Djibouti is a developing east African country on the shore of the Red Sea that achieved independence from France in 1977. It is governed by an elected president and parliament. Modern tourist facilities are limited.
A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. Police occasionally stop travelers on the main roads leading out of Djibouti City to check identity documents.
Travelers may obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 331-0270 or at the Djibouti Mission to the United Nations, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4011, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 753-3163. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Djiboutian embassy or consulate.
Travelers should exercise caution when traveling to any remote area of the country, including the borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, since the Djiboutian security forces do not have a widespread presence in those regions. U.S. citizens are advised to keep themselves informed of regional developments and to register with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti City upon arrival in Djibouti.
Petty crime occurs occasionally in the capital and elsewhere in the country. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on safeguarding valuables and personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
Medical facilities are limited and medicines are often unavailable.
U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Djibouti is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Landmines are known to be present in the northern districts of Tadjoureh and Obock. In addition, mines are believed to be present in the Ali Sabieh district in the south. Travelers should stay on paved roads and should check with local authorities before using unpaved roads. Travel by road is not recommended from Tadjoureh City to Obock district due to the presence of landmines on the main and side roads and the very poor condition of the roadway. The two main international routes to Djibouti City via Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, and Yoboki, Djibouti, are in poor condition due to the passage of 1000 heavily-laden trucks per day. The presence of so many trucks on those routes demands vigilance by drivers. Major roads outside the capital are paved, but lack guardrails in some areas, and railroad crossings are not clearly marked.
Responsibility for road safety in Djibouti is shared by the Department of Defense and the national police force. Due to narrow, poorly maintained, and poorly lit streets, drivers and pedestrians in Djibouti City should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards. Speed limits are posted occasionally, but are not enforced. The stimulant drug khat is widely used, particularly in the afternoons, creating another traffic hazard. Travelers should be aware that police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night.
There are two only forms of public inter-city travel: bus and a ferry that goes between Djibouti City and the towns of Tadjoureh and Obock. The buses are poorly maintained and their operators often drive erratically with little regard for passenger safety.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: None
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the laws of Djibouti, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for use, possession, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Although the mild stimulant khat is legal and widely used in Djibouti, it is considered an illegal substance in many countries, including the United States.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Djibouti. The U.S. Embassy is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City. The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti. The telephone number is (253) 35-39-95. Normal working hours are Sunday through Thursday, 7:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. The after-hours number is (253) 35-13-43, and the fax number is (253) 35-39-40. Web address is: http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/dj1/wwwhindex.html