Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Djibouti International Travel Information
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Djibouti.
Requirements for Entry:
If you are traveling to Djibouti in support of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) activities, follow directions per the Foreign Clearance Guide.
Journalists are required to have a letter of accreditation approved in advance by the Ministry of Communication and Culture. U.S. journalists and other journalists working for U.S.-based media institutions should contact the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section at DjiboutiPD@state.gov at least two weeks prior to travel to facilitate this accreditation process. Journalists who fail to receive an accreditation letter risk arrest, seizure of equipment, and/or expulsion.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, Djibouti.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to target crowds more effectively. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
Although there have been no terrorist incidents reported in Djibouti since 2014, regional terrorist groups continue to threaten Western targets and interests and can easily cross borders to conduct attacks in public places where Westerners congregate.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Civil unrest or armed conflict in the neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and Somalia may affect the security situation in Djibouti.
Tensions along the Djibouti-Eritrea border exist from an ongoing border dispute, necessitating approval from the Djibouti government before travel north of Obock. Border skirmishes have occurred in the past.
Many border areas between Djibouti and both Ethiopia and Somalia lack visible demarcation and may still contain landmines.
Crime: Crimes of opportunity are most common and include pickpocketing, purse snatching, theft from or of vehicles, and identity theft (by stealing credit card information).
Demonstrations: Demonstrations occur occasionally and sometimes without warning. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of serious crimes, including victims of sexual assault, are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police by dialing 17 throughout Djibouti (French/Arabic) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +253 21-453-000 during business house and +(253) 77-877-229 after hours. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas or activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available in the capital, Djibouti City. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines. Although the narcotic khat is legal in Djibouti, it is illegal in many countries, including the United States. Furthermore, some laws 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.
Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations or personnel, and other infrastructure such as air and seaports, bridges, and public buildings, as well as of religious sites, such as mosques. You could be fined, have your photographic equipment confiscated, and risk detention and/or expulsion. Do not take photos of Djiboutians without their permission.
Children: Dual Somali-U.S. or Djiboutian-U.S. citizens should be aware that moving children to Djibouti or Somalia (including Somaliland) from the United States for the purpose of having Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) performed can be prosecuted in both countries. FGM/C is illegal under both Djiboutian and U.S. law.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information. Djiboutian law enforcement officials occasionally prevent foreigners from contacting anyone while in detention. Because of this, the U.S. Embassy may not receive notification of an arrest or may not be allowed access to you if you are detained.
Phone Service: Although land lines do exist in parts of Djibouti, cellular phones are the norm. You may purchase a SIM card locally for use in an unlocked GSM cell phone. You will need to present your passport to complete the purchase. The national cellular phone provider is Djibouti Telecom. Telecommunications systems outside of Djibouti City are unreliable or non-existent.
Currency: The Djiboutian Franc (DJF) is the official currency. It is a cash economy; credit cards are accepted at major hotels and supermarkets only. Most vendors and banks will only take bills printed after 2006 due to counterfeiting. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. ATMs are limited and may not recognize U.S.-issued credit cards, including MasterCard, though Visa generally works.
Firearms: Strict regulations may be enforced on the temporary import and export of firearms. Contact the Embassy of Djibouti in Washington, D.C., or the Djibouti National Police for specific information regarding customs and registration requirements prior to travel. Hunting without a permit is illegal.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to relinquish them if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI+ Travelers: While there are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events, societal norms do not allow for the public discussion of homosexuality and there are no known LGBTI organizations. Authorities may prosecute public display of same-sex sexual conduct under laws prohibiting attacks on “good morals.” No antidiscrimination law exists to protect LGBTI individuals. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section six of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Djibouti does not prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Few government buildings, schools, banks, or grocery stores have accessible facilities, including in Djibouti City. Some hospitals and clinics are equally inaccessible to people with disabilities and lack wheelchair ramps or lifts, including some of the hospitals travelers commonly use. Expect accessibility to be very limited in transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure.
Accessibility equipment is generally not available in Djibouti. Replacement parts, rental and repair facilities for aids/equipment/devices or service providers such as sign language interpreters or personal assistants are not available.
Women Travelers: The law prohibits female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and the government is actively working to eliminate the practice. While rates of new FGM/C cases have declined, 70.7% of women and girls nationally have been subjected to the practice. Reliable rape statistics are not available, and laws for sentencing perpetrators are not enforced effectively. Domestic violence is common but underreported. Rather than the courts, families and the informal clan-based justice system generally handle cases of domestic abuse or violence. Police rarely intervene in domestic violence incidents. The National Union of Djiboutian Women operates a walk-in counseling center (Cellule d’Ecoute) in Djibouti City that provides services and referrals for women and men. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Medical facilities in the capital of Djibouti are limited, and facilities are nonexistent in many outlying areas. Trauma care is only intended to stabilize a patient prior to medical evacuation. Medicines are expensive and often in short supply. Most care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars or Djiboutian francs before treatment is provided.
For emergency services in Djibouti, dial 18.
Ambulance services are available from Balbala Hospital in Djibouti City. To obtain ambulance services contact Moussa, cell phone #77824912.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
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. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Djibouti.
Dual U.S.-Djiboutian citizens with disabilities may qualify for education and health services through the Ministry of National Solidarity and the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Family Planning.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
Given Djibouti’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is also a risk.
Vaccinations: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: Although main roads in Djibouti City are well maintained, others are unpaved or in poor repair and subject to unexpected flooding. Highways are prone to frequent rockslides. Many roads wind through steep ravines and lack guardrails.
Police occasionally set up random roadblock stops on major roads to conduct inspections of vehicle registration and insurance.
Outside of Djibouti City, hazards include narrow roads, insufficient lighting, poor vehicle maintenance (missing headlights) and wayward pedestrians and livestock. Police set up roadblocks on major roads which are not clearly visible at night. Other risks include excessive speeding and erratic driving habits. The widespread use of the narcotic khat by drivers contributes to speeding and unsafe driving habits.
When driving outside Djibouti City, use convoys of two vehicles in case one car becomes disabled and avoid all travel after dark. Carry additional fuel and provisions (water, satellite phone, first aid kit). Gas stations are located at a considerable distance from one another and sell only diesel fuel in rural areas. There are few professional roadside assistance services.
Landmines: Stay on paved roads. Unmarked landmines exist in the border region with Eritrea, though most landmines have been marked or cleared from border regions.
Traffic Laws: A U.S. driver’s license or International Driving Permit is required to drive in Djibouti. The use of cell phones while driving is prohibited. Exercise caution at intersections; drivers often run red lights and do not stop at intersections. Third-party liability insurance is required, and you must display the insurance sticker.
Accidents: Remain inside the vehicle and wait for the traffic police or gendarmes. If a hostile mob forms or you feel you are in danger, leave the scene in your vehicle if possible and proceed directly to the nearest police station to report the incident. If you are injured, drive to the nearest hospital or clinic.
Public Transportation: Avoid all travel by public transportation and hire private transport from a reliable source. Public transportation is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe. Hotel and airport shuttle services are a safe alternative. Taxis are available but are considered unsafe. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from riding in buses or taxis.
The capital city and the towns of Obock and Tadjoura have intercity bus and ferry services. An electric limited rail, replacing the century-old Ethio-Djibouti railway, began operation in October 2016 with freight service and, later, passenger service.
Hiring a vehicle: Reputable car rental firms can include the services of a driver. Be particularly vigilant at airports where criminals use luggage tag information to present themselves as pre-arranged drivers. Do not use your passport as a security deposit. If you allow your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
See 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 Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Djibouti’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. See the FAA’s safety assessment page. Due to security concerns, U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from taking commercial flights originating in Somalia that stop in Djibouti as part of a multi-leg flight.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Djibouti should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.
The threat of piracy remains significant. Pirates have held foreigners hostage for ransom. Reports of attacks on local fishing boats in Djiboutian coastal waters continue. Djiboutian military ships are clearly marked and may turn away small craft or divert vessels to verify citizenship of passengers.
Use established sea lanes, and pilot vessels in groups to reduce the risk of being hijacked.
See the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
In case of emergency, contact the Djiboutian Coast Guard or Djiboutian Navy on UHF marine channel 16, or the Yemeni Coast Guard on channel 16 or at 967 1-562-402.
Port Security: The Commandant of the Coast Guard has determined that effective anti-terrorism measures are not in place in Djibouti ports and has imposed conditions of entry on vessels that arrive in U.S. ports having visited ports in Djibouti. Mariners and passengers on commercial vessels traveling through the ports of Djibouti should exercise increased caution.