Libya Travel Information
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- Is travel to Libya safe for EU Nationals?
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Local time is GMT +2.
Electrical current is 127/230 volts, 50Hz. Round 3-pin plugs are used.
The official language of Libya is Arabic (used for all official business), though some English is spoken, especially in the cities and tourist-orientated establishments.
There are no major health risks associated with travel to Libya. Visitors travelling from infected areas require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travellers are encouraged to get vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Healthcare facilities in Libya are basic and travellers are advised to have full health insurance. In remote areas there may be no health facilities at all, therefore travellers are advised to carry their own basic medications. Tap water in Libya is chlorinated, but it is advised to drink bottled or boiled water.
Hotels and restaurants usually add a service charge of 10 to 20%. Tipping guides and drivers is expected.
*Libya remains unstable in the aftermath of the revolution and war that toppled the Gadaffi regime. Safety in Libya is far from certain and all but essential travel to Libya at this time is not advised.
Generally Libya is a safe country to travel in but travellers are advised against all but essential travel to all areas bordering Chad and Sudan, due to instability in the region. With exception to official land border crossings to Tunisia and Egypt, visitors are not permitted to travel in the interior or to border areas without an officially sanctioned guide, or specific permission from the Libyan authorities. Travelling in a group or with an organised tour is recommended in remote regions and travellers should be advised of a threat of terrorism that can occur randomly. Prior permission from the Libyan authorities is required for travel to the desert regions and is in the form of a desert pass; however the oil mining areas of the desert should be avoided. It is highly recommended that one monitor the media and seek advice from the relevant authorities before travelling. Violent crime is generally not a problem, although visitors should avoid carrying valuables in public.
Libya is an Islamic country (97-98% of Libyans are Sunni Muslim) and therefore visitors should be respectful in terms of following Arabic customs, particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public is forbidden. Swimwear should be restricted to beaches, and women should dress modestly, and avoid Arab gatherings where women are not permitted. Homosexuality is illegal and extramarital sexual relationships are forbidden. Criticism of the Libyan Government, Islam and the country itself is not tolerated. Permission must always be sought prior to photographing people, and it is not recommended that a camera be used or carried near any official or military buildings. Libya is one of the strictest countries in terms of a ban on alcohol and drugs, and neither should be brought into the country, though smoking is very common.
Although most business in Libya has traditionally been conducted with state organisations, there has been some movement towards privatisation. All official documents are in Arabic (it is useful to have a translator for this) due to government policy, and although English is often understood official business will usually be conducted in Arabic. Bureaucracy can slow down any business process and one should be prepared for this. Business cards are useful but are not widely exchanged. Suits and ties are the norm, although due to the heat particularly in summer, more casual business wear is accepted. The vast majority of Libyans are Muslim and therefore one should be mindful of Islamic custom, particularly during Ramadan. Women should ensure that they dress modestly.
The international dialling code for Libya is +218. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)21 for Tripoli and (0)22 for Tripoli International Airport. There are several Internet Service Providers and Internet cafes are available in Tripoli and other major centres, as well as some towns. Mobile phones operate on GSM 900 and 1800 networks and general telecommunications are being modernised.
Travellers may enter the country with 200 cigarettes or 250g cigars or 250g tobacco, and 250ml perfume. All alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited, as well as all foodstuffs (including canned goods). There is also an extensive list of banned items, including any articles manufactured or produced in Israel or countries that trade with Israel, and it is best to consult a Libyan Embassy for more information.
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