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If you’re travelling to Ethiopia, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Health
  • Embassy Contact



Latest Alert

The security situation in Ethiopia is unpredictable and civil unrest, sometimes leading to violence, has occurred regularly in various parts of the country in recent months. Before travelling, Irish citizens should ensure that they are fully aware of the parts of the country to which the Embassy advises against all travel. Citizens are advised to remain vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local media, follow the advice of local authorities and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. We advise that you stick to well-known tourist routes and download the TravelWise App. Travel insurance, including international medevac, is essential. You should be aware that if you travel to areas of the country which the Embassy advises against travel to, your travel insurance is likely to be invalidated and the Embassy may not be able to provide you with consular assistance. It is essential that you check the terms of your travel insurance policy thoroughly before you travel. Please note that the Embassy advises against all travel to border areas in Ethiopia, including all of the land border crossings between Ethiopia and neighboring countries.

As internet and other communication services may be unpredictable, it is advisable to have alternative communication plans in place and to inform friends/family of your travel plans.

There has been an increase in petty crime in Addis Ababa, in particular street robbery and muggings. Ensure that you keep doors locked when driving and be cautious when walking around the city, particularly at night.  

Security status

Following serious unrest in late 2017 the Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency in February 2018. This was subsequently lifted on 5 June 2018, but frequent incidents of unrest continue to occur in many parts of the country, which can result in road closures, disruption to phone and internet networks, closure of businesses and, in some cases, violence. These incidences are often localised, and therefore Irish citizens are advised to monitor local news, contact local authorities, get in touch with their contacts in the places they plan to visit, and if in any doubt, be ready to change their travel itinerary at short notice.

Serious confrontations between ethnic groups have taken place in recent months along the border of the Oromia and Somali regions, resulting in the mass displacement of people. In Oromia region there have been serious clashes in East and West Haraghe zones, and around the town of Moyale on the Kenyan border. Since June 2018 there has also been serious violence in the West Guji and Gedeo zones, on the border between Oromia and SNNPR regions, resulting in the mass displacement of people in the area. In recent weeks unrest has also occurred across Amhara region, particularly in central Gondar zone, resulting in widespread displacement of people, as well as in Kamashi and West Wollega in Benighangul Gumuz and Oromia regions.

Violent clashes have occurred across the Somali region and the situation is volatile, particularly along the border with Somalia. In the past, foreigners have been subject to attacks and kidnapping by rebel groups along the border. There has been sporadic violence in the Gambella region, Benishangul-Gumuz and along the borders with Sudan and South Sudan. The border with Kenya is also volatile.

In July 2018 Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace agreement, and flights between the two countries re-opened. The security situation in border areas however is unpredictable, and we advise against travel to the border.

Historically there have been incidences of attacks and kidnapping of foreigners near the Danakil Depression in Afar region. Travel to this area should only be undertaken with a recognised and reputable tour operator supported by a military or armed escort.

There is a risk of terrorism from regional groups associated with al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab. Security is tight in most hotels, shopping centres and other public places.

We advise against all travel to:

  • The border area with Eritrea, with the exception of the main roads up to Axum and to Adigrat
  • The border areas with Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya (including all land border crossings)
  • The border area with Somali and Somaliland, and within 100km of the border of Somalia (in Ethiopian Somali region)
  • West Guji zone (Oromia) and Gedeo zone (SNNPR)
  • Benishangul-Gumuz and West and East Wollega in Oromia

We advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Gondar zone, with the exception of the city of Gondar
  • The remaining areas of the Somali region, including Jijiga
  • The Gambella region
  • The internal border area between Oromia and Somali regions

Emergency Assistance

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Ethiopia before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Ethiopia by dialling:

  • Emergency: 911
  • Police: 991
  • Ambulance (in Addis Ababa): 907

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates

Safety and Security

Safety and security


There is a threat from terrorism in Ethiopia and security is tight in most hotels, shopping centres, and other public places. Irish citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and to avoid crowds and are strongly advised to review their personal safety and to remain vigilant, and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks


Crime remains relatively low in Ethiopia but muggings and armed assaults are reportedly on the rise especially in Addis Ababa. While violent crime, particularly against foreigners, is unusual, it is not unheard of. Crime increases significantly after dark and its best not to walk unaccompanied in Addis Ababa or elsewhere after nightfall. Please take sensible precautions:

  • Don't carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • Don't carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don't use ATMs after dark, especially if you're alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag snatching from vehicles stopped at traffic lights
  • Be alert when calling or texting on your mobile phone – it's best not to do this on the street. Violent muggings have occurred over mobile phones worth less than €20 in Ireland

Petty Theft

Bag snatching and pick pocketing are most common in areas frequented by foreigners such as the Piazza, Mercato, Bole and Churchill Road areas of Addis Ababa. Be especially watchful for pickpockets when getting out of taxis in these areas.

Reporting Crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Ethiopia, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa if you need help


Ethiopian tourist visas (one month or three month, single entry) are available to Irish citizens upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The on-arrival visa process is available only at Bole International Airport and is not available at any of the other airports in Ethiopia. Current visa fees are $50 for one month and $70 for 3 months – both are only for single entry. This can be paid in US dollar or in Euro.

E-visas for Ethiopia can also be applied for online at

Travelers who transit through Bole international Airport do not require a transit visa if they remain in the permitted transit area and depart within 12 hours.


Homosexual activity is illegal and the subject is taboo for the majority of Ethiopians.

Social unrest

The political situation in Ethiopia is reasonably stable but there can be occasional outbreaks of social unrest.

We advise you to avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational. And always keep yourself informed of what's going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.


If you're planning to drive in Ethiopia, be aware that road safety standards are low and you need to be extremely careful while driving or walking on roads. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia has the highest rate of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world. We advise against travelling by road outside towns and cities after dark, due to the increased risk of road accidents.

Roads in Ethiopia are poorly maintained, inadequately marked, and poorly lighted. Road travel after dark outside Addis Ababa and other cities is dangerous and discouraged due to hazards posed by broken-down vehicles left in the road, pedestrians walking in the road, stray animals, and the possibility of armed robbery. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of adherence to basic safety standards for vehicles are daily hazards on Ethiopian roads.

It is unlawful to use a cell phone or other electronic communications device while driving in Ethiopia (even if it has a hands-free feature), and use of seat belts is required. Be sure to carry your valid driver's license with you, as well as proof of comprehensive local insurance coverage. While in a vehicle, keep your doors locked and the windows rolled up at all times. Keep bags, purses, and valuables out of sight — in the trunk, on the floor, or in the glove compartment. Do not carry unnecessary items in your bag; leave your credit cards, social security card, etc., at home. Do not open your doors or windows to give to beggars. Police can fine people for giving money to beggars.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Be aware of Ethiopia's traffic laws, such as speed limits
  • Wear your seatbelts at all times
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you're stopped at traffic lights

Traffic accidents

If your vehicle comes into contact with another, make sure that your valuables are secure before getting out of the vehicle and lock doors to prevent theft while you're not in the vehicle.

If there's a dispute at the scene, try to remain calm, don't engage physically, and try to take note of the other driver's name, licence plate, description, etc.

Vehicle hire

If you're hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you're allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Ethiopian tourist visas (one month or three month, single entry) are available to Irish citizens upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The on-arrival visa process is available only at Bole International Airport and is not available at any of the other airports in Ethiopia. Current visa fees are $50 for one month and $70 for 3 months – both are only for single entryThis can be paid in US dollar or in Euro.

E-visas for Ethiopia can also be applied for online at

Travelers who transit through Bole international Airport do not require a transit visa if they remain in the permitted transit area and depart within 12 hours.

Business visas of up to three months validity can also be obtained at Bole International Airport upon arrival, but only if the traveler has a sponsoring organization in Ethiopia that has made prior arrangements for issuance through the Ethiopian Main Department for Immigration & Nationality office in Addis Ababa.

Current visa extension fees are $100 for a first time one month extension, $150 for a second time 15 day extension, and $200 for a third time 10 day extension. Travelers whose entry visa expires before they depart Ethiopia must obtain a visa extension through the Main Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. Currently, there is a overstay penalty fee of $5 a day from 1 up to 15 days and $10 a day after 15 days. Such travelers may also be required to pay a court fine of up to 4000 ETB (300 USD) before being permitted to depart Ethiopia. Court fees must be paid in Ethiopian Birr. Travelers may be detained by immigration officials and/or required to appear in immigration court, and are required to pay the penalty fee before they will be able to obtain an exit visa (20 USD, payable in dollars) permitting them to leave Ethiopia.

Muslim and Christian society

Both Muslim and Christian Ethiopians generally dress in a conservative manner. Women usually keep their shoulders and knees covered, and in some areas they may wear more conservative clothing. Be aware that wearing sleeveless clothing or clothing which does not cover the knee may cause offence, particularly outside Addis Ababa.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Western and Julian calendars

The Western and Julian calendars are used in Ethiopia. The year 2016 in the Western calendar is 2008-2009 in the Julian calendar. Christmas is celebrated on 7 January and New Year on 11 September.

Similarly, two systems of time are used. Ethiopian time is measured as a 12-hour day starting at 6am. Western 7am is referred to by many as one o’clock. Many Ethiopians are aware of this difference and will often convert times when speaking to foreigners.


Homosexual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment under the law. The subject  is taboo for the majority of Ethiopians.

Exporting antiques

You must get a permit to export antiques from Ethiopia. To avoid confusion on departure, you should keep receipts for any souvenirs you’ve bought, including crosses, which could be mistaken for valuable cultural artefacts.

In Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you can fill in the customs declaration form in the baggage hall.


Ethiopian law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely marked clearly. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera and arrest.


Ethiopia is still primarily a cash economy. Dollars and some of the more popular travelers’ checks can be changed at the airport, and at some banks.


There are some ATM machines at the major hotels and commercial centers that accept major international credit and debit cards, although connectivity problems sometimes limit their availability. While credit cards are gaining acceptance with some hotels, travel agencies, and merchants (Visa is much more widely accepted than Mastercard). It is best to check ahead and ensure you have sufficient cash reserves. Bear in mind that travellers’ cheques are not generally accepted outside Addis Ababa.

There are strict rules about taking foreign currency and Ethiopian birr out of Ethiopia.

You can’t take more than USD$3,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency) out of Ethiopia, unless you declared the amount when you arrived in the country or you have Ethiopian bank advice certifying the purchase of the foreign currency. And you can’t take more than 200 Ethiopian birr in to or out of the country.

Amounts over 200 Ethiopian birr, or undeclared amounts over USD$3,000 may be confiscated by the Ethiopian authorities.

In case of emergency, Western Union have offices in Ethiopia, which can facilitate money transfers.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • If you’re travelling to Ethiopia, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents


Some people find it hard to adjust to the altitude in the Ethiopian highlands and need to avoid over-exertion.



Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Ethiopia.

Polio vaccination is recommended for all travellers from Ireland to countries where polio transmission is a risk.

Before travelling to areas where poliomyelitis cases are still occurring, travellers should ensure that they have completed the recommended age-appropriate polio vaccine schedule and have received a booster dose, if necessary. More information is available on the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre website.

Medical facilities

Although there are hospitals in all major towns in Ethiopia, facilities and the supply of medicines are extremely poor even in the larger towns outside Addis Ababa. Make sure you have adequate medical insurance, which covers medical evacuation by air ambulance, before your arrival.

Almost all regional hospitals will be unable to treat serious injuries or illnesses adequately. In the most serious cases, even the medical facilities in Addis Ababa may not be adequate. It may be worthwhile to carry a comprehensive medical pack if travelling or living outside Addis Ababa for an extended period.

Meningococcal meningitis

In February 2013, the Ethiopian Government and the World Health Organisation reported an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis around Arba Minch and Shebdino, in southern Ethiopia, with a number of deaths reported in the Arba Minch area.

If you’re travelling to the Southern Region, in particular Awassa, Shebdino and Arba Minch, familiarise yourself with the symptoms of meningitis and seek medical attention swiftly if you experience them. 

Waterborne diseases

Waterborne diseases are common in Ethiopia and you should either boil water before drinking, or use bottled water. Since water boils at temperatures below 100 degrees centigrade at high altitudes, boiling may not be adequate to ensure sterilisation in some places.


Malaria is common in areas of the country below 1,800 metres or so. In the northern tourist circuit, most towns are well above this altitude. However, Bahir Dar is at an altitude of 1850 metres, and does experience cases of malaria.

Before travelling, get up-to-date medical advice as to whether you will need anti-malarial medication. When you arrive, take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. You should also be aware that the full range of anti-malarial medications, which can be purchased in Ireland, is not available in Ethiopia.


Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

In case of emergency, please contact the Embassy by telephone: +251 11 518 0500.

Embassy of Ireland
Guinea Conakry Street
Addis Ababa

Tel: +251 (11) 518 0500
Fax: +251 (11) 552 3032

Monday - Thursday 8.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5.00pm; Friday 8.30am to 12.30pm

Contact us