Safety and security
Crime continues to be a problem in East Timor, including gang-related violence, robbery (in some cases armed), assault and attacks on vehicles.
There have been a number of attacks on foreigners in Dili, including bag-snatchings, during the hours of daylight and darkness. Be vigilant at all times and avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery or carrying large sums of money. There have been reports of harassment and violence against women (including foreigners).
There are occasional violent incidents at nightclubs in Dili.
There are occasional incidents of fighting between groups in various districts around East Timor, often but not always related to martial arts groups. These incidents often involve stone throwing and occasionally machetes and knives. Most happen at night. Foreigners haven’t been targeted, but leave the area immediately if you’re aware of fighting.
Take care if you go outside after dark. Avoid travelling alone or to isolated areas.
In rural areas there is a danger from unexploded ordnance from World War II and the Indonesian occupation. Don’t stray off well-used roads and paths.
Crocodiles have been seen at beaches near Dili.
Be particularly vigilant in border areas.
Poor road quality makes driving in East Timor hazardous. Accidents are frequent especially involving motorcycles.
Drivers must hold a current driving licence valid for the class of vehicle they plan to drive. Third Party motor vehicle insurance is not available.
Take extra care when it’s wet. Outside of Dili travel in convoy whenever possible. Main routes are often single-track mountain roads, which can deteriorate rapidly and become impassable, particularly during the rainy season (December-April).
There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in neighbouring waters. Mariners should be vigilant, reduce opportunities for theft, establish secure areas onboard and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.
The UN peacekeeping operation ended its mandate in December 2012. The security situation in East Timor has improved but underlying tensions remain and the security situation could deteriorate with little warning.
If you become aware of any nearby military activity you should leave the area immediately. If you are inside and become aware of military operations in your immediate area you should take cover away from windows.
Avoid any demonstrations and large crowds, as these have the potential to deteriorate quickly and turn violent. Areas where there have been violent incidents in the past include government buildings (including the Palacio da Cinzas and Palacio da Governo) and on the road to the Nicolau Lobato international airport, close to Comoro market.
Make sure your travel documents are up-to-date and available in case you need to leave at short notice. Keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport to avoid any complications.