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Latest travel advice for Algeria including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-03T12:20:57.611+00:00: Latest update: Terrorism section – update on attack in Constantine, Algeria

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to areas within:

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

If you’re travelling to In Amenas or Tamanrasset city, you should do so by air. If you’re travelling through the Kabylie you should travel by day and stick to the east-west highway.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Algeria, including kidnap. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should take great care at all times. See Terrorism

Small protests can spring up without warning. Most are loud but peaceful. A long-running series of demonstrations involving violence is taking place in the Saharan provinces of Ghardaia and In Salah. See Political situation

It is generally safe to move around Algiers and the other main cities, but you should avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. Travelling in rural areas and at night is particularly risky. Avoid travel by road at night outside the major cities. See Crime and Local travel)

The Algerian authorities devote considerable resources to the safety of foreign visitors. They’ll want to know your travel plans when travelling outside major cities and may assign police or gendarmes to protect you. If you’re travelling independently you should notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or local authorities of your plans. Your hotel should be able to help with contacting local authorities. This doesn’t apply if you have dual Algerian nationality.

Avoid travel by road at night outside the major cities. See Crime and Local travel

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Political situation

In general protests and demonstrations are peaceful but a low number involve clashes between police and demonstrators. Sustained unrest in the southern provinces of Ghardaia and In Salah has resulted in violence. You should take precautions for your personal safety, avoid political gatherings and demonstrations and take local advice. Always observe instructions given by the local security authorities.

Crime

While most visits to Algeria are trouble-free, in certain areas of larger cities incidents of robbery and thefts do occur. Avoid areas that you don’t know, especially after dark. Avoid carrying large amounts of money or valuables around with you.

Local travel

Seek the advice of your hosts about appropriate security measures. If possible you should arrange to be met on arrival in Algiers. You should stay at one of the main hotels where proper security precautions are taken.

Where possible, make journeys by air and stay in pre arranged accommodation at your destination. Business visitors without established contacts should seek advice in the first instance from the British Embassy, Algiers or the Algeria desk in UK Trade and Investment.

Tourists should confirm travel arrangements before arrival in Algeria, using a reputable tour operator with good local knowledge.

It’s generally safe to move around the centre of Algiers during the day. Ideally, travel around with someone who knows the city well. Avoid areas that you don’t know, particularly in the suburbs of the city and especially after dark. Don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables around with you. If you plan to tour the Casbah area of Algiers, use a good local guide and make sure local police and your hosts/hotel know about your plans. Don’t accept lifts from people you don’t know - use a taxi service recommended by the hotel.

Road travel

For short stays in Algeria, you can drive using a UK licence. You should avoid road travel outside major cities at night. Algeria has a high road traffic accident rate. More than 5000 people were killed and over 12,000 injured in road traffic accidents in 2012. If possible travel in a convoy of at least 2-3 vehicles outside the main towns.

If you are taking a taxi, ask your hotel to phone a reputable firm and don’t allow other unknown passengers to join you during the journey. Arrange with the driver to collect you for the return journey as taxis are not widely available, particularly after dark. Do not accept lifts from people you do not know.

Dual nationals

Algerian family law is different from UK law. If you’re a dual British-Algerian national, take particular care if child custody or forced marriage is likely to become an issue during your stay. Children (aged 18 or under) leaving Algeria need written authorisation from their father to travel if they’re travelling alone. If you have any concerns, seek advice before travelling to Algeria or agreeing to family members travelling to Algeria.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in Algeria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners. You should take great care at all times.

The main terrorist threat is from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and other regional Islamist groups including Al Murabitun and Daesh-affiliated Jund al-Khalifa. These groups pose a threat across Algeria, including the city of Algiers, and have been active across the south, central and north eastern areas of the country and border areas of Algeria, Mali and Libya.

The Algerian authorities continue to conduct effective counter terrorism operations to disrupt terrorist activity but there is a continuing threat of further terrorist attacks. You should be vigilant at all times and follow instructions from local authorities.

Attacks target Algerian government interests and security forces; on 26 February 2017 at least 2 police officers were injured during an attempted suicide attack on a police station in central Constantine and on 28 October 2016 a police officer was killed, also in Constantine. Both attacks were claimed by Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL).

Attacks also target foreign and economic interests including oil and gas facilities. On 18 March 2016, the In Salah Gas Joint Venture in central Algeria was attacked by explosive munitions fired from a distance. There were no injuries or casualties. Other incidents have included the AQ-M attacks on Algerian armed forces in Ain Defla on 17 July 2015 and Tizi Ouzou on 19 April 2014. On 16 January 2013 a number of foreign workers, including British nationals, were killed in the attack on a gas installation plant near In Amenas.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Kidnap

There is a high threat of kidnap against Westerners, particularly in the areas where the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel. Terrorists groups have kidnapped Westerners, Algerian government officials and civilians in Algeria and the wider Sahel region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

The long-standing policy of the British government is to not make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risks of further hostage-taking. This is also the position of the Algerian Government.

Sahel region

There’s a very real threat of kidnap to westerners in the Sahel and surrounding region. The Sahel region includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The kidnap threat extends to other countries including Algeria, Cameroon, Libya and Nigeria. There is a continuing threat of kidnap following the military intervention in Mali which began in January 2013. Further attacks are highly likely.

There are several hostages still being held in the Sahel and surrounding region, some of whom have been held for 3 years. Victims in the region have included construction workers, NGO workers, tourists and diplomats of various nationalities, primarily European. Some hostages have been killed, including 9 British nationals since 2009.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking and finances terrorist activity. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

Who are the terrorists?

The terrorist threat in the Sahel and surrounding region comes from a number of groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and Al Murabitun, a merger of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) and Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group. These terrorist groups aspire to establish Islamic law in the region and to attack Western interests.

The groups carry out kidnappings of Westerners for financial gain, prisoner exchange and to exert political pressure on governments. Kidnapping for ransom is AQ-M’s primary source of finance.

AQ-M and regional Islamist groups operate in the border areas of northern Mali, Niger and Algeria. They have proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings for terrorist groups in return for financial payment.

Since 2013 terrorist groups in the region have also kidnapped westerners in Cameroon and Nigeria. The main terrorist threat in the region comes from Boko Haram and Ansaru.

Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group in Nigeria that has been proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation.

Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno and Yobe states where Boko Haram has its operating base. There have, however, been a large number of attacks in other Nigerian states and further attacks could occur anywhere.

Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in northern Nigeria, and is proscribed by the UK.

Ansaru have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Boko Haram have taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon and are consistently kidnapping local nationals and Cameroonians.

Working in the region

If you do choose to work in an area where the FCO advise against travel due to the high threat of kidnapping, you will need a high level of security. Make sure you:

Festivals

A number of festivals take place in the Sahel every year. If you’re planning to attend a festival in the region, you should consult the country travel advice and check whether it is in an area where the FCO advise against travel.

A British national was among a group of tourists kidnapped from the Mali-Niger border after attending a festival in Mali in 2009. He was killed some months later.

Rally racing

If you’re taking part in a cross-country rally that travels through the Sahel and surrounding region, you should be aware of the high risk of kidnapping in parts of the region.

Some rallies in the 2012-13 season were cancelled or rerouted because of the risk. One of the most famous rallies in the region, the Paris-Dakar Rally, now takes place in South America due to the threat of kidnap. However, other rallies may go through areas where the FCO advise against travel. You should consult our country travel advice when planning your route.

If you do choose to take part in a rally that travels through areas where the FCO advise against travel, make sure you:

You should also be aware that the ability of the FCO to provide consular assistance in some countries in the region is limited.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Algeria is a Muslim country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

The weekend is on Friday and Saturday. Not all restaurants serve alcohol and alcohol is not served anywhere during Ramadan.

Women dress in a wide variety of styles in Algeria, including European, and don’t have to cover their head unless visiting a mosque. To avoid unwelcome attention, women may wish to dress modestly, particularly outside of the main towns.

Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious criminal offences in Algeria and carry custodial sentences.

You don’t have to carry your passport at all times, but take it with you if you are making a longer journey. You will need your passport if travelling internally by air. Keep a photocopy somewhere safe.

Homosexuality is illegal in Algeria. Sexual acts between people of the same sex are punishable by imprisonment.

Don’t attempt to take photos of any government building or security installation. This includes police and police checkpoints.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visa

Before you travel, you will need to get a visa from the Algerian Consulate in London. This can take up to 4 weeks so plan ahead. You can’t get a visa on arrival. You should check the details of your visa, including validity dates, before travelling.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Algeria.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for airside transit and exit from Algeria. You would still need a valid entry visa to enter Algeria using an Emergency Travel Document.

Travel with children

Any child under the age of 18 whose father is an Algerian citizen will be regarded as Algerian if the father’s name is on the birth certificate. Any such child leaving Algeria without the father will only be able to travel if the father signs an ‘Autorisation Paternelle’, giving his authority for the child to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration, contact the Algerian Consulate in London.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Facilities at private clinics are usually better than at government hospitals. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial (0)21711414 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Parts of Algeria are prone to severe flood damage. Northern Algeria is also within an earthquake zone. In May 2003, a severe earthquake struck the Algiers area. There were over 2,200 dead and more than 10,000 injured. Smaller earthquakes occur regularly. In July 2014, an earthquake killed 6 people and injured 420.

You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Money

The use of ATMs and credit cards is confined to a limited number of hotels and other businesses in the larger cities. Only exchange money at bureaux de change in the international airports and larger hotels, or at banks in the main cities. Don’t change money on the streets. Algeria has strict foreign exchange laws and the Dinar can’t be exported.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British Embassy Algiers

    Title:British Embassy Algiers, main contact
    Email:BritishEmbassy.Algiers@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Ambassade Britannique,
    3 Chemin Capitaine Hocine Slimane (ex Chemin des Glycines).

    For consular support please contact us on algiers.consular@fco.gov.uk
    Algiers
    Algeria

    Contact: Telephone: +213 (0) 770 085 000
    Fax number: +213 (0) 770 08 50 99
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • Department for International Trade Algeria

    Title:Department for International Trade Algeria
    Email:UKTI.Algeria@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    3 Chemin Capitaine Hocine Slimane (ex Chemin des Glycines)
    Hydra
    Algiers
    Algeria

    Contact: General enquiries: + 213 (0) 770 085 000
    Visiting:
    Services:

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