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Sudan

If you’re travelling to Sudan, 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

We advise you to avoid non-essential travel to Sudan.

Latest Travel Alert       

There is a state of emergency in the five states bordering South Sudan, which gives the government expanded powers of arrest. You should avoid all travel to the Abyei region and adjoining areas, and to the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile where there are regular outbreaks of violence. We also advise against all travel to parts of Darfur, where the situation remains extremely unstable, and to areas of Eastern Sudan close to the border with Eritrea.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy in Sudan, 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 Nairobi in Kenya or Honorary Consul in Khartoum or our Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Sudan 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 Sudan, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Other EU embassies

You can contact the Embassies and Consulates of other EU countries represented in Sudan 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

Unrest

The security situation is generally unstable in a number of regions in Sudan. In 2012, the President declared a state of emergency in the five states bordering South Sudan, which give the government expanded powers of arrest. There are reports of arbitrary detentions in different parts of the country, including Khartoum, and foreign nationals may be affected by this.

Avoid all travel to the Abyei region and adjoining areas, and to the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile where there are regular outbreaks of violence.

We also advise against all travel to parts of Darfur, where the situation remains extremely unstable, and to areas of Eastern Sudan close to the border with Eritrea.

Be extremely cautious around areas that may be sensitive to the government, including military installations, border areas and camps for internationally-displaced persons.

Demonstrations

In the past year, there have been frequent demonstrations, often leading to violent clashes in Khartoum and other cities and several Embassies have been attacked. Protests have taken place in response to rising prices and austerity measures, but also in response to perceived insults to Islam and other international events. They have led to violent clashes between security forces and protestors.

You should avoid all protests and demonstrations and should not try to take photographs of demonstrations. If caught up in a demonstration, leave the area immediately. Closely monitor the local media for updates on the situation.

Regional travel

You’ll need locally-obtained permits for all travel to many destinations outside Khartoum, including Darfur.

The Wadi Halfa border crossing between Egypt and Sudan is open and there is a weekly steamer between Aswan High Dam and Wadi Halfa with a connecting train to/from Khartoum. Don’t attempt to cross any other land borders, whether or not at official crossing points.

Terrorism

There is a risk of terrorism in all parts of Sudan including Khartoum.

Kidnapping

There is a risk of kidnapping in all parts of Sudan including Khartoum.

Landmines

Landmines pose a threat in rural areas in many parts of the country. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with your local contact before travelling to affected regions.

Crime

The incidence of street crime in Khartoum and other major northern Sudanese cities, other than in Darfur, is low compared to many parts of Africa.  However, you should exercise caution, particularly after dark.  Always take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
  • Take a number of photocopies of your passport with you in case your passport is lost or stolen. 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
  • 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
  • Women should take particular care if travelling alone

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Sudan, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Embassy in Nairobi in Kenya or Honorary Consul in Khartoum if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Sudan, you should be careful. Driving conditions can be hazardous, and roads poor. Avoid driving at night and without a guide. 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
  • Sudanese law prohibits the use of mobile phones whilst driving 
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Desert driving

Desert travel within Sudan should be attempted only if you’re fully equipped and experienced.

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).

Public transport

Be aware that many public transport vehicles are unsafe and consider alternative methods of transport.

Air travel

Sudan has many operating local airlines. However, there are serious concerns about their safety and reliability. Many of these airlines are banned from operating in European airspace.

 

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

Sudan 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 Sudan, 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

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

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 from the country you’re visiting.

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 drugs

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

Alcohol

Alcohol is not permitted in Sudan. 

LGBT

Homosexual practices and extramarital relations are illegal and subject to severe penalties under Islamic Sharia law.

Photography

You need a permit for photography. Even with a permit, photographing airports, military cars, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas or beggars is strictly prohibited.

Family law

Parents in particular should be aware that local laws regarding custody of children are significantly different to those in force in Ireland. If you are involved in any legal matters, particularly with regard to family law, we strongly advise you to seek professional legal advice.

 

Health

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.

Yellow fever

There has been an outbreak of yellow fever across Sudan. Travellers to Sudan should ensure they have been vaccinated against yellow fever and should bring their vaccination certificate with them.

Medication

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.

Water

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

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure about the entry requirements for Sudan, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the Embassy of Sudan in London.

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

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Sudan and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.

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. As Ireland does not have an Embassy in Sudan there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.

You should contact the Embassy in Nairobi in Kenya or Honorary Consul in Khartoum or 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.

Climate

The temperature in the summer months in some areas can reach over 40 degrees Celsius. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Sudan can suffer from drought.

Flooding

Sudan sometimes suffers from flash flooding. If you are planning to travel overland to remote areas during the rainy season, note that flooding can make areas inaccessible by road.

Sandstorms

Sudan also experiences sandstorms.

Money

Credit cards and travellers' cheques are not usually accepted in Sudan. It’s not possible to get cash against credit cards at banks and credit cards are not accepted at hotels to settle bills. Neither is it possible to cash travellers' cheques through the local banking system in Sudan. Make sure you have enough hard currency, preferably US dollars, to cover expenses during your stay.