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Timor-Leste

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Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Civil unrest and demonstrations

Outbreaks of civil unrest have occurred in 2006 and 2008. Although the situation is currently generally calm, political tensions remain and violent episodes could occur with little notice.

Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, and stay away from areas where they might occur. Protests can turn violent without warning and a gathering, regardless of its size, may become a target for a terrorist threat or attack. Demonstrations are likely to occur in the vicinity of government buildings, institutions or residences. Violence can occur during significant political events, such as presidential or parliamentary elections. Be particularly cautious in the periods leading up to, during and following these types of events.

Violence and demonstrations may affect transportation routes and land border crossings, as well as flights in and out of Dili’s airport. Disturbances have occurred in the vicinity of Dili’s Comoro airport, areas surrounding the camps of internally displaced persons and at food storage warehouses.

Crime

Gang-related violence, arson, robbery and vandalism occur, especially in Dili. Gangs in Dili have attacked cars with stones and darts fired from slingshots, particularly during the early evening hours and at night. Avoid armed non-government groups, including martial arts groups, throughout the country.

Petty crime such as mugging, pickpocketing and purse snatching also occurs, and foreigners are frequently targeted by thieves. Do not show signs of affluence, remain vigilant and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and all other travel documents are secure.

Women’s safety

Sexual harassment and violence against women occur. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Transportation

Do not travel alone, especially after dark or in secluded areas. Avoid unnecessary local travel. Local taxis should not be used. Public transportation services do not meet international safety standards. Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Traffic drives on the left. Driving conditions can be hazardous. Roads are poorly maintained, lack adequate lighting, and those outside of Dili are often unpaved. Serious accidents are frequent and travelling by road at night should be avoided. Frequent roadblocks occur. All motor vehicles must be registered with the Motor Vehicle Office.

General safety information

Facilities and services such as hotels, restaurants and public transportation are available in Dili but are very limited or non-existent elsewhere on the island. International calls are possible only from Dili and several districts close to the capital. Internet access and mobile telephone coverage is available in Dili but is limited elsewhere. Government services are also limited.

Exercise extreme caution at bars and nightclubs as altercations between groups may occur at a variety of venues.

Unexploded ordnance is regularly found in open areas outside Dili. Be careful when trekking in rural areas.

Military operations may take place at any time throughout the country. Remain vigilant at all times. If you encounter a military operation, leave the area immediately. Follow the advice of local authorities and maintain a high level of personal security awareness.

You are encouraged to register with the Embassy of Australia in Dili in order to receive the latest information on situations and events that could affect your safety.

Piracy

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Emergency services

Dial 112 or +670 723 0365. You may also call these numbers for information on the current security situation.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In Southeastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are very limited outside Dili. There are no dental facilities. In the event of a major accident or illness, medical evacuation is often necessary. Medical transport is very expensive and payment up front is often required.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Importation of certain amounts of foreign currency requires a permit, issued by the Banking and Payments Authority (BPA). Contact the BPA prior to arrival (country code: 670/ tel.: 331-3712, 331-3714, 331-7151 or 331-3718/ email: info@bancocentral.tl).

Foreigners are not permitted to participate in political activities. Offenders are subject to fines, detention and deportation.

Travellers visiting for less than three months may drive in Timor-Leste if they hold a valid driver's licence or an International Driving Permit. Longer-term visitors must obtain a local driver's licence from the Department of Transport.

Culture

Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Certain religious or cultural sites may require special permission to enter. Ask local authorities in advance.

Money

The currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Newer dollar bills are favoured; many places will not accept older bills. Credit cards are not widely accepted. There are three banks in Dili: ANZ Banking Group, Banco Nacional Ultramarino and Bank Mandiri. The ANZ Banking Group has automated banking machines that dispense U.S. dollars to those using debit cards that are Cirrus/Maestro linked. There is also a Western Union for money transfers.

Climate

Timor-Leste is located in an active seismic zone.

The monsoon season extends from December to March. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides year-round, especially in remote locations. Floods and landslides can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.