Foreign travel advice

Somalia

Important COVID-19 travel guidance

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.

This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice, so check our travel guidance.

Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Somalia, including kidnapping.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a high threat to Western, including British, interests in Somalia, including Somaliland. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in crowded places, high-profile events, events involving government officials and in places visited by foreigners, such as hotels and restaurants.

On 13 July 2019 there was an attack on the Asasey hotel in the city of Kismaayo, southern Somalia. It was reported that at least 26 people were killed and over 50 injured. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.

On 14 October 2017 a large truck bomb exploded in central Mogadishu (Hodan District). This was Somalia’s deadliest ever terror attack with over 300 killed and hundreds more injured.

Al Shabaab, a terrorist group proscribed in the UK, and other groups opposed to the Somali government continue to carry out frequent attacks in and around Mogadishu. Terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against Westerners and those working for Western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings, explosions, gun attacks, mortar attacks, improvised explosive devices and the bombing of a commercial aircraft. Attacks have previously been targeted at government officials and institutions, hotels, restaurants and public transport including the international airport. Further attacks could occur at any time. There have been no major terrorist attacks in Somaliland since 2008. While attacks occur less frequently in Somaliland, terrorists are still very likely to try to carry out attacks.

Kidnaps

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Somalia, including in regions bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, and in Somaliland. Both terrorists and criminal groups, including piracy groups, are involved in hostage-taking. A number of Western nationals, including British nationals, have been kidnapped in Somalia over the last 10 years and some have been killed. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

If you’re working or travelling in Somalia, including in Somaliland, you should be aware of the risk of kidnapping. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times, including when travelling, in crowded public places, camps for displaced people, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants and transport hubs. You should make sure you have carefully considered the threat and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.