- Published on 03 / 08 / 12
FCO Change of Level of Advice – Congo (Democratic Republic) & FCO Travel Advice Updates & Australia Entry Requirements
FCO – Change of Level of Advice – Congo (Democratic Republic)
The FCO travel advice for Congo has been updated. The overall level of the advice has changed. The FCO continue to advise against all travel to eastern and north eastern DRC except the towns of Goma and Bukavu to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of the country. Please find an extract of the advice below.
- We advise against all travel to eastern and north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This includes entering DRC from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. The only exception to this is within the towns of Goma and Bukavu, where we currently advise against all but essential travel. You should avoid entering or leaving DRC overland except via Goma or Bukavu. This is due to continued insecurity and lawlessness in these areas.
- There is currently a greater risk of insecurity in North Kivu given ongoing military operations against M23 and other armed groups. M23 has increased its presence in or near the towns of Bunagana, Rutshuru, Rumangabo, Ntamugenga, Kiwanja and Rugari resulting in an increase in violent incidents in these locations.
You should carefully consider your security arrangements to ensure that you and/or your organisation have a comprehensive security plan. You should ensure that you have up to date contingency plans should you need to either move quickly or lock down for a period of time. We advise you to keep your situation under continuous review and to check travel advice regularly.
- Be aware that in the event of escalating tension and unrest, commercial flights may be suspended and/or borders closed severely restricting your ability to leave the DRC.
We advise against all but essential travel to Kinshasa and the rest of DRC because of continuing tension and insecurity. The situation can deteriorate at very short notice. See Safety and Security - Local Travel.
- We advise you to be cautious, keep a low profile and avoid any large crowds and demonstrations. Stay alert to local political developments by monitoring local and international media for information about planned demonstrations or any other events which may affect the local security situation.
- We strongly advise you to register with the British Embassy in Kinshasa so that we can give you better assistance in the event of an emergency. See General - Registering with the British Embassy.
- Local authorities may impose curfews without warning. Travellers are advised to follow the directives of the local authorities at all times.
Safety and Security - Local Travel
We advise against all travel to eastern and north eastern DRC. The only exception to this is within the towns of Goma and Bukavu, where we advise against all but essential travel. There is currently a greater risk of instability in North Kivu due to ongoing military operations against rebel group M23.
Avoid entering or leaving DRC overland from Uganda, Rwanda or Burundi except via Goma or Bukavu. However, care should still be exercised at this crossing point. Ensure that you have the correct paperwork for entrance. All foreign nationals, including UK nationals, will need a visa issued by the embassy in their country of residence.It is no longer possible to buy a short-term pass to enter the country. See the Entry Requirements section below for more details on applying for a visa.
Although the Congolese insurgent groups in North and South Kivu signed a peace accord with the government in March 2009, some groups remain outside the process and a threat to stability. The Congolese army has been carrying out military operations against armed groups present in North and South Kivu since April 2009. The security situation remains volatile. Banditry by armed men against NGO convoys travelling out of Goma and Bukavu is a regular occurrence. Tensions remain and the situation can deteriorate rapidly.
The defection in April 2012 of certain members of the CNDP militia group (forming the rebel group referred to as M23) from the Congolese Armed Forces has resulted in heightened tension and an increase in fighting in North Kivu particularly in the Rutshuru region, adjacent to Virunga National Park, the border town of Bunagana and Masisi. In early July, M23 increased its presence in or near the towns of Bunangana, Rutshuru, Rumangabo, Ntamugenga, Kiwanja and Rugari resulting in an increase in violent incidents. There have been fire-fights within Goma, including at the border crossing with Gisenyi. There has also been an increase in the number of displaced people in the region and refugees crossing the border with Rwanda in Goma.
Insecurity in eastern DRC has allowed other armed groups in the area to operate more freely. In July 2012, rebel group Mai Mai Raia Mutomboke seized control of the town of Walikale and violent incidents have increased significantly in this area.
The Virunga National Park (North Kivu) is closed for gorilla trekking; the Nyiragongo volcano (in Virunga National Park) has also closed to tourists. We continue to advise against all travel in these areas as armed groups are still present in both parks.
The north eastern district of Ituri, near the frontier with Uganda, remains an area of continued inter-factional conflict. Despite the presence of the UN and the Congolese army, violence continues sporadically.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group originating in northern Uganda, is currently operating in north eastern DRC. Military action is ongoing and the situation remains unpredictable and dangerous. We advise against all travel to north eastern DRC.
To view the travel advice for Congo (Democratic Republic), please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/congo-democratic-republic
FCO Travel Advice – Thailand
The FCO travel advice for Thailand has been updated with regards to a bomb explosion in the city of Pattani. The overall level of the advice has not changed. The FCO advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear and Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple areas on the Thailand/Cambodia border and against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla. Please find an extract of the advice below.
We advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border. On 31 July a bomb exploded near the CS Pattani Hotel in the city of Pattani causing a number of injuries. See Safety and Security - Political Situation.
Safety and Security - Political Situation
The political situation in Thailand is unpredictable and sometimes volatile. Over recent years there have been instances of civil and political unrest resulting in large-scale demonstrations and, in some cases, violence. You should exercise caution throughout Thailand and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings, which may turn violent.
Since January 2004, there have been almost daily attacks in the far south. These include arson, bombings and shootings. Targets have included civilians and members of the security forces, government offices, tourist hotels, discotheques and bars, shops, marketplaces, supermarkets, schools, transport infrastructure and trains. Over 3,500 people have been killed and several thousand more injured. No British nationals have been killed in these attacks, but some foreign citizens have been killed and injured.
Martial law remains in place in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and in the Sadao district of Songkhla province. Security authorities can detain suspects without charge, censor the media, conduct searches and seize documents. We advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.
To view the travel advice for Thailand, please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/thailand
FCO Travel Advice Portugal
The FCO travel advice for Portugal has been updated with regards to crime, reference to recent fires, travelling with children and health. Please find an extract of the advice below.
Safety and Security - Crime
Crime remains comparatively low in Portugal but pickpocketing, handbag snatching and theft from cars and holiday properties are increasingly common in major tourist areas and can occasionally be accompanied by violence. Most thefts are a result of items being left unattended or thieves using distraction techniques, so remain alert and keep sight of all your belongings at all times in public. Be especially vigilant on public transport (particularly the popular numbers 16 and 28 trams in Lisbon) and at busy railway and underground stations and crowded bus and tram stops.
Passports, credit cards, travel tickets and money should not be carried together in handbags or pockets. Leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. Avoid leaving valuables in an unattended car, even for a short period; if you have no alternative, hide them in the boot before you reach your destination. Remember that foreign-registered and hire cars are often targeted by thieves.
You should report the loss or theft of your passport immediately to the local police and obtain a police report. You will need the report for insurance purposes and to obtain a replacement travel document from the Consulate. For further information on replacing a lost or stolen passport, see our Passport page.
Make sure that your holiday accommodation has adequate security measures in place and ensure that all doors and windows are locked at night or when you go out. If you are worried about security at your accommodation, you should speak to your tour operator or the owner. You should familiarise yourself with the contact details of the local police. These can be found on their websites at PSP orGNR.
Sexual assaults are infrequent. Nevertheless, be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs, including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Purchase your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they cannot be spiked: female travellers should be particularly watchful. Be aware that alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit and remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often much stronger than those in the UK. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don't go off with people you don't know. See our Rape and Sexual Assault Abroad and Victims of Crime Abroad pages.
If out very late at night, be prudent, ensure you familiarise yourself with local surroundings, avoid walking in unlit, unpopulated areas and make use of the public transport services available.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Madeira
Walking the levadas (ancient irrigation channels) is a popular activity in Madeira, but the walks can be challenging if you are inexperienced. It is essential that you choose only the ones that are suited to your own standard of fitness and experience. You should be prepared for narrow, uneven paths and have a head for heights. Remember to wear suitable clothing and walking boots. Leave details of where you are going with your hotel reception and don’t forget to take your mobile telephone with you. Better still, join a group of walkers and go with a guide. Take extra care if it has rained as the ground may be slippery and unstable.
Forest fires have destroyed some of the mountain areas where walking and other tourist activity is popular. You are therefore advised to check with your tour guide or local organiser that it is safe to visit the area before setting off.
Further information about road and walkway closures and access restrictions can be found on the website of the Civil Protection Authority and the Madeira Tourist Office.
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
A minor under the age of 18 travelling to Portugal must either:
- be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or
- be met at the airport or point of entry by a parent or guardian, or
- if not accompanied by parent or guardian, carry a letter of authorisation to travel from that parent or guardian. The letter should name the adult who is in Portugal and who will be responsible for the minor during their stay.
Contact your GP around eight 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, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide, is available from NHS Choices.
If you are visiting Portugal you should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Portuguese nationals, so if a Portuguese national is required to pay a fee towards their treatment, you would also have to pay the same fee. The EHIC will not cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation. See our EHIC page and the NHS - About the EHIC page.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
The 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic by the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 42,000 adults aged 15 or over in Portugal were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.6% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.1%. Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page for more information.
Our Travel Health pages offer further advice on how to stay healthy when overseas.
To view the travel advice for Portugal, please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/portugal
FCO Travel Advice – Croatia
The FCO travel advice for Croatia has been updated with regards to passport validity. Please find an extract of the advice below.
Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
All British passport holders require a valid passport to enter Croatia. Your passport needs to be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.
To view the travel advice for Croatia, please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/croatia
FCO Travel Advice – India
The FCO travel advice for India has been updated with regards to recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. The overall level of the advice has not changed; the FCO advise against all travel to specific regions of India and against all but essential travel to other specific regions of India. Please find an extract of the advice below.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Jammu & Kashmir
We advise against all travel to or through rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir, other than to Ladakh, and against all but essential travel to Srinagar. If you intend to travel to Srinagar then you should only travel there by air, and you should check the local security situation before doing so. Despite an overall decline in violence in Jammu and Kashmir in recent years, there is a high risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. In some border areas there is the danger of land mines. If, despite this advice, you decide to travel to or remain in this region, you do so at your own risk. Review your travel insurance policy, security arrangements and be aware that the level of consular assistance that we can provide in Jammu & Kashmir is extremely limited.
There is also a risk of kidnapping. Militants took an Indian journalist hostage in 2006. Be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers.
Recent incidents include:
- 1 August 2012: Attack on a paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force picket in Srinagar. No one was injured. A grenade was also lobbed at the home of a village representative (sarpanch) in Kupwara district.
- 31 July 2012: Three people were injured, including a policeman, in two grenade attacks at Sopore which targeted a police station and a market.
- 30 May 2012: Militants fired at Indian security forces in Srinagar injuring seven Central Reserve Police Force personnel.
- 19 May 2012: 14 people were injured during two grenade attacks on police stations in Sopore and Srinagar.
- 22 March 2012: One person was killed and at least 19 injured when a car bomb exploded in Bijbehara town.
To view the travel advice for India, please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/india
FCO Travel Advice – Ethiopia
The FCO travel advice for Ethiopia has been updated with amendments to the Local Laws and Customs, the Entry Requirements - Passport Validity. The overall level of the advice has not changed; the FCO advise against all travel to some parts of Ethiopia and against all but essential travel to other specific areas. Please find an extract of the advice below.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
The Ethiopian Highlands are predominantly Orthodox Christian with ‘fasting’ each Wednesday, Friday and during Lent when only vegetarian dishes are available (except in larger hotels). The Julian calendar is used and the current year is 2002. Christmas is celebrated on 7 January and New Year on 11 September. Some Ethiopians set their clocks from dawn to dusk and there is a six-hour difference between Ethiopian time and Western time i.e. 6 o’clock can mean 12 o’clock. So take care when making appointments.
There is a large Muslim population and generally Ethiopians dress in a conservative manner. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See our Travelling During Ramadan page.
On 27 December 2011, two Swedish journalists were found guilty of supporting terrorism and entering Ethiopia illegally. They were arrested in Ethiopia’s Somali region by members of the Ethiopian army, in the company of fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), having crossed into Ethiopia illegally from Somalia. Any journalist wishing to operate legitimately in Ethiopia should ensure they have the necessary accreditation and follow the country’s laws, including the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and Mass Media Proclamation. Any journalist entering Ethiopia illegally risks a long prison sentence.
Ethiopian antiques need an export certificate to be taken out of the country. Major tourist outlets in Addis Ababa can offer assistance in obtaining one. Customs authorities are known to have confiscated items where visitors have not produced an export certificate. In certain cases, criminal prosecutions have been brought against visitors found in possession of antiques without an export certificate.
Owning ivory is strictly prohibited in Ethiopia. In recent months, a number of British nationals found with ivory jewellery have had their items confiscated by authorities and been made to pay fines of between 5,000 – 25,000 birr. Anyone caught in possession of ivory can expect to be detained by police..
Homosexual acts (applying to both sexes) are illegal, and carry penalties of between one and fifteen years imprisonment.
Drug offences are treated seriously in Ethiopia. You should not become involved with drugs of any kind.
Travellers should be aware that it is illegal to carry more than 200 birr when entering or departing Ethiopia. If you are found to be carrying in excess of 200 birr when passing through immigration you may be subject to prosecution. The penalties are tough - the money will be seized and a prison sentence is possible.
Visitors to Ethiopia must declare to customs officials at their point of entry any cash in excess of $3000 (or the equivalent in other foreign currencies). This must be done by completing a customs declaration form. Travellers departing Ethiopia in possession of more than $3000 must present a bank advice notice to customs officials if the currency was purchased from a local bank. Alternatively, the traveller must present a valid customs declaration form obtained at their point of entry. Travellers should be aware, however, that a bank advice notice or customs declaration form becomes invalid if 45 days or more have elapsed since the date of issue. For more detailed information please visit:http://www.erca.gov.et/TRAVELERSDOLLARS.pdf.
Entry Requirements - Passport validity
You must hold a valid passport to enter Ethiopia. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Ethiopia. We advise that you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival. You do not have to wait until your old passport expires to apply to renew it. Any time left on your old passport when you apply will be added to your new passport, up to a maximum of nine months. For passport applications in the UK, you should apply to the Identity and Passport Service.
To view the travel advice for Ethiopia, please see: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/ethiopia
Australia - Entry Requirements
Please find below an extract of the FCO travel advice for Australia regarding visas and other entry requirements for British citizens. Please note that anyone aged 75 and older will need to undergo a medical examination or an Aged Visitors Health Check. Please find an extract of the advice below.
Visas are required for all travel to Australia. British citizens can obtain the following types of electronic visitor visa:
- eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship. There is no visa application charge or service fee for this;
- Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via their travel agent or airline. There is no visa application charge, but a service fee of A$20 applies
Information on all other types of visa is available from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, or from the Australian High Commission in London.
In certain circumstances you may be asked to undergo a health examination before a visa can be granted. If you are aged 75 years or older and applying for a Visitor visa, you will need to undergo a medical examination or an Aged Visitors Health Check. These must be completed by a Panel doctor nominated by the Australian Government. You will have to pay for the costs of the examinations. Please factor in extra time for these examinations when applying for a visa.
For more information on health requirements, please click here.
We will continue to monitor and issue updates accordingly
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