Ethiopia 2015 Crime and Safety Report
Travel Health and Safety; Transportation Security; Theft; Burglary; Rape/Sexual Violence; Religious Terrorism; Riots/Civil Unrest; Earthquakes; Other; Intellectual Property Rights Infringement; Drug Trafficking; Kidnapping; Disease Outbreak
Africa > Ethiopia; Africa > Ethiopia > Addis Ababa
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a developing country in East Africa. It is comprised of nine regional states and two city administrations (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa). The capital is Addis Ababa. Tourism facilities can be found in the most populous regions of Ethiopia, but infrastructure is basic. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Party maintains strong control of the government and economy. Despite recent years of economic growth, the country remains vulnerable to external economic shocks and recurring drought.
Crime Rating: High
Overall, crime is generally opportunistic and non-violent/non-confrontational. Foreigners (referred to locally as “ferengis”) can be targeted for crimes, as it assumed that they possess valuables and are more susceptible to becoming victims. Pedestrians are targeted most for crimes such as pickpocketing, “snatch and run” thefts (including from occupied vehicles), and other petty crimes. These are generally not planned attacks and are against foreigners unaware of their surroundings. Petty crimes (pickpocketing, purse snatching, and harassment by gangs of youths) occur at random in Addis Ababa. These incidents occur in both the daytime and nighttime but are more common in areas where there are large numbers of pedestrians. Physical violence in these instances is uncommon but does happen on occasion.
Residential burglaries in areas populated by embassy personnel and expatriates are not common but do occur on an isolated basis.
There are reported instances of Western females being victims of sexual assault and/or groping by local males. These reports tend to be made by women in rural towns or villages but can occur anywhere.
Cybercrime is not a major concern. Use of computers by the local population is low, and the level of sophistication with computers is also low.
Areas of Concern
Travelers should exercise caution in crowded areas, and especially in the Mercato in Addis Ababa, a large open-air market.
U.S. citizens are advised that, due to serious safety and security concerns, U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from traveling to the following areas (see attached map):
Ethiopia/Eritrea Border (Northern Ethiopia) depicted in red: Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement in December 2000 that ended their border war. The border remains disputed and is a militarized zone the possibility of armed conflict between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces exists. U.S. government personnel are restricted from travel north of the Shire (Inda Silassie)-Axum-Adigrat road in the Tigray region. Personnel are further restricted from travel north of the road from Dessie through Semera to the Galafi border crossing with Djibouti, including the Danakil Depression and the Erta Ale volcano. In January 2012, a group of foreign tourists were attacked near the Erta Ale volcano in the Afar region near the Eritrean border (approximately 100 miles southeast of Adigrat in the Danakil Depression). The attack resulted in five deaths, three wounded, and four people kidnapped. The victims were European and Ethiopian citizens. Two kidnapped Europeans were released. On February 15, 2012, Ethiopia, which blamed Eritrea for the attack, retaliated by striking Eritrean military camps where the attackers were allegedly trained. This episode illustrates the continuing volatility of the border area.
Somali Region (Eastern Ethiopia) depicted in blue: Travel to Somali regional state is restricted for U.S. government employees, although essential travel is permitted on a case-by-case basis. Since the mid-1990s, members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have conducted attacks on civilian targets in parts of the Somali regional state, particularly in predominantly Ogadeni zones. Expatriates have been killed in these attacks. In 2010, the government initiated peace talks with the ONLF that are ongoing. Despite these talks, incidents of violence continue. Throughout 2013, skirmishes between the ONLF and regional government security forces took place. Some of these incidents involved local civilians. Al-Shabaab maintains a presence in Somali towns near the Ethiopian border, presenting a risk of cross-border attacks targeting foreigners.
Gambella/Benishangul-Gumuz Regions (Western Ethiopia) depicted in green: Sporadic inter-ethnic clashes are a concern throughout the Gambella region. While the security situation in Gambella town is generally calm, rest of the region remains unpredictable. Intensified conflict between Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) has significantly increased refugee flows into western Ethiopia. Ethiopian refugee camps are strictly controlled. All access should be preapproved by the UNHCR and, most importantly, by the host government. Journalists have been detained and deported for not possessing proper permissions when attempting to access to these refugee camps. Travel to the border areas in the Beneshangul Gumuz Region (Assosa) is restricted to major towns north of the area where the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being constructed due to political sensitivity.
Ethiopian/Kenyan Border (Southern Ethiopia) depicted in brown: Along the Kenyan border, banditry and incidents involving ethnic conflicts are common. Security around Moyale is unpredictable, and clashes between Ethiopian forces and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have been reported.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia has the highest rate of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world. Roads are poorly maintained, inadequately marked, and poorly lighted. Road travel after dark outside cities is dangerous and discouraged due to hazards posed by broken-down vehicles in the road, pedestrians and stray animals walking in the road, and the possibility of armed robbery. Road lighting is inadequate at best and nonexistent outside of cities. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of adherence to basic safety standards for vehicles are daily hazards. Many vehicles are unlicensed, and many drivers lack basic driver training or insurance. Emergency services are limited or nonexistent in many parts of the country. Drivers should always carry spare tires, fuel, and tools on long trips, as there is no roadside assistance. U.S. government personnel must limit road travel outside towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible, in case of breakdowns.
Be cautious at all times when traveling on roads. There have been reports of highway robbery, including carjackings, by armed bandits outside urban areas. Some incidents have been accompanied by violence. Limit road travel outside major towns or cities to daylight hours and travel in convoys, if possible, in case of breakdowns. When driving, be wary of other motorists warning you of a mechanical problem or a flat tire. This may be a ruse used by thieves to get you to stop the vehicle. Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times to ensure that you are not being followed.
Always have your car keys ready as you approach your car and be on the lookout for individuals who are waiting close to your car. Move directly from your car to your destination. Check the front and rear seats of your vehicle before entering and lock your doors immediately after entry. Maintain awareness at all times when entering and exiting your vehicle. While in a vehicle, keep your doors locked and the windows rolled up at all times. Keep bags, purses, and valuables out of sight to prevent theft. Do not carry unnecessary items in your bag. Do not open your doors/windows to give money to beggars, which are prevalent in Addis Ababa. Do not allow others to control your movement or box you in while driving. Always leave enough space between you and the car ahead so that you can take evasive action. It is unlawful to use a cell phone or other electronic communications device (even hands-free) while driving, and the use of seat belts is required. Be sure to carry a valid Ethiopian driver’s license, proof of comprehensive local insurance coverage, and your U.S. passport or Ethiopian Identification card. Try to park in guarded, well-lit areas at night and do not park far from your destination.
If you are involved in a vehicular accident, it is important to be aware that a large crowd may gather and could become hostile and aggressive. If you fear for your safety, go to the nearest police station. Special units of the traffic police investigate traffic accidents. Normal investigative procedures require the police to conduct on on-scene investigation, after which all involved parties go to the Traffic Department for a vehicle inspection and to provide details about the accident for a final report. If possible, obtain the names and contact information of all persons involved in the accident and make a note of the extent of any injuries; make a note of any registration information (tag number) of other vehicle(s) involved; and obtain the other driver’s permit data, and give similar information or registration/permit data to the other driver and to the police upon request.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transport is unregulated and unsafe; if travelers do use public transport, they should use taxis, not minibuses or large buses, and should ensure they are the only passengers in the vehicle. A light-rail system is expected to begin service in Addis Ababa in 2015; the status and level of it has yet to be determined. U.S. citizens should avoid, if possible, using public transportation and transportation hubs. Beware of unattended baggage or packages left in any location, including in mini-buses and taxis.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Ethiopia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Bole Airport is a busy terminal that serves as a hub for flights in East Africa. Airport services may be slow or not up to Western standards, but there are no concerns for safety or scams. The airport borders the southern edge of the city, and most destinations are a short drive by taxi, which are available at the terminal. Travelers are recommended to have Ethiopian currency for taxi fare; fares are typically negotiated in advance with the taxi driver. Ethiopian Federal Police are posted throughout the airport and parking lot areas and can assist in an emergency.
Other Travel Conditions
While travel during daylight hours on both paved and unpaved roads is generally considered safe, land mines and other anti-personnel devices can be encountered on isolated dirt roads, especially along the Eritrean border. Before undertaking any off-road travel, inquire with local authorities to ensure that the area has been cleared of mines.
There are a number of tour organizations that arrange travel throughout the country, with varying degrees of service. None are deemed off-limits.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
Political Violence Rating: Medium
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
A number of al-Shabaab operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in/around the Horn of Africa. Since the July 11, 2010, terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, for which the Somalia-based, U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, there have been increased threats against public areas across East Africa. On October 13, 2013, a bomb exploded in a residential neighborhood of Addis Ababa. The bomb detonated prematurely and killed two individuals believed to be al-Shabaab members who had intended to attack Ethiopian soccer fans attending a World Cup pre-qualifying match. The government released a November 2013 warning that al-Shabaab intended to carry out attacks in Addis Ababa and other areas of the country.
Terrorism Rating: High
Most Ethiopians regard Americans and Westerners in a positive manner and are friendly to foreigners.
U.S. citizens are advised to consider the risk of attending or being near large public gatherings or those venues where Westerners gather on a routine or predictable basis. Such gatherings or venues can provide vulnerable targets for extremist or terrorist groups. Demonstrations are held on occasion that are often large and may take place in or near the city center. Demonstrations must be approved in advance by the government and are typically well covered by local police. Instances of violence have been reported; foreigners are advised to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country with a diversity of religions, with Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Muslim, and Christian Evangelical/Pentecostal comprising the main religious groups. The government occasionally cracks down on demonstrations conducted by Muslim organizations. Some demonstrations have resulted in arrests of protestors, and some have had reported violence and deaths of both activists and law enforcement officers. Violence between religious groups is not common.
Ethiopia is a mountainous country, and the high altitude may cause health problems even for healthy persons. Addis Ababa is the fifth highest capital city in the world at an altitude of 8,300 feet. Travelers may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and an inability to sleep. Individuals with respiratory (including asthma) or heart conditions should consult with a health care professional before traveling.
Ethiopia is located in the Rift Valley, and there is a risk of earthquakes, although none have occurred recently. Buildings are not built to earthquake codes and may collapse due to strong tremors. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
There are no known prevailing issues with industrial accidents; however, Ethiopia is not considered to conform to Western standards for workplace security. A primary example is observed with construction throughout Addis Ababa where scaffolding is made from local timber with few safety features on construction sites.
Communications (cell phones and Internet) are controlled by the government, and both systems go down frequently. Telecoms are unreliable, and there a “dead spots” for cell phone coverage. Blackberry devices do not work in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is primarily a cash economy. U.S. dollars and some of the more popular traveler's checks can be changed at the airport and at some banks. There are some ATMs at the major hotels and commercial centers that accept the major international credit and debit cards, although connectivity problems sometimes limit their availability. While credit cards are gaining acceptance with some hotels, travel agencies and merchants, it is best to check ahead and ensure you have sufficient cash reserves. Exchange receipts are required to convert unused Ethiopian currency back to the original foreign currency. Penalties for exchanging money on the black market range from fines to imprisonment. Some hotels and car rental companies, particularly in Addis Ababa, may require foreigners to pay in foreign currency or show a receipt for the source of foreign exchange if paying in local currency. Resident and non-resident travelers can carry up to U.S.$3,000 in foreign currency in and out of Ethiopia with proper evidence of its source. Employees of embassies and foreign organizations or individuals entering into the country through embassies or foreign organizations on temporary employment (e.g., to attend seminars, to give training) may leave the country carrying more than $3,000 cash only when they can produce evidence that they were paid directly from a bank. Residents may carry foreign currency upon departure, but only by producing evidence that the currency was purchased from a bank or by producing a customs declaration not more than 45 days after it was issued. Travelers can only carry up to 200 Ethiopian Birr out of the country.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts
There is an abundance of pirated merchandise for sale, readily available from street vendors.
The significant construction boom of high-rise buildings in Addis Ababa has led to an increase in privacy concerns for residents. Lack of zoning laws has resulted in tall buildings being constructed in residential areas, which inhibits privacy.
Personnel Background Concerns
Following the failed October 2013 bombing attempt in Addis Ababa, the U.S. Embassy received reports that ALL individuals of Somali origin, including naturalized American citizens, were being stopped for questioning when entering/exiting Ethiopia. The U.S. Embassy has been made aware that this practice is not isolated to just ports of entry. Individuals of Somali origin, regardless of citizenship, may be stopped, arrested, and detained for an extended period with no charges. Individuals of Somali origin are advised to prepare for this contingency and are recommended to carry copies of all important documents and the contact information for the U.S. Embassy. As an American citizen, you have the right to request that the U.S. Embassy be notified if you are detained.
Homosexuality is considered a crime and is a prosecutable offense.
Ethiopia does not recognize dual nationality. The government has stated that Ethiopian-U.S. citizens, in almost all cases, be given the same opportunity to invest in Ethiopia as Ethiopians. Several years ago, the government arrested people of Eritrean origin who initially failed to disclose their U.S. citizenship. However, this has not occurred in recent years. Ethiopian officials have stated that Eritrean-U.S. citizens be treated as U.S. citizens and not be subject to arrest simply because of their ties to Eritrea. However, Eritrean-U.S. citizens are not permitted to obtain tourist visas upon arrival at the airport.
Drug use is a concern, especially “khat”, a locally-grown narcotic that is a prohibited substance in the U.S. It is not regulated and is sold openly on the street. Although drugs are present, Ethiopia is considered more of a transit point than a destination for the use of illegal drugs.
Travelers should be cautious when traveling in the along Ethiopia’s border with Somalia, where there is an ongoing kidnapping threat to foreigners by al-Shabbab.
Criminal violence and political violence in Addis Ababa and in southwestern and southeastern Ethiopia has resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. In January, 2012, five European tourists were killed, and four were kidnapped in an apparent terrorist attack/kidnapping plot in the Danakil Depression area (near the border with Eritrea). A kidnapping threat against Westerners has been active in the Dolo Odo area of the Somali Region in since 2013.
While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different. Criminal penalties vary. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but are still illegal in the U.S, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law. If you break local laws in your host country, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal versus illegal. For example, Ethiopian law strictly prohibits the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel, industrial facilities, government buildings, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely marked clearly. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera and arrest.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
The government rarely informs the U.S. Embassy of arrested or detained U.S. citizens, even those detained at the airport by immigration or customs authorities. In some instances, U.S. citizens have been detained for weeks or even months without Embassy notification. If you are arrested or detained, you have the right to request that Ethiopian authorities alert the U.S. Embassy in accordance with the 1951 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States and Ethiopia. If you are detained or arrested, you should use whatever means of communication available to alert the U.S. Embassy of your situation.
Crime Victim Assistance
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 991. If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If your passport is stolen, the Embassy can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, we can help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and help them send you money. Although the investigation and prosecution of a crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.
The Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) is responsible for crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of Federal Courts, including any activities in violation of the Constitution that may endanger the Constitutional order, public order, hooliganism, terrorism, trafficking in persons and transferring of drugs. The EFP also maintains law and order in any region when there is a deteriorating security situation beyond the control of the concerned Regional Government and a request for intervention is made by the Regional Government; or when disputes arise between two or more Regional Governments and the situation becomes dangerous for the security of the Federal Government. The EFP safeguards the security of borders, airports, railway lines/terminals, mining areas, and other vital institutions of the Federal Government. The EFP delegates, when necessary, its powers to Regional Police Commissions; counterterrorism (CT) when investigations may lead to criminal arrests or charges within the court system.
Regional police handle local crime under their jurisdiction and provide officers for traffic control and immediate response to criminal incidents.
Health facilities are very limited and are considered adequate only for stabilization and emergency care. Hospitals in Addis Ababa suffer from inadequate facilities, outdated equipment, and shortages of supplies/medications. All facilities require a cash deposit (dependent on the type of medical condition) before admittance and forbid medical release until all accrued charges are paid. There is a shortage of physicians and other qualified medical personnel. Emergency assistance is limited. Some hospitals have ambulance services, but these are limited, unreliable, and require an on-scene cash payment. Psychiatric services and medications are very limited. Travelers must carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines and a doctor's note describing the medication. If the quantity of drugs exceeds that which would be expected for personal use, a permit from the Ministry of Health is required.
Contact Information for Recommended Hospitals/Clinics
Myungsung Christian Medical Center (AKA KOREAN Hospital) Use for Trauma
Gerji, Bole Sub-city, Kebele 11
Near Dilachin Monument/Churchill Road
Kadisco General Hospital
Gerji, close to Sunshine apartment
St. Yared Hospital
CMC road 800 meters from Megenagna Square.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
International Cardiovascular Hospital
At Confusion Corner, off Ethio-China Road behind Nile Insurance
Addis Cardiac Hospital
Located On Right side the Ring road from Bole to Saris in front of the customs office of bole airport.
Gojeb Dental Clinic
251-11-56-6521 / 6296
Adjacent to United Printing Press, Piazza
(011) 551-4696 or (092) 178-7120 /(091) 280-3368
Olympia, Between La Parissian Cafe and Dreamliner Hotel
*Near Mulushewa Sega Bete
Recommended Air Ambulance Services
There are no international medevac companies based in Ethiopia. The closest planes are in Nairobi, Kenya, and would take on average 4-6 hours to get to Addis Ababa.
International SOS Assistance Inc.: The U.S. Embassy's primary contact, operates from Johannesburg, South Africa
AMREF “Flying Doctors of East Africa”: The closest company to Ethiopia and is based in Nairobi
Recommended Insurance Posture
Serious illnesses/injuries often require travelers to be medically evacuated where adequate medical attention is available. Such “medevac” services are very expensive and are generally available only to travelers who either have travel insurance that covers medevac services or who are able to pay for the service in advance. The cost for medical evacuation may range from U.S.$40,000 to $200,000.
CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Travelers should also avoid swimming in any lakes, rivers, or still bodies of water. Most bodies of water have been found to contain parasites. Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that is spread by fresh water snails. The larval stage of the worm can burrow through your skin when in contact with contaminated fresh water. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in, or drinking from bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs. Significant risk exists throughout the country, except in the Ogaden desert region in the southeast. Highest risk exists in the Omo River and surrounding areas.
Travelers should be aware that Ethiopia has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in urban areas or along major trucking routes. The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions. Please verify this with the Ethiopian Embassy before you travel.
Ethiopia has had outbreaks of acute diarrhea, possible cholera, typhoid, and other bacterial contagion in the recent past, and the conditions for reoccurrence continue to exist in both urban and rural settings.
Ethiopia may also have Meningitis and Polio outbreaks.
Ethiopian authorities have taken preventive measures against the spread of Ebola. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government has established a hotline for inquiries pertaining to Ebola: 8335.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water).
Meningococcal Meninigitis epidemic activity occurs in most regions, but is predominant in the western half of the country.
Even in urban areas, dogs may have rabies, and bites/scratches from dogs, bats, or other mammals should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and medical evaluation sought to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Ethiopia.
Polio is an increasingly serious health concern in Ethiopia (see http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/Polio.html).
Talk to your doctor about short course antibiotics and loperamide to take with you in case of diarrhea while traveling. Travelers are advised to update their shot records prior to travel, and be prepared to be screened for possible Ebola exposure at major points of entry. All routine U.S. immunizations (measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis A, and tetanus) should also be up to date prior to arrival, all of which are more common in Ethiopia than in the U/S. Meningococcal Meninigitis Quadrivalent vaccine (A-C-Y-W135) is recommended for all travelers throughout the year, especially if prolonged contact with the local populace is anticipated, and for all children and health care workers. All personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy who have not been vaccinated for meningitis are advised against traveling to the affected areas during the peak meningitis transmission season. A non-IHR entry requirement for vaccination for all travelers has been registered with WHO. Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Polio vaccination up to 1 year before travel is recommended. It is also recommended that all travelers receive typhoid immunization, but it is not required for entry. For additional information on vaccines and health guidance, please visit the CDC at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/ethiopia.
Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Situational Awareness Best Practices
Be aware of your surroundings. Travelers are strongly advised to review their personal safety and security posture, to remain vigilant and to be cautious when frequenting prominent public places and landmarks. Avoid areas such as dark alleyways and overgrown brush where assailants can easily conceal themselves. Avoid walking around alone after dark. Try to walk in groups. Beware of street children. Varying your travel times and routes is advised. Travelers should maintain a high level of vigilance when in public, especially when walking. Keep valuables out of plain-sight. Refrain from carrying credit cards, large sums of cash, or valuables that you are unwilling to give up in the event of a robbery. Avoid carrying handbags. Always carry a copy of your passport. If you are threatened with violence over money/belongings, RSO recommends complying with demands and attempting to end the confrontation as quickly as possible.
Change direction or depart the area if you notice suspicious people, groups, or activity.
You should limit the amount of cash you carry and leave valuables (passports, jewelry, and airline tickets) in a hotel safe or other secure place. Keep wallets and other valuables where they will be less susceptible to pickpockets. If you have a cellular phone, carry it with you.
Female travelers should be cautious if traveling alone.
Foreign currency should be exchanged in authorized banks, hotels and other legally authorized outlets and proper receipts should be obtained for the transactions. Credit cards are not accepted at most hotels, restaurants, shops, or other local facilities, although they are accepted at the Hilton, Sheraton, and Radisson Blu Hotels in Addis Ababa. Many hotels and establishments, however, are not permitted to accept foreign currency or may be reluctant to do so.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods. Permits are required before exporting either antiques or animal skins. Antique religious artifacts, including "Ethiopian crosses.” require documentation from the National Museum in Addis Ababa for export.
Carry your cell phone at all times. Inform others of where you are going, if possible. Make sure to have Post One and RSO phone numbers programmed into your phone. If you notice suspicious vehicles following you, take note of vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers.
Do not leave valuables or large amounts of cash in your house. These items are best kept locked in a secured area at work. Only give your keys to a trusted person; do not leave them in possession with others (guards). Keep your doors and vehicle locked even when you are at home. Identify a secure lockable area away from windows where you can hunker down in case of an intruder. Alarms, guards, and dogs are outstanding deterrents to criminals.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Entoto Road, P.O. Box 1014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Business hours: Monday-Thursday: 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM; Friday: 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Ethiopia is GMT +3
Embassy Contact Numbers
Switchboard: +251 11 130-6000
Fax: +251 11 124-2435 and +251 11 124-2419
Security Office: +251 11 130-7004
RSO Cell phone: +251 91 151-1683
Marine Guard (24 Hours): +251 11 130-6911/2442
If you are going to reside in or visit Ethiopia, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your presence in-country. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. To enroll your stay or visit, click the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) button at http://travel.state.gov. Consular information is available at: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1113.html.
Travelers should check with their sponsoring organization to ensure they have the correct documentation in place or risk penalties, including detention, fines, and deportation. The government’s regulations allow for similar penalties for those who assist others to reside illegally in Ethiopia.
To avoid confusion or delays, travelers are strongly advised to obtain a valid Ethiopian visa at an Ethiopian Embassy prior to arrival. You must obtain a visa prior to arrival if you plan to enter Ethiopia by any land port-of-entry. Ethiopian visas ARE NOT available at the border crossing point at Moyale or at any other land border. The Embassy of Ethiopia is located at 3506 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 364-1200; fax (202) 587-0195; website: http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/.
Ethiopian tourist visas (one month or three month, single entry) may be available to U.S. citizens upon arrival at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The on-arrival visa process is not available at any other airports in Ethiopia. The visa fee is payable in U.S. dollars ($50 for one month, $70 for three months – both only single entry). Business visas of up to three months validity can also be obtained at Bole International Airport upon arrival but only if the traveler has a sponsoring organization in Ethiopia that has made prior arrangements for issuance through the Ethiopian Main Department for Immigration & Nationality office in Addis Ababa. In some cases, U.S. tourist and business travelers have not been permitted to receive visas at Bole International Airport or have been significantly delayed. A government policy prevents travelers born in Eritrea, regardless of their nationality, from receiving tourist visas at the airport.
Visa extension fees are $100 for a first time one month extension, $150 for a second time 15 day extension, and $200 for a third time 10 day extension. Travelers whose entry visa expires before they depart must obtain a visa extension through the Main Immigration Office in Addis Ababa. There is a overstay penalty fee of $5/day from 1-15 days and $10/day after 15 days. Such travelers may also be required to pay a court fine of up to 4000 ETB (U.S.$300) before being permitted to depart Ethiopia. Court fees must be paid in Ethiopian Birr. Travelers may be detained by immigration officials and/or required to appear in immigration court and are required to pay the penalty fee before they will be able to obtain an exit visa (U.S.$20, payable in dollars) permitting them to leave.
Business travelers or employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who intend to stay for 90+ days must apply for a residence card/work permit in order to work and live in Ethiopia. Travelers must apply for this permit within the first 30 days of their stay and must not work until this permit is approved.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Embassy has an OSAC Country Council. You can email the OSAC Country Council at firstname.lastname@example.org for information or to request to join the mailing list. To reach the OSAC Africa team, email OSACAF@state.gov.