Local laws and customs

There is a large Muslim population and generally Ethiopians dress in a conservative manner. 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, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

The Ethiopian Highlands are mostly Orthodox Christian with ‘fasting’ each Wednesday, Friday and during Lent when only vegetarian dishes are available (except in larger hotels).

You will need an export certificate to take antiques out of the country, otherwise the items are likely to be confiscated and you may face prosecution.

Owning ivory is strictly prohibited. A number of British nationals found with ivory jewellery have had their items confiscated by authorities and fined between 5,000 – 25,000 birr.

Homosexual acts (applying to both sexes) are illegal, and carry penalties of between 1 and 15 years imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Drug offences are treated seriously in Ethiopia. Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind.

It is illegal to carry more than 200 birr when entering or leaving Ethiopia. If you are found to be carrying in excess of 200 birr the money will be seized and a prison sentence is possible.

You must declare to customs officials on entry or exit any cash in excess of $3,000 (or the equivalent in other foreign currencies)Travellers leaving Ethiopia with more than $3,000 must present a bank advice notice if the currency was purchased from a local bank or a valid customs declaration form obtained at the point of entry. A bank advice notice or customs declaration form becomes invalid if 45 days or more have elapsed since the date of issue.