Terminal Drop-Off Charge

From 1 November 2021, a £5 charge will apply for vehicles dropping off passengers at the designated drop-off zones, located directly outside the terminals. Discounts and exemptions will apply. Free drop-off will be available at the Long Stay car parks.

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Changes to entering the UK using EU ID cards

From 1 October 2021, most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will need to use a valid passport to travel to the UK. ID cards will no longer be accepted as a valid travel document to enter the UK, though some exemptions will apply. 

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  • Overview

    Syrian hospitality was refreshingly sincere before the conflict, even by Middle Eastern standards, and visitors could expect a warm greeting begun with the phrase, 'Ahlan wa Sahlan', meaning 'you are welcome.'

    The country's ancient roots provided a fascinating backdrop to everyday life, with five-hundred-year old souks being a significant part of this experience. A legacy of ancient trade routes, these bustling markets sold everything from handmade chunks of soap and carpets, to sheep's tongues. Donkeys, 1960s American car-taxis, bicycles, minibuses and private jeeps vied for places on the streets, while street vendors and shoe-shiners clogged the sidewalks.

    Damascus was of particular interest to travellers. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the capital brimmed with history. In the north, travellers celebrated the city of Aleppo for its medieval citadel (now in ruins), elaborately decorated hammans (bath houses), and ancient souk It was also close to the ruins of St Simeon, perhaps one of the world's oldest churches. St Simeon is yet another casualty of the war.

    Syria is still one of the most fascinating countries in the region, and aspects of its rich history have survived. Adventurous travellers who are sensitive to the destination's recent past will relish a visit to this part of the Middle East.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Syria's climate is largely affected by the desert, with hot, sunny summers (June to August) and cold winters (December to February). Winters are milder along the coast, but wet, and humidity is higher in summer. Snowfall is common in winter on the mountains. Summer temperatures can reach in excess of 95°F (35°C) during the day, but evenings are generally cool. Spring and autumn are the best times to travel, with milder temperatures averaging 72°F (22°C) during the day.

    Damascus International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 18 miles (29km) from the centre of Damascus.
    Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from March to October).
    Aleppo International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated seven miles (11km) from Aleppo.
    Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 from March to October).
    Money:

    The official currency is the Syrian pound (SYP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Travellers can change money at official exchange offices, hotels and at different shops; GBPs and USDs are the best foreign currencies to visit with. International sanctions have blocked ATMs and credit cards, so travellers will have to bring enough cash for the duration of their stay. If necessary, travellers can withdraw USD from most ATMs in Lebanon, as the capital, Beirut, is about a two-hour drive away from Damascus. Visitors can also exchange Syrian pounds for Lebanese pounds or USD in Beirut. They're unlikely to get the same opportunity outside of Lebanon.

    Language:

    Arabic is the official, and most widely spoken language. English is widely understood by many educated Syrians in the major cities.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The country uses round two-pin attachment plugs.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals: US nationals require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    UK nationals: UK nationals require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    CA nationals: Canadians require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    AU nationals: Australians require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    ZA nationals: South Africans require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    IR nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    NZ nationals: New Zealand nationals require a valid passport and a visa for travel to Syria. Visitors must hold return/onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Visitors should be aware that if their passport (or airline ticket) contains an Israeli stamp, or any evidence of an intended visit to Israel, entry to Syria will be refused even if in possession of a valid visa. Visas are not required for any traveller whose passport states that he or she was born in: Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen. All travellers must hold return or onward tickets, all documents required for the next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    Travellers will find adequate medical care in Damascus and some coastal areas, though not necessarily in remote regions. Anyone visiting Syria should get travel insurance, as serious illnesses and emergencies may require evacuation to a neighbouring country or Western medical facility.

    Tipping:

    Visitors ordinarily tip waiters, bartenders, hotel staff and taxi drivers in Damascus. Waiters generally receive a tip of between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the quality of the service. Taxi drivers expect a tip of between 10 and 20 percent; hotel staffs usually receive between 2 and 5 USD.

    Safety Information:

    While life in the capital and Aleppo is starting to get back to normal, most western governments advise against all travel to Syria. The situation remains volatile and dangerous, and the Syrian government does not fully control many parts of the country, especially the north west and north east. Terrorism remains a threat.

    Local Customs:

    Syria is predominantly a Muslim country and visitors should respect religious sensitivity, especially when it comes to dress and public conduct. Women, in particular, should wear loose fitting clothes that cover most of the body, though headscarves are unnecessary unless entering mosques. Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the holy month of Ramadan should be avoided, as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture. Homosexuality is illegal; the death penalty is enforced for drug trafficking.

    Business:

    Foreigners should make an effort to arrive on time for meetings, but should remember that Syrians have a looser sense of punctuality and may be late themselves. Business cards are usually exchanged at meetings and it's important to only use the right hand to receive and present them, as the left hand is considered unclean. Meetings can become very animated and can involve many interruptions and tangents to unrelated topics. Foreigners should remain patient and feel free to interrupt to make their points heard. Personal relationships are hugely important in Syrian business culture.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Syria is +963. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). There is good mobile phone coverage in Damascus; internet access is limited, but is available in the capital.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers are allowed to import 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 250g tobacco, 1 pint of spirits, perfume for personal use, and gifts to the value of SYP 250 without paying customs duty. Firearms are prohibited. There is no limit on the amount of tobacco or spirits for export.

    Useful Contacts:

    Syria Ministry of Tourism, Damascus: www.syriatourism.org

    Syria Embassies:

    Honorary Consulate for Syria in Montreal, Canada: +1 514 992 4432

    Honorary Consulate of the Syrian Arab Republic in Sydney, Australia: +61 2 9787 1504

    Syrian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa: (+27) 12 342 4701

    Foreign Embassies in Syria :

    U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt (also responsible for Syria): +20 2 2797 2301

    The Embassy of Canada in Beruit, Lebanon (also responsible for Syria): +961 4 726 700

    The Embassy of Australia in Amman, Jordan (also responsible for Syria): +962 6 568 8660

    South African Embassy, Damascus, Syria: +963 11 6135 1520

    Embassy of Ireland in Cairo, Egypt (also responsible for Syria): +202 2728 7100

    Syria Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 112 (Police); 110 (Ambulance).
    Syria