Security travel advice for Ethiopia


Threat level: Medium
Travelling to Ethiopia poses a significantly high risk due to the fact that there is very high terror threat and many areas suffer from increasing rates of serious crime, including armed banditry. 10 km within the border with South Sudan and 100 km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in the Afder and Liben zones of Ethiopia’s Somali region are no go zones for foreign nationals.

The terrorist group Al Shabaab operate freely in many areas of Somalia which poses a threat across the East Africa region including Ethiopia. The capital city Addis Ababa is at high risk from Al Shabaab attacks.

It is strongly recommended that you only travel to Ethiopia if it is absolutely necessary, and with a Close Protection team should you choose to do so. If you are travelling to the region for business purposes, it is your employer’s duty of care to ensure the correct security measures are in place.

Recent Security Risk Events
Protesters took to streets across the country in August 2016 over concerns of human rights abuses amongst other issues. Dozens of citizens across cities in the country have been beaten or shot, many of them fatally. Civil unrest continues despite the government putting a ban on demonstrations and blocking forms of social media.

There have been widespread riots across the Oromia Region in 2016, many of which turned violent and resulted in several fatalities. Further riots have caused severe disruption to logistics across the whole country. You should avoid any large gatherings and monitor the local media as often as possible.

The Mejenger Zone has experienced recent armed conflicts between inter-ethnic communities that have resulted in hundreds of deaths. There have also been conflicts in the Tigray and Afar regions. It is highly advised not to travel to these areas.

The Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya borders all experience high rates of armed banditry where foreign nationals are primary targets. Travel by road across these borders is highly advised against and you should only fly if possible.

Security Risks
Petty crimes such as mugging and pick pocketing are very common in Addis Ababa. Foreign nationals are prime targets for opportunistic criminals and you should exercise extreme caution in all areas of the country. Avoid walking alone and do not have expensive jewellery on display.

Theft from cars and hijackings are also common, even in urban areas. Be extremely cautious in busy traffic as cars have been attacked while stopping at traffic lights. Don’t display valuables on show inside your car and only park in secure, guarded car parks.

International Relations
Ethiopia has many well established relations with western and African countries. Its capital Addis Ababa also serves as the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union, as well as many other international organizations.

A strategic partner with the United States in the Global War on Terrorism, the two countries work closely together in dealing with threats from terror groups such as Al Shaabab.

Travel considerations
You can drive in Ethiopia with most national driving licences from the UK, US and EU. Driving standards are poor and road users often do not take into consideration the safety of others when driving. Roads are mostly poor quality also so you should exercise extreme caution when travelling on the roads. Avoid using taxis or other public transport.

It is advised not to travel outside the main cities after dark and to drive in a convoy when possible. Many roads are impassable without four wheel drive especially during the wet season (June to September).


Capital: Addis Ababa

Official languages: Amharic
Religion: Christianity and Islam
Currency: Birr (ETB)

Visa requirements
To enter Ethiopia, a passport valid for six months is required by all nationals. A visa is also required by most and this can be issued on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The cost of a visa is usually around $50 USD. A return ticket may be required as proof of departure from the country.

It is advised that visitors to Ethiopia are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is recommended for most travellers to also get a Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid vaccinations.

You may also want to consider the vaccination for Yellow Fever if travelling to some parts of the country, including the capital, Addis Ababa, as there is a small risk of transmission. You should, however, check with your local practitioner prior to departure if you are unsure as the vaccination is not suitable for all travellers or all areas of Ethiopia and there can be some unpleasant side effects.

Other health risks
Cholera and malaria are both present in Ethiopia and you may want to consider precautions to prevent contraction. Malaria is frequent in areas below 2000m. If you plan to stay only in the capital city you should be fine as it is elevated at 2400m.

Many medical facilities are poor quality in Ethiopia and wherever possible, you should visit private practitioners as the quality of care will be better. It is recommended you purchase adequate travel health insurance as in most serious medical emergencies you will have to be evacuated.


U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
Entoto Street,
P.O. Box 1014,
Addis Ababa,
Telephone: +251 11130 6000
Telephone: + 251 11130 6911 (Out of hours)

British Embassy Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa,
Telephone: +251 92934 6094
Telephone: +251 91250 1107 (Out of hours)