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 you to exercise a high degree of caution.
Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Timor Leste 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 Singapore.
We suggest you learn as much as you can about Timor Leste 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 Timor Leste, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
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
Safety and security
Crime continues to be a problem in Timor-Leste, 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 expatriates).
There are occasional violent incidents at nightclubs in Dili.
There are occasional incidents of fighting between groups in various districts around Timor-Leste, often but not always related to martial arts groups. These incidents often involve stone throwing and occasionally machetes and knives. Most happen at night.
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
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 and an increasing number of cars, especially in Dili, make driving in Timor-Leste hazardous. Accidents are frequent.
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 is wet. 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 Timor-Leste 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.
Local laws and customs
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.
Don't become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for breaking the law can be severe.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
You can’t get an entry permit when you arrive at the land border with West Timor so if you want to enter Timor Leste via the border with Indonesia, you need to get an entry permit in advance from the Immigration Department of Timor Leste.
If you’re arriving in the country by air, you can get an entry permit on arrival at Dili Airport. An entry permit is normally issued for visits of up to 30 days. Fees for these permits can change regularly so you should check with the Immigration Department for up-to-date information about the entry permit.
It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Timor-Leste and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.
Medical services in Timor-Leste are limited, particularly outside Dili. There are very few dental and optical services. In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation to Australia or Singapore is likely to be the only option for treatment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Before travelling, get up-to-date medical advice as to whether you will need anti-malarial medication. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are common throughout Timor-Leste. There is usually an increase in dengue cases during the rainy season, which runs from November to April.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 110 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
We recommend that you drink only boiled or bottled water during your stay.
More travel advice
Because we don’t have an Embassy or Consulate in Timor-Leste, we can’t give you up-to-date travel advice. But you can visit these foreign ministries for more detailed information:
- Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- USA: Department of State
- Canada: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
- New Zealand: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- UK: Foreign and Commonwealth Office