Russia Travel Advisory
October 4, 2022

Do Not Travel and Leave Immediately

International Travel

English

Country Information

Somalia

Somalia
The Somali Republic
Do not travel to Somalia due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, kidnapping, and piracy.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.

Do not travel to Somalia due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, kidnapping, and piracy.

Country Summary:  Violent crime, such as kidnapping and murder, is common throughout Somalia, including Puntland and the Somaliland region. Illegal roadblocks are widespread. Some schools and other facilities acting as “cultural rehabilitation” centers are operating throughout Somalia with inadequate or nonexistent licensing and oversight. Reports of physical abuse and people being held against their will in these facilities are common.

Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in Somalia. They may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas that attract large crowds and are frequented by Westerners, as well as government, military, and Western convoys. Methods of attack can include car bombs, suicide bombers, individual attackers, and mortar fire, among others. While some areas have experienced less severe terrorist activity, such as the Somaliland region, where there have been no major terrorist attacks since 2008, terrorist attacks involving the indiscriminate use of explosive devices and other weapons can take place anywhere in Somalia at any time without warning.

Civil unrest occurs throughout Somalia and can sometimes be violent.

Medical facilities across Somalia have limited capacity and are often nonexistent in rural areas.

Pirates are active in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia.

The U.S. government has extremely limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Somalia due to the lack of permanent consular presence in Somalia, including the Somaliland region.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Somalia, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation.  For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Somalia.

If you decide to travel to Somalia:

  • Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel, and read the Embassy COVID-19 page for country-specific COVID-19 information.
  • Review your personal security plan and visit our page on Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia and review the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or 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, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.  Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization (if you are traveling on business) or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization (if you are traveling on business), so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas.  This plan should specify whom you would contact first, and how that person should share the information.
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area.
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Enroll your trip in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Somalia.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months from date of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes.

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever vaccination is not required, but most countries transited by airlines flying in and out of Somalia require proof of yellow fever vaccination.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None.

Embassies and Consulates

The U.S. Embassy in Somalia is unable to provide consular services at this time. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi covers Somalia’s consular district.

For American Citizens Services please contact:

U.S. Embassy Kenya

United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone:
(254) (20) 363-6451 (Monday through Thursday, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (254) (20) 363-6000
Email: 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Please visit the U.S. Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Somalia.

Requirements for entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa

o   Obtain before traveling or obtain a 60-day tourist visa upon arrival in Mogadishu for $60)

o   Visit the Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations website, the Somali Department of Immigration and Naturalization website, or the nearest Somali embassy or consulate for visa information.

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 nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

The U.S. government has extremely limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Somalia due to the lack of a permanent consular presence in Somalia, including the Somaliland region. U.S. citizens can contact the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. In an emergency, you will have to rely on your own resources or journey to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Somalia.

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 more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as: 

  • High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.) 
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by foreigners 
  • Places of worship 
  • Schools 
  • Parks 
  • Shopping malls and markets 
  • Public transportation systems (including buses and scheduled commercial flights)  
  • Checkpoints

Terrorist organizations 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 are also regular occurrences throughout Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated foreign terrorist organization based in Somalia, has repeatedly attacked Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport (AAIA) and other locations in Somalia with mortars, small arms and light weapons, and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). The group’s recent attacks include a March 23, 2022, small arms and mortar attack at the AAIA compound in Mogadishu, where the U.S. Embassy, several other diplomatic posts, and the UN offices are based, which killed seven people. Later the same day, two attacks in Beledweyne killed 48 and wounded 108. On January 12, 2022, a VBIED motorcade attack approximately four kilometers from the U.S. Embassy injured two U.S. citizen contractors and killed five non-U.S. citizen employees providing security and killed an unconfirmed number of bystanders. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for all of these attacks. While some areas have experienced less severe terrorist activity, such as the Somaliland region, where there have been no major terrorist attacks since 2008, terrorist attacks involving the indiscriminate use of explosive devices and other weapons can take place anywhere in Somalia at any time without warning.

For more information, see our Terrorism page.

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 self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland. Somali authorities have limited capacity and resources to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.

U.S. citizens should:

  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night.
  • Avoid displaying cash and valuable personal property.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Be cautious when traveling in major cities and along border areas.

Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. 
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations. 
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories. 

Cultural Rehabilitation Centers: Some schools and other facilities acting as “cultural rehabilitation” centers are operating in Somalia with inadequate or nonexistent licensing and oversight. Reports of minors and young adults being held in these facilities against their will and physically abused are common.

Somalia-Kenya Border: Cross-border violence attributed to al-Shabaab and skirmishes between the Somali and Kenyan armies occurs periodically, including large-scale attacks against civilians, government security forces, and AMISOM troops. Kidnapping, IED, and grenade attacks targeting international aid workers and civilians occur. Al-Shabaab actively operates in border areas, including Kenya’s Lamu and Wajir counties.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya for assistance. Report crimes to the nearest local police and contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at (254) (20) 363-6451 during business hours or (254) (20) 363-6000 outside business hours. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

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

We can:

  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
  • Provide information on victim assistance resources in the United States.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution.
  • Help you find accommodation in Kenya and arrange flights home from Somalia or Kenya.
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

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

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure exists in Somalia. Tourists participate in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment are not available in Somalia. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.

Local courts operate under a combination of Somali customary and Islamic law, some of which may be hostile towards foreigners.

Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the relevant local authorities prior to practicing a profession or operating a business. 

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.

Arrest Notification: Somali law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign and dual nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy in Kenya may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained. Furthermore, dual U.S.-Somali citizens are recognized as Somali citizens by authorities, which impedes our ability to provide any consular assistance. If you are arrested or detained, ask Somali police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Kenya immediately. The U.S. government’s ability to provide consular services across Somalia is severely restricted due to ongoing security concerns and the lack of a permanent consular presence in Somalia, including the Somaliland region See our webpage for further information.

Photography: Do not take pictures of government buildings, military installations, or 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 the Somaliland region, which uses the Somaliland shilling. Be advised that most Somali shillings in circulation are believed to be counterfeit. U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards and traveler's checks are generally not accepted, and you are advised against using your credit card in Somalia, even if accepted. It is not possible to obtain currency advances against a credit card. ATMs are increasingly available in Mogadishu. ATMs in Somalia disburse U.S. dollars.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our webpages for details:

LGBTI+ Travelers: Same-sex sexual contact is punishable by three months to three years in prison. Anti-discrimination provisions do not apply to LGBTI individuals. Society considers sexual orientation a taboo topic, so there is no known public discussion of this issue. 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 with Disabilities: The provisional constitution prohibits the state from discriminating against any person on the basis of disability. However, it makes no reference to discrimination in the private sector. 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 Mogadishu. 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, and largely absent outside of major cities. 

Much of the disability equipment for sale locally is refurbished rather than new. Replacement parts can be found in local informal markets and are also generally refurbished parts. Imported higher-end equipment such as electric wheelchairs and lifting equipment can be purchased from a very limited number of medical equipment suppliers in the major cities. Almost all supplies must be purchased and imported from overseas.

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.

Youth: We are aware of cases of forced marriage. Some facilities involved in “cultural rehabilitation” (“dhaqan celis,” meaning “returning to Somali culture”) 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. See our travel tips for women travelers.

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 and 14 years.

Health

Please visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Somalia. 

Water, health, and electricity systems in Somalia are poor.

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.

Ambulance services are not present or are unreliable in most areas except Mogadishu. Somalia Red Crescent Society services may be available in some areas in case of disasters/emergency.

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 the type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. Medical evacuation services in Somalia are extremely limited, and services responding from outside of the country will take more than six hours to respond.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Somali Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Somalia. 

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

If you will be in Somalia for more than four weeks, the Somali government may require you to show proof of polio vaccination when you are exiting the country. If you were vaccinated against polio as a child but have never had a polio booster dose as an adult, or if you were not completely vaccinated as a child/do not know your vaccination status, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. To meet this requirement while in Somalia, you should receive a polio vaccine between 4 weeks and 12 months before the date you are leaving Somalia. Talk to your doctor about whether this requirement applies to you.

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. embassies and consulates. 

Health facilities in general 

  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies. 
  • Hospitals and doctors often require payment “up front” prior to service or admission. Credit card payment is generally unavailable. Most hospitals and medical professionals require cash payment.
  • Generally, in hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals. 
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Food-borne and water-borne illnesses are common. 

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.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about resources for travelers regarding specific issues in Somalia.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are poor. Night driving is particularly dangerous due to the absence of lighting and terrorist- or militia-operated checkpoints. Other risks include lack of traffic lights and pedestrians and animals in the road. Refer to our road safety page for more information. The U.S. Embassy prohibits its employees from traveling outside the AAIA compound or using public transportation due to safety concerns.

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 aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

The FAA has issued a Notice to Air Mission 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.

The U.S. Embassy prohibits its employees from using commercial airlines originating from or arriving in Somalia due to safety concerns.

Maritime Travel: Information may be posted at U.S. maritime advisories and alerts, the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

 

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

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

Last Updated: March 28, 2022

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kenya
United Nations Avenue
Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone
(254) (20) 363-6451 (Monday through Thursday, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.)
Emergency
(254) (20) 363-6000
Fax
No Fax

Somalia Map