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I have read that a police escort from the elite Special Police Unit (SPU) is required in Somaliland when traveling outside of Hargeisa.

E.g. https://www.onceinalifetimejourney.com/reviews/everything-else/safety-in-somaliland-is-somaliland-safe-to-visit/#Police_escort_in_Somaliland (mirror):

One of the most unique parts of traveling in Somaliland is the mandatory police escort all visitors outside of Hargeisa get.

And Lonely Planet (mirror):

In principle, foreigners are required to travel accompanied by a member of the Special Protection Unit (SPU) outside Hargeisa, whether you travel on public transport or private car with driver. If you don’t have a soldier with you, you’ll be turned back at checkpoints. That said, this rule is ambiguous and erratically enforced, as local authorities seem to change policies on a regular basis. At the time of research, we were told that foreigners are permitted to travel without an SPU officer between Hargeisa, Berbera, Burao and Borama, and between Hargeisa and the Ethiopian and Djiboutian borders. In theory, you are allowed to use public transport between these towns. However, prior to leaving Hargeisa, it’s a good idea to meet the Police Commissioner Secretary at the Somaliland Police Force Headquarters, who will either issue a waiver letter on the spot or give a call to the soldiers at checkpoints so that they let you through. If you don’t have an escort or a waiver letter, you might be turned back at checkpoints.

When does a foreigner's police escort from the elite Special Police Unit (SPU) have to escort the foreigner in Somaliland?

For example: Is it all the time that the foreigner step outside the hotel? Or only when the foreigner is traveling with some means of transportation (i.e., if the foreigner is just walking around their hotel or some places such as restaurant or shop, or just wandering around, then no need for escort)? Does the escort also have to stay in the hotel to ensure the foreigner's safety when at the hotel?

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    From your own links: mandatory police escort all visitors outside of Hargeisa get and you can also request for the escort to be with you for the entire trip, including Hargeisa. Your second quote also says that enforcement of the rule is erratic. What more information do you expect to get? – Arthur's Pass Jan 19 at 21:23
  • @Arthur'sPass for example, a reference to a legal text, and information when the foreigner isn't traveling but just walking around and staying at hotel. In the sentence you partially quoted "One of the most unique parts of traveling in Somaliland is the mandatory police escort all visitors outside of Hargeisa get." it is unclear to me what traveling means. E.g., does it mean only when the foreigner is traveling with some means of transportation? etc. – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 19 at 21:46
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    I would have thought the words 'outside of Hargeisa' would cover your question. The second quote covers your 'stepping outside the hotel' scenario. Even if a legal document exists, it appears that policy is changed frequently, or simply ignored on a whim. I'd take the Lonely Planet advice and talk to the local police. – Arthur's Pass Jan 19 at 21:53
  • @Arthur'sPass "The second quote covers your 'stepping outside the hotel' scenario." -> no, for example all the checkpoints only encountered on main roads when in a vehicle? Or does one also encounter them when casually walking around? Also, are checkpoints the only place where having a SPU could be a legal issue? – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 19 at 21:58
  • @Arthur'sPass "I would have thought the words 'outside of Hargeisa' would cover your question" -> this would mean that the escort would stay at the hotel with the foreigner, which seems quite extreme, so I would like to double check. Perhaps the quote is simply imprecise. Someone who visited Somaliland could quite easily answer the question. – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 19 at 21:59
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I traveled as a single (male) traveller to Somaliland in 2014. At that time, I also read about obligatory SPU protection. I entered via Tog Wajaale from where I traveled by car/minibus to Hargeisa and Berbera. I walked around in Hargeisa and Berbera during day and night on my own. During my entire stay in Somaliland, I was never accompanied by SPU. Besides regular police "roadblocks", I was also never asked about SPU. My answer refers to the situtation in 2014 and does not conclude on the security situation in Somaliland. Actually, I am not answering your question in a legal way but simply based on my experience.

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