Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Somalia International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Somalia for information on U.S.-Somalia relations.
Please visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Somalia.
Requirements for entry:
Visit the Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations website, the Somali Department of Immigration and Naturalization website, or the nearest Somali embassy or consulate for visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Somalia.
The U.S. government has little to no ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Somalia due to the lack of a consular presence in Somalia, hence the instructions to contact the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. In an emergency, you will have to rely on your own resources or journey to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Somalia.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
Terrorist organizations and armed groups in Somalia attack government authorities and facilities; African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) personnel and bases; and civilian and non-governmental targets, including but not limited to hotels, restaurants, airports, seaports, and shopping areas. Inter-clan and factional violence are also regular occurrences throughout Somalia.
Al-Shabaab, an al-Qa’ida-affiliated foreign terrorist organization based in Somalia, has repeatedly attacked Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport (AAIA) and other locations in Somalia with mortars, small arms and light weapons, and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). The group’s recent attacks include a November 27, 2020, suicide bombing that targeted a popular gelato shop near AAIA, killing eight people, and an August 16, 2020, VBIED attack and armed assault on a beachside hotel in Mogadishu, killing 18 people and injuring 25 others. Terrorist attacks involving the indiscriminate use of explosive devices and other weapons can take place in Somalia at any time without warning.
For more information, see our terrorism page.
Crime: Violent crime such as kidnapping, bombings, indirect fire attacks, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, and illegal roadblocks by armed individuals in uniforms occur throughout Somalia, including the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland. Somali authorities have limited capacity and resources to investigate and prosecute criminal activity.
U.S. citizens should:
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Cultural Rehabilitation Centers: Some schools and other facilities acting as cultural rehabilitation centers are operating in Somalia with inadequate or nonexistent licensing and oversight. Reports of minors and young adults being held in these facilities against their will and physically abused are common.
Somalia-Kenya Border: Cross-border violence, attributed to al-Shabaab and skirmishes between the Somali and Kenyan armies, occurs periodically, including large-scale attacks against civilians, government security forces, and AMISOM troops. Kidnapping, improvised explosive devices, and grenade attacks targeting international aid workers and civilians occur. Al-Shabaab actively operates in border areas, including Kenya’s Lamu and Wajir counties.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya for assistance. Report crimes to the local police nearest to you and contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at (254) (20) 363-6451 during business hours or (254) (20) 363-6000 outside business hours. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya for assistance.
Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure exists in Somalia. Tourists participate in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment are not available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You may be taken in for questioning by the police if unable to produce an acceptable form of identification. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.
Local courts operate under a combination of Somali customary and Islamic law, some of which may be hostile towards foreigners.
Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the relevant local authorities prior to practicing or operating a business.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy in Kenya immediately. The U.S. government’s ability to provide consular services is severely restricted due to ongoing security concerns. Furthermore, dual U.S.-Somali citizens are recognized as Somali citizens by authorities, which impedes our ability to provide any consular assistance. See our webpage for further information.
Photography: Do not take pictures of government buildings, military installations, or key infrastructure such as airports and border controls. You could be detained or arrested, fined, and have your equipment confiscated. Do not take photos of people without their permission.
Phone Service: Cellular phones are used extensively. SIM cards can be purchased locally and used with a compatible cell phone.
Currency: The Somali shilling is the unit of currency except in Somaliland, which uses the Somaliland shilling. Be advised that most Somali shillings in circulation are believed to be counterfeit. U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards and traveler's checks are generally not accepted, and you are advised against using your credit card in Somalia, even if accepted. It is not possible to obtain currency advances against a credit card. There is an increasing number of ATMs in Mogadishu, and ATMs in Somalia disburse U.S. dollars.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual contact is punishable by imprisonment from three months to three years. Anti-discrimination provisions do not apply to LGBTI individuals. Society considers sexual orientation a taboo topic, so there is no known public discussion of this issue. Severe societal stigma typically prevents LGBTI individuals from making their sexual orientation publicly known.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.
Students: See our students abroad page and FBI travel tips. We are aware of allegations that some boarding schools in Somalia engage in abusive practices such as corporal punishment, physical restraint, and confiscation of travel documents.
Youth: We are aware of cases of forced marriage. Some facilities involved in “cultural rehabilitation” (“dhaqan celis,” meaning “returning to Somali culture”) engage in abusive practices such as corporal punishment, physical restraint, and confiscation of travel documents.
Women Travelers: There are no laws against spousal violence, including rape. There are documented patterns of rape perpetrated with impunity, particularly of displaced women and members of minority clans. Authorities rarely use formal structures to address rape. Survivors suffer from subsequent discrimination based on the attribution of “impurity.” Domestic and sexual violence against women remain serious problems, despite the provisional federal constitution provision prohibiting any form of violence against women. See our travel tips for women travelers.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the provisional federal constitution prohibits the circumcision of girls, FGM/C is almost universally practiced throughout the country. Up to 98 percent of women and girls have reportedly undergone FGM/C, primarily between the ages of 5-14 years.
Please visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Somalia.
Water, health, and electricity systems in Somalia are poor.
Medical care and services are extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply, and many pharmacies stock ineffective or counterfeit medications. Most care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars/Somali shillings prior to treatment.
Ambulance services are not present or are unreliable in most areas except Mogadishu. Somalia Red Crescent Society services may be available in some areas in case of disasters/emergency.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on the type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. Medical evacuation services in Somalia are extremely limited, and services responding from outside of the country will take more than six hours to respond.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Somali Ministry of Health to ensure the medication is legal in Somalia.
Vaccinations: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You may need a polio vaccine before your trip to Somalia. If you were vaccinated against polio as a child but have never had a polio booster dose as an adult, you should get this booster dose. If you were not completely vaccinated as a child or do not know your vaccination status, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
If you will be in Somalia for more than four weeks, the Somali government may require you to show proof of polio vaccination when you are exiting the country. To meet this requirement, you should receive a polio vaccine between 4 weeks and 12 months before the date you are leaving Somalia. Talk to your doctor about whether this requirement applies to you.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. embassies and consulates.
Health facilities in general:
Food-borne and water-borne illnesses are common.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are poor. Night driving is particularly dangerous due to the absence of lighting and terrorist- or militia-operated checkpoints. Other risks include lack of traffic lights and pedestrians and animals in the road. Refer to our road safety page for more information. The U.S. Embassy prohibits its employees from traveling outside the AAIA compound or using public transportation due to safety concerns.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Somalia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Somalia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
The FAA has issued a Notice to Airmen containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia. For background information and advisories consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.
Maritime Travel: Recreational vessels should avoid the region. Consult the International Maritime Bureau's Live Piracy Report. Information may also be posted at U.S. maritime advisories and alerts, the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings..