 363-6170

Fax: (254) (20) 363-6410

See our Fact Sheet on Somalia for information on U.S. - Somalia relations.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa (obtain before traveling or a 60-day tourist visa upon arrival in Mogadishu for $60)

Visit the Permanent Representative of the Somali Republic to the United Nations/Department of Immigration and Naturalization websites or the nearest Somali embassy or consulate for visa information. Direct visa inquiries for Somaliland and Puntland to the person/organization you will be visiting, as there is no office in Kenya to issue these visas.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Somalia.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and customs information on our websites.

See the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Somalia.

The U.S. government cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in Somalia. You will have to rely on your own resources or journey to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in an emergency.

Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia attack government authorities and facilities, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) personnel and bases, and civilian and non-governmental targets, including, but not limited to: hotels, restaurants, airports, seaports, and shopping areas. Inter-clan and factional violence is also a regular occurrence throughout Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated foreign terrorist organization based in Somalia, has repeatedly attacked the Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) with mortars and other weapons such as vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. The group successfully breached the airport’s perimeter during an attack in December 2014 and has conducted attacks from within the airport’s perimeter since that incident. In February 2016, terrorist operatives detonated an explosive device concealed in a laptop on a commercial flight shortly after take-off.

Protests and civil unrest occur regularly throughout the country, including in the capital, often without advanced warning and sometimes turning violent. Such unrest has, at times, taken on an anti-American tone. Anti-Western attitudes are strong in some parts of Somalia. These attitudes may result in the violent harassment of foreigners, including U.S. citizens of Somali descent. U.S. citizens should:

  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
  • Not display cash and valuable personal property.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.

Somalia - Kenya border: Cross-border violence occurs periodically, ranging from large-scale clashes between al-Shabaab government security forces and/or AMISOM troops, to kidnappings and grenade attacks on international aid workers. Dozens were reported killed in a recent al-Shabaab attack against a Kenyan military base in southern Somalia in late January 2017. The previous year, a similar assault killed nearly 160 Kenyan soldiers.

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance during your movements around the country. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Be cautious when traveling outside of cities and along border areas.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

Crime: Violent crime such as kidnapping, bombings, indirect fire attacks, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, and illegal roadblocks by armed individuals in uniforms occur throughout Somalia, including the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

See the Department of State and the FBI webpages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya for assistance.

Report crimes to the local police nearest to you and contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at (+254) (20) 363-6000. The emergency number in Mogadishu is 888.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya for assistance.

For further information:

·         See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.

Consult the CDC website for Somalia prior to travel.

Medical care and services are extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply and many pharmacies stock ineffective or counterfeit medications. Most care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars/Somali shillings prior to treatment.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.  

Carry personal supplies of medications. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Malaria is endemic. Use CDC recommended mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR-3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is strongly recommended for all travelers, even for short stays.

Food-borne and water-borne illnesses are common. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You may be taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.

Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

There is no organized system of criminal justice, nor is there any recognized or established authority to administer a uniform application of due process. Enforcement of criminal laws is, therefore, haphazard to nonexistent. Locally established courts operate under a combination of Somali customary and Islamic Shari'a law, some of which may be hostile towards foreigners.

Arrest Notifications: If arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Kenya immediately. Due to the absence of a U.S. diplomatic mission in Somalia, such notification is unlikely. Our ability to provide consular services is severely restricted as a result of ongoing security concerns. Furthermore, dual U.S. - Somali citizens are recognized as Somali citizens by authorities which impedes our ability to provide any consular assistance. See our webpage for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Water, health, and electricity systems are poor.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and key infrastructure such as airports and border controls. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have your equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of people without their permission.

Phone Service: Cellular phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone.

Currency: The Somali shilling is the unit of currency except in Somaliland, which uses the Somaliland shilling. U.S. dollars are accepted.  We would not encourage using your credit card in Somalia, even if accepted. It is not possible to obtain currency advances against a credit card.  Credit cards and traveler's checks are generally not accepted, and there are only a very limited number of ATMs in Mogadishu.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual contact is punishable by imprisonment from three months to three years. Antidiscrimination provisions do not apply to LGBTI individuals. Society considers sexual orientation a taboo topic, and so there is no known public discussion of this issue in any region. Severe societal stigma typically prevents LGBTI individuals from making their sexual orientation publicly known.

See our LGBTI Travel Information  page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips. We are aware of allegations that some boarding schools in Somalia engage in abusive practices such as corporal punishment, physical restraint, and confiscation of travel documents.

Women Travelers: There are no laws against spousal violence, including rape. There are documented patterns of rape perpetrated with impunity, particularly of displaced women and members of minority clans. Authorities rarely use formal structures to address rape. Survivors suffer from subsequent discrimination based on the attribution of “impurity.” Domestic and sexual violence against women remain serious problems despite the provisional federal constitution provision prohibiting any form of violence against women.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the provisional federal constitution prohibits the circumcision of girls, FGM/C is almost universally practiced throughout the country. Up to 98 percent of women and girls have reportedly undergone FGM/C, primarily between the ages of 5-14 years.

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are poor. Night driving is particularly dangerous due to the absence of lighting. Other risks include:

  • no traffic lights
  • landmines
  • pedestrians
  • cyclists
  • animals

Refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Somalia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Somalia’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.

The FAA has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia. For background information and advisories consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Maritime Travel: Recreational vessels should avoid the region. Consult the International Maritime Bureau's Live Piracy Report for information.  See also www.marad.dot.gov/msci, www.homeport.uscg.mil, and https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal.

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