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Lebanon - Travel and visas
Arriving by air
Citizens of all countries require a visa to enter Lebanon. Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (Gulf Co-operation Council States) and Jordan are issued with a three-month visa, free of charge, upon arrival at Beirut international airport. Nationals of the following countries are currently issued with a free, single-entry, one-month visa, upon arrival at Beirut international airport which is renewable for up to three months, upon production of a valid passport valid for at least six months: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino,Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.
It is also possible to obtain a Lebanese visa in advance of travel from the Lebanese embassy or consulate in your own country. It is essential to note, however, that if your passport contains evidence of a visit to Israel (including entry/ exit stamps from the land border crossings between Egypt and Israel or Jordan and Israel), permission to enter Lebanon will be refused. The information in this section can change at any time and it is a good idea to check with the Lebanese embassy or consulate in your own country for the most up-to-date regulations prior to finalising your travel arrangements. The General Directorate of General Security in Lebanon has comprehensive visa information and regulations pertaining to citizens of most countries in Arabic, English and French. In the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is an especially good source of ever-changing countryspecific officialdom and timely security information. In the USA, the Department of State contains country-specific information and travel advice for US citizens. For Australian citizens visiting Lebanon, the government website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should be consulted for a range of entry, visa and security information for Lebanon.
Arriving by road
As it is not possible to enter Lebanon from the country’s southern border with Israel, your only option to enter Lebanon by land is from its northeastern neighbour, Syria. At the time of writing, the ongoing hostilities in that country makes travel between the two countries a potentially very dangerous undertaking and cannot be recommended.
Lebanon’s sole commercial international airport is Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport, which is served by many of the world’s major international airlines; and this is the way the vast majority of visitors will arrive.
From the UK there are daily non-stop flights departing from London Heathrow airport and the flying time is a little under 5 hours. Lebanon’s national carrier Middle East Airlines (ME) flies from Terminal 3, whilst the UK’s British Airways uses Terminal 5. From London Gatwick airport and London Stansted airport the Turkish budget carrier Pegasus Airlines flies daily to Beirut via Istanbul.
From continental Europe, Beirut is a little over 4 hours from Paris and Spain, a little under 4 hours from Frankfurt, and around 3 hours from Rome.
There are currently no direct flights to Lebanon from North America which means that for US and Canadian citizens a stopover in one of the main European capitals such as London, Paris or Rome will be required in order to complete your onward journey via a connecting flight.
For travellers visiting Lebanon from Australia, Emirates and Etihad Airways both fly regularly from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to Beirut via their national hubs at Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively. As there are also no direct flights at present to Beirut from New Zealand, visitors will need to pick up a connecting flight from Australia, fly via a European destination such as Paris or London, or arrive in a nearby city such as Amman (Jordan), Cairo (Egypt) or Istanbul (Turkey) to pick up a connecting flight to Beirut.
After flying, overland travel is the most popular and accessible way for visitors to arrive in Lebanon. Although Lebanon shares an 81km land border with its southern neighbour, Israel, the two countries remain in a state of war and, despite the Israelis withdrawing the majority of their military presence from Lebanese soil in May 2000, it is still not possible to enter Lebanon from Israel, a state of affairs highly unlikely to change any time soon. The result is that entry to Lebanon by road is only possible via its northeastern neighbour, Syria, from one of Lebanon’s four main border crossing points. At the time of research, bus and taxi travel between Lebanon and many towns and cities in Syria was possible but it cannot be recommended until the cessation of the ongoing hostilities in that country.
Lebanon’s principal ports of entry for commercial sea-going traffic are Beirut and Tripoli, but the country is not overly well served by boat. Nevertheless, there are a few possible options if you would like to visit part of the country this way, perhaps combining Lebanon with other countries in the region; but choices are fairly limited at present. As companies offering cruise itineraries that include Lebanon may well increase in the future, you may wish to check on the following two websites for developments: www.cruiseexperts.org and www.choosingcruising.co.uk.
Lebanon is a very small nation and its c7,000km of paved roads, though oft en pot-holed and narrow with hairpin mountain bends, are going to be your principal means of travelling around the country by whatever mode of transport you choose. Officially, driving is on the right-hand side of the road, though this can change at any time depending on the whim of the driver. Traffic lights, signs and speed-restricted areas have increased in recent years, but often have the status of ornamental features rather than any real practical value given the often appalling standards of driving amongst many Lebanese who more oft en than not fl out the ‘rules’ of the road. Traffic conditions, especially in Beirut, are also overwhelmingly characterised by congestion and chaos, not to mention the environmental impact of not so environmentally friendly cars, which account for around 40% of CO2 emissions in the capital. That said, public transport is plentiful and cheap in most areas of the country and you will not have to wait long to depart to your chosen destination.