Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Shipments Sent / Received in the Name of Personnel
Lebanon’s people are diverse, with many different Muslim and Christian sects represented. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In many areas you will find dress codes more relaxed than in other countries of the region, but you should still dress modestly when visiting religious sites and when it’s clear that local people expect it.
Possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs including small quantities are all serious offences in Lebanon. You can expect a prison sentence if you are caught.
Photography should be limited to tourist sites. Photographing military sites may result in your arrest.
The Lebanese Criminal Code includes a general provision concerning ‘every sexual act against nature’. Lebanese courts consider that this provision includes homosexuality. A criminal offence under this provision is punishable by a prison sentence of up to a year. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
One of the most common requests for consular assistance in Lebanon is from British mothers seeking help in overturning travel bans placed on their children or themselves by their fathers or husbands. Lebanese family law is very different from UK law and particular care is needed if child custody becomes an issue.
If you have concerns about child custody you should seek advice before travelling to Lebanon about ‘travel bans’ that can be imposed by male heads of family. Even if you or your child holds a British passport you may be subject to Lebanese laws and regulations.
Any child travelling from Lebanon without their father (even if the mother is accompanying them) may need to provide proof that permission to travel has been given by the child’s father.
If you’re a British national involved in international parental child abductions or custody disputes, you should contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for consular assistance. This leaflet on International Parental Child Abduction includes information on how the FCDO can help, and contact details. The FCDO strongly advises against attempting to remove your child yourself, as this may be considered abduction (or ‘re-abduction’). This may be illegal and can put your child at risk.
Lebanon employs a harmonized tariff schedule for the valuation of goods and the levying of customs duties. In 2018, the High Customs Council proposed a reform strategy to improve operations, although this has not been implemented. The reforms focus on 1) simplifying procedures, 2) accepting e-payments, 3) enhancing electronic data entry, and 4) establishing an online e-single window for coordinated service with all of Lebanon’s border agencies. When fully implemented, users will be able to register online, as well as assess and pay declarations directly from their bank accounts. Local customs agents may assist exporters to navigate the clearance process.
Free import (once per six months) for all passengers as of 18 years of age (passengers below 18 years of age are allowed half the specified quantities of all products other than tobacco and alcoholic beverages):
For all other passengers: up to LBP 2,000.000.-.
Free import for crew and Merchant Seamen:
Passengers can import firearms and ammunition if holding a permit issued by the airport security in Lebanon. They must be transported as check-in luggage and be declared on arrival.
All pets must be accompanied by a valid health certificate, issued by a veterinarian in the country of origin. This certificate is to be approved and stamped by an appropriate government authority of that country. A Rabies Inoculation Certificate is also required.
Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Lebanon.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside of Lebanon if the onward flight is on the same calendar day.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Lebanese Pound-LBP) and foreign currencies in any form without restrictions. Gold coins must be declared.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Lebanese Pound-LBP) and foreign currencies in any form without restrictions, with the exception of gold coins. However, if a quantity of gold (coins) is declared on arrival, the same quantity may be exported.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in Lebanon are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the Lebanese embassy in the UK.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Beirut’s Rafik Hariri international airport re-opened on 1 July and there are direct and indirect commercial flights operating daily. From Monday 11 January 2021, the number of incoming passengers allowed into the airport will be reduced to 20% compared to January 2020.
Land and sea borders will close between 14 January and 8 February, in keeping with the total curfew, apart from for those transiting Beirut airport who hold tickets for flights on that day.
All passengers travelling to Lebanon must complete the medical form issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health before boarding your flight.
Passengers travelling to Lebanon, except military personnel, diplomats, members of international organizations, UNIFIL and members of the Lebanese National Social Security Fund or staff cooperative, need to possess an insurance policy that is valid for the duration of their stay in Lebanon, covering all costs of treatment for Coronavirus on Lebanese territory. Alternatively, the policy can be obtained at the insurance counters upon arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport-Beirut.
If you’re travelling to Lebanon, you are required to take a PCR test at a laboratory certified by local authorities 96 hours before you travel, and to show the result at check-in at your departure airport. If you do not have a negative PCR test result within this time frame and in an approved form (paper or email, not SMS), you will not be allowed to board your flight to Lebanon. Children under 12 are exempt from this requirement. You must complete the medical form issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health before boarding your flight.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
Any passenger who shows symptoms of illness including COVID-19 will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
Passengers who left Lebanon for a period not exceeding one week are not required to do a PCR test before departure, but will be subject to a PCR test in Lebanon.
From Monday 11 January 2021, all travellers to Lebanon will be required to take an additional PCR test at Beirut International Airport upon arrival (which is provided at the airline’s expense) and then to quarantine for 72 hours. Travellers will also be required to download and activate the “Covid Leb Track” mobile application on arrival to Lebanon, and to present the application to the authorities at Beirut International Airport at the time of the PCR test.
Diplomats and their families, official delegations and UNFIL officers are exempt from the quarantine measures, as well as those who have received the COVID-19 vaccination, on the condition that they have proof of vaccination and take a PCR test on arrival as a precautionary measure.
The Lebanese government is keeping these measures under review and they may change at short notice. You must comply with any amended regulations for testing and self-isolation. You should check with your airline and the Embassy of Lebanon in the country you are travelling from before travel.
There are no testing or additional COVID-19 related procedures required for transiting travellers. Passengers with a short transit time will be allowed to proceed directly to their gate, those with a longer transit time will have to wait at a designated gate where a cafeteria is available.
British citizens can normally apply for a free single entry tourist or family visit visa on arrival. British Overseas Citizens and British Protected Persons will need to get a visa before travelling to Lebanon. Persons of Palestinian origin may also require a visa before travelling, or may be required to carry additional documentation with them when travelling. Entry requirements are subject to change, so you should check with the Lebanese Embassy before you travel.
Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter. You may be refused permission to leave until a fine has been paid.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Lebanon.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, transit and exit from Lebanon.
If your passport is stolen, you’ll need to report the theft to the police in the area where it took place and obtain a police report before an ETD can be issued. If your passport has been lost, you’ll need to go to the nearest General Security office and get a certificate of loss before an ETD can be issued. These are mandatory steps in all cases where the original passport showing the entry stamp into Lebanon isn’t available.
Once an ETD has been issued to you, you’ll need to visit the General Security office in central Beirut to obtain an exit visa before you can depart. You should factor the time this will take into any new travel plans.
If your passport contains an Israeli stamp you may be refused entry to Lebanon even if you hold a valid Lebanese visa.
Lebanese Immigration Authorities check all visitors’ names on arrival against a database of those wanted for, or convicted of, offences in Lebanon. If a name matches against an entry on the database the individual may be detained (or on occasion allowed entry upon surrender of their passport) until they can prove that the record does not relate to them. It’s often possible to do so by producing a copy of a birth certificate or other official documentation that allows parents’ names to be checked against the database. You should consider carrying this kind of supporting documentation.
Lebanon faces serious economic, financial and political challenges. Protests which began on 17 October 2019 are ongoing, and take place periodically. The protests have centred on Beirut and Tripoli, but have occurred at various locations nationwide, often with little notice. Violent confrontations between protestors, security forces and supporters of political groups have been known to occur, sometimes resulting in large numbers of casualties and the widespread use of tear gas and rubber bullets by the security forces, and clashes. There have been a number of deaths in the context of the protests.
Violence between the security forces and protestors is highly likely to reoccur, including at short notice, in particular at existing flashpoints. You should remain vigilant, avoid protests, demonstrations and large political gatherings, and keep up to date with developments via this travel advice and local media, including:
As a result of the protests, major roads in and out of Beirut and across the country have become blocked at short notice, including the roads to and from Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport. If you’re travelling to or from the airport, check your flight status before leaving, allow extra time for your journey and ensure that you have adequate medical supplies if required. If roads from the airport are blocked, wait there until the authorities confirm access roads are open.
The economic situation may affect your ability to pay for goods and services. In recent months, the value of the Lebanese Pound has fallen rapidly against the US Dollar. Prices have increased accordingly. Banks and exchange houses have closed for long periods during the protests, and have been the target of attacks. While ATMs are generally stocked with Lebanese Pounds, there may be limits on daily withdrawals so check with your bank before travelling. It is very difficult to access US Dollars locally. Some companies are becoming increasingly reluctant to accept credit/debit cards so you should ensure that you have adequate cash.
Currently some basic commodities (fuel, medicines, food) are subsidised but the Central Bank Governor has warned that this cannot be sustained. Supplies may become increasingly scarce, including at pharmacies and supermarkets. You should therefore bring any medicines you need with you to Lebanon. The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription medication you should carry a medical certificate confirming that the medication has been prescribed for a medical condition. Fuel stations continue to supply petrol, but there have been closures and restrictions of supply at short notice.
The security situation in Lebanon can deteriorate quickly. As well as ongoing protests related to internal Lebanese issues, regional and international developments can have an impact on the local security situation This includes a conflict with Israel, which could spark with little warning with a rapid escalation in violence. Events in Syria and Iraq may also impact Lebanon. You are therefore advised to monitor the regional situation whilst in Lebanon.
You should avoid large crowds and political gatherings. Weapons are common in Lebanon and groups such as Hizballah retain arms that are beyond state control. Violence can therefore quickly escalate. There have been protests that target UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon. Celebratory gunfire into the air is common throughout Lebanon, including in response to speeches and messages by political leaders, as well as at weddings. If you find yourself in an area where there’s celebratory gunfire, take cover in a building and move away from windows.
In the event of widespread disturbances or a deterioration in the security situation, there may be limits to the assistance that the British Embassy Beirut can provide. Read further information and advice on how to deal with a crisis overseas.
The risk to tourists from petty or violent crime remains moderate – however crime has increased due to the declining economic situation. This includes bag snatching, including by criminals on motorbikes, vehicle crime and theft of mobile telephones. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Consider your route and vary daily routines. Conceal expensive looking jewellery which could draw unwanted attention. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs.
There has been an increase in reported incidents of sexual harassment and assault in public areas, including whilst walking in Beirut. Consider whether it is safe to walk alone, particularly at night.
There have been incidents of armed robberies and physical attacks against passengers in shared taxis (known locally as service taxis) with passengers being attacked by either the driver or other passengers. Don’t use shared taxis or taxis hailed on the street. Only use taxis from recognised companies. Hotels can advise on firms with cars that are recognised as being safe and well-maintained.
In December 2017, the Lebanese Interior Minister advised people in Lebanon not to use Uber taxis, saying “I call in your name on all Lebanese not to use this Uber transport service because we do not consider it to be safe and there are taxi offices to use instead”.
There are reports of criminal gangs operating in parts of the Beqaa Valley, especially northern Beqaa, involved in drug cultivation and smuggling. Car theft gangs are prevalent and will steal vehicles by force of arms, particularly along sections of the international highway towards Baalbek. Vehicle thefts have grown significantly and are often targeted by type. Other armed crimes, such as robbery and kidnap, occur in these areas. There are also frequent armed clashes between gangs, and operations by the security forces. In February 2020, five Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers (LAF) were killed in clashes with gangs in Hermel.
On 4 October 2020, a revenge killing sparked an increase in tension between rival criminal families in the Baalbek area, which has resulted in heavily armed groups and convoys taking to the streets. The LAF has temporarily deployed a large contingent of armoured troops to conduct operations and diffuse tension. The situation is volatile and unpredictable at present. You should therefore follow the advice of security agencies, and avoid Baalbek and surrounding areas whilst operations continue.
You can report suspicious activity to the police by dialing 112. If you or another British citizen become the victim of crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest British embassy or consulate. You can find more information on how we can support you in our Support for British Nationals Abroad guide.
The government may restrict movements, including at short notice, to control the spread of coronavirus. For more detailed information see the coronavirus page.
Ongoing protests and roadblocks may mean that travel is restricted at short notice. For more information see the section on Political situation.
Palestinian refugee camps are volatile environments where the Lebanese state has limited capacity to impose law and order. There has been a long pattern of violent clashes in particular in Ein El Helweh camp near Saida in southern Lebanon.
There is a UN peacekeeping presence in the area south of the Litani River. Although de-mining operations have been carried out, unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs, remain in remote areas.
There is a military checkpoint located approximately 7km south of Tyre on the Naqoura-Tyre-Saida-Beirut highway. A pass from the LAF office in Saida is necessary to continue your journey further south towards the Israeli border. However, as the office is located in an area of Saida to which the FCDO advises against all but essential travel, you should carefully consider whether your need for a pass is essential before you travel.
Land mines are present in Lebanon and are not always clearly marked. Use only well-travelled tracks and do not stray from their edges. Avoid remote abandoned properties. Use local guides and seek local knowledge if you’re unsure.
The government may restrict movements, including at short notice, to control the spread of coronavirus. See information on measures introduced in Lebanon. Roads, including the Beirut airport road, are subject to closure without notice. Following a decision from the Ministry of Interior, motorcycles in Beirut are banned from 4:59 pm until 6am. See Political Situation above.
You must hold either an International Driving Permit (IDP), which must be certified by the Lebanese authorities on arrival, or a temporary local licence to drive in Lebanon. Temporary local licences are likely to be more time consuming and expensive than an IDP.
Driving standards are poor and the accident rate is high. Traffic lights are often switched off and not always observed. It may be better to hire a car with a driver if you’re inexperienced. You must wear a seat belt (if fitted). Avoid travelling at night outside towns if possible. Vehicles with diesel engines are banned
Carry ID with you at all times and be prepared to stop at check points to show your papers. The army have set up check points on major and minor roads.