Oman's mountainous coast
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

Oman's mountainous coast

© / Haider Yousuf

Oman Travel Guide

Key Facts

309,500 sq km (119,499 sq miles).


4,654,471 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

10.6 per sq km.





Head of state

Sultan and Prime Minister Haitham ibn Tariq since 2020.

Head of government

Sultan and Prime Minister Haitham ibn Tariq since 2020.


240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.

Camel treks, desert camping and 4-wheel drive safaris through mighty canyons are just some of the adventures awaiting visitors to Oman. From frankincense plantations and atmospheric souks that speak of vanished centuries to gleaming modern cities and 5-star hotels fronting on to perfect beaches, Oman is everything you would want from Arabia.

What marks this desert kingdom out from its neighbours is a complex history of interaction with the outside world. From the ports of Muscat and Salahat, Omani traders roamed across the Arabian Sea, pushing back the borders of the Portuguese empire in Africa and founding trading outposts as far afield as Zanzibar and Mozambique, before aligning with the British after the abolition of slavery.

The result, thirteen centuries later, is an outwardly conservative, but strikingly open Islamic society, with a firm belief in the importance of its own traditions but a strong acceptance of other cultures. Many regard Oman as the most welcoming of all the Arabic nations; this is a place where foreigners are invited to sit and sip tea and eat dates out of genuine hospitality, rather than as a preamble to selling souvenirs.

The ruling sultans have taken great pains to preserve the traditional crafts and customs of their ancient civilisation, and the cities of Oman feel much more historic and lived-in than the skyscraper cities appearing elsewhere in the Gulf. The borders of Oman are guarded by a staggering 2,000 desert fortresses, most meticulously restored. It’s easy here to feel transported back to the days of Arabian Nights.

Along the coastline, enigmatic dhows still sail from port to port, while rugged wadis (river valleys) snake into the interior, studded with date-palm plantations, dramatic rock formations and hidden pools. Beyond, immaculately tarmacked highways cross the desert to neighbouring Yemen, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, though many chose to fly to avoid endless drives through barren desert scenery.

More than anything though, Oman is a place to feel safe and at ease. The Omanis are gracious hosts, and visitors will find traditional Arabian hospitality and Islamic culture at its very best.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Oman set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Omani Embassy in the UK.   

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Oman.  

Passport validity requirements

To enter Oman, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Dual nationals

Oman does not recognise dual nationality. If you hold both British and Omani passports, the Omani authorities may confiscate one of your passports.

Visa requirements

You can visit Oman for up to 14 days without a visa.

If you overstay or do not extend your visa or residency, the Omani authorities may fine and detain you. Fines can be up to 10 Omani rials a day, with a total maximum fine of 500 rials.

Applying for a visa

To stay longer than 14 days or for work, study or other reasons, you must have a visa. To avoid the risk of refusal, it’s better to apply for a visa online before you travel – you can select the ‘unsponsored visit visa’ option if you’re a tourist.

You can also get a visit visa on arrival at an airport in Oman.

Checks at border control

At Omani border control, you must be able to show:

  • a ticket for return or onward travel
  • proof of your accommodation – for example, a hotel booking
  • proof of your travel health insurance

Vaccine requirements

You must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from Rwanda, Tanzania or a country listed as a transmission risk.

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Oman guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Oman. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking medicines into Oman

Some UK prescription and over-the-counter medicines are illegal in Oman. Carry a copy of your prescription if you’re bringing medicine. Check with Oman’s Ministry of Health well before you travel.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.    

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Oman

Terrorist attacks in Oman cannot be ruled out.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Red Sea military activity

There is a military response to Houthi militants’ attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. The military activity is limited to the Red Sea and Yemen, but travel advice for Oman could change at short notice. You should monitor travel advice and follow instructions from local authorities.

Political situation

Developments in the Middle East continue to affect public opinion in Oman. In October 2023, there was a small, peaceful demonstration outside the British Embassy. Further unannounced demonstrations are possible throughout the country. Stay alert and avoid large crowds.

Be aware of local sensitivities on these issues and follow the advice of the Omani authorities. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which might trigger public disturbances.


Sexual assault

Personal attacks against foreign nationals, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare, but happen. Take care when walking or travelling alone, particularly at night. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK. See advice for women travelling abroad.

Laws and cultural differences

Oman’s laws and customs are very different to those in the UK and reflect the fact that Oman is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. Make sure your actions do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you plan to visit religious areas.

Personal ID

Always carry a copy of the photo page of your passport and keep the original in a safe place. If you live in Oman, carry your Omani ID.


Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. During this time, do not:

  • eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime, including in your car
  • play loud music or dance
  • swear in public

Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.

You should also:

  • check opening hours of shops and restaurants
  • be aware that if hotels and restaurants are providing food or drink in fasting hours, they may separate you from Islamic guests, for example with screens
  • follow local dress codes – clothing that does not meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time
  • be aware that fasting can cause tiredness, particularly during the later afternoon and early evening
  • be patient and show tolerance

Alcohol laws

Tourists and visitors can buy and drink alcohol in licensed venues, such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. The legal drinking age is 21.

Non-Muslim residents can get a licence to drink alcohol at home from the Royal Oman Police. Liquor licences are not available to non-residents.    

It is illegal to drink alcohol in public, be drunk in public or to drink-drive. The police have arrested and charged British nationals for these offences. Border police may arrest passengers travelling through Omani airports or seaports under the influence of alcohol.

E-cigarette and vape bans

It is illegal to import or use e-cigarettes or vape products in Oman.

Blood test following arrest

If you are arrested, the authorities may require you to take a blood test, particularly if they suspect you have used drugs or alcohol. If you refuse, you could be arrested for your failure to comply.

Dress codes

You should dress modestly in public areas including in shopping malls. Your clothing should cover the tops of your arms and legs (below the knee), and underwear should not be visible.

Wearing tight-fitting clothes is likely to attract attention. Do not wear swimming costumes or beachwear in public areas, except on tourist beaches or at swimming pools.

Cross-dressing is illegal.

Unmarried couples 

It is illegal to live with or share a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex if you are not married or closely related.

You may have difficulty registering the birth of a baby born in Oman if you are unmarried or in a relationship the Omani authorities do not recognise as marriage.

Illegal drugs penalties

There are severe penalties for importing, trafficking, smuggling and possessing drugs, even residual amounts. In some cases, offenders could get the death penalty. There is no distinction in Omani law between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ drugs – both are treated with equal severity.

Public offences

It is illegal to swear and make rude gestures, including while driving. You can also be charged with obscenity for social media posts or shared photos or videos.

Showing affection in public is frowned upon and may bring you to the attention of the police.


It is illegal to create, import or share pornographic images and videos, even if created for personal use with the consent of those involved.

Using cameras and binoculars

It is illegal to photograph some government buildings and military sites. Do not photograph people without their permission. Hobbies like bird watching and plane spotting may be misunderstood – particularly near military sites, government buildings and airports.


It is illegal to fly drones or any other remote-controlled flying device without a valid licence or in restricted airspace.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Oman. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Financial crimes and unpaid bills

Financial crimes, including fraud, bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills, including hotel bills, can result in imprisonment and a fine.

Foreign nationals must pay all debts and traffic fines before leaving Oman. You can pay fines at the airport. If you have not paid, or are involved in legal proceedings, the authorities may delay or prevent your departure.

Child custody cases

The border authorities may prevent children from leaving Oman if they are the subject of a child custody dispute.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism     

Swimming safety

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Hiking and mountaineering

When hiking in Oman, be sure to follow marked hiking trails.  

Extreme heat has caused deaths in Oman due to dehydration and heat exhaustion – see advice for travellers affected by extreme heat.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Oman, see information on driving abroad.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive a rental car in Oman for the first 6 weeks after you arrive. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the 1949 version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

If you live in Oman or are staying longer than 6 weeks, you must get an Omani licence.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience, a higher minimum age and holding an IDP.

Drink-driving is a serious offence in Oman. If you are tested and found to have any alcohol in your system, you may get a fine and possible imprisonment.

Reporting traffic accidents

If you are involved in a serious traffic accident and do not need emergency treatment, you must stay with your vehicle and call the Royal Oman Police on 9999.

Serious accidents include those with:

  • severe damage to vehicles
  • injuries or deaths
  • damage to public or private property
  • drink-driving or drugs
  • one or more drivers without a licence (or with a suspended licence)
  • uninsured vehicles
  • military or security vehicles

You may not need to call the police after a minor accident, but you must complete a minor road traffic accident form. You must keep a form in your car – you can get one from your insurance company and at a police station. Car rental companies are responsible for keeping forms in their cars.

In a minor accident there is generally:

  • limited damage to vehicles
  • no injury or death
  • no damage to public or private property, apart from vehicles and property belonging to those involved

Rules of the road   

Rules of the road in Oman include:

  • all passengers must wear seatbelts
  • all children aged 3 and under must use child car seats
  • it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving

The Omani authorities strictly enforce traffic laws. There are severe penalties for traffic offences, including fines of up to 3,000 Omani rials or prison sentences of up to 3 years.

Driving conditions

Driving can be dangerous outside Muscat. There is a risk of hitting wandering camels and goats on the road. Rainfall can cause sudden, severe floods in dry riverbeds and on roads that cross them.

The condition of Omani roads is generally good. Driving standards in Oman are not always as disciplined as those in the UK, and the rate of traffic accidents in Oman is significantly higher.

Desert and mountain travel

Road trips to the desert and mountains can be dangerous unless you’re in a well-equipped 4-wheel-drive vehicle. You should always:

  • travel in convoy if possible
  • take a supply of water
  • take a mobile phone or satellite phone
  • leave a copy of your travel plans with friends or relatives
  • make sure you’re insured for this type of travel

Sea travel

The safety of tourist boats may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available for all passengers.

Many areas of the Gulf of Aden are restricted. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, sometimes resulting in arrests. You should make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports. Consider how regional tensions may affect your route.

Vessels may be at increased risk of maritime attack, including piracy, in:   

  • the Gulf of Oman
  • the Northern Arabian Sea
  • the Gulf of Aden
  • Bab El Mandeb

See piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The threat assessment of the combined international naval counter-piracy forces is that sailing yachts should not enter the designated high-risk area, due to the risk of hijacking.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.

Tropical cyclones

Tropical cyclones from the Indian Ocean sometimes affect Oman in July and August, disrupting services and utilities.

You should:

Flash floods

Flash floods can cause injuries and deaths. Wadis (dry riverbeds) in Oman are prone to flash flooding after heavy rainfall from October to March.

Before travelling to a wadi, check the weather forecast and avoid places where heavy rain is expected and for at least one day afterwards.

If you’re caught in a flash flood:

  • go to a high point
  • do not try to cross the water
  • drive to a dry spot if you’re in a vehicle

Follow any instructions or guidance from the Royal Oman Police.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 9999 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

Go to TravelHealthPro to see what health risks you’ll face in Oman, including:

  • dengue
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Oman. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

Extreme heat has caused deaths in Oman due to dehydration and heat exhaustion.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Oman

The quality of healthcare facilities in Oman is similar to those in the UK.

British nationals must use the private healthcare system. Visitors who do not have travel insurance or the means to settle any charges may be stopped from leaving the country until the debt is paid. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of medical providers in Oman where some staff will speak English. 

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Oman.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Oman

Telephone: 9999 (ambulance, fire, police)  

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Oman and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Muscat.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating in Oman on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.