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Travel & living abroad

Middle East and North Africa

Oman

Flag of Oman
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 25 October 2010

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Local Laws and Customs and Entry Requirements sections. The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Oman.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary


  • On 28 July 2010 a maritime incident involving the Japanese oil tanker M/V M Star occurred in the Strait of Hormuz, the cause of which is currently being investigated by the relevant authorities.

  • There is an underlying threat from terrorism in Oman. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See the Safety and Security - Terrorism section.

  • You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

  • 23 British nationals required consular assistance in Oman in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: deaths (10 cases); hospitalisations (1 cases); and arrests, for a variety of offences (3 cases). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost, stolen or recovered passports (16 cases).

  • You should carry some form of identification with you at all times (either a copy of your passport or your Omani ID).

  • We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See the General - Insurance section.

Safety and security

Safety and Security - Terrorism  
There is an underlying threat from terrorism in Oman. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

See our Terrorism Abroad page.
 
Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests.

You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations. British nationals who are travelling to, or are currently in Oman are advised to register with the British Embassy.

Safety and Security - Crime  
Approximately 6,000 British nationals live in Oman and approximately 180,000 visited during FY 2008/2009. Most visits are trouble-free.
 
The law and order situation is generally good.
 
There have been some reported cases of robbery and other occasional incidents of violence in which foreigners have been victims.  
 
See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Developments in the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. You should follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which might trigger public disturbances.  

You should take precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations.
 
Safety and Security - Local Travel
- Road Travel  
You can drive on a UK driving licence. However, residents must obtain an Omani driving licence as soon as possible. In case of an accident a resident may find that a UK driving licence is not deemed valid for insurance purposes. Driving is on the right.

Holders of UK driving licences can currently obtain an Omani licence by taking a sight test. This does not apply automatically to holders of driving licences issued by the Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Overseas Territories.

Observe speed limits. If you are involved in a major road traffic accident you must remain with your vehicle and summon the Royal Oman Police (ROP, tel. 9999). If you are involved in a minor road traffic accident, it may not be necessary to call the police, but you must follow the procedures set out on the ROP website at: http://www.rop.gov.om. You must keep a Minor Road Traffic Accident form in your car. This is available from the ROP website or from your insurance company. It is the responsibility of car rental companies to keep forms in their cars.

Driving at night can be dangerous outside Muscat, as there is a risk of hitting camels that stray on the road. Rainfall can cause sudden and severe flooding in dry riverbeds and on roads which cross them.  

The standards of the roads in Oman are generally good. Driving standards are not always as disciplined as in the UK and the rate of traffic accidents is high. A report released by the World Health Organisation indicates that Oman road users are more likely to be killed than their counterparts in the UK. The authorities are increasing their efforts to address this.

Excursions to the desert can be dangerous unless undertaken in adequately equipped 4x4 vehicles. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone and leave travel plans with friends or relatives. You should also take out sufficient insurance.

Traffic laws are strictly imposed with strong punishments for traffic offences. Seat belts must be worn in the front seats and you are not allowed to use a mobile phone whilst driving Speed limits are clearly posted on major roads.  

You should not offend local culture when driving, e.g. through abusive gestures or language. This can lead to complaints being lodged with the police, who have been taking forward cases of reported insulting behaviour to Omani citizens.

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sea Travel

Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected; and there have been occasional arrests. Mariners should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or considering visiting ports.

On 28 July 2010 a maritime incident involving the Japanese oil tanker M/V M Star occurred in the Strait of Hormuz, the cause of which is currently being investigated by the relevant authorities.

You should exercise care when travelling by tourist boats, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. You should also ensure that enough life jackets are available.

See our River and Sea Safety page.

Safety and Security - Political Situation
Oman Country Profile

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Oman is an Islamic country. 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. For more general information see Travelling during Ramadan.

In public, general modesty of behaviour and dress is expected. Women who wear shorts or tight-fitting clothes are likely to attract unwelcome attention.
 
We recommend that you carry a copy of your passport (if a visitor) or their Omani ID (if a resident) at all times for identification purposes.

Visitors must have legal status in Oman when they depart.  You might be prevented from departing Oman if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt, or are a child subject to a custody dispute.  Visitors can incur heavy fines if they overstay or fail to extend their legal residency.

The import and use of narcotics and obscene material are forbidden and can lead to imprisonment. There are severe penalties for drug offences including, in some cases, the death penalty. "Soft" drugs are treated as seriously as "hard" drugs. Within Oman, alcohol can be purchased only by personal licence or at licensed hotels and restaurants.  

Homosexuality is illegal in Oman.

See our Your Trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
British passport holders can obtain an entry visa upon arrival at any land, sea or air entry port in Oman. 

There are two options:

  • A one-month combined tourist/business visa costing 20 Omani Rials (OMR).  This can be extended for one month for a further OMR20;
  • A one year multiple entry visa, which is valid for three weeks, after which nationals must leave Oman for at least three weeks before returning.  The cost


Entry Requirements - Travelling with Medication
Some prescription medicines common in the United Kingdom are banned in Oman. If you are travelling to Oman with prescription drugs, you should carry a copy of the prescription. If you have any queries, you are advised to check well in advance with Oman's Ministry of Health.

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. 

Health

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS. You should seek medical advice before travelling to Oman and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health page.

Natural disasters

Monsoons
Whilst Oman's climate is generally dry, heavy rains can fall. Such rains have caused flash flooding, including in December 2009. Such flash floods have caused injuries and deaths.  You should check local weather forecasts and seek advice about travelling conditions particularly if considering any off-road travel and adventure tourism, including to Wadi areas.

General

General - Insurance  
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling, including provision for medical evacuation by air ambulance. You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is How We Can Help.

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. More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.

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Contacts

Oman, Muscat, British Embassy

Address:

British Embassy
PO Box 185
Mina Al Fahal
Postal Code 116
Sultanate of Oman

Telephone:

(+968) 2460 9000 Emergencies
(+968) 2460 9002 Commercial
(+968) 2460 9251 Consular
(+968) 2460 9224 Defence

Fax:

(+968) 2460 9010 General
(+968) 2460 9011 Consular
(+968) 2460 9013 Chancery
(+968) 2460 9012 Commercial

Email: mailto:Muscat.EnquiriesWebsite@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

Sat-Wed: 0330-1030 GMT
Sat-Wed: 0730-1430 Local Time
Sat-Wed: Consular opening hours 0900 - 1300 Local Time

Website: http://ukinoman.fco.gov.uk/en

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