Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
We advise against all travel to Afghanistan.
Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Afghanistan, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
We suggest you learn as much as you can about Afghanistan before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Afghanistan, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
EU Directive on Consular Protection
Under the EU Consular Protection Directive, Irish nationals may seek assistance from the Embassy or Consulate of any other EU member state in a country where there is no Irish Embassy or permanent representation.
Our tips for safe travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and security
We advise against all travel to Afghanistan.
If you are already in the country, we advise you to consider leaving the country by commercial carrier while it is still possible to do so. In a deteriorating situation, we cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there.
The security situation in Afghanistan remains serious and the threat to Westerners from terrorist or criminal violence, including kidnappings, remains high.
If you consider your presence in Afghanistan is essential, you should have adequate and continuous professional close security arrangements and ensure they are regularly reviewed.
If you’re going to be in Afghanistan for an extended length of time, we strongly advise you to register with one of the EU Embassies in Kabul.
The threat from terrorism in Afghanistan is extremely high. Attacks are often indiscriminate and may include civilian targets, including places frequented by expatriates.
You should take sensible precautions against crime in Afghanistan:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Afghanistan, report it to the local police immediately.
If you’re planning to drive in Afghanistan, you should be extremely careful. Most road surfaces are in very poor condition. The overall standard of driving is poor and most local drivers are uninsured.
If you want to drive, bring your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Afghanistan is a Muslim country in which Islamic law, customs and dress are universally respected. You should respect them fully. You may not seek to convert Muslims to other faiths.
When travelling in Afghanistan, take care not to offend local culture or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or other religious festivals. Be conscious of your dress and behaviour if you intend to visit places of worship.
During Ramadan, Muslims are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke during daylight hours. To avoid offence, you should not eat, drink or smoke in public during this time. Guide books, local hoteliers and tour guides can be good sources of information for how to behave and dress respectfully.
Sharia law is an Islamic body of law and moral code. Penalties under Sharia law can be very severe, particularly for offences such as theft and adultery. If you’re travelling in an area governed by Sharia law, we advise you to respect local religious traditions and avoid offending local sensitivities. Travellers should dress conservatively and women are advised to cover their legs, arms and head.
Female travellers can face particular issues around security and dealing with the religious and cultural beliefs of the countries they visit (especially if they’re travelling alone). We advise you to do some research before you travel, so you know what to expect.
Some quick tips include:
- Always take basic personal safety precautions, such as not walking alone at night or in quiet areas.
- Don’t leave your food or drink unattended.
- Keep details of your travel plans and where you’re staying to yourself.
- Dress modestly if you’re in a Muslim or socially conservative country.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan. Caution and discretion are advised at all times.
It is illegal to import and use narcotics, alcohol and pork products.
Photography of government buildings, military installations and palaces is not allowed. You should avoid photographing local people without their agreement.
If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Afghanistan, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in London. You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.
If your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad, we can help.
What we can do:
- Issue you a replacement passport that will let you finish your trip, or;
- Issue you with an emergency travel document to get you home.
We’ll do our best to help you as quickly as possible but this can take some time. Your location and circumstances may limit the help we can give you. Is Ireland does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Afghanistan there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.
You should contact the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate to find out what you need to do to apply for a passport. They will also be able to advise you on the fees which apply.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least six weeks before you travel. We can’t advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.
Polio vaccination is recommended for all travellers from Ireland to countries where polio transmission is a risk. Before travelling to areas where poliomyelitis cases are still occurring, travellers should ensure that they have completed the recommended age-appropriate polio vaccine schedule and have received a booster dose, if necessary. More information is available on the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre website.
Evidence of vaccination (in the form of a certificate) can be a requirement for entry to some countries.
Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.