Asia and Oceania

Mongolia Flag of Mongolia

Still current at: 11 June 2008
Updated: 09 June 2008


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Air Travel (Mongolia's Civil Aviation Authority have lifted their suspension on Aero Mongolia flights but the airline is only permitted to operate domestically) and Health sections (over 1,000 cases of Foot and Mouth infections so far in 2008).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • Communications and health facilities in Mongolia, particularly outside Ulaanbaatar, can be poor.

  • If you are entering Mongolia by road, you should be aware that only a few specified border crossings are open to foreigners. See the Entry Requirements (Border Crossings) section of this advice for more details.

  • There were 5,893 visits by British nationals to Mongolia in 2006 (Source: Ministry of Road, Transport & Tourism). Most visits are trouble-free. The main type of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Mongolia in 2007 was for replacing passports, which have been lost, stolen or expired.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Mongolia.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details. 

Safety and security

Terrorism
 
There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  For further information see Terrorism Abroad.
 
Crime
 
While Mongolia is relatively safe, violent muggings and attacks do occur in Ulaanbaatar.  You should avoid going out alone and on foot at night.  Instead use the clearly identifiable and inexpensive taxis.
 
Petty crime is common in Ulaanbaatar, particularly pick-pocketing and the slashing of bags in order to steal passports, wallets and purses in markets or public places.
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation
 
Mongolia has a stable democratic parliamentary system.  Parliamentary elections were held in June 2004.  However, after a majority of the cabinet resigned in January 2006 in the protest of the countries domestic political course, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party gained agreement from other political parties to form a new coalition government.  The next Parliamentary elections are due in June 08, and Presidential elections in 09.
 
Mongolia Country Profile
 
Local Travel
 
Travelling in Mongolia, particularly outside Ulaanbaatar, can be very difficult.  If you are planning to travel into the countryside, you should consider carrying a Global Positioning System and emergency communications, such as a satellite phone.  Mongolia is a country of extreme weather, from +35C in summer to –35C (and lower) in winter.  Even in summer, due to the altitude, evenings can be cold and weather conditions change without warning.  You should be prepared for all conditions and prepare accordingly.
 
Road Travel
 
The standard of driving in Mongolia is poor.  Fatal accidents frequently occur.  You should wear a seatbelt whenever fitted.  There are few tarmac roads, especially outside Ulaanbaatar.  The maintenance of vehicles is also poor and breakdowns are frequent, which can lead to long delays to already long journeys.  An International Driving Permit is required.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.

Air Travel

There are doubts about the maintenance of Mongolian-registered aircraft used by domestic airlines for internal flights and short-haul international flights. We are not aware of similar concerns about the maintenance of aircraft operated by internationally based charter operations. While we are not able to make a formal assessment of all domestic airlines in Mongolia, British Embassy staff do use Eznis for internal flights. The UN forbid their staff to use some domestic airlines, except in an emergency. The British Embassy has also received occasional reports of maintenance problems interrupting some long-haul international flights operated by domestic airlines. You should bear this in mind when making your travel plans. Bad weather can delay many domestic and international flights, sometimes for several days.

Mongolia's Civil Aviation Authority recently suspended all flights operated by Aero Mongolia because of safety concerns. This ban has now been lifted but the airline is only permitted to operate domestically.

Local laws and customs

Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in very basic conditions.
 
Although not illegal, homosexuality is a taboo subject among Mongolians.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas
 
All British passport holders must have a Mongolian visa.  A Mongolian visa (for up to 30 days stay) is normally valid for six months from the date of issue and should be obtained from your nearest Mongolian Embassy before travelling.  Your passport must be valid for more than six months after the date you intend to enter Mongolia.

British passport holders need visas to enter China and Russia.  Many travellers have reported considerable difficulties in obtaining Russian visas in Ulaanbaatar.  We advise you to obtain all necessary visas for your onward travel before entering Mongolia.  British passport holders may transit China without a visa provided they are in transit for less than 24 hours and do not leave the transit area.  However, not all airlines offer a transit facility and your transfer may therefore involve retrieving baggage and returning to the check-in hall.  Mongolian Airlines are in this category.  You should therefore consider obtaining a Chinese visa to smooth your journey.  British passport holders may transit Russia without a visa provided the route does not involve changing airports or leaving the transit area.

Passport validity

Your passport must be valid for more than six months after the date you intend to enter Mongolia.
 
Travelling with children
 
Adults accompanying children other than their own should have a notarised letter from the legal guardians of the child stating that they are accompanying them. 
 
Registration
 
You should register your stay in Mongolia with the Foreign Citizen’s Bureau in Ulaanbaatar within your first week of arriving you if intend to remain for more than 30 days, or if you do not have an "Entry/Exit" visa.  You must also de-register before leaving Mongolia, at the Foreign Citizens’ Bureau.  After de-registering, you must obtain an "Exit" visa from the Consular Department of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  If you do not take these steps, you will not be allowed to leave the country, you may also be fined.
 
Address for the Office of Immigration, Naturalisation and Foreign Citizens:
 
11 Chinggis Avenue
Sukhbaatar District
Ulaanbaatar
 
Tel: 976 11 321704
Fax: 976 11 313259
Email: gihaea@mongolnet.mn
Web-site: www.mnimmigration.mn
 
Border Crossing

There are only six border points open to British passport holders.  They are at Ulaanbaatar’s international airport; the road/train crossing to China at Zamin Uud, the road crossing to China at Tsagaannuur in the far west; the train crossing to Russia at Sukhbaatar and the road crossings to Russia at Altanbulag and Ereen-Tsav in the north east.  You cannot cross into China or Russia at any of the other border points, as they that are either seasonal or are only open to Mongolians and/or Chinese/Russians.  If you are planning to bring a vehicle into Mongolia at any of these crossings you should inform the tax authorities and border troops in advance.

We are also aware that you may encounter problems when entering Mongolia by train from Russia.  These problems are usually with the Russian border or customs officials and are as a result of incorrectly completed Russian customs declarations.  If you are crossing at this point, you are strongly advised to you to read the Travel Advice Russia and be scrupulous about correctly completing all possible paperwork when you enter and exit Russia.  There can also be lengthy delays (often for several hours) for train passengers travelling across the China/Mongolia border, because of the need to change gauges.

Health

Healthcare facilities in the countryside are very poor.  Organising an evacuation to Ulaanbaatar or another country can be extremely difficult and expensive without adequate travel insurance.  Even in Ulaanbaatar, only basic healthcare is available.  Medicines are scarce in the countryside and you should bring basic supplies, including any regular prescription drugs with you.

Due to the generally poor quality of medical facilities in Mongolia, British Embassy staff are not currently allowed to bring children to live permanently at post, though they can visit on holiday.

Mongolia has occasional outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and other infectious diseases.  During these outbreaks affected areas may be quarantined and you may not be able to travel to them.  If you are in an affected area, you may not be allowed to leave.  So far in 2008 there have been over 1,000 people infected with Foot and Mouth.  Also, during the summer hunting season, there may be isolated cases of bubonic plague, but these are usually confined to the marmot hunters.

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 Mongolia 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 National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that there have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) among migrating birds in Mongolia, most recently in August 2005, in the northern province of Khovsgol.  No human infections or deaths have been reported.
 
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
 
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and health insurance before travelling to Mongolia.  This should cover the cost of medical treatment, including hospitalisation and evacuation by air ambulance.  You should also ensure that your insurance covers unexpected losses or expenses such as lost luggage, stolen cash and credit cards, missed flights, etc.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
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.
 
Keep a photocopy of your passport data page and visas as well as numbers of your travellers' cheques safely and separate from your originals.  This makes replacement of lost/stolen originals simpler.  You should register at the British Embassy, even if you are only staying in Mongolia for a few days and especially if you are travelling into the countryside.
 
Money
 
Mongolia is a cash-based society with credit cards slowly becoming accepted.  US Dollar travellers' cheques can be easily cashed and converted to Mongolian Togrogs.  You can transfer money to Mongolia using commercial means such as Western Union or Money Gram.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, British Embassy

Address:

British Embassy
30 Enkh Taivny Gudamzh
(P O Box 703)
Ulaanbaatar 13

Telephone:

(976) (11) 458133

Fax:

(976) (11) 458036

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0030-0500 & 0600-0900
Fri: 0030-0530

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0830-1300 & 1400-1700
Fri: 0830-1330

Website: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1087554253488