The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately. On July 26, 2014, the U.S. Embassy suspended all embassy operations in Libya and relocated staff outside of the country because of violence between Libyan militias. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli remains closed, and the security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. U.S. citizens in Libya should make contingency emergency plans and maintain situational awareness at all times. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on June 9, 2016.
On July 26, 2014 the U.S. Embassy suspended operations in Libya. The Department of State has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens in Libya.
Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Libya to LibyaACS@state.gov. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747. Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.
Recent worldwide terrorism alerts, including the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East region, including Libya.
Tripoli and other cities have witnessed fighting between armed groups and government forces as well as terrorist attacks. Hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Militia controlled checkpoints are common. Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary reasons, do not grant detainees access to a lawyer or legal process, and do not allow detainees to inform others of their status. U.S. citizens should carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times but be aware that these documents do not guarantee fair treatment. The Department of State has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained in Libya.
Most international airports are closed, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. On December 23, 2016 an airplane traveling from Sabha to Tripoli was hijacked and diverted to Malta by armed men threatening to blow up the plane. The U.S. government is very concerned about the targeting of commercial transportation in Libya, and prohibits U.S. commercial aviation operations within Libyan airspace. Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Libya, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Seaports and roads can also close with little or no warning. Violence in Libya against civilian commercial interests raises serious concerns about the safety of maritime vessels and their crews. The Libyan National Army (LNA) announced on January 7, 2015 that all vessels in Libyan waters require LNA approval for transit, following the January 4, 2015 bombing of a Greek-operated oil tanker that killed two crewmen near Derna, Libya. Vessels are advised to proceed with extreme caution when approaching all Libyan oil terminals and ports. Mariners planning travel to Libya should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Updates may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”) advisories.
Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests. Threats against U.S. citizens may include murder or kidnapping. ISIL claimed responsibility for two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in Tripoli in September 2016.
U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom.
If travel in the desert or border regions of Libya is critically necessary, exercise caution and comply with local regulations. Terrorist organizations, including Islamic State-affiliated groups and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, continue to threaten the region. Recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the border region, where extremists have kidnapped Westerners, most recently two Italians and a Canadian citizen in September 2016. Please note the travel warnings and alerts for neighboring countries, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, and Sudan.
For more information:
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Specific Information for Libya.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- As cell phone service is unreliable in Libya, emergency calls may also be placed through the Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.