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Travel Advice

Australian Government advice for Sudan

Flag of Sudan

When travelling to Sudan, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Sudan.

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 09 December 2013.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We assess that there is a high threat of terrorist attack in Sudan. We continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel outside the capital, Khartoum, because of the extremely dangerous security situation and we continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Khartoum.

Sudan overall

Khartoum



Summary

  • We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to Khartoum due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the threat of kidnapping and the possibility of further violent civil unrest.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel outside of Khartoum, due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the extremely dangerous security situation, risk of armed conflict, violent crime and high threat of kidnapping.
  • Australians in Sudan should have personal security measures in place and contingency plans to depart Sudan if necessary.
  • The lifting of fuel subsidies in September 2013 led to violent demonstrations across Sudan, including in Khartoum, resulting in fatalities. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Sudan following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013.
  • There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout Sudan. Foreigners, including NGO workers, could be targeted.
  • You should remain vigilant and avoid large crowds and protests anywhere in Sudan as violence could occur with little warning.
  • Violent clashes and military activity have occurred in border regions with South Sudan, especially in the disputed area of Abyei and in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, including in state capitals.
  • Violence and ongoing clashes between rebel groups and the Sudanese Armed Forces continue in Darfur.
  • There is high threat of kidnapping of foreigners throughout Darfur. Kidnappings are not restricted to rural areas and have occurred in and around the state capitals and towns, including Nyala, Kutum and Zalingei. Aid workers and expatriates are commonly targeted.
  • Landmines have been laid in rural areas. The Eastern States and Southern Kordofan are the most affected areas.
  • Travellers should be aware that the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in Sudan is limited. Australia does not have resident diplomatic representation in Sudan.
  • We recommend Australians in Sudan register their presence with the British Embassy in Khartoum, keep in regular contact with the embassy through its warden network and also register their travel and contact details with the Australian Government, so we can endeavour to contact you in an emergency.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Map of Sudan ( This map is presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature.  Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy. )

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Sudan for the most up to date information.

Travellers are required to register with the Aliens' Registration Office, Ministry of the Interior, within three days of arrival in Khartoum.

Visas are required for Australians entering Sudan. Airport departure taxes apply.

Travellers with passports bearing an Israeli visa or Israel entry/exit stamps will not be allowed to enter Sudan.

Sudan is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Sudan (see Health section).

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for Sudan and all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia . Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website .

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to Khartoum due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the threat of kidnapping and the possibility of further violent civil unrest. We strongly advise you not to travel outside of Khartoum, due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the extremely dangerous security situation, risk of armed conflict, violent crime and high threat of kidnapping.

If you intend to travel in urban areas, including Khartoum, you should exercise caution and avoid travel at night. You should vary your routes and patterns of movement. Avoid crowded areas and any public location without an obvious security presence. If you intend to travel outside urban areas in Sudan you should ensure that you have appropriate personal security measures in place.

There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Sudan following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. Terrorist groups in the region have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners.

There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout Sudan. Foreigners, including NGO workers, could be targeted.

Due to the high threat of kidnapping, Australians in Sudan should put in place robust measures to ensure their personal security, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

The Australian Government’s longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers paying ransoms increases the risk of further kidnappings. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate, including in areas frequented by foreigners. In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as key transport installations including air, railways and sea ports, buildings associated with foreign governments and companies, oil installations, hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, marketplaces, places of worship, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas. As security remains high at official facilities, terrorists may turn towards easier targets, such as residential compounds.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers .

Civil unrest/political tension

We strongly advise you not to travel outside of Khartoum, due to the extremely dangerous security situation, the risk of armed conflict, incidence of violent crime and the threat of kidnapping. Darfur and border regions with South Sudan, including the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, are particularly dangerous.

Ask yourself whether, given your own personal circumstances, you're comfortable travelling outside of Khartoum knowing you could be caught up in armed conflict, widespread lawlessness, violent crime and civil unrest. If, having considered these issues, you do decide to travel to Sudan, you should exercise extreme caution. If you are in Sudan and concerned for your safety, you should consider departing if it is safe to do so.

Since mid-June 2012 there have been ongoing anti-government demonstrations in response to rising prices and austerity measures, leading to violent clashes between protestors and security services in Khartoum, Omdurman and elsewhere in Sudan. The lifting of fuel subsidies in September 2013 led to violent demonstrations across Sudan, including in Khartom. In some cases violent clashes have led to the deaths of protestors and bystanders. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities, as violence could occur with little warning.

On 14 September 2012, protestors attacked the US, British and German Embassies in Khartoum. A number of protestors were reportedly killed. Further incidents involving Western interests are possible.

Foreigners in Sudan could be targeted in reaction to national and international events. Politically motivated demonstrations, including anti-Western rallies, can occur in Sudan. You should take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers.

Curfews can be imposed with little or no warning. All curfews should be strictly observed.

Weapons are widespread among the population and conflict can escalate quickly.

Contingency planning: Australians in Sudan should ensure they have appropriate personal security measures in place and prepare a contingency plan to enable departure in the event of a sudden deterioration in the security environment. As a precautionary measure, you should ensure you have adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, cash and medications and that your travel documentation remains up to date. You are responsible for ensuring that your contingency plan is regularly reviewed and is appropriate for your personal circumstances.

In addition to registering your travel and contact details with the Australian Government, you should also register your presence with the British Embassy in Khartoum and keep in regular contact with the embassy through its warden network.

Border areas with South Sudan: Border areas with South Sudan are extremely dangerous. Since April 2012, there has been escalating conflict between Sudan and South Sudan in border regions. Other serious outbreaks of violence occurred in Abyei from May 2011, in Southern Kordofan state from June 2011 and in Blue Nile from September 2011. The violence has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and created thousands of displaced persons.

Darfur: Darfur remains dangerous, despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006 and the Doha Document of Peace in Darfur in September 2011. Some armed movements have yet to engage in the peace process. Violence and ongoing clashes between rebel groups and the Sudanese Armed Forces continue in Darfur. Conflicts can escalate and the security situation can deteriorate quickly. Civilians, including foreign workers, are at risk from the prevailing lawlessness and could be caught up in the violence between the various factions.

There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout Darfur. Foreigners, including US, German, South African, Russian and Jordanian citizens have been kidnapped in Darfur. Some victims were held captive for more than 100 days. Kidnappings are not restricted to rural areas. They have also occurred in and around the state capitals and towns, including Nyala, Kutum and Zalingei. Aid workers and expatriates are commonly targeted. Some international organisations have withdrawn staff from this region.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

Crime

There is a low incidence of crime in Khartoum, however there are high levels of violent crime in Darfur. The presence of large numbers of displaced people has put a strain on scarce resources and led to an increased risk of crime. Banditry, carjacking, kidnapping, murder, sexual assault and looting are a danger. Westerners, including employees of aid organisations, journalists and other foreign workers have been the target of crime.

Due to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance outside of Sudan.

Money and valuables

Credit, debit and cashcards and travellers’ cheques are not accepted in Sudan. ATMs that can access international funds are not available. You should expect to pay cash for all purchases, including hotel bills. Some major hotels will only accept payment from foreign travellers in hard currencies, such as US dollars. It is difficult to obtain US dollars once in Sudan.

US dollars are easily exchanged. Bills should be post-2006 series and completely unmarked. After the secession of South Sudan the Government of Sudan announced new currency notes would be issued. Some denominations of Sudanese Pound (SDG) banknotes have recently been reissued and old versions withdrawn from circulation. Travellers should confirm they receive valid banknotes when exchanging currency.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets and visas. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority .

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

The land borders between Sudan and many neighbouring countries are effectively closed. The Wadi Halfa crossing by ferry through Lake Nasser between Egypt and Sudan is open, although this is subject to change without notice. Australians who decide to enter Sudan by this route should check with the local authorities on the rules and regulations governing this crossing.

The status of land borders between Sudan and South Sudan changes regularly and with little notice. Border crossings may be closed with little warning.

Until recently, permits were required for all travel outside Khartoum. You should check with local authorities if you require a permit to travel to your intended destination. Travellers without permits, where they are required, have been arrested and detained. Travellers must register with the police authorities within 24 hours of arrival anywhere outside the capital.

Driving in Sudan can be dangerous due to poorly maintained roads, poor vehicle maintenance, dust storms and lack of street lighting. Roads in Khartoum are of a better quality than the rest of the country, however high speeds, poorly maintained vehicles and lack of street lighting create the potential for serious accidents. Crowds can gather quickly following accidents and can become violent. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Landmines: Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a danger outside of Khartoum. The Eastern States and Southern Kordofan are the most affected areas. Australians are urged to use only main roads and paths labelled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.

Piracy: Piracy occurs in the Red Sea. Somali pirates have been using motherships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,850km) from the coast of Somalia. All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft (yachts etc) and luxury cruise liners. We strongly advise Australians to maintain a high level of vigilance and to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters. See our piracy bulletin for further information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website .

Airline safety

A number of local airlines operate in Sudan, however serious doubts surround their safety and reliability. All Sudanese registered airlines are banned from operating in European airspace.

In August 2008, a Sun Air plane travelling from Nyala in Darfur to Khartoum, was hijacked and flown to Libya. All 95 passengers were released without harm. A Sudan Airways passenger jet carrying more than 200 people burst into flames after landing at Khartoum airport in June 2008.

In January 2007, a Sudanese Air West passenger plane was hijacked en route from Khartoum to Al Fasher in Sudan's Darfur region. The incident highlighted a severe security lapse with the airline and at Khartoum's international airport.

For further information, please refer to our air travel page on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Sudan, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .

Islamic Sharia Law is a source of legislation in Sudan.

Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Serious crime, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

Some offences may attract corporal punishment.

Homosexual practices and extra-marital relations are illegal and subject to severe penalties. See our LGBTI travellers page .

It is illegal to import or consume alcohol, even in private. People convicted of consuming alcohol may be sentenced to corporal punishment (lashes).

Penalties may be applied for Christian proselytising.

Permits are required for any photography in Sudan. Photography of military areas, bridges, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas and beggars is strictly prohibited.

Penalties for drug offences are severe in Sudan.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Australia has strengthened legislation relating to female genital mutilation and forced marriage to protect Australian residents from being taken overseas for these purposes. The new criminal offences carry significant penalties ranging up to 25 years imprisonment. For more information about these crimes please refer to the Forced marriage and Genital mutilation pages.

Local customs

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Sudan. Women are advised to wear loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs and a headscarf. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for dual nationals

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. You should note some Australian insurance policies will not cover travel to "do not travel" destinations. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The medical facilities are basic in Khartoum and inadequate elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front payment before commencing treatment. In the event of an illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could be considerable.

Malaria is a risk throughout the year in all parts of Sudan. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, river blindness and African sleeping sickness) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Sudan is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Sudan. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website .

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis, polio, HIV/AIDS, meningococcal disease, viral hemorrhagic fevers, Rift Valley fever and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Travellers should be aware that the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in Sudan is limited. Australia does not have resident diplomatic representation in Sudan.

You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which is accredited to Sudan:

Australian Embassy, Cairo

11th floor, North Tower, World Trade Centre
1191 Corniche El Nil
Boulac, Cairo EGYPT
Telephone: (20 2) 2770 6600
Facsimile: (20 2) 2770 6650
Email: cairo.austremb@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.egypt.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Sudan, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In addition to registering your travel and contact details with the Australian Government, you should also register your presence with the British Embassy in Khartoum and keep in regular contact with the embassy through its warden network.

The UK Embassy in Khartoum may be able to provide limited consular assistance to Australian nationals, in coordination with the Australian Embassy in Cairo:

British Embassy
Off Sharia Al Baladia
Khartoum East
(PO Box no.801)
Email: information.khartoum@fco.gov.uk
Phone: (249) (183) 777105
Facsimile: (249) (183) 776457, (249) (183) 775562
Website: ukinsudan.fco.gov.uk/en

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the embassy or high commission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Sudan often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year, the temperature can exceed 50˚C.

Sandstorms and dust storms occur regularly.

The rainy season occurs during July to October. Flooding can make roads in rural areas inaccessible. During August 2013 Sudan experienced its worst flooding in 25 years, affecting over 500,000 people across the country.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service . If a natural disaster occurs, you should follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the media for up-to-date information.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.