Safety and security

Crime

Crime levels are low. But there are incidents of pick pocketing, bag snatching, theft from cars and burglary involving British or other foreign nationals. There have been occasional shooting incidents, chiefly related to organised crime. Although tourists and foreigners have not been targeted, there is a risk of being caught up in such events and you should remain vigilant at all times.

  • don’t carry your passport, credit card, travel tickets and money together.
  • leave spare cash, passports and valuables in a safe place.
  • take the same personal safety precautions on the street and when using ATMs as you would in the UK. 
  • take particular care if using an ATM after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.

The police in Armenia have discovered and closed an internet ring targeting British and Europeans through on-line dating agencies. Never part with money or share personal information including date of birth, address or financial information to someone that you have never met.

Local travel

The FCO advise against all travel within 5km of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Tavush and Gegharkunik regions, and along the M16/H26 road between the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberyan.

The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is closed. There are frequent violations of the 1994 ceasefire between these countries from military emplacements along the border. There have been periods of increased tension which can make the security situation in border regions unpredictable.

Visitors travelling from Yerevan into Georgia should do so via the towns of Vanadzor/Alaverdi or Gyumri.

The land border with Turkey is also closed, although there are occasional direct flights between Yerevan and Istanbul.

The main alternative route to Georgia (Yerevan-Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Bagratashen) will be closed for maintenance work for an estimated 32 months from September 2016. If you’re travelling by road between Yerevan and Tbilisi, use the route: Yerevan – Spitak –Stepanavan (M3) – Tashir – Georgian Border (Gogavan) – Bolnisi – Marneuli – Tbilisi.

Travelling in the South Caucasus can be unpredictable and infrastructure is sometimes in a poor state of repair. You should plan your travel carefully.

Road travel

You can drive in Armenia on an International Driving Permit. The local standard of driving is poor. Be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and flout traffic laws. Roads are in a poor state, particularly in the coldest months (November to February). If you are walking, be careful when crossing roads and use subways where available.

Avoid using local buses or minibuses as they’re often poorly maintained and sometimes overcrowded.

Rail travel

Public transport is often overcrowded and poorly maintained. If you have to travel by train, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside. 

Air travel

A list of incidents and accidents in Armenia can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

In 2007, an International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Armenia was above the global average.

You can see a list of airlines banned from operating within the EU on the  European Commission website. The list is based on random inspections on aircraft of airlines that operate flights to and from EU airports. The fact that an airline is not included in the list does not automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

Political situation

The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved. The British Embassy can’t provide advice or consular assistance to visitors to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although a ceasefire has been in place since May 1994, the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian forces are closed.

There are no peacekeeping forces separating the two sides. There are regular exchanges of sniper fire and some skirmishes. The border areas also contain mines and unexploded ordnance. Any foreigners venturing within 5km of these borders are liable to be stopped by the police or the military.

Telephone and internet communications

Communication by telephone and e-mail can sometimes be difficult especially in the regions. Not all British mobile phones work in Armenia; check for coverage before leaving the UK if you intend to rely on it.

Access to wifi in cafes and restaurants is spreading but not guaranteed. Most hotels offer a wifi service but it can be slow and sometimes unreliable. Make sure family and friends who expect regular contact are aware of this to avoid unnecessary worry.