Safety and security
The level of street crime in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities, with the exception of Darfur, is low but increasing. Many international residents of Sudan avoid the Al Sunat Forest area as there have been reported incidents there, including of foreign nationals being threatened and mugged during daylight hours in March 2019. Incidents of mobile phone and bag-snatching (including drive-by bag snatching by thieves on motorbikes), aggressive begging (including attempts to open the doors of stationary vehicles), petty theft and burglaries do occur. Remain alert and take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Take care not to leave valuable items on display in your car while travelling and keep doors locked and windows closed at all times. If you’re stopped, you should avoid confrontation.
The FCO advises against all but essential travel to much of Sudan, and against all travel to the Darfur states, the Abyei Region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the southern area of West Kordofan state (that was previously part of South Kordofan), within 50km of the border with South Sudan in White Nile and Sennar states, and within 200km of the border with Libya.
A nationwide state of emergency, which gives the authorities greater powers of search, arrest and detention, is currently in place. You should seek local advice before travelling.
There have been reports of arbitrary detentions in different parts of the country, including in Khartoum and including of foreign nationals. Take great care around any areas which may be sensitive to the government, including military installations, border areas and camps for internally displaced persons. Don’t take photographs in these areas.
Permits are no longer officially required to travel outside of Khartoum for the purpose of tourism. Travel outside of Khartoum for any other purpose must be checked with the Aliens Department at the Ministry of Interior.
If you’re planning to travel outside of Khartoum despite FCO advice on all but essential travel, make sure you carry enough fuel for your journey or are confident you will be able to refuel en route, as there have been sporadic acute fuel shortages both within the Khartoum and across the country.
Local travel - Khartoum
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Khartoum.
Nationwide protests which started in December 2018 intensified in April 2019, and on 11 April the Army announced that President Bashir had been replaced by military officers. A military council was established with General Ibn Ouf at its head. He subsequently stepped down and on 12 April General Burhan was sworn in as interim President. The situation remains unpredictable.
In Khartoum protests have been especially focused around the area to the north of the airport, though Khartoum 2, Amarat, Bahri, Omdurman Burri, Haj Yousif and Souq Al-Arabi have also seen regular protests and security operations. Demonstrations have occurred sporadically, particularly following Friday prayers. Live ammunition and tear gas have been used against protestors and fired into the air in celebration. A nightly curfew was introduced on 11 April for Khartoum between the hours of 10pm and 4am. General Burhan announced on 13 April that this would be lifted with immediate effect. The current situation remains volatile. Checkpoints and blockades have appeared with little or no warning on roads near the protest site. Bridges have been closed at short notice restricting travel in and around Khartoum.
You should monitor developments closely and follow the advice of local authorities.
There is a risk of further deterioration and the ability of the British Embassy to offer services to British nationals is currently severely limited across the country.
Local travel - Darfur States
The FCO advise against all travel to the 5 Darfur states (Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Darfur, West Darfur and South Darfur). Reports of protests, armed response and armed clashes in several parts of Darfur are frequent.
The security situation in Darfur is volatile and unstable. Banditry and lawlessness are widespread, and there are frequent violent confrontations between rebel and government forces, between tribes and over economic resources (land, gold), as well as continuing anti-government protests. There are tensions within camps for internally displaced people, which have sometimes resulted in violence and fatalities. Armed robbery and break-ins of guesthouses and other buildings have been reported.
Humanitarian workers and UNAMID peacekeepers are possible targets of attack or for kidnap, and have been caught up in cross-fire and violent incidents. A number of aid workers and peacekeepers have been killed in recent years.
There is a high threat of kidnapping. Kidnappings can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. There have been a number of kidnappings, including of British nationals and other westerners. Kidnap groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets.
If you are in Darfur against FCO advice, you should respect any curfews that are imposed and make sure you are aware of any military operations, conflict and crime patterns. Make sure that you have co-ordinated your movements with UN Security and that all necessary parties have been notified. Anyone seeking entry to the Darfur area, for whatever purpose, must first obtain a special permit from the Sudanese government.
Local travel - rest of Sudan
North Kordofan, West Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar States
The FCO advise against all travel to within 50km of the border with South Sudan in White Nile and Sennar states.
The FCO advise against all travel to the southern area of West Kordofan state that was formerly part of South Kordofan, as shown on the map.
There is a risk of conflict and violence spreading into White Nile, North Kordofan and Sennar states from neighbouring areas. You should maintain high situational awareness and avoid any areas where conflict is reported.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Sudan.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 200km of the border with Libya. There are ongoing media reports of trafficking in people and goods as well as movement of armed militants between the two countries. The FCO currently advise against all travel to Libya and the border is closed to non-African nationals.
South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei
The FCO advise against all travel to the Abyei Administrative Area. The security situation there remains tense and unpredictable.
The FCO advise against all travel to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, due to continuing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudanese People’s Liberation Army - North (SPLA-N).
Landmines and unexploded ordnance are a threat in areas affected by conflict.
East Sudan: Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea States
Although the situation is calm at present it has been subject to instability and could deteriorate rapidly. If you’re travelling by road in Kassala State, you should keep to the major roads, as people-trafficking groups are believed to operate in some areas.
On 31 January 2019 the border between Sudan and Eritrea was reopened, having been closed since January 2018. A heavy security presence remains in the area.
Local tensions in the Galabat area have previously resulted in the closure of the Metema-Galabat border post at short notice. Take care in these areas and check with local authorities on the latest situation before starting your journey.
Road traffic accidents are common in Sudan. There is a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when using public transport or vehicles for hire such as rickshaws and ‘amjad minivans’.
Road conditions are poor and many roads, even major ones, are not tarred or have potholes. Many roads are unsurfaced. Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaws, as well as motor vehicles At night, there is generally no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights.
If your journey doesn’t follow a major route you should travel with an experienced local guide. Many areas south of Khartoum become inaccessible by road during the rainy season from July to October. The wadis (dry riverbeds) are subject to dangerous flash floods and many are not passable during the rains except on a major road.
You can drive in Sudan using a full UK driving licence for a maximum period of 3 months. You can get a local driving licence from the police traffic department. Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many do not have these. Make sure you have adequate insurance.
Sudanese law prohibits the use of mobile phones while driving.
Since 2010, all airlines registered in Sudan have been banned from operating in the EU on the basis of safety assessments by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Incidents of piracy have been reported in the Red Sea around the Gulf of Aden. Be vigilant and seek local advice. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.
If you intend to go ashore along the Red Sea Coast, ensure you have the correct documentation.
Sudan’s political situation remains highly volatile. On 11 April 2019, it was announced that Sudan’s President and government had been removed from office by the military.
Keep a low profile, avoid crowds, monitor local media and keep away from any demonstrations. As a precaution, you should maintain several days’ stock of food and water, and stay indoors until any demonstration or rally in your locality has passed.
You should monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities on where demonstrations may take place.