Travel abroad by sea: regional risks

Advice for British people on staying safe when travelling abroad by sea, including piracy, armed robbery and security risks in particular regions.


If you’re travelling in a yacht or boat, be aware of the risks at sea. View the travel advice page for the country you’re going to or near for specific information on risks that could affect you. Make a note of useful contact details like the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate and the local emergency services.

Further information on staying safe at seas and security incidents at sea is available from:

If you run a shipping company, view the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Ship Security page, which explains how to comply with UK regulations on ship security. 

Piracy and armed robbery

The shipping industry-led Best Management Practice (BMP) provides advice to help plan ships’ voyages and detect, avoid, deter, delay and report attacks. If you’re attacked, report the incident to the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate, the relevant naval and law enforcement authorities and the regional reporting centre.

You can also report any maritime crime or security incident anywhere in the world to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC). The IMB PRC is a single point of contact and immediately sends information to the local law enforcement agencies requesting assistance. It also immediately broadcasts information to all vessels in the Indian Ocean region, providing vital intelligence and increasing awareness.


Do not carry any kind of gun. If you do, the skipper must make sure the flag state and host country allows it. Penalties for using firearms can be severe in some countries.

The North West Indian Ocean, Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea

Since January 2024 there has been military activity in response to Houthi militants’ attempts to prevent international shipping movements in the Red Sea. Whilst this activity is only in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and Yemen, Travel Advice for nearby countries could change at short notice. Continue to monitor Travel Advice and follow any relevant instructions from local authorities.  The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) ability to provide consular help from countries along Red Sea coast is extremely limited. 

The threat of piracy-related activity and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden has reduced from its peak, but it remains a risk. Pirate attacks can occur up to 1,000 nautical miles from the Somali coast. Sailing vessels should not enter the former High-Risk Area, as they may be particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and height between the waterline and the deck.

Report journey information regularly to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the main contact for liaising with regional response organisations and military forces. It is available 24 hours a day and will provide regional maritime security briefs to support risk assessment. You can contact UKMTO by email, and view the latest maritime security alerts at

Before you travel through this area, register with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa). This organisation provides advice for sailing vessels travelling round the Horn of Africa

West Africa

Piracy and armed robbery at sea remain a threat off the western coast of Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea. Most attacks happen off the coast of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, although there have also been attacks off the coasts of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Togo. Pirate and armed robbery groups operating off Nigeria usually kidnap people for ransom.

BMP West Africa offers advice to risk-assess voyages and mitigate external threats around the coast of West Africa, including the Gulf of Guinea.

If you’re travelling in this area, contact the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade (MDAT-GOG) by email or call +33(0)2 98 22 88 88. MDAT-GOG, operated by the Royal Navy and the French Navy, asks all vessels passing through the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) in the Gulf of Guinea to report in regularly. In return it provides warnings and updates on attacks in the region.

Southeast Asia

Piracy and armed robbery in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore region generally involve stealing personal property in ports and anchorages. Sometimes they involve hijacking ships and pleasure yachts to steal cargo or for ransom.

If you’re travelling in this area, view the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships website. Provided by the Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC), this gives advice on incidents and trends.

Black Sea

Since 2022 there has been military activity in the Black Sea due to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. There is an increased risk to boats and ships, particularly in waters close to Russia and Ukraine. The FCDO’s ability to provide consular assistance to British nationals in Russia and Ukraine, and parts of Georgia, including close to affected waters, is limited. Continue to monitor FCDO Travel Advice for the latest information on regional risks in:


The FCDO works with a range of independent partner organisations but we cannot be liable or held responsible in any way for their advice, decisions or outcomes. We are not responsible for the content of other organisations’ websites and cannot accept any legal responsibility for any information they give you.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 7 June 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated to further explain regional risks when travelling abroad by sea.

  2. Updated information

  3. Revised guidance on sea piracy

  4. typos, formatting

  5. First published.