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

2017-03-26T00:22:57.670+00:00: Latest update: Summary – there’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation; the UK government has implemented additional security measures in several countries, including Lebanon, but direct flights continue to depart to the UK from Lebanon; you should co-operate fully with security officials; information and advice about how this may affect your flight, including if you’re transiting through Lebanon on the way to the UK

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

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

There’s a heightened risk of terrorism against aviation. The UK government has implemented additional security measures, including Lebanon. Direct flights continue to depart to the UK from Lebanon. You should co-operate fully with security officials. For more information about how this may affect your flight, including if you’re transiting through Lebanon on the way to the UK, read this guidance page and contact your airline or travel company if you have further questions.

On 10 March 2017, there were heavy clashes in the Palestinian Camp of Bourj al Barajneh in the southern suburbs of Beirut near the airport. Although the situation has calmed and travel routes haven’t been affected, you should remain alert, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local security agencies.

There is a high threat from terrorism, and there have been a number of incidents in recent years. Islamist extremist groups will seek to target the Lebanese state, security services, and civilians, and have the intent to target foreigners inside Lebanon. Attacks could take place in areas visited by foreigners, in Beirut and elsewhere, including hotels, restaurants and bars, markets, tourist sites, western-style shopping centres and supermarket chains. Attacks could involve grenades, car bombs, explosive belts, and firearm attacks.

Lebanese security authorities are at a high state of alert and conducting security operations across Lebanon. If you notice or suspect a security incident is underway, you should immediately leave the area. You should be vigilant, and be well aware of your surroundings.

On 27 January 2017, a bomb exploded outside a shop in the town of Kfar Roumane near the city of Nabatieh in South Lebanon. No casualties have been reported.

On 21 January 2017, Lebanese security agencies arrested a would-be suicide attacker in the Hamra area of Beirut. You should remain particularly vigilant at this time and follow the advice of the security agencies.

On 28 December 2016, a bomb exploded in the town of Ain on the Baalbek-Al Qaa highway killing one person and injuring another.

On 31 August 2016, an explosion at the Ksara roundabout near Zahle resulted in one death and 11 injured.

On 27 June 2016, a series of suicide bomb attacks in Al Qaa resulted in 5 deaths and 21 reported wounded.

On 12 April 2016, a car exploded outside Ain El Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Saida, causing at least one death.

On 12 November 2015, there were explosions in Burj-al-Barajneh, in the southern suburb area of Beirut, 43 people were killed and 239 injured. The FCO advise against all travel to the southern suburbs of Beirut. Avoid this area and monitor local media for updates.

The security situation in parts of Lebanon can deteriorate quickly. There is potential for further violence, which could restrict departure options. The ability of the British government to provide assistance with departures may be limited. Keep up to date with developments, be vigilant, follow local advice and avoid any protests or demonstrations. Roads can become blocked due to protests. See Political situation

You should regularly monitor local and international media and this travel advice.

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

Crime

The risk to tourists from petty or violent crime is moderate. There is a risk of vehicle crime and bag snatching. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

There have been incidents of armed robberies and physical attacks against passengers in shared taxis (known locally as service taxis) with passengers being attacked by either the driver or other passengers. Don’t use shared taxis or taxis hailed on the street. Only use taxis from recognised companies. Hotels can advise on firms with cars that are recognised as being safe and well maintained. 

Local travel

There have been clashes in recent years between Lebanese security forces and militants in Tripoli and in areas north of Tripoli, including in Minyeh and Banine resulting in civilians, soldiers and militants being killed and/or injured.

In August 2014 clashes between extremist groups and Lebanese security forces in and around the town of Arsal resulted in the deaths of 18 soldiers and over 50 gunmen. A number of soldiers are still held captive. Armed incursions and shelling across the Syria border have resulted in casualties across several locations including Wadi Khaled, Al Qaa, Hermel, Baalbek and Aarsal in the Bekaa Valley.

Palestinian refugee camps are volatile environments where the Lebanese state has limited capacity to impose law and order. There has been a long pattern of violent clashes in particular in Ein El Helwe camp near Saida in southern Lebanon.

There was an attack on the Israeli military in the Shebaa Farms area on 28 January 2015 with reports of cross-border shelling near the towns of Majidiyeh, Kfarshouba, Abbasiye and Wazzani. A UN peacekeeper was killed and further casualties were reported.

There is a UN peacekeeping presence in the area south of the Litani River. Although de-mining operations have been carried out unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, remain in remote areas.

Road Travel

Roads, including the Beirut airport road, are subject to closure without notice.

You must hold an International Driving Permit to drive in Lebanon. This must be certified by the Lebanese authorities on arrival.

Driving standards are poor and the accident rate is high. Traffic lights are not always observed. It may be better to hire a car with a driver if you’re inexperienced. You must wear a seat belt (if fitted). Avoid travelling at night outside towns if possible. Vehicles with diesel engines are banned.

Carry ID with you at all times and be prepared to stop at check points to show your papers. The army have set up temporary check points on major and minor roads.

Political situation

Celebratory gunfire into the air is common throughout Lebanon, including in response to speeches and messages by political leaders. If you find yourself in an area where there’s celebratory gunfire, take cover in a building and move away from windows.

The security situation can deteriorate quickly. Demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest can occur at short notice and often turn violent. Regional developments can have an impact on the local security situation. Monitor local media and avoid all protests.

TV
LBCI  
New TV
NBN
Future News
OTV

Radio
Radio One 105.5 FM
Voice of Lebanon 93.3 FM
Radio Orient 88.3- 88.6 FM
Sawt El Ghad 97.1- 96.7 FM
BBC Arabic 93.1 FM

Websites
www.naharnet.com (English)
www.nowlebanon.com (English)
www.dailystar.com.lb (English)
www.bbc.co.uk (English)
www.bbc.co.uk/arabic (Arabic)
www.elnashra.com (Arabic)
www.tayyar.org (Arabic)
 

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism. There is a high threat of attacks by Islamist extremist groups, which could be indiscriminate and affect Lebanese security authorities, checkpoints and places visited by foreigners like hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, western-style shopping centres and supermarket chains. Security authorities are at a high state of alert and conducting security operations across Lebanon.

Suspects have detonated explosions to avoid arrest and attacks could take place in areas not previously targeted. If you notice that a security operation is underway you should immediately leave the area. You should exercise extra vigilance. Bystanders have been killed in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. Attacks have involved car bombs and grenades and explosive belts. On January 23, 2015 a suspected suicide bomber confessed to authorities that future targets included Casino du Liban in Jounieh, and Le Royal Hotel in Dbayeh. Further attacks are likely.

Politically motivated terrorist attacks remain likely. A number of attacks have taken place in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Extremist groups have also been known to operate within Palestinian refugee camps and areas close to Syria, including the city of Tripoli, the Hermel area and within 5 km of the Syrian border. Maritime terrorism cannot be ruled out. We advise you to exercise extreme vigilance. Monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice covering your location. Avoid large crowds, demonstrations, political gatherings and the use of shared public transport. Remain alert to regional tensions given Lebanon’s links and proximity to Syria, and to the potential for sectarian attacks. Keep clear of affected areas in the immediate aftermath of any attacks.

Attacks in recent years have included:

Kidnap

There is a threat of kidnapping in Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities have warned that foreigners, including westerners could be targeted by kidnappers and other militant groups. Kidnappings have occurred in the Bekaa Valley, the Syrian border regions and Beirut, but could take place anywhere in Lebanon.

In 2013, 2 Turkish pilots were abducted near Beirut’s international airport and held in exchange for Lebanese nationals kidnapped inside Syria. The pilots were later released.

In September 2014, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) kidnapped members of the Lebanese security forces, and a number have been killed. Daesh and other terrorist groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets.

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 making concessions increases the risk of further hostage-taking.

There is considered to be 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.

Local laws and customs

Lebanon is part Muslim, part Christian. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June.

In many areas you will find dress codes more relaxed than in other countries of the region, but you should still dress modestly when visiting religious sites and when it’s clear that local people expect it.

Possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs including small quantities are all serious offences in Lebanon. You can expect a prison sentence if you are caught.

Photography should be limited to tourist sites. Photographing military sites may result in your arrest.

The Lebanese Criminal Code includes a general provision concerning ‘every sexual act against nature’. Lebanese courts consider that this provision includes homosexuality. A criminal offence under this provision is punishable by a prison sentence of up to a year.

Child Abduction

One of the most common requests for consular assistance in Lebanon is from British mothers seeking help in overturning travel bans placed on their children or themselves by their fathers or husbands. Lebanese family law is very different from UK law and particular care is needed if child custody becomes an issue.

If you have concerns about child custody you should seek advice before travelling to Lebanon about ‘travel bans’ that can be imposed by male heads of family. Even if you or your child holds a British passport you may be Lebanese automatically by descent and subject to Lebanese laws and regulations.

Any child travelling without their father (even if the mother is accompanying them) may need to provide proof that permission to travel has been given by the child’s father.

If you’re a British national involved in international parental child abductions or custody disputes, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for consular assistance. This leaflet on International Parental Child Abduction includes information on how the FCO can help, and contact details. The FCO strongly advises against attempting to remove your child yourself, as this may be considered abduction (or ‘re-abduction’). This may be illegal and can put your child at risk.

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.

Visas

British citizens can apply for a free single entry tourist or family visit visa on arrival. British Overseas Citizens and British Protected Persons will need to get a visa before travelling to Lebanon. Entry requirements are subject to change, so you should check with the Lebanese Embassy before you travel.

Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter. You may be refused permission to leave until a fine has been paid.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Lebanon.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, transit and exit from Lebanon.

If your passport is lost or stolen and you need an ETD to leave the country you’ll need to report the loss or theft to the police in the area where it took place and obtain a police report before an ETD can be issued. This is mandatory in all cases where the original passport showing the entry stamp into Lebanon isn’t available. Once the ETD has been issued you’ll need to visit the General Security office in central Beirut to obtain an exit visa before you can depart. You should factor the time this will take into any new travel plans.

Previous travel to Israel

If your passport contains an Israeli stamp you may be refused entry to Lebanon even if you hold a valid Lebanese visa.

Stop matches

Lebanese Immigration Authorities check all visitors’ names on arrival against a database of those wanted for, or convicted of, offences in Lebanon. If a name matches against an entry on the database the individual may be detained (or on occasion allowed entry upon surrender of their passport) until they can prove that the record does not relate to them. It’s often possible to do so by producing a copy of a birth certificate or other official documentation that allows parents’ names to be checked against the database. You should consider carrying this kind of supporting documentation.

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.

Medical treatment in Lebanon can be expensive. Most hospitals are well equipped. Doctors are generally well qualified though nursing standards vary. The majority of medical staff speak French and English. 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 112 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

Lebanon is in an earthquake zone, but there have been no damaging tremors in recent years. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

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 Beirut

    Title:British Embassy Beirut, main contact
    Email:
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Serail Hill, embassy complex
    Beirut Central District
    PO Box : 11- 471 Beirut
    Lebanon

    Contact: Telephone: +961 (0)1 960800
    Fax: +961 (0)1 960855
    Visiting:Office hours:
    Monday to Thursday, 6am to 2pm; Friday 6am to 12pm (GMT)
    Monday to Thursday, 8am to 4pm, Friday 8am to 2pm (Local Time)

    Consular section: consular.beirut@fco.gov.uk
    For emergency you can call the embassy switchboard on 01-960800
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
  • Department for International Trade Lebanon

    Title:Department for International Trade Lebanon
    Email:ukti.beirut@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    Serail Hill
    Beirut Central District
    PO Box 11-471
    Lebanon

    Contact: Enquiries: 00961 1 960800
    Visiting:
    Services:

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