August 14, 2022

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Somalia Travel Advisory

4 min read

Do not travel to Somalia due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, and kidnapping.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Somalia due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC’s specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Visit the U.S. Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19-related restrictions and conditions in Somalia.

Violent crime, such as kidnapping and murder, is common throughout Somalia, including Puntland and the Somaliland region. Illegal roadblocks are widespread. Some schools and other facilities acting as “cultural rehabilitation” centers are operating throughout Somalia with inadequate or nonexistent licensing and oversight. Reports of physical abuse and people being held against their will in these facilities are common.

Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in Somalia. They may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas that attract large crowds and are frequented by Westerners, as well as government, military, and Western convoys. Methods of attack can include car bombs, suicide bombers, individual attackers, and mortar fire, among others. While some areas have experienced less severe terrorist activity, such as the Somaliland region, where there have been no major terrorist attacks since 2008, terrorist attacks involving the indiscriminate use of explosive devices and other weapons can take place anywhere in Somalia at any time without warning.

Civil unrest occurs throughout Somalia and can sometimes be violent.

Medical facilities across Somalia have limited capacity and are often nonexistent in rural areas.

The U.S. government has extremely limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Somalia due to the lack of a permanent consular presence in Somalia, including the Somaliland region.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Somalia, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation. For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Somalia:

  • See the U.S. Embassy’s web page on COVID-19. 
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.  
  • Review your personal security plan and visit our page on Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization (if you are traveling on business) or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization (if you are traveling on business) so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify whom you would contact first and how that person should share the information.
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, the FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area.
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Enroll your trip in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Somalia.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to security information.

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