Brunei travel advice

Brunei travel advice

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary (consular assistance figures) and Entry Requirements section (passport validity).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

Travel Summary

  * Around 13,000 British nationals visit Brunei every year (source: Brunei Immigration). Most visits to Brunei are trouble free.  Ten British nationals required consular assistance in Brunei in the period 01 April 2008 – 31 March 2009 for the following types of incident: deaths (2 cases); hospitalisations (1 cases)and arrests, for a variety of offences (3). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (4 cases).

  * You should not become involved with drugs of any kind: possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty.

  * There is a low threat from terrorism in Brunei.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

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  * If you plan to travel to the Malaysian State of Sabah, you should be aware that foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past in East Malaysia and we believe that this threat remains. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.  If you wish to visit resorts on, and islands off, Eastern Sabah, you should exercise caution. See the Terrorism section of this Travel Advice.

  * We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this Travel Advice and our “Travel Insurance” page.

Safety and security

Terrorism
There is a low threat from terrorism in Brunei.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

If you plan to travel to the Malaysian State of Sabah, you should be aware foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past in East Malaysia and we believe that this threat remains. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.  If you wish to visit resorts on, and islands off, Eastern Sabah, you should exercise caution. For more details you should see our Travel Advice for Malaysia; and our Travel Advice for Indonesia, if travelling through Borneo/Kalimantan further afield.

You should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

For more general information see our terrorism abroad page.

Crime
Crime levels are low in Brunei, but there are occasional incidents of petty crime against tourists.  You should:
  * take particular care of your passport;
  * when going out avoid carrying valuables with you;
  * not leave possessions in unattended vehicles, even if out of sight in a locked boot.

For more general information see our victims of crime abroad page.

Local Travel

Road Travel
Vehicles not registered in Brunei can only purchase motor fuel at 10 designated filling stations throughout the country, to a maximum of 250 litres. Filling a foreign car is more expensive as the purchase price does not include a government subsidy.

Additional information on these measures is available on Brunei’s official website (English version) or www.petroleum-unit.gov.bn

You can drive in Brunei with a UK driving licence as long as it is endorsed by the Brunei Land Transport Department in the Ministry of Communications.  Alternatively, you can use an International Driving Licence.

If you are involved in a road accident as a driver, you should not leave the scene until the police have attended.

For more general information see our driving abroad page.

Trekking
It is easy to get lost when visiting the rainforest.  You should use recognised and well-known guides, and be sure to stay on the footpaths.

Air Travel
The revised aviation security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 were also implemented in Brunei in October 2007. For more details about this please see DfT Airline Security.

A Departure Tax of 12 Brunei Dollars (about £4) is payable for most departing passengers from Brunei.  This is payable in local currency, in cash, at the airport check-in desk.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Brunei is an Islamic country.  You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. For more general information see our travelling during Ramadan page.

You should respect local social conventions.  You should dress modestly, especially in or near places of worship.

Possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Homosexual activity is illegal.

Any public criticism of His Majesty The Sultan or other members of the Bruneian Royal Family is discouraged.

There are severe penalties for all drug offences in Brunei including, in some cases, the death penalty. The legal system in Brunei is partly based on Sharia law and can, in certain circumstances, apply to non-Muslims including visitors.

The sale of alcohol in Brunei is prohibited. Non-Muslims over 17 years of age may import duty free, two bottles of wine or spirits and twelve cans of beer on entry into Brunei, but must declare them to Customs on arrival. There must be at least a 48-hour gap between each import. Keep the Customs slip in case of inspection.

Smoking is prohibited in public places. Offenders may be fined for breaking this law.

For more general information for different types of travellers see our your trip page.

Entry requirements

Visas
British passport holders do not require a visa to enter Brunei as tourists for stays of up to 30 days, penalties may be imposed on those who overstay.  You should ensure that the entry stamp in your passport indicates the validity of stay.  Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Brunei diplomatic mission before travel. The address of the High Commission of Brunei Darussalam in the UK.

Passport validity
You will normally be refused entry to Brunei if your passport has less than six months’ remaining validity. Even if you are transiting Brunei to another destination, you may also encounter difficulties with your onward booking if your passport holds less than 6 months validity.

Dual Nationality
Dual nationals should also be aware that Brunei does not recognise dual nationality, so you can be refused entry if you are found to be holding two passports of different nationality.  If you are a dual national it is advisable to enter Brunei on the passport on which you exited your last country of departure. While in Brunei your nationality will be deemed to be that shown on the passport which you used to enter the country.  This may affect the consular assistance that you receive in Brunei.

Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. They may want to see birth certificates, a letter of consent from the other parent or some evidence as to your responsibility for the child. Bruneian authorities do not normally require such evidence, but if you have any concerns please check with the Bruneian High Commission in London.

Health

There is a dedicated swine flu page on the FCO Website. Guidance on Pandemic Flu can be obtained on the UK Department of Health website.

The standards of healthcare in Brunei are generally better than in many countries in the region, though basic hospital supplies can run low from time to time.  There are two significant medical facilities, the Government General Hospital (RIPAS) in Bandar Seri Begawan and the private Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).  Should complications arise, medical evacuation to Singapore may be necessary so you should ensure that your insurance covers this.

Good dental care can be found either at Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) or from local private dentists.  Most branded pharmaceuticals are also readily available, including condoms.

Dengue occurs in Brunei. The risk of malaria is very low. These diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes. There are no vaccinations against these diseases, but there are preventative measures that you cam take, as advised on the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC website.

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see our HIV and AIDS page.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Brunei and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

For more general health information see our travel health and for food/drink hygiene see eat and drink safely pages.

General

Insurance
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before leaving UK. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake, including cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance particularly if you plan to engage in adventure sports. See our travel insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas see our When Things Go Wrong page.

Money
Credit cards are accepted at most major establishments although an additional surcharge can be applied. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at banks or major hotels. Singapore Dollars may also be used in Brunei and are of the same value as the Brunei Dollar. Most other major currencies are convertible at banks, hotels or official moneychangers.

Registering with the British High Commission
If you are a British national and plan to stay for even a shortperiod in Brunei you are advised to register with the British High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan upon arrival.  This can be done electronically via the High Commission website.