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Libya

Libya
Libya
Do not travel to Libya due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.

Do not travel to Libya due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.

Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom. Westerners and U.S. citizens have been targets of these crimes.

Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.

Outbreaks of violence between competing armed groups can occur with little warning and have the potential to impact U.S. citizens. The capital, Tripoli, and other cities, such as Surman, Al-Jufra, Misrata, Ajdabiya, Benghazi, Sabha, and Dernah, have witnessed fighting among armed groups, as well as terrorist attacks. Hotels and airports frequented by Westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary reasons, do not grant detainees access to a lawyer or legal process, and do not allow detainees to inform others of their status. U.S. citizens should carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times, but having these documents does not guarantee fair treatment.

Some international and national airports are closed, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. The U.S. government is very concerned about the targeting of commercial transportation in Libya and prohibits U.S. commercial aviation operations within Libyan airspace.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency or routine assistance to U.S. citizens in Libya, as the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli suspended its operations in July 2014.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Libya, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Libya:

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Make contingency plans to leave.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or a power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, and etcetera.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One page per entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


The import of local currency for both residents and non-residents is prohibited.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


The export of local currency for both residents and non-residents is prohibited.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Tunis

North East Zone
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis, Tunisia
Telephone:
+(216) 71-107-000, press 0 and ask for the Libya Office consular officer.
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(216)  58 575 409
Fax: +(216) 71-964-360
Email: LibyaACS@state.gov

There is currently no U.S. Embassy in Libya. Questions may be addressed to the Libya External Office located in Tunis or the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.

Inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Libya may be directed to the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747. Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Libya for information on U.S. – Libya relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Passports and Visas:

Passports and visas are required for all U.S. citizens traveling to Libya.

  • The Department of State cannot provide assistance to U.S. citizens seeking Libyan visas.
  • The Government of Libya does not allow persons with passports bearing an Israeli visa or entry/exit stamps from Israel to enter Libya.
  • All visa applications are vetted by Libyan authorities and are only issued by the appropriate Libyan Embassy upon receipt of approval by the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Contact the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. for information on visa application procedures.
  • Visas for U.S. passport holders are not available at the port of entry. Do not use a tourist visa to enter Libya for business purposes, or you risk arrest.
  • U.S. citizens should apply for Libyan visas in the place they are resident.

Business Visas: Obtain an invitation from or 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.

Dual Citizens: U.S.-Libyan citizens need valid passports from both countries.

U.S. citizens must enter and exit the United States using their U.S. passport, and Libya requires Libyan citizens to use their Libyan passports when entering and exiting Libya.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

  • Libya’s land borders with Egypt and Tunisia are subject to periodic closures. 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.
  • 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.
  • For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Safety and Security

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya, as the security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. If in Libya, make contingency emergency plans to leave at a moment’s notice and maintain situational awareness at all times.

Carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times. If in Libya, make contingency emergency plans and maintain situational awareness at all times.

Terrorist Threats:

Extremist groups seek to target U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Terrorists may also target areas perceived to be frequented by Westerners, such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, businesses, transportation hubs, foreign embassies, expatriate residential areas, and schools.

The following groups, including those on the U.S. government’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, pose a high risk to U.S. citizens in the region:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)
  • Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
  • Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi (AAS-B)
  • Ansar al-Sharia in Dernah (AAS-D)

Recent terrorist attacks have occurred in Libya and the surrounding region. Extremists have kidnapped foreigners. Please note the country pages for neighboring countries, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Sudan, and Egypt.

Clashes among armed groups, including government-aligned forces, occur regularly throughout the country, including Tripoli, other urban areas.

Militia:

  • Militia-controlled checkpoints are common, including in many parts of Tripoli.
  • Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary or unclear reasons, without access to a lawyer or legal process. The Department of State has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained by militia groups.
  • Airports, seaports, and roads can close with little or no warning.

Maritime Security:

  • Violence against civilian commercial interests has escalated, creating serious safety concerns for maritime vessels and their crews. The “Libyan National Army” (LNA), a non-state armed group based in eastern Libya, announced on January 7, 2015, that all vessels in Libyan waters require LNA approval for transit.
  • U.S. mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting in or near Libyan territorial waters.
  • Vessels are advised to proceed with extreme caution when approaching all Libyan oil terminals and ports. Follow the recommendations in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Security Advisory 1-14 issued April 1, 2014.
  • Check the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport Website for Port Security Advisory Updates and the NGA Broadcast Warnings Website (select “Broadcast Warnings”) for any special warnings or Maritime Administration Advisories.

For further information:

CRIME:

  • Crime levels and the threat of kidnapping throughout the country remain high.
  • Crimes of opportunity are commonplace, particularly against people who appear to be wealthy or of foreign nationality.
  • 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 be breaking local law.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

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

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, imprisoned, or expelled.

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

  • You may be detained for questioning if you do not have your passport with you.
  • It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, especially military and government facilities.
  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Libya are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Driving under the influence can result in immediate detention. 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.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask for police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

If you are detained, you may be detained indefinitely with no rights to a trial or access to an attorney. The Department of State may not be notified of your detention, and Department of State officials cannot visit detainees, due to security reasons throughout the country. Since most law enforcement is currently performed by militias, there is no clear legal process to be navigated. During your detention, you may not be provided with basic toiletries or appropriate nutrition.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Currency:

  • Libya's economy operates on a “cash-only" basis for almost all transactions.
  • Some hotels, restaurants, and major airlines accept credit cards (Visa is accepted more often than MasterCard).
  • Consult your banking institution prior to travel to ensure that transactions from Libya can be accepted.
  • ATM availability and functionality are sporadic and banks often operate at erratic hours. Even when banks are open, they often lack local and foreign currency.
  • Penalties for use of unauthorized currency dealers are severe.
  • 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.

Dual Nationality:

  • 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. Department of State’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.

Faith-Based Travelers: Proselytizing is illegal in Libya. Penalties are severe. In addition to possibly facing the death penalty, proselytizers may be the target of extra-judicial killings.

See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Libya. Penalties include fines or jail time. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.

Student Travelers: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Few public facilities have adequate access for persons with physical disabilities.

Health

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.

The U.S. government does 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 to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Libyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ensure the medication is legal in Libya. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Travel and Transportation

ROAD CONDITIONS: U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions in Libya that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Driving in Libya:

  • Traffic laws are rarely enforced, and there is a high accident rate.
  • Wind-blown sand can reduce visibility without warning. During the periodic rainstorms, roads will flood.
  • Road conditions are poor, and public transportation is limited.
  • Taxis are available, but many taxi drivers are reckless and untrained. English-speaking drivers are extremely rare.
  • Paved roads in rural areas are satisfactory; however, many rural roads are unpaved.
  • Roadside assistance is extremely limited and offered only in Arabic.
  • Very few streets are marked or have signage, and highway signs are normally available only in Arabic.
  • Please refer to our Road Safety Overseas page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

Most international airports are closed in Libya, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. The United States is very concerned about the targeting of commercial transportation in Libya. The U.S. government prohibits U.S. commercial aviation operations within Libyan airspace.

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.

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Libya. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: July 30, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Tunis
North East Zone
Les Berges du Lac
1053 Tunis, Tunisia
Telephone
+(216) 71-107-000, press 0 and ask for the Libya Office consular officer.
Emergency
+(216) 58-575-409
Fax
+(216) 71-964-360

Libya Map