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Libya - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Libya due to persistent insecurity throughout the country, including sustained armed conflict, a high risk of terrorist attacks, an unpredictable political situation and a high crime rate. If you are presently in Libya, you should leave now by the safest means possible.
The Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular services to Canadian citizens in Libya is extremely limited. The Embassy of Canada to Libya in Tripoli has suspended operations until further notice. Canadian officials have left the country. Canadians in Libya should contact the Embassy of Canada to Tunisia in Tunis or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for emergency consular assistance. We strongly recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
Canadian citizens travelling to or remaining in Libya despite this advice should ensure that their travel documents are up to date, limit their movements and keep abreast of the latest local developments. Violence can occur with little or no notice, and there is a high of risk being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Exercise extreme caution, make contingency plans and maintain security awareness at all times.
Safety and security
Safety and security
There is a high risk of terrorism in all of Libya, and attacks can occur at any time throughout the country. Extremist groups have specifically threatened Westerners and Western interests in Libya, and have carried out attacks against these targets. Targets of attacks have included foreign officials, diplomats, aid workers, tourists, teachers, other private-sector workers and embassies. Commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners, such as hotels, schools, hospitals, office buildings, air and sea ports, public events, public transportation, markets and shopping areas, have also been targeted.
Ansar al-Sharia, Daesh, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups active in Libya have specifically targeted foreigners in past attacks.
The situation in Benghazi is particularly unstable and volatile. Attacks against foreign interests and foreigners occur regularly.
Be extremely vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.
Civil unrest and violent conflict
The political situation is extremely fragile. The capital has been seized by a coalition of armed groups, and the democratically elected government has been driven into exile in Tobruk, in the east of the country. Formal state security structures have largely collapsed.
Armed clashes are ongoing throughout the country, and violence spread from eastern Libya to the capital in June 2014. Fighting between armed groups supporting the elected government in Tobruk and the opposition government in Tripoli occurs daily. Hundreds of people have been killed, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced by the fighting.
Demonstrations and protests are a regular occurrence across Libya and have resulted in violence and fatalities. Follow the security situation closely through local media reports, take appropriate steps to increase your personal security and limit your movements to daylight hours. Avoid public gatherings and all demonstrations, as they may become violent without warning.
There is a high threat of kidnapping in Libya. Foreigners are common targets. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.
You may face heightened risks at the border areas with Niger, Chad, Sudan, Tunisia and Algeria due to the presence of armed groups, the threat of banditry and an extreme kidnapping risk. Borders may close on short notice, including in particular the borders with Egypt and Tunisia. The land border between Libya and Chad is closed until further notice.
Travel to the interior and to border areas without an officially sanctioned guide or specific permission from the Libyan authorities is forbidden, with the exception of the official land border crossings to Egypt and Tunisia.
The crime rate is very high in Libya, where weapons are easily available and government forces do not have control of the country. Carjackings and armed robberies are common occurrences.
The risk of encountering unexploded ordnance and indiscriminately laid landmines is high in all areas where has fighting occurred. Exercise caution in these areas.
The Tripoli International Airport has been closed since it was destroyed in inter-factional in July 2014. Benghazi airport has been closed since early 2014, having likewise sustained damage due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. Currently, only Mitiga (in Tripoli), Misrata, Labraq (in Baida) and Tobruk airports offer international flights. Flights are frequently cancelled; tickets must be obtained in advance, and paid for in cash on site.
Airports have been frequently targeted for rocket, artillery and terrorist attack. Check the status of your flight prior to travelling to the airport and avoid travelling after dark.
The road system is extensive, but many roads in the south are unpaved and there are only sand tracks in the desert. Avoid all road travel in the southeast, due to the possibility of landmines, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism. Traffic is heavy on the main east-west coastal highway, between Tripoli and the Tunisian border. Travel on the coastal highway in the east of the country is dangerous, due to ongoing inter-factional fighting and the risk of kidnapping by extremist groups.
The rate of vehicle accidents is high. Poor driving skills, excessive speeds and traffic violations pose risks. Rental cars are available but expensive.
In the event of an accident, remain calm and contact the local police. Local authorities may detain motorists involved in an accident until the court case is settled, if the accident resulted in loss of life or heavy damage.
There have been recent incidents of vehicle ambush and carjacking resulting in injuries.
Be cautious when using taxis. Negotiate fares prior to departure. Taxi drivers have been complicit in robberies targeting their passengers.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General Security Information
Since the beginning of the Libyan revolution in February 2011, falling rounds from celebratory gunfire have caused fatalities and injuries. Despite a reduction in these types of incidents, you should remain indoors in the event of any celebratory gunfire.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Libyan authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Libyan Embassy for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Libya, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Libya. You may have difficulties obtaining a visa without a six-month validity period remaining in your passport.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Visitor visas are issued at any Libyan embassy, except in New York. Visas will only be issued to residents of the country in which the application is made. Expect a 20-working-day waiting period after submitting your passport and application in person at a Libyan embassy. Mailed applications are not accepted.
Tourist visas are not usually available to individual Canadians unless they are part of an organized tour group travelling under the auspices of an accredited travel agent in Libya.
You may be denied entry into Libya if your passport bears an Israeli visa or border stamp.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in North Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in North Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in North Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited. Some medicines are in short supply.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Illegal or restricted activities
Do not criticize the country, its leadership or religion. Harsh penalties may be imposed.
Do not photograph military sites or personnel.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect detention or other penalties.
The laws of Libya prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage and promoting homosexuality. Convicted offenders can face life in prison or the death penalty. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Libya.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
Firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications and currencies are subject to strict customs regulations.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Libya. If local authorities consider you a Libyan citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Libyan passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Authorities may seize the passports of Canadians of Libyan origin, question them and prevent them from leaving the country unless they present themselves as Libyans.
Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for a Canadian woman, even if she is a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through a court decision, unless she decides to stay in Libya. Regardless of parental marital status, children of Libyan fathers acquire Libyan citizenship at birth, and must enter and leave Libya on Libyan passports. Canadian mothers require their husband’s permission to take their Libyan children outside the country.
Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 15.
Officials may confiscate your passport if you are involved in a business dispute.
The economy is primarily cash-based. The currency, the Libyan dinar (LYD), is non-convertible outside the country. Only U.S. dollars, euros, British pounds, Swiss francs and Tunisian dinars can be converted into Libyan dinars. U.S. dollars can be exchanged at official exchange counters or banks. Adhere to the rules regarding currency declaration and exchange rates. Automated banking machines are not readily available.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from November to March.
Temperatures can reach 40°C between June and September. The desert area can be extremely hot during the day with cool nights. Follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Libya. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada to Tunisia, in Tunis.
Tunis - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Tunisia and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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