Timor-Leste (East Timor) travel advice
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Last updated: ET
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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TIMOR-LESTE - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Timor-Leste due to the fragile security situation and crime.
Safety and security
The political situation is tense.
Violent episodes could occur with little notice, especially during significant political events, such as presidential or parliamentary elections. Be vigilant in the periods leading up to, during and following these types of events.
Military operations may take place at any time throughout the country. If you encounter a military operation:
- leave the area immediately if you can do so safely
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- remain vigilant at all times
Gang-related violence, arson, robbery and vandalism occur, especially in Dili.
Gangs in Dili have attacked cars with stones and darts fired from slingshots, particularly during the early evening hours and at night.
Violence between martial arts groups occurs, despite the government banning most of their activities.
- Avoid armed non-government groups, including martial arts groups, throughout the country
- Exercise extreme caution at bars and nightclubs, where altercations between groups may take place
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. Thieves frequently target foreigners.
- Do not show signs of affluence
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
Demonstrations take place from time to time. They are likely to occur:
- near government buildings, institutions or residences
- around Dili’s Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Women travelling alone may be subject to forms of harassment, violence and verbal abuse. Sexual harassment and groping of women is reported regularly.
Tourist facilities and services such as hotels, restaurants and public transportation are very limited on the island, except in Dili.
Government services are also limited.
Locals regularly find unexploded ordnance in open areas outside Dili.
If you intend on trekking:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails
Crocodile attacks occur across the country.
There have been crocodile sightings on beaches in Dili and other popular destinations. They are often present on the south coast.
Check with locals for the latest on the situation.
Tidal changes can cause powerful currents and riptides are common.
Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.
- Consult locals and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
- Wear reef shoes to protect yourself against coral cuts and stonefish
- Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities
Tour operators may not adhere to international standards.
If you undertake adventure sports, such as diving:
- choose a well-established and reputable company that has insurance
- ensure that your travel insurance covers the recreational activities you choose
If in doubt concerning the safety of the facilities or equipment, don’t use them.
Aside from main roads in Dili, road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Roads are poorly maintained and lack adequate lighting. Those outside of Dili are often unpaved.
Roads in mountain areas can also be narrow and winding. Driving conditions can be hazardous during the rainy season due to flash floods.
Serious accidents are frequent. Roadblocks are common.
- Avoid travelling at night
- Avoid travelling alone or in isolated areas
- Avoid driving or riding motorcycles, even if you are an experienced motorcyclist
Public transportation is unsafe. Assaults have occurred, including in taxis.
Avoid unnecessary local travel.
Buses are generally overcrowded and don’t meet international safety standards.
If you decide to travel by taxi, keep in mind that yellow taxis aren’t metered, so you should agree on a fare before departure.
Ferry accidents are common and often caused by poor safety practices or extreme weather conditions.
If you choose to travel by ferry:
- make sure the vessel you are boarding is carrying appropriate safety equipment
- make sure that life jackets are provided for all passengers and accessible at all times
- don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy
- verify the safety standards of ferries with your tour operator
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occurs in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea.
Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of Timor-Leste. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Timor-Leste. It must contain at least one blank page for the placement of a visa.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
Work visa: required
Entering by air or by sea
You can obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Dili’s international airport and the Port of Dili. You must pay an entry fee for a visit of up to 30 days. You can apply to extend your visa, for a fee, past the 30-day limit at the Immigration Service in Dili.
Entering by land
If you plan to enter by land, you need to apply in advance for a Visa Application Authorization online, or in person at an Embassy or Consulate of Timor-Leste.
Once at the border, you must present the document. If you meet all of the requirements and pay the fee, you can obtain a single or multiple-entry visa valid for a stay up to 90 days.
There are no currency exchange facilities at Dili’s international airport or at border crossings. Carry the exact amount for the entry fee in cash.
Work or business visas
You must obtain business or work visas in advance.
- More about visas - Immigration Service of Timor-Leste
- Apply for a visa extension - Immigration Service of Timor-Leste
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to pay for your stay and departure from the country.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
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 not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
In this destination, rabies may be present in some wildlife species, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who will be working directly with wildlife.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
Limited malaria transmission may occur in this destination, but risk to travellers is very low.
Antimalarial medication is not recommended for most travellers. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:
- Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.
- Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
- Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.
- Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
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 among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Access to health care is limited. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Dental facilities are very limited outside Dili and the level of dental care is poor throughout the country.
Payment up front is often required.
Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Foreigners cannot interfere or participate in political activities.
If you engage in such activities, you may be subject to fines, detention and deportation.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Timor-Leste.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Timor-Leste, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Timor-Leste.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Timor-Leste by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Timor-Leste to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Timorese law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
However, 2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
Dress and behaviour
Certain religious or cultural sites may require special permission to enter.
To avoid offending local sensitivities:
- dress conservatively
- behave discreetly
- respect religious and social traditions
Traffic drives on the left.
You may drive with a valid Canadian driver’s licence and an International Driving Permit for up to 3 months.
If you’re staying longer, you must obtain a local driver’s licence from the Department of Transport and Communications.
All motor vehicles must be registered with the motor vehicle office.
The currency in Timor-Leste is the U.S. dollar (USD).
The economy is primarily cash based. Many places will not accept bills issued prior to 2007.
Credit cards are not widely accepted. There are ATMs in Dili; however, they can charge high fees to dispense cash and are often out of order.
Natural disasters and climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from December to April. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
- Stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- Avoid disaster areas
- Follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
Earthquakes and tsunamis
Timor-Leste is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes occur frequently and there is a risk of tsunamis.
- Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in hotels and public and private buildings
- In the event of an earthquake, pay careful attention to local authorities’ official warnings
A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 112
- medical emergencies: 110
- firefighters: 115
There is no resident Canadian government office in Timor-Leste. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Australia to Timor-Leste, in Dili, under the Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.
Sign up to receive email updates from the Australian government on situations and events that could affect your safety while in Timor-Leste.
Smartraveller – Australian travel advice
Dili - Embassy of Australia
Jakarta - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Australia to Timor-Leste, in Dili, or the Embassy of Canada to Indonesia, in Jakarta, 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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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