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Lebanon

If you’re travelling to Lebanon, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

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.

Overview

Security status

Irish citizens are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in Lebanon due to heightened political and sectarian tensions and an increased threat of terrorist incidents at this time.

Latest travel alerts

Political tensions and security concerns are heightened at present as a result of unrest in neighbouring Syria and the wider region. Protests, armed clashes and kidnappings of foreigners have occurred throughout the country and certain areas of the country should be avoided, such as the southern suburbs of Beirut, north Lebanon, near border areas and in refugee camps.

There is a threat of terrorist attacks, which could occur at any time in the country. Lebanese security authorities are at a high state of alert and conducting security operations across Lebanon. If you notice or suspect a security incident is underway, you should immediately leave the area. You should be vigilant at all times, avoid crowds and crowded places and follow the advice of the Lebanese authorities.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand; try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

There is no Irish Embassy in Lebanon, so we are limited in the help we can provide in the event of an emergency. You can contact the Embassy of Ireland in Cairo if you require assistance or advice. Irish citizens with a genuine emergency can leave a voicemail message on the outside of office hours. Make sure to leave your name, mobile number, current location and the nature of the emergency. An Embassy Duty Officer will return your call.

Other EU Embassies  

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

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 in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates    
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

 

Safety and security

Political unrest

The political situation in Lebanon is fragile and has the potential to deteriorate quickly. Regional developments also have the potential to trigger popular unrest.

If you’re in Lebanon, we advise you to exercise extreme caution and to consider your need to remain there, to monitor this travel advice and the local media for updates on the situation.

Regional tensions

Political tensions and security concerns are heightened at present as a result of unrest in neighbouring Syria and the wider region. Syrian military forces have made several incursions into Lebanese territory. Protests, sectarian violence and kidnappings of foreigners have occurred throughout the country, particularly in the northern city of Tripoli.

Terrorism

There have been a number of attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants, mainly in the south. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and Lebanese Government interests, particularly the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), have been targeted for attacks by some of the militant groups, some of these involving fatalities.

Landmines

Unexploded ordnance, particularly in the South, and in the Bekaa Valley, is a risk. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with your local contact before travelling to affected regions.

Kidnapping

Foreign nationals can be potential targets for kidnapping throughout Lebanon, particularly in the northern city of Tripoli and Baalbek or other parts of the Bekaa Valley, where we strongly advise you to keep to the main roads and larger towns.

Protests and Demonstrations

Protest and demonstrations can turn violent with little warning. We strongly advise all Irish citizens in Lebanon to avoid all protests and demonstrations. If caught up in a demonstration Irish citizens should not attempt to take photos and should leave the area immediately.

Crime

The risk to tourists from petty or violent crime is low in Lebanon, though vehicle crime is on the increase. You should always take sensible precautions: 

  • 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.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Lebanon, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact the Honorary Consul in Beirut or the Irish Embassy in Cairo if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Lebanon, you should be extremely careful as the accident rate is high and road standards are variable. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance. Your international driving permit must be certified by authorities on arrival
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
  • Avoid driving outside the main cities at night

Road closures

The road to the airport can be closed sporadically due to various factors, including local sectarian clashes, civil unrest in Syria and protests against government policies.

Diesel engines

If you’re driving your own car in Lebanon, be aware that vehicles with diesel engines are now banned.

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

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Muslim culture

Although Lebanon may seem less conservative than its neighbours in the region, we recommend you dress modestly when visiting sites of religious significance, and areas outside the main cities.

Ramadan

During the holy month of Ramadan, avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public in certain areas as this may cause offence.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Local laws

While you’re in Lebanon, you’re subject to local laws, including ones that may seem harsh by Irish standards. For example, the laws around custody of children are significantly different to those in force in Ireland, so if you’re a parent, you should be aware of your legal position.

If you have to deal with any legal matters in Lebanon, particularly about family law, we strongly advise you to get professional legal advice.

Photography

It’s against the law to photograph or video government buildings or military personnel, equipment and installations.

Climate

The temperature in certain areas of Lebanon during the summer months in some areas can reach over 40 degrees Celsius and you should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Earthquake

Lebanon is in an active earthquake zone. If you’re travelling to or living in Lebanon, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.

Forest fires

Bush and forest fires are common during the summer months in Lebanon (usually June to September) particularly in heavily-forested areas. Follow local reports closely for warnings of forest fires and avoid any areas that may have fire warnings in place.

Sand storms

Sand and dust storms are also common so follow local reports closely for warnings.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens need a visa to enter Lebanon, which is usually available on arrival to tourists travelling on ordinary passports. If you want more information on the entry requirements for Lebanon, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy of Lebanon in London.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Regional travel

Having Israeli stamps in your passport or entry/exit stamps from Egypt’s and Jordan’s borders with Israel will prevent your entry into Lebanon.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Lebanon.

Water

In general, tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap and readily available.