East Timor (Timor-Leste)
|Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 10 December 2010
This advice has been reviewed and reissued without amendment. The overall level of this advice has not changed; there are currently no travel restrictions in place in East Timor.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
We advise you to be aware of and attentive to the uncertain security situation when travelling in East Timor. The security situation in East Timor remains fragile. You should avoid demonstrations and large crowds and if you become aware of any nearby military activity you should leave the area immediately. See Safety and Security - Political Situation.
Crime continues to be a problem in East Timor, including gang-related violence, robbery (in some cases armed), assault and attacks on vehicles. You should exercise caution if going outside after dark.
Safety and Security -
There is an underlying threat from terrorism in East Timor. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. In neighbouring Indonesia, westerners were killed and injured in terrorist attacks in Bali (October 2002 and October 2005) and Jakarta (August 2003, September 2004 and July 2009).
See our Terrorism Abroad page.
The main air routes to Dili are via Bali (this normally involves an overnight stay), Singapore (Tuesday and Saturday only) and Darwin. Due to the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks in Indonesia you are recommended to consult the FCO travel advice for Indonesia before planning to travel via Bali. You should reconfirm bookings in advance of departure from East Timor.
Safety and Security -
Crime continues to be a problem in East Timor, including gang-related violence, robbery (in some cases armed), assault and attacks on vehicles.
There have been a number of attacks on foreigners in Dili, including bag-snatchings, during both the hours of daylight and darkness. You are advised to remain vigilant at all times and to avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery or carrying large sums of money. Harassment and violence against women (including expatriates) has been reported.
There are occasional violent incidents at nightclubs in Dili.
There also continue to be sporadic incidents of fighting between groups of youths in various districts around East Timor, often but not always related to martial arts groups. Recent fights have taken place in Dili, Maliana, Suai and Same. Often these incidents involve stone throwing and occasionally machetes and knives. Most incidents happen at night although some have occurred during the day.See our Victims of crime page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel
Accommodation and transport for independent travellers are extremely limited outside the capital, Dili. Even in Dili you should not expect to find taxis or other public transport after dark.
You should exercise caution if going outside after dark, and avoid travelling alone and to isolated areas.
There is a danger from unexploded ordnance from World War II and the Indonesian occupation in rural areas. You are advised not to stray off well-used roads and paths.
East Timor is home to a number of dangerous animal species including saltwater crocodiles, which have been sighted at beaches near Dili.
You should be particularly vigilant if travelling to border areas, as there remains the potential for trouble there.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Poor road quality and an increasing number of cars on the roads, especially in Dili, makes driving in East Timor hazardous. Accidents are frequent.
Drivers must hold a current driving licence valid for the class of vehicle they plan to drive. Third Party motor vehicle insurance is not available.
Drivers should take extra care when it is wet. Travel in convoy whenever possible. Main routes are often single-track mountain roads, which can deteriorate rapidly and become impassable, particularly during the rainy season (December-April).See our Driving Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sea Travel
There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in neighbouring waters. Mariners are advised to be vigilant; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities. See River and Sea Safety page.
Safety and Security - Political Situation
East Timor Country Profile
The security situation in East Timor remains fragile.
Since independence in 2002 there have been outbreaks of armed violence in 2006 and 2008 but the current situation is generally calm. However, underlying political tensions remain and the security situation could deteriorate with little warning.
If you become aware of any nearby military activity you should leave the area immediately. If you are inside and become aware of military operations in your immediate area you should take cover away from windows. You should keep yourself informed of developments, including by regularly checking this travel advice and ensure that you are content with your own and your family's security arrangements.
You should avoid any demonstrations and large crowds, as these have the potential to deteriorate quickly and turn violent. Areas where there have been violent incidents in the past include government buildings (including the Palacio da Cinzas and Palacio da Governo) and on the road to the Nicolau Lobato international airport, close to Comoro market.
You should exercise caution if going outside after dark.
Information on the prevailing security situation can also be obtained from the United Nations Police (UNPol) emergency and security information numbers on 112. There is also a Security Information Co-ordination Centre within the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste (UNMIT). The centre can be contacted on +670 723 0635. Both centres are open 24 hours a day.
You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for breaking the law can be severe. See our Your trip page.
Entry Requirementrs - Visas
A tourist visa costs US$30. A tourist visa can normally be issued on arrival at the airport or seaport in Dili to the holder of a valid British passport, provided entry into East Timor is regarded by the local authorities as being for a legitimate purpose. Please note, that if you intend to enter the country via Indonesia (West Timor) land border crossing at Atambua/Batigade you will need to apply for a visa in advance. This visa is valid for a single entry and a stay of 30 days. Note that if you plan to travel overland (rather than by the ferry) to the exclave of Oe-cussi you will need two further $30 tourist visas as well as the US$40 double-entry full page transit visa for Indonesia. Extensions cost US$35 for each subsequent period of 30 days, but you can only extend twice (i.e. a maximum stay of 90 days). Fines for overstay start at $70 for one to 30 days, rising to $270 for 91 days or more. There is a departure tax of US$10. For information on other types of visa see the Immigraton Department of Timor-Leste.
Entry Requirements - Passport validity
You should ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months. Entry to East Timor may be refused to visitors with less than six months validity.
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.
Medical services in East Timor are severely limited. There are very little dental and optical services.
Malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are common throughout East Timor. There is usually an increase in dengue cases during the rainy season, which runs from November to April.
You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to East Timor and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, disease outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
See our Travel Health page
East Timor is located in an earthquake zone and major earthquakes can occur at any time. The last significant earthquake occurred in 2005.
The tropical cyclone season in East Timor normally runs from November to April. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). You can also access National Hurricane Center for updates.
See Tropical cyclones for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a tropical cyclone.
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake, including cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance. In the event of a medical emergency in East Timor, evacuation to Australia or Singapore is likely to be the only option for treatment. See our Travel Insurance page for more details. Here's how we can help if things go wrong.
There is no British representation in East Timor. Emergency consular services are provided by the New Zealand Embassy in Farol, Dili. The New Zealand Embassy is not able to accept applications for British passports but can issue Emergency Passports if necessary.
If you are applying for a British passport for the first-time you should do so at the nearest passport issuing post. The FCO website has links to post websites providing these services.
If you are applying for a passport renewal you can apply at the British Honorary Consulate in Bali or at the British Consulate General, Jakarta. You can also apply through a courier service to the British Consulate General, Jakarta. The responsibility for the fee for the courier service both ways, and for any loss in transit rests with the applicant. Both the fee and the passport (see important note) will need to be forwarded to complete the process. Contact details are below. You can also apply at any other British passport issuing post. Please note that it is not possible to arrange for the Consulate General to courier your new passport across an international border. Accordingly you must make arrangements for it to be collected from an address in Indonesia.
General - Consular Registration
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.
General - Travel Documents
You should ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date and available, in case you need to leave at short notice.
We advise you to keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport, to avoid any complications.
General - Money
You are advised to bring US dollars (which is the local currency) in cash or travellers’ cheques.
The limited banking system in East Timor will not exchange Pounds Sterling cash or sterling travellers' cheques. The same often applies to the Euro currency. Few places accept credit cards.