US State Department Travel Warnings – International Alerts and Warnings

Updated on Friday, December 9th, 2016

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

Latest Warnings

  1. Mexico Travel Warning
  2. Ethiopia Travel Warning
  3. Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning
  4. Burundi Travel Warning
  5. North Korea Travel Warning
  6. Haiti Travel Warning
  7. Chad Travel Warning
  8. Turkey Travel Warning
  9. Central African Republic Travel Warning
  10. Syria Travel Warning
  11. Pakistan Travel Warning
  12. Yemen Travel Warning
  13. Afghanistan Travel Warning
  14. Tunisia Travel Warning
  15. Eritrea Travel Warning
  16. Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning
  17. Iran Travel Warning
  18. Cameroon Travel Warning
  19. Honduras Travel Warning
  20. Nigeria Travel Warning
  21. Lebanon Travel Warning
  22. Saudi Arabia Travel Warning
  23. Republic of South Sudan Travel Warning
  24. Bangladesh Travel Warning
  25. Venezuela Travel Warning
  26. Iraq Travel Warning
  27. Mali Travel Warning
  28. Kenya Travel Warning
  29. Ukraine Travel Warning
  30. Libya Travel Warning
  31. Somalia Travel Warning
  32. Philippines Travel Warning
  33. Colombia Travel Warning
  34. Algeria Travel Warning
  35. Mauritania Travel Warning
  36. Sudan Travel Warning
  37. Niger Travel Warning
  38. Burkina Faso Travel Warning
  39. El Salvador Travel Warning

1. Mexico Travel Warning

Posted on 8 December 2016 | 7:37 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas.

U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued April 15, 2016.

For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, see our state-by-state assessments below. U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which the Department recommends “defer non-essential travel” in this Travel Warning. As a result of security precautions that U.S. government personnel must take while traveling to parts of Mexico, our response time to emergencies involving U.S. citizens may be hampered or delayed. 

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets and in public places during broad daylight. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations and has engaged in an extensive effort to counter criminal organizations that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. There is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.

U.S. government personnel are prohibited from patronizing casinos, sports books, or other gambling establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.  

Kidnappings in Mexico take the following forms:

  • Traditional: victim is physically abducted and held captive until a ransom is paid for release.
  • Express: victim is abducted for a short time and commonly forced to withdraw money, usually from an ATM, then released.
  • Virtual: an extortion-by-deception scheme where a victim is contacted by phone and coerced by threats of violence to provide phone numbers of family and friends, and then isolated until the ransom is paid. Recently, hotel guests have been targets of such "virtual" kidnapping schemes.

U.S. citizens have been murdered in carjacking and highway robberies, most frequently at night and on isolated roads. Carjackers use a variety of techniques, including roadblocks, bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop, and running vehicles off the road at high speeds. There are indications that criminals target newer and larger vehicles, but drivers of old sedans and buses coming from the United States are also targeted. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from intercity travel after dark in many areas of Mexico. U.S. citizens should use toll roads (cuotas) whenever possible. In remote areas, cell phone coverage is limited or non-existent.

The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat organized criminal groups. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways by car or bus may encounter government checkpoints, staffed by military or law enforcement personnel. In some places, criminal organizations have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and have killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.

State-by-State Assessment: Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico. Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, U.S. citizens should exercise caution throughout Mexico as crime and violence can still occur. For general information about travel and other conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.

Aguascalientes: Intercity travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel.

Baja California (includes Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali): Exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. According to the Baja State Secretariat for Public Security, the state of Baja California experienced an increase in homicide rates from January to July 2016 compared to the same period in the previous year. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.

Baja California Sur (includes Cabo San Lucas and La Paz): Exercise caution in the state capital of La Paz. Baja California Sur continues to experience a high rate of homicides. Many of these homicides have occurred in La Paz, where there have been ongoing public acts of violence between rival criminal organizations.

Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Chiapas (includes Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas): No advisory is in effect.

Chihuahua (includes Ciudad Juarez, the city of Chihuahua, Ojinaga, Palomas, Nuevo Casas Grandes and Copper Canyon): Criminal activity and violence remains an issue throughout the state of Chihuahua and its major cities. Travel between cities only on major highways and only during daylight hours.

  • Ciudad Juarez: Exercise caution in all areas. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling after dark west of Eje. Juan Gabriel and south of Boulevard Zaragoza. Defer non-essential travel to the areas southeast of Boulevard Independencia and the Valle de Juarez region.
  • Within the city of Chihuahua: Defer non-essential travel to the Morelos, Villa, and Zapata districts, where the travel of U.S. government personnel is restricted.
  • Ojinaga: When possible, travel via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio, Texas port-of-entry.
  • Palomas and the Nuevo Casas Grandes/Paquime region: When possible, travel via U.S. Highway 11 through the Columbus, New Mexico port-of- entry.
  • Nuevo Casas Grandes: U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling outside of city limits after dark.
  • Copper Canyon and other areas of the state of Chihuahua: U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel.

Coahuila: Violence and criminal activity, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, pose significant and continuing security concerns, particularly along the highways between Piedras Negras and Nuevo Laredo. U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to all parts of Coahuila, with the exception of travel to Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, and Parras de la Fuente. U.S. government personnel are only allowed to travel during daylight hours to Saltillo and Bosques de Monterreal, and must abide by an Embassy-imposed curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. U.S. government personnel may also travel to Parras de la Fuente and on toll Highway 40 to Highway 57 and only during daylight hours. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited in some parts of Coahuila, particularly in the north of the state.

Colima (includes Manzanillo): U.S. government personnel are prohibited from intercity travel at night, and from traveling within 12 miles of the Colima- Michoacán border. U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to this border region, including the city of Tecoman.

Durango: Violence and criminal activity along the highways are a continuing security concern. U.S. government personnel may travel outside of Durango only during daylight hours on toll roads and must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Estado de Mexico (includes Toluca and Teotihuacan): U.S. citizens should defer all non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, Ixtapaluca, and Tlatlaya due to high rates of crime and insecurity, unless traveling directly through the areas on major thoroughfares. Avoid traveling on any roads between Huitzilac, Morelos, and Santa Martha, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Guanajuato (includes San Miguel de Allende and Leon): No advisory is in effect.

Guerrero (includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo): Personal travel to the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, is prohibited for U.S. government personnel with the exception of travel to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo by air. In Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas. The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2015 for the third year in a row, and self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.

Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect.

Jalisco (includes Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to areas that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas because of continued instability. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, intercity travel after hours, and from using Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca or Ocotlan for any reason.

Mexico City (also known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect.

Michoacan (includes Morelia): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacan, except the cities of Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas, and the area north of federal toll road 15D. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling by land in Michoacan except on federal toll road 15D during daylight hours. Flying into Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas is permitted for U.S. government personnel.

Morelos (includes Cuernavaca): U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Nayarit (includes the Riviera Nayarit coast, including the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas): U.S. government personnel may travel to Riviera Nayarit, San Blas, Santa María del Oro, Tepic, and Xalisco using major highways. Intercity travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel. Defer non-essential travel to other areas of the state.

Nuevo Leon (includes Monterrey): U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Monterrey only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries to abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., except for travel to the airport after 5 a.m.

Oaxaca (includes Oaxaca, Huatulco, and Puerto Escondido): U.S. government personnel must remain in tourist areas and are not allowed to use public transportation in Oaxaca City. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling on Highway 200 throughout the state, except to transit between the airport in Huatulco to hotels in Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, and they are not permitted to travel to the El Istmo region. The El Istmo region is defined by Highway 185D to the west, Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca/Chiapas border to the east and includes the towns of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas. 

Puebla: No advisory is in effect.

Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.

Quintana Roo (includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum): No advisory is in effect. However, U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling south of Felipe Carrillo Puerto or east of Jose Maria Morelos as cellular and internet services are virtually non-existent.

San Luis Potosi: U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of San Luis Potosi only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Sinaloa (includes Mazatlan): One of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Defer non-essential to the state of Sinaloa, except the cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and the Port of Topolobampo. Travel in Mazatlan should be limited to Zona Dorada, the historic town center, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport. Travel in Los Mochis and Topolobampo is restricted to the city and the port, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport.

Sonora (includes Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos): Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades. U.S. citizens traveling throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours and exercise caution on the Highway 15 corridor from Nogales to Empalme.

Due to illegal activity, U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to:

  • The triangular region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and north of Caborca (including the towns of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar).
  • The eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and state Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16).
  • South of Hermosillo, with the exception of the cities of Alamos, Guaymas and Empalme, and defer non-essential travel east of Highway 15, within the city of Ciudad Obregon, and south of the city of Navojoa.
  • Puerto Peñasco should be visited using the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, and limit driving to daylight hours.

Tabasco (includes Villahermosa): No advisory is in effect.

Tamaulipas (includes Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico): U.S. citizens should defer all non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas due to violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault. The number of reported kidnappings in Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited to nonexistent in many parts of Tamaulipas. Violent criminal activity occurs more frequently along the northern border and organized criminal groups may target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas. These groups sometimes take all passengers hostage and demand ransom payments. U.S. government personnel are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Victoria have experienced numerous gun battles and attacks with explosive devices in the past year.

Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.

Veracruz: No advisory is in effect.

Yucatan (includes Merida and Chichen Itza): No advisory is in effect.

Zacatecas: U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Zacatecas only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must abide by the Embassy-imposed curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Mexico.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, located at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, at +52-55-5080- 2000 x4440, (5080-2000 for calls in Mexico City, 01-55-5080-2000 for long distance calls in Mexico) 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After- hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +52-55-5080-2000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow Twitter and Facebook.

2. Ethiopia Travel Warning

Posted on 6 December 2016 | 8:42 pm
The State Department continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest related to sporadic and unpredictable anti-government protests that began in November 2015.

The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide consular services in many parts of the country may be limited without warning due to the government's restrictions on mobile and internet communications and the unpredictable nature of the current security situation. This replaces the Travel Warning of October 21, 2016. 

The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016 that includes provisions allowing for the arrest of individuals without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia routinely does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. The full text of the decree implementing the State of Emergency is available on the U.S. Embassy's website.

Internet, cellular data, and phone services have been periodically restricted or shut down without warning throughout the country, impeding the U.S. Embassy's ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia. You should have alternate communication plans in place, and let your family and friends know this may be an issue while you are in Ethiopia. See the information below on how to register with the U.S. Embassy to receive security messages.

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.

If you are living in or intending to travel to Ethiopia, please refer to the Safety and Security section of the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia for additional useful information.

Due to the unpredictability of communication in the country, the Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Ethiopia.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, located on Entoto Street in Addis Ababa, at +251-11-130-6000 from 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is+251-11-130-6911 or 011-130-6000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

3. Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning

Posted on 2 December 2016 | 6:31 pm
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa warns U.S. citizens of the potential for large-scale demonstrations and civil unrest on/around December 19, the date on which President Kabila’s term in office was due to end before elections were delayed.

U.S. citizens in the DRC should seriously consider leaving the country in advance of this date.  As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Department of State has ordered family members of U.S. government personnel and authorized non-emergency personnel to depart the country as of December 10, 2016.  This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 7, 2016.

U.S. citizens should consider taking advantage of departing commercial flights and other transportation options now.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance.  U.S. citizens should ensure that travel documents (passports and visas) are valid and up-to-date.  Consular services, already limited throughout the country due to very poor transportation infrastructure and security conditions, may be further limited even in Kinshasa.

U.S. citizens who decide to remain in DRC through December 19 should prepare for the possible deterioration of security:

  • Exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Stay home or at another safe location.
  • Have emergency supplies of food, water, and medications.
  • Let friends and family know that there might be communication disruptions.

Additional recommendations on emergency preparedness are available on the Travel.State.gov web page “What Can You Do in a Crisis Abroad?

In addition, ongoing instability and sporadic violence continue in parts of the DRC. Armed groups, bandits, and some elements of the Congolese armed forces operate in:

  • North Kivu
  • South Kivu
  • Bas-Uele
  • Haut-Uele
  • Ituri
  • Tanganyika
  • Haut-Lomami.

These groups kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted.  Kidnapping for ransom is common, particularly in areas north and west of Goma, North Kivu.  Congolese military and United Nations forces continue to operate throughout North and South Kivu and near the DRC’s borders with the Central African Republic and the Republic of South Sudan, particularly in and around Garamba National Park. Travelers in the region may encounter troop movements, armored vehicles and attack helicopters.

Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly trained security forces at official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country, especially near government buildings and installations in Kinshasa.  Be cautious when stopped by security forces.  Requests for bribes are extremely common, and security forces have occasionally injured or killed people who refuse to pay.  In the past year, several U.S. citizens have been illegally detained by government forces or robbed of their valuables while being searched.

For further information:

 

4. Burundi Travel Warning

Posted on 14 November 2016 | 9:02 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Burundi due to ongoing political tensions, armed violence, and the potential for civil unrest.

This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 11, 2016.

Political violence persists throughout Burundi in the aftermath of the country’s contested elections, an attempted coup d’etat, and debate over the President’s eligibility for a third term. Gunfire and grenade attacks by armed groups occur frequently. Police and military checkpoints throughout the country can restrict freedom of movement. Police have searched the homes of private U.S. citizens as a part of larger weapons searches.

Incursions across the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo border by rebel forces, ex-combatants, and youth gangs have resulted in occasional violent clashes, attacks on civilians, and kidnappings.

Armed criminals ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. U.S. Embassy personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in certain areas of Burundi and may be subject to other constraints as security conditions warrant. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling outside of Bujumbura at night, and trips to the Bujumbura neighborhoods of Cibitoke, Gasenyi, Kamenge, Kinama, Musaga, Mutakura, and Ngagara, require advance approval.

For more information:

5. North Korea Travel Warning

Posted on 9 November 2016 | 4:40 pm
The State Department strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, which imposes unduly harsh sentences, including for actions that in the United States would not be considered crimes and which threaten U.S. citizen detainees with being treated in accordance with “wartime law of the DPRK.”

Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea. This notice replaces the Travel Warning dated August 11, 2016. 

At least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years. North Korean authorities have detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours. Being a member of a group tour or using a tour guide will not prevent North Korean authorities from detaining or arresting you. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not been successful.

If you decide to enter North Korea against the advice of this Travel Warning, you should have no expectation of privacy. All electronic and multimedia devices including USB drives, CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, Internet browsing histories, and cookies are subject to search for banned content.

If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your mobile phone when you enter the country, it will not function unless you use the DPRK mobile service, which will enable DPRK authorities to monitor your calls.  GPS-trackers and satellite phones are not allowed. 

Possession of any media, either physical or electronic, that is critical of the DPRK government or its leaders is considered a criminal act punishable by long-term detention in hard labor camps and heavy fines. 

In North Korea, the following – whether done knowingly or unknowingly – have been treated as crimes:

  • Showing disrespect to the country’s former leaders, Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, or for the country’s current leader, Kim Jong Un, including but not limited to tampering with or mishandling materials bearing their names or images;
  • Entering North Korea without proper travel documentation;
  • Possessing material that is in any way critical of the DPRK government;  
  • Proselytizing or carrying out religious activities, including activities that may be construed as such, like leaving behind religious materials;
  • Engaging in unsanctioned political activities;
  • Traveling without authorization, even for short distances;     
  • Having unauthorized interaction with the local population;
  • Exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor;
  • Taking unauthorized photographs;
  • Bringing pornography into the country;
  • Shopping at stores not designated for foreigners; and
  • Removing or tampering with political slogans and signs or pictures of political leaders.

Numerous foreigners have been held in North Korea for extended periods of time without being formally charged with any crimes. Detained foreigners have been questioned daily for several weeks without the presence of counsel and have been compelled to make public statements and take part in public trials.

Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea. The Embassy of Sweden in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang is the Protecting Power for U.S. citizens in the DPRK providing limited consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea who require emergency assistance. Although the U.S.-DPRK Interim Consular Agreement stipulates that North Korea will notify the Embassy of Sweden within four days of an arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen and will allow consular visits by the Swedish Embassy within two days after a request is made, the DPRK government routinely delays or denies consular access. 

The DPRK funnels revenue from a variety of sources to its nuclear and weapons programs, which it prioritizes above everything else, often at the expense of the well-being of its own people.  It is entirely possible that money spent by tourists in the DPRK goes to fund these programs.  We would urge all travelers, before travelling to the DPRK, to consider what they might be supporting. 

The DPRK remains one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world.  U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea should familiarize themselves with all applicable sanctions relating to the country, particularly U.S. sanctions on the DPRK. To learn more about U.S. sanctions on the DPRK, see the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The State Department remains deeply concerned about the DPRK’s ongoing, systematic, and widespread human rights violations. To learn more about North Korea’s deplorable human rights situation, see the DPRK Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2015

The United States and the United Nations Security Council have expressed grave concern regarding North Korea’s recent nuclear tests, ballistic missile launches, and other activities prohibited by United Nations Security Council Resolutions. UN Security Council statements from January 2016 and March 2016 are posted on the UN website. 

As a result of concerns arising from unannounced missile launch activities and GPS navigation systems interference and/or disruption, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Prohibition and Advisory notice to U.S. airmen and operators. The FAA has issued Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 79 which prohibits U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Pyongyang Flight Information Region (FIR) west of 132 degrees east longitude, and the FAA has advised those flying in and around the Pyongyang (FIR)  east of 132 degrees east longitude to be aware of possible GPS interruptions.  For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en.html for current Worldwide Cautions, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for North Korea
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important safety and security messages via email (though you may not have access to email while in North Korea).  Enrollment also makes it easier to locate you in case of an emergency.
  • U.S. citizens who plan to travel to North Korea are strongly encouraged to inform the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China by enrolling in STEP. U.S. citizens residing in China can contact the U.S. Embassy directly. The Embassy is located next to the Ladies’ Street (Nuren Jie) and Laitai Flower Market, near the Kempinski Hotel and Lufthansa Shopping Center on Tianze Road near the Liangmaqiao subway stop:

U.S. Embassy in Beijing
American Citizens Services Unit
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone:  (86-10) 8531-4000
Email: BeijingACS@state.gov
Emergency after-hours number for U.S. citizens:  (86-10) 8531-4000

U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea are also strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy of Sweden by email prior to travel. Please provide the Embassy of Sweden with your name, date of birth, dates of your trip, and emergency contact information: 

The Embassy of Sweden Pyongyang (U.S. Protecting Power in North Korea
Munsu-Dong District
Pyongyang, DPRK
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 485 (reception)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 904, (850-2) 3817 907 (Deputy)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 908 (Amb.)
Facsimile: (850-2) 3817 663
Email: ambassaden.pyongyang@gov.se

If you provide information to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, officials will be able to locate you more easily in an emergency.  Take note of and keep the contact details for the Swedish embassy for easy access in case of an emergency.

  • U.S. citizens can obtain current information on safety and security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

6. Haiti Travel Warning

Posted on 4 November 2016 | 7:03 pm
This is an update to the Travel Warning posted on October 7, 2016, warning United States citizens about the dangers of travel to areas in the south of Haiti following the October 2016 passage of Hurricane Matthew.

U.S. citizens are advised not to travel to the southern peninsula of Haiti, commonly referred to as the “southern claw.” The U.S. Embassy has currently banned unofficial travel to the southern peninsula and allows official travel only after consultation with its security office. There is widespread devastation throughout the southern claw with the most affected areas on the western tip of the peninsula. Travelers can expect difficult travel conditions with roads made impassable by landslides, damaged roads, and bridge failures. There is also widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure, including gas stations and cell towers, loss of electricity, and shortages of food and potable water. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to the southern claw in spite of these risks should carry sufficient water, food, fuel, and medicine to last longer than their anticipated stay. 

The security environment around the southern claw is fluid and uncertain.  Some relief convoys and other vehicles have been subject to robbery at improvised roadblocks or when stopped. U.S. citizens approaching roadblocks are advised to turn back, as the situation will likely not improve beyond the first roadblock. Distribution points have also been the scenes of mob actions that have overwhelmed available security. U.S. citizens are advised to maintain a high degree of vigilance and leave any areas where crowds gather.

This Travel Warning continues to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti about the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities, and the security environment in Haiti. Haiti’s emergency response network, along with the continued presence of serious crime and civil unrest, should be carefully considered when planning travel. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 7, 2016, and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti. 

In general, U.S. citizens already in Haiti are advised to monitor media reports about the security conditions, and follow all official instructions. U.S. citizens should carry their travel documents at all times (i.e., U.S. passport, birth certificate, photo identification, etc.). We also suggest that U.S. citizens stay in frequent contact with friends and family in the United States with updates about their welfare and whereabouts. Communication arrangements should allow for areas of limited or no cell coverage.

Crime: Reports of kidnappings of U.S. citizens have fallen off sharply, with few incidents reported to the Embassy in 2016, but kidnapping for ransom can still affect anyone in Haiti, most particularly those maintaining long-term residency in the country. Armed robbery is a very real possibility, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and in particular soon after leaving the airport.  Be circumspect in sharing specific travel plans; have your host or organization meet you at the airport upon arrival; and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels.  Exercise caution when visiting banks in Port-au-Prince. Robbery crews have been known to survey banks and rob customers as they exit. Fewer incidents of crime are reported outside of Port-Au-Prince, but Haitian authorities' ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent. 

Embassy employees are required to adhere to all security and safety measures of the Embassy’s Regional Security Office when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, as well as restrictions on travel in certain areas or times. U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or another safe facility during curfew hours.  This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince or during the night.  Additionally, in Port-au-Prince and other cities, U.S. Embassy employees are advised not to walk in any area but rather drive to a destination and park as close as possible, choosing guarded or interior parking lots.  This includes Petionville, an area of metropolitan Port-au-Prince of upscale hotels, shopping and restaurants frequented by residents and visitors. For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.

Civil Unrest: Protests, including road and bridge blockages, are frequent and often spontaneous.  The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance. However, the HNP’s ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is limited. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Haiti in 2010, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Please see our website for additional information on how the Department of State assists U.S. citizens during a crisis. We urge U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti to review our Country Specific Information page. 

Emergency Response: Medical care infrastructure, including road ambulance and other emergency services, is very limited in Haiti. Some U.S. citizens injured in accidents and others with serious health concerns have been unable to find necessary medical care in Haiti and have had to arrange and pay for medical evacuation to the United States. We strongly encourage travelers to Haiti to obtain medical evacuation insurance prior to arrival in country and to use evacuation organizations that have solid evacuation and medical support options in place. Moreover, those traveling in rural areas of Haiti should verify their evacuation organization provides service to where they are traveling. 

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, located at Boulevard du October, Route de Tabarre telephone: 509-2229-8000; after hours emergency telephone: 509-2229-8000; fax: 509-2229-8027; e-mail: acspap@state.gov; web page: http://haiti.usembassy.gov.

Anyone who missed a scheduled American Citizen Services appointment at the U.S. Embassy due to Hurricane Matthew is welcome to call 509-2229-8000, 509-2229-8900 or send us an email at the acspap@state.gov to reschedule your appointment.  For Immigrant or nonimmigrant visa cases, please contact the call center at 509-2819-2929 or by email at support-Haiti@ustraveldocs.com.

  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

7. Chad Travel Warning

Posted on 4 November 2016 | 2:23 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of ongoing terrorist activity throughout Chad.

U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to the border regions, and exercise extreme caution elsewhere in the country.  The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of N’Djamena is limited.  This replaces the Travel Warning issued on April 18, 2016.

Violent extremist organizations in the region, such as Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – West Africa, (ISIL-WA), and al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) can easily cross borders and target Westerners, local security forces, and civilians in the Lake Chad region.  Boko Haram conducted suicide attacks in N’Djamena targeting police facilities and a market in 2015 killing dozens.  Kidnapping for ransom is also a threat in the region.  Furthermore, there are minefields along the borders with Libya and Sudan, and any border crossing may close without warning.

Exercise extreme caution throughout the country due to the threat of indiscriminate violence and crime.  U.S. citizens should be vigilant at public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners, including markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship.  Maintain situational awareness and avoid crowds, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent unexpectedly.

U.S. Embassy personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in certain areas of N’Djamena as well as outside of the capital.  U.S. citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts should develop an evacuation plan with the United Nations agency coordinating their work.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance.

For further information:

8. Turkey Travel Warning

Posted on 29 October 2016 | 7:45 am
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey.

U.S. citizens should avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country.  The U.S. Department of State is updating this Travel Warning to reflect the October 29, 2016, decision to order the departure of family members of employees posted to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey.  The Department of State made this decision based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.  The Consulate General remains open and fully staffed. 

This order applies only to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, not to other U.S. diplomatic posts in Turkey.  The Department continues to monitor the effect of these developments on the overall security situation in the country. This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 24, 2016.

The Governor of Ankara, acting under the authority of the recently-extended state of emergency, and on the basis of reported terrorist threats against cities in Turkey, has banned all demonstrations in Ankara province until November 30. The Department continues to monitor the effects of the ongoing state of emergency; recent terrorist incidents in Ankara, Istanbul, Gaziantep, and throughout the Southeast; recurring threats; visible increases in police or military activities; and the potential for restrictions on movement as they relate to the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens in Turkey.  Delays or denial of consular access to U.S. citizens detained or arrested by security forces, some of whom also possess Turkish citizenship, continue. 

Foreign and U.S. tourists have been explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations in Turkey.  In the past year, extremists have carried out attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Mali, Bangladesh, Tunisia, and Turkey.  Additional attacks in Turkey at major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers, places of worship, and transportation hubs, including aviation services, metros, buses, bridges, bus terminals and sea transport, could occur.  Extremists have also threatened to kidnap and assassinate Westerners and U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens are reminded to review personal security plans, monitor local news for breaking events, and remain vigilant at all times.

U.S. Government personnel in Turkey remain subject to travel restrictions in the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig.  In particular, the U.S. Mission to Turkey may prohibit movements by its personnel to these areas on short notice for security reasons, including threats and demonstrations.  Due to recent acts of violence, such as the August 20 suicide bombing in Gaziantep, the September 12 bombing in Van, and the potential for reprisal attacks due to continued Turkish military activity in Syria, U.S. citizens are urged to defer travel to large, urban centers near the Turkish/Syrian border.  Finally, the Government of Turkey has closed its border with Syria.  Border crossings from Syria into Turkey are prohibited, even if the traveler entered Syria from Turkey.  Individuals seeking emergency medical treatment or safety from immediate danger are assessed on a case by case basis. 

9. Central African Republic Travel Warning

Posted on 19 October 2016 | 3:05 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to an unpredictable security situation subject to rapid deterioration, activities of armed groups, and violent crime.

We urge U.S. citizens who are currently in CAR to consider departing. U.S. citizens in CAR who require consular assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon. This replaces the Travel Warning dated April 14, 2016.

The potential for sectarian violence remains high. Indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in CAR since the overthrow of the government in March 2013. Despite the peaceful election of a new president in 2016 and the continued presence of a United Nations stabilization force, the security situation remains fragile. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for the Central African Republic.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in the CAR despite this Travel Warning are urged to provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information through STEP.
  • U.S. citizens in CAR in need of emergency assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon; E-mail: YaoundeACS@state.gov.  Telephone: From a mobile phone dial 00-237-22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023; from a landline dial 00-237-2220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. local time).  Emergencies: From a mobile phone dial 00-237-22220-1500, ext. 4531; from a landline dial 00-237-2220-1500, ext. 4531. Please note that due to local connectivity issues, not all mobile providers may work at all times. If you cannot get through, please try another service provider.  Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

10. Syria Travel Warning

Posted on 11 October 2016 | 2:32 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately.

The security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable. Violent conflict between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country. There is a serious risk for kidnappings, bombings, murder, and terrorism. This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 31, 2016. 

No part of Syria is safe from violence. Kidnappings, the use of chemical warfare, shelling, and aerial bombardment have significantly raised the risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.

Terrorist and other violent extremist groups including ISIL, al-Nusrah Front (al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate now calling itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham), and others operate in Syria. Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices. They have targeted major city centers, road checkpoints, border crossings, government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, including in Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr provinces. These groups have murdered and kidnapped U.S. citizens, both for ransom and political purposes. U.S. citizens have disappeared within Syria. Public places, such as road checkpoints, border crossings, government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, have been targeted.  Because of the security situation in Syria, the U.S. government’s ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is very limited. Although a Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) was announced in February 2016, fighting persists in Syria. Moreover, the CoH does not include ISIL or al-Nusrah Front (Al-Qaida in Syria), which have not renounced the use of violence. The CoH does not make the security situation in Syria any less dangerous for U.S. citizens.

The U.S. government particularly warns private U.S. citizens against traveling to Syria to engage in armed conflict. U.S. citizens who undertake such activity face extreme personal risks, including kidnapping, injury, or death. The U.S. government does not support this activity, and our ability to provide consular assistance to individuals who are injured or kidnapped, or to the families of individuals who die in the conflict, is extremely limited. Individuals who demonstrate an interest in groups opposing ISIL, including on social media, could open themselves to being targeted by ISIL itself if those individuals travel to Syria.

Fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIL and al-Nusrah Front (Al-Qaida in Syria), can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a crime that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.

Communications in Syria are difficult as phone and internet connections are unreliable. U.S. citizens have reported facing dangers traveling within the country and when trying to leave Syria via land borders, given the diminishing availability of commercial air travel out of Syria. Fierce clashes between pro-government and opposition forces continue in the vicinity of the Damascus and Aleppo airports. Opposition-held land border checkpoints should not be considered safe, as they are targeted by regime attacks and some armed groups have sought funding through kidnappings for ransom. Border areas are frequent targets of shelling and other attacks and are crowded because of internally-displaced refugees. Errant attacks will occasionally hit border towns just outside the borders as well. Road checkpoints have been controlled by armed terrorist and violent extremist groups and have been utilized to conduct kidnappings, including of U.S. citizens.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) because of the ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment. This FIR includes all the airspace over Syria and extends into adjacent international airspace. In addition, U.S. government personnel in Lebanon are prohibited from taking flights that pass through the Damascus FIR. A number of armed extremist groups are known to be equipped with a variety of antiaircraft weapons that have the capability to threaten civil aircraft. For additional background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended its operations in February 2012 and cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Syria. The Government of the Czech Republic, acting through its Embassy in Damascus, serves as Protecting Power for U.S. interests in Syria.  The range of consular services the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited, and those services, including U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates outside Syria U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular services should leave the country and contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in a neighboring country, if at all possible. U.S. citizens who remain in Syria and require consular services may contact the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus at USIS_damascus@embassy.mzv.cz.

U.S. citizens in Syria who are in need of emergency assistance and are unable to reach the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, or must make contact outside business hours, should contact the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan:

Telephone: +962 (6) 590-6950 (Daily 2-3:30 local time)
Emergencies: +962 (6) 590-6500
E-mail: Amman-ACS@state.gov

For additional information about U.S. citizens' services in Syria from the Office of Overseas Citizens' Services in Washington, e-mail:  SyriaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link at www.travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

For additional information:

11. Pakistan Travel Warning

Posted on 7 October 2016 | 2:44 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 7, 2016.

Consular services provided by the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Consulate General in Karachi, and the Consulate General in Lahore are often limited due to the security environment. At this time, the Consulate General in Peshawar is not providing consular services. 

Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks.  Throughout Pakistan, foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to U.S. citizens. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel are common.  Evidence suggests that some victims of terrorist activity have been targeted because they are Americans. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.

The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats.

Terrorists have targeted:

  • Heavily guarded facilities, such as military installations and airports 
  • Universities, schools, and hospitals
  • Places of worship of various faiths
  • Rallies, public parks, and sports venues
  • Hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants

In 2016 a suicide bomber killed 70 people and injured 130 at a government hospital in Quetta, Balochistan; in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, attackers killed 13 people at the Mardan District Court, and gunmen attacked Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, killing 22 people; in Punjab province, a suicide bomber at a park in Lahore killed more than 70 people and injured more than 340; and in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) village of Payee Khan, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowded mosque, killing 28 and injuring at least 30. 

Sectarian violence remains a serious threat throughout Pakistan, and the Government of Pakistan continues to enforce blasphemy laws. Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy. 

The local government restricts access for foreigners to many areas, including:

  • the FATA along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,
  • Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province
  • area adjacent to the Line of Control in the disputed territory of Kashmir
  • much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan

Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted and movements by U.S. government personnel outside of Islamabad are severely restricted. U.S. government personnel may not:

  • Attend services at places of worship without prior approval.
  • Use public transportation or stay overnight at hotels in Pakistan.

If you choose to live or travel in Pakistan despite this warning, you should:

  • Vary travel routes and timing, especially for routine trips.
  • Minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations.
  • Minimize the number of U.S./western nationals congregating in any one location at any time.
  • Avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures.
  • Take a photo of your passport, entry stamp and Pakistani visa, and keep it with you at all times.

Advisory Notice to Airmen (NOTAM): The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a NOTAM concerning the risks to civil aviation operating in Pakistan, particularly at low altitude, during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and when on the ground, due to extremist/militant activity. The Advisory NOTAM does not prohibit U.S. operators or airmen from operating in the specified area, as it is strictly an advisory notice. 

For background information on FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Pakistan Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier for us to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, Islamabad, Pakistan, by email at ACSIslamabad@state.gov.  The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92)(51) 201-4000 or (92)(51)201-5000.
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road.  The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-21) 3527-5000.
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, located at 50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle.  The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-42)3603-4000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

12. Yemen Travel Warning

Posted on 6 October 2016 | 2:24 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Yemen because of the high security threat level posed by ongoing conflict and terrorist activities.

The Department of State is updating this Travel Warning to reflect concerns regarding detentions of U.S. citizens by armed groups in Sanaa. The Department continues to urge U.S. citizens to defer any and all travel to Yemen. We urge U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart when they are able to safely do so. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on June 28, 2016.  

Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, rebel groups in Sanaa have systematically detained U.S. citizens.  Reports indicate that U.S. citizens are being targeted by virtue of their citizenship, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in Yemen, their established connections with the rebel groups, or their connections with local businesses or humanitarian organizations aimed at providing relief to those in need. During their detentions, which in some cases have lasted well over a year, U.S. citizens have not been able to contact their families or to be visited by U.S. consular personnel or international humanitarian organizations. The U.S. government is severely limited in what assistance it can directly provide to U.S. citizens in detention. There is no U.S. government presence on the ground following the rebel takeover of Sanaa. The Department of State suspended embassy operations and U.S. Embassy Sanaa American staff relocated out of the country in February 2015. All consular services, routine and/or emergency, are suspended until further notice.

In addition to the threat of detention by rebel groups, there continue to be other risks due to ongoing conflict and heightened terrorist activity, including kidnappings for ransom.  In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition initiated an air campaign in support of the exiled Yemeni government. A nationwide cessation of hostilities deteriorated in August 2016, and high levels of violence, to include armed conflict, artillery shelling, and air strikes, now persist in areas throughout the country. There are also reports of land mines being placed in areas vacated by withdrawing forces. The military conflict has also significantly damaged infrastructure, limiting the availability of electricity, clean water, and medical care, and causing travel by internal roads to be dangerous. This instability often hampers the ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver critically needed food, medicine, and water.

In addition, the threat posed by violent extremist groups in Yemen remains high. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) expanded its influence in Yemen since the beginning of the conflict. While a Coalition-led operation in April ejected AQAP from its safe haven in Mukalla in Yemen’s east, AQAP remains a significant threat. ISIL also has established a presence in Yemen, and has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in the country. The U.S. government remains extremely concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.

Vessels in the region of the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden should operate under a heightened state of alert as increasing tensions in the region escalate the potential for direct or collateral damage to vessels transiting the region. These threats may come from a variety of different sources such as missiles, projectiles or waterborne improvised explosive devices. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an October 1, 2016, attack on a UAE vessel. Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean remains a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.

The United States is also concerned about the risks to civil aviation operating in specified areas of the Sanaa (OYSC) Flight Information Region (FIR) due to the ongoing military operations, political instability, and violence from competing armed groups involved in combat operations and other military-related activity. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prohibited U.S. civil aviation from flying in specific areas within the Sanaa FIR. For additional background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.   

For U.S. citizen inquiries, you may send an email to: YEMENEMERGENCYUSC@state.gov.

For further information:

13. Afghanistan Travel Warning

Posted on 5 October 2016 | 6:55 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan because of continued instability and threats by terrorist organizations against U.S. citizens.

This replaces the Travel Warning issued June 22, 2016.

Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to the ongoing risk of kidnapping, hostage taking, military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, militant attacks, direct and indirect fire, suicide bombings, and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IED). Attacks may also target official Afghan and U.S. government convoys and compounds, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, restaurants, hotels, airports, and educational centers. 

Extremists associated with various Taliban networks, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISKP), and members of other armed opposition groups are active throughout the country. ISKP has shown its operational capability, having attacked both Afghan and foreign government facilities. The Taliban and its affiliates routinely attack Afghan, Coalition and U.S. targets with little regard for civilian casualties. In April 2016, insurgents conducted a complex attack targeting the Afghan Department of High Protection headquarters in Kabul, killing 47 people and wounding over 200. In July 2016, two ISKP suicide bombers detonated explosives during a peaceful public march, killing 81 people. In August 2016 insurgents attacked the American University in Afghanistan (AUAF) in Kabul, killing 12 and trapping students, faculty, and staff on campus for hours. Also in August, an American and an Australian professor at AUAF were reported to be kidnapped at gunpoint.  In September, Taliban insurgents killed over 40 people in a combined improvised explosive device (IED) and suicide bomber attack near the Afghan Ministry of Defense. That same day, Taliban insurgents later carried out a complex attack in the vicinity of NGO offices in Kabul.

There have been attacks on Coalition convoys in Kabul using vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) targeting U.S. citizens, such as the May 25, 2016, attack on a NATO convoy and the kidnapping of an Australian NGO worker in Jalalabad in April. Additionally, a U.S citizen journalist working for National Public Radio and his translator were killed when the Afghan army unit they were traveling with came under attack in Helmand Province in June 2016, and in August 2016, insurgents fired a rocket at a bus reportedly carrying EU and U.S. citizen tourists in Herat Province, injuring 6 people.

Due to security concerns, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. Furthermore, U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk. 

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR).  For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to defer non-essential travel within Afghanistan and note that evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns. 

For further information:

See the Department of State’s Consular Affairs’ website where the Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings can be found for the latest security information.  

  • Enroll in STEP to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy, located at Great Massoud Road (also known as Bibi Mahru or Airport Road) between Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) and the Ministry of Public Health.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be reached at 301-490-1042, ext. 8499 from the United States, or +93(0) 70-011-4000 from abroad during business hours, Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Kabul time.  For after-hours, truly exigent emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the Embassy Duty Officer at +93-(0)70-011-4000.  Any routine consular correspondence relating to services for U.S. citizens may be sent to KabulACS@state.gov.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

14. Tunisia Travel Warning

Posted on 29 September 2016 | 7:45 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeastern Tunisia along the Libyan border as well as the mountainous areas in the country’s west, due to the threat of terrorism.

This replaces the Travel Warning issued April 1, 2016.

Terrorist attacks have targeted Tunisian government and security forces and popular tourist sites. A March 7, 2016, attack by ISIL-affiliated militants in the southeastern border town of Ben Guerdan resulted in the deaths of 12 Tunisian security officials and civilians. Two attacks in 2015 targeted tourists: the Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 and two beach hotels near Sousse on June 26. ISIL claimed responsibility for these attacks. Groups of militants continue to operate in the mountains of Western Tunisia, including Jebel Chaambi, Sammama, and Selloum. The Tunisian government continues security force operations against Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), ISIL, and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Embassy Tunis regulations require advance notification to Embassy security officials of travel by Embassy personnel outside greater Tunis. Certain cities and governorates in Tunisia have a fluid and unpredictable security environment, and these areas require additional scrutiny before U.S. government personnel may travel to them. U.S. citizens should avoid the following areas due to the unpredictable security environment:

  • Jendouba, Kef, and Kasserine, next to the Algerian border
  • Ben Guerdan and Medenine, next to the Libyan border
  • Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid in central Tunisia
  • The desert south of Remada is designated as a military zone by the Government of Tunisia. If travelers wish to enter the military zone, special authorization is required.

On occasion, these travel restrictions prevent the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.

For your safety:

  • Visit the U.S. Embassy website before traveling outside of the capital for more specific guidance and warnings;
  • Exercise caution in all parts of Tunisia when frequenting public venues, especially those heavily frequented by tourists, such as hotels, shopping centers, tourist sites, public beaches, and restaurants;
  • Exercise caution when using public transportation due to safety and security concerns; 
  • Avoid political gatherings, rallies, large crowds and demonstrations, as even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can be unpredictable;
  • Be alert to the possibility of kidnapping; 
  • Monitor local events and take appropriate steps to bolster personal security;
  • Remain alert to local security developments, report suspicious activity to the local police, and heed directions given by uniformed security officials;
  • Carry a copy of your passport and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Tunisia.

Government security forces, including the army, police, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia.  On September 19, 2016, President Beji Caid Essebsi renewed Tunisia’s state of emergency until October 17.  In place since November 24, 2015, the state of emergency grants security forces more authority to maintain civil order, enabling the government to focus on combating terrorism.  The Minister of Interior has stated that the state of emergency also assists in securing hotels and tourist areas.  

Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation along the border areas, and the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya.  Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation at the ports of entry at Ras Jedir and Dehiba along with the cities of Ben Guardan and Medenine, and the Libyan border is frequently closed to all traffic with short notice for extended periods. Travelers should avoid all travel to and through the Libyan border and should read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Libya, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information and other international travel safety and security information for Libya and Algeria. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification.

For further information:

15. Eritrea Travel Warning

Posted on 25 August 2016 | 9:12 pm
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea due to the unpredictable security situation along Eritrea’s borders and restrictions imposed by local authorities on travel within the country.

All foreign nationals, including U.S. government employees, must obtain permits to travel outside of the capital Asmara. This restriction limits the ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular/emergency services anywhere outside of Asmara. This replaces the Travel Warning dated May 6, 2015.

Avoid travel along all border regions. In June 2016, fighting in the Ethiopia-Eritrea border region reportedly caused several deaths.  Continued political and military tensions between Eritrea and the neighboring countries of Djibouti and Ethiopia pose the threat of possible renewed conflict. Due to regional sensitivities, the State Department also recommends against travel to the border region with Sudan.

For further information:

16. Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning

Posted on 23 August 2016 | 2:27 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Gaza Strip and urges those present to depart as soon as possible when border crossings are open.

The security situation remains complex in Israel and the West Bank, and can change quickly depending on the political environment, recent events, and geographic location. U.S. citizens should exercise caution and remain aware of their surroundings when traveling to areas where there are heightened tensions and security risks. The Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority both make considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security, particularly in areas where foreigners frequently travel. This replaces the Travel Warning issued December 15, 2015.  

Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Violent demonstrations and shootings occur on a frequent basis and the collateral risks are high. While Israel and Hamas continue to observe the temporary cease-fire that ended the Gaza conflict in 2014, sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military response continue to occur.

Within Israel and the West Bank, a rise in political and religious tension beginning in October 2015 led to a spike in violence in which U.S. citizens were killed and wounded. There is no indication that U.S. citizens were specifically targeted based on nationality. Perceived religious affiliation was a factor in some of the attacks.  Attacks were carried out using knives, vehicles, and guns. Israeli security forces reacted with deadly force, which resulted in some bystanders being injured or killed in the crossfire. While the frequency of attacks has abated significantly since April 2016, the possibility of random violence continues to exist and can happen without warning. U.S. citizens should stay abreast of current events and know what areas to avoid when traveling throughout the region.

For your safety, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens:

  • Avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, and if you are there, leave as soon as you are able;
  • Maintain a high degree of situational awareness and exercise caution at all times;
  • Avoid demonstrations – which can turn violent – and steer clear of neighborhoods where police have restricted access;
  • Beware of and report unattended items or packages;
  • Follow the instructions of security and emergency officials;
  • Report suspicious activities or items to security officials; and
  • Learn the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened shelter. 

When planning their own travel, U.S. citizens should consider the following rules that apply to U.S. government employee travel:

  • U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza;
  • With the exception of Jericho, Bethlehem, and along Routes 1 and 90, U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel within the West Bank. Restrictions on personal travel by U.S. government employees may change depending on the security environment;
  • All other U.S. government travel into the West Bank outside the aforementioned areas must be for official business and conducted with enhanced security measures; 
  • U.S. government staff take additional security precautions when visiting refugee camps and “seam areas” where Israelis and Palestinians intersect and which have historically been flashpoints for violence. For example, sites with significant religious meaning to multiple faiths can be subject to violent protests or security incidents with little to no warning, especially on or around significant religious holidays;
  • U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel into Jerusalem’s Old City on Fridays during the Muslim month of Ramadan. The U.S. government occasionally restricts travel for its employees to the Old City based on the current security environment;
  • U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses and public bus terminals throughout Israel and the West Bank; and
  • U.S. government employees must provide advance notification to Embassy security officials if traveling for any reason to the following locations:

o   within 7 miles of the Gaza demarcation line;

o   within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border; 

o   on or east of Route 98 in the Golan; and

o   south of Be’er Sheva.

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza should consult the detailed information concerning entry and exit difficulties in the Country Specific Information (CSI). The CSI also provides detailed guidance on crime and safety conditions within Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

For further detailed information and assistance:

  • In Israel, the Golan Heights, and ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport, Haifa Port, the northern (Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Arava) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt, contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. The after-hours emergency number is (972)(3)519-7575.
  • In Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. The after-hours emergency number is (972)(2)622-7250. 
  • In northern Israel, contact the Consular Agency in Haifa. The after-hours emergency number is (972)(3)519-7575.
  • Enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to obtain the most current information on travel and security within Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be accessed at http://israel.usembassy.govhttp://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov or on the Embassy and Consulate General Facebook pages. 
  • Up-to-date information on travel and security can be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

 

17. Iran Travel Warning

Posted on 22 August 2016 | 8:42 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Iran.

This replaces the Travel Warning for Iran dated March 14, 2016, to reiterate and highlight the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans. Foreigners, in particular dual nationals of Iran and Western countries including the United States, continue to be detained or prevented from leaving Iran. U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel. U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country.   

Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security. Iranian authorities have also prevented the departure, in some cases for months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons. U.S. citizens traveling to Iran should very carefully weigh the risks of travel and consider postponing their travel. U.S. citizens residing in Iran should closely follow media reports, monitor local conditions, and evaluate the risks of remaining in the country. 

The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran. The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran.The range of consular services provided by the Foreign Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy is limited and may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates. 

The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and will not allow the Swiss to provide protective services for U.S. citizens who are also Iranian nationals. The Iranian authorities make the determination of a dual national’s Iranian citizenship without regard to the dual national’s personal wishes.  Consular access to detained U.S. citizens without dual nationality is often denied as well. 

The Iranian government continues to repress some minority religious and ethnic groups, including Christians, Baha'i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others.  Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kurdish northwest of the country, and areas near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe. Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens, particularly those of Iranian origin. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.

The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Iran due to hazards from military activity associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The FAA has advised U.S. civil aviation to exercise caution when flying into, out of, within, or over the airspace over Iran. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices

The U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited. U.S. citizens in Iran should ensure that they have updated documentation at all times and make their own plans in the event of an emergency. For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" at the Department's website

For further information:

18. Cameroon Travel Warning

Posted on 19 August 2016 | 3:05 pm
The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, and terrorist threats including suicide bombings, and recommends U.S. citizens avoid all travel to the North and Far North Regions and parts of the East and Adamawa Regions of Cameroon.

The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in remote and rural areas is extremely limited. This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 22, 2015.

The Boko Haram terrorist group has actively targeted foreign residents, tourists, and government leaders in the North and Far North Region. Thirty-seven foreigners have been reported kidnapped since 2013. Since July 2015, the group has carried out 38 suicide bombings in the North and Far North Regions, including the city of Maroua. The U.S. Embassy continues to maintain restrictions on travel by U.S. official personnel to the North, Far North, and East Regions of Cameroon, as well as any travel to the north or east of Ngaoundere in the Adamawa Region. Additionally, the threat of piracy is present in the waters of the Bakassi peninsula in the Gulf of Guinea.

U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution when traveling within 60 miles/100 kilometers of the border with Nigeria’s Adamawa State in the North and Adamawa Regions of Cameroon, the border area with Chad, and the border areas with the Central African Republic (CAR) due to violence, banditry, and military operations that sometimes cross into Cameroon. There are Travel Warnings for neighboring Nigeria, Chad, and CAR.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Cameroon.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon located on Avenue Rosa Parks close to the Mont Febe Golf Club in Yaounde, at +237 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +237 22220-1500 ext. 4040.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

19. Honduras Travel Warning

Posted on 4 August 2016 | 7:03 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of kidnapping, crime, and violence in Honduras remains critically high.

This Travel Warning supersedes the October 2015 Travel Warning.

Criminal activity is a serious problem throughout the country and the Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly respond to, investigate, and prosecute cases. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras.  

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The U.S. Embassy has recorded 37 murders of U.S. citizens since 2011, with three recorded since January 2016. Official statistics from the Honduran Observatory on National Violence show Honduras’ homicide rate was 60 per 100,000 in 2015. The majority of homicide cases in Honduras have no resolution. 

Honduran law enforcement frequently report highway assaults and carjackings by criminals posing as Honduran law enforcement throughout Honduras, including remote areas of Choluteca, Olancho, Colon, and Copan Departments.  These criminals set up road blocks or checkpoints and wear some elements of police uniforms and equipment, but are often mismatched and inconsistent.  Reports of kidnappings of U.S. citizens are not common; since families of kidnapping victims often pay ransoms without reporting these crimes to police out of fear of retribution, kidnapping figures may be underreported.

Transnational criminal organizations conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country and use violence to control drug trafficking routes and carry out criminal activity. Other criminals, acting both individually and in gangs in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and other large cities, are known to commit crimes such as murder, kidnapping, extortion, carjacking, armed robbery, rape, and other aggravated assaults.

Sexual assault is a concern in Honduras. Most Honduran local police and medical staff do not have the capacity to properly investigate, handle evidence collection, and/or provide medical care for sexual assault victims.

Roatan & Bay Islands: Roatan and the Bay Islands experience lower crime rates than the Honduran mainland. While the national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur.  You should exercise caution, especially at night. If staying at a hotel resort, book tours and sightseeing through the resort or reputable tour companies. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark. 

If you are on a shore excursion from a cruise ship, take care to book only with reputable tour companies during your stopover in Honduras. The port agencies at Mahogany Bay and Towne Center have worked to improve taxi service to and from the ports.

Gracias a Dios: Travelers to the department Gracias a Dios should note that it is a remote location where narcotics-trafficking is frequent, infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce. The U.S. Embassy has restricted U.S. government personnel travel to Gracias a Dios due to credible threat information against U.S. citizens by criminal and drug trafficking organizations. U.S. citizens traveling to Gracias a Dios should consider postponing their travel. Those who choose to travel or currently reside in Gracias a Dios should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger, be extra cautious, maintain a high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance personal security.

For further information about security in Honduras, see the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Honduras Country Specific Information.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, located at Avenida La Paz, at (504) 2236-9320/2238-5114, 8:00am to 11:30am Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(504) 2238-5114, or +(504) 2236-9320.

Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenida La Paz in Tegucigalpa and can be reached at:

Telephone:      (504) 2236-9320/2238-5114
Fax:               (504) 2236-9037
After Hours:    (504) 2236-8497
Website:          http://honduras.usembassy.gov

The Embassy's American Citizens Services Unit is open to walk-in services Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 11:30 am and can be reached directly at:

Telephone:       (504) 2238-5114 ext. 4400
After Hours:      (504) 2238-5114/2236-9320 ext.4100
Fax:                 (504) 2238-4357
Email:               usahonduras@state.gov
Facebook:         www.facebook.com/acstegucigalpa

The U.S. Consular Agency in San Pedro Sula is located on the eleventh floor of the Banco Atlantida building (across from Central Park). The agency is open to walk-in services Monday thru Thursday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm and can be reached at telephone: (504) 2558-1580.

20. Nigeria Travel Warning

Posted on 3 August 2016 | 2:35 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their own personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their travel planning. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated February 5, 2016.

The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states remains severely limited. The Department recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks:  Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara. The Department also warns against travel in the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy. Based on safety and security risk assessments, the Embassy maintains restrictions for travel by U.S. officials to the states listed above; officials must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Mission for any travel to those states. 

The U.S. Mission advises all U.S. citizens to be particularly vigilant around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather, such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Its members have killed or wounded thousands of people in the past five years. Boko Haram has targeted churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe states.  Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced as a result of violence in the north.

Various local government curfews are intermittently in effect in several states in the North. All U.S. citizens should remain aware of current situations including curfews, travel restrictions, and states of emergency in the areas they are in or plan to visit. This information is commonly announced via the news media, but at times it can change with very little notice. Please take the time to find out this information for your area.

Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country. Criminal elements throughout Nigeria orchestrate kidnappings for ransom; Islamic extremists, operating predominantly in the North, also have been known to conduct kidnappings. Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from off-shore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, airports, and public roadways.

Separatist groups have staged demonstrations in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers states, some of which have turned violent. 

Militant groups have destroyed oil production infrastructure in Bayelsa and Delta states.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the areas of these states where these incidents have occurred.

Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially in recent years.  Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travelers. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution,Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Nigeria Country-Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, located at Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive, Central District Area, open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, located at 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, is open Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at +234(9) 461-4000, or by email at AbujaACS@state.gov.  The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at +234(1) 460-3600 or +234 (1) 460-3400, or by email atLagosACS@state.gov.  For more information, please visit the U.S. Mission in Nigeria website.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

21. Lebanon Travel Warning

Posted on 29 July 2016 | 11:03 am
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence near Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel.

U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on December 11, 2015.

There is potential for death or injury in Lebanon because of terrorist bombings.  Violent extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including Hizballah, ISIL (Da’esh), ANF, Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). The U.S. government has designated all of these groups as terrorist organizations. ISIL and ANF have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon, and these groups are active throughout Lebanon. U.S. citizens have been the targets of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity remains, as does the risk of death or injury as a non-targeted bystander.

Sudden outbreaks of violence can occur at any time in Lebanon, and armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders and in Beirut. On June 27, 2016, a series of blasts caused by suicide bombers in Qa’a, a town along Lebanon’s northeastern border killed five people and injured many others.  On the evening of June 12, 2016, an explosion occurred outside a commercial bank in the central Beirut area of Verdun, causing major damage to the building and injuring two people. On November 12, 2015, twin suicide bombings in a commercial and residential area of the Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs killed 43 people and wounded 239 others.  ISIL claimed responsibility for the bombings. The Lebanese Armed Forces are routinely brought in to quell the violence in these situations.

The Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens in the country against sudden outbreaks of violence. Protesters have blocked major roads to gain publicity for their causes, including the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Access to the airport may be cut off if the security situation deteriorates.  Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning. In Tripoli, the neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen remain tense. Armed clashes have resulted in deaths and injuries in these neighborhoods in the past, and there are potentially large numbers of weapons in the hands of non-governmental elements.  Celebratory gunfire in Lebanon has resulted in accidental injuries and deaths. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services can be severely limited. 

Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, is a problem in Lebanon. A U.S. citizen was kidnapped in a family dispute in January 2016. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations. The U.S. government’s ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is very limited.  Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to hostage takers.  U.S. law also makes it illegal to provide material support to terrorist organizations.

Clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements continue to occur in areas of the Bekaa Valley and border regions. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region.  There have been episodic clashes between the Lebanese Army and Syrian-based extremists along the border with Syria since August 2014. On March 24, 2016, a roadside bomb targeting a Lebanese Armed Forces patrol killed a Lebanese soldier and wounded several others in Lebanon’s restive northeast border town of Arsal.  On November 5, 2015, a deadly blast ripped through Arsal, killing at least four people and wounding several others. The November attack, caused by a suicide bomber using a motorbike, targeted a meeting in the al-Sabil neighborhood of the Committee of Qalamoun Scholars. The next day, a Lebanese Armed Forces patrol in al-Sabil was targeted by a roadside explosive device.

U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor political and security developments in both Lebanon and Syria. There have been incidents of cross-border shelling and air strikes of Lebanese villages from Syria, resulting in deaths and injuries.  There have been reports of armed groups from Syria kidnapping or attacking Lebanese citizens living in border areas.

There are border tensions to the south with Israel, and the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid this border. In January 2015, hostilities between Israel and Hizballah flared in the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms area, and the potential for wider conflict remains. South of the Litani River, Hizballah has stockpiled large amounts of munitions in anticipation of a future conflict with Israel.  In the past, there have been sporadic rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel in connection with the violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. These attacks, normally consisting of rockets fired at northern Israel, often provoke a prompt Israeli military response. The rocket attacks and responses can occur without warning. Landmines and unexploded ordnance pose significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon, particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in areas of the country where fighting was intense during the civil war. More than 40 civilians have been killed and more than 300 injured by unexploded ordnance since the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war. Travelers should watch for posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.

Hizballah maintains a strong presence in parts of south Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and areas in southern Lebanon. Hizballah has been the target of attacks by other extremist groups for their support of the Asad regime in Syria. 

Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the United States operate autonomously in formal and informal refugee camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in shootings and explosions. On April 12, 2016, a car bomb explosion killed a senior Palestinian official near the Ein al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in the southern port city of Sidon. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to refugee camps.

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on airlines that fly over Syria. Commercial aircraft are at risk when flying over regions in conflict. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens considering air travel overseas evaluate the route that their proposed commercial flight may take and avoid any flights that pass through Syrian airspace. U.S. government personnel in Lebanon have been prohibited from taking flights that pass through Syrian airspace. 

The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice. These practices limit, and may prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country, especially to parts of metropolitan Beirut, Tripoli, the Bekaa Valley, refugee camps, and southern Lebanon. 

In the event that the security climate in Lebanon worsens, U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. The Embassy does not offer protection services to U.S. citizens who feel unsafe.  U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their condition, and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country.

U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist, and they are not guaranteed even when commercial travel options are limited or non-existent.  Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs.   U.S. citizens in Lebanon should ensure that they have valid U.S. passports, as lack of documentation could hinder U.S. citizens' ability to depart the country.  U.S. Legal Permanent Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland Security before they depart the United States to ensure they have proper documentation to re-enter.  Further information on the Department’s role during emergencies is provided on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website

For more information:

22. Saudi Arabia Travel Warning

Posted on 27 July 2016 | 7:58 pm
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens carefully consider the risks of travel to Saudi Arabia due to continuing ISIL (Da’esh) directed or inspired attacks across the Kingdom.

Furthermore, continuing violence in neighboring countries such as Yemen has a high potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia. This replaces the Travel Warning issued April 11, 2016. 

Security threats continue. Terrorist groups, some affiliated with ISIL or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests, including the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, mosques and significant religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places where members of the Shia-Muslim minority gather. Possible targets include mosques, pilgrimage locations, and Saudi government facilities, as well as housing compounds, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, international schools, Western consulates and embassies, and other facilities where Westerners congregate. 

Over the past year, there have been multiple attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, some resulting in significant loss of life. On July 4, 2016 suicide bombers launched attacks near:

  • U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
  • the Prophet’s Mosque (also known as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi) in Medina
  • a mosque in Qatif

On February 8, 2016, ISIL claimed responsibility for an explosion targeting a Saudi citizen in the Al-Azizia district of Riyadh. Media reports indicate that Saudi authorities thwarted plans to attack the Al-Janadriah festival in Riyadh, which took place in February 2016. In January 2016 a Shia mosque in Al-Ahsa in Eastern Province was attacked, as was a Shia mosque in Najran in October 2015. On October 16, 2015, a mass shooting took place at a gathering in Saihat. On August 6, 2015, a mosque in the city of Abha was bombed.  Most of the victims in that attack were members of the Saudi security forces. 

U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel in the following areas:

  • within 50 miles of the Yemeni border
  • the city of Jizan
  • the city of Najran
  • Qatif in the Eastern Province and its suburbs, including Awamiyah
  • Hofuf and its suburbs in the Al Hasa Governorate                 

Read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before considering travel near the Yemeni frontier. Violence sometimes spills across the border at unpredictable times and locations. The U.S. embassy remains concerned about the possibility of violence and military activity near the border with Yemen. Boundaries in some areas are not clearly defined.

If you travel despite U.S. government concerns, be aware that, in addition to border attacks noted above, terrorist and criminal elements may also be operating, including AQAP. 

Select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and keep a low profile. Vary times and routes of travel. Exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles. Ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Saudi Arabia Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia located at Abdullah Ibn Huthafah Al-Sahmi Street, Diplomatic Quarter, at +966 11 488 3800, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +966 11 488 3800.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

23. Republic of South Sudan Travel Warning

Posted on 10 July 2016 | 2:02 pm
The U.S. State Department warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Republic of South Sudan because of ongoing fighting, intercommunal violence, and violent crime.

On July 10, 2016, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from US. Embassy Juba.  This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 31, 2015.  

After clashes between government and opposition forces in Juba on July 7 and 8, general fighting broke out in Juba on July 10.  Since the signing of a peace agreement in August 2015 and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in April 2016, instability has persisted nonetheless across the country.  This instability is exacerbated by intertribal and intercommunal violence, cattle raiding, economic uncertainty, and an increase in violent crime. Aid workers have been the targets of shootings, ambushes, assaults, harassment and robberies, some resulting in death.  Fighting that began on July 10 marked a sudden and serious deterioration in the security situation in the capital.

The risk of violent crime is high throughout South Sudan, including in Juba.  Due to the risk of carjacking and banditry, travel outside of Juba should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles and appropriate recovery and medical equipment in case of mechanical failure or other emergency.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance, and should carry medical evacuation insurance.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of South Sudan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).  For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

For further information:     

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for South Sudan.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in South Sudan despite this Travel Warning should provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information in STEP. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba located on Kololo Road in Tongping next to the European Union compound, at +(211) 912-105-188 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(211) 912-105-107.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

 

24. Bangladesh Travel Warning

Posted on 10 July 2016 | 5:06 am
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to consider carefully whether you need to travel to Bangladesh, in light of the latest attack in a series of extremist events.

Effective July 10, 2016, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of family members of U.S. government personnel posted to the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.  The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka remains open and will provide all routine consular services.  The U.S. government assesses that the terrorist threat is real and credible.

On July 1, 2016, attackers killed more than 20 people in a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave, including one U.S. citizen.  Other attacks continue to be carried out against religious minorities, bloggers, publishers, and security forces throughout the country.  Daesh (also referred to as ISIL, or ISIS) and Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) have publicly claimed credit for various attacks since September 2015.

U.S. citizens should take stringent security measures, remain vigilant, and be alert to local security developments.  Be aware that U.S. government officials and their families currently are not permitted to:

  • visit public establishments or places in Bangladesh
  • travel on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, rickshaw, or other uncovered means on public thoroughfares and sidewalks in Bangladesh
  • attend large gatherings in Bangladesh

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, located at Madani Avenue, Baridhara, Dhaka, Bangladesh 1212, at (88) (02) 5566-2000, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.  Weekends and After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (88) (02) 5566-2000 (press “0” and ask for the duty officer).
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

25. Venezuela Travel Warning

Posted on 7 July 2016 | 6:55 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens that violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital Caracas and throughout the country.

Security restrictions on U.S. government personnel may restrict the services the Embassy can provide.  All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy which limits their travel abilities within Caracas and in other parts of the country for their safety and well-being.  Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to violence and looting. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on September 18, 2015.

 

 

Venezuela has one of the world's highest crime rates and, according to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory, has the second highest homicide rate.  Violent crime - including murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking - is endemic throughout the country.  Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active in the Colombian border states of Zulia, Tachira, and Apure.

Armed robberies and street crime take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Heavily armed criminals are known to use grenades and assault rifles to commit crimes at banks, shopping malls, public transportation stations, and universities. Criminals may take advantage of power outages to target victims when lights and security alarms are nonfunctional. 

Political rallies and demonstrations can occur with little notice, and are expected to occur with greater frequency in the coming months in Caracas and other regions throughout the country. Long lines to purchase basic goods are a common occurrence throughout the country and there have been reports of unrest and violence while customers wait, sometimes resulting in looted stores and blocked streets. These incidents elicit a strong police and security force response that can include the use of violence against the participants; several deaths have been reported during such protests. 

Although Venezuela is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Venezuelan government sometimes fails to notify the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens are arrested, and/or delays or denies consular access to arrestees. In cases where individuals hold dual citizenship we are not guaranteed consular access to the detained individuals. Regardless, the U.S. Embassy makes it a priority to request access to U.S. citizens, but U.S. citizens cannot assume a consular officer will visit them within 24-72 hours of an arrest.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Venezuela Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, located at Calle F con Calle Suapure, Lomas de Valle Arriba, Caracas at +[58] 212-975-6411, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +[58] 0212-907-8400.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

 

26. Iraq Travel Warning

Posted on 6 July 2016 | 2:46 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Iraq.

Travel within Iraq remains very dangerous, and the ability of the Embassy to assist U.S. citizens facing difficulty is extremely limited. This supersedes the Travel Warning dated December 4, 2015.  

U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may threaten U.S. citizens and western companies throughout Iraq. Kidnappings and attacks by improvised explosive devices (IED) occur frequently in many areas of the country, including Baghdad. Methods of attack have included explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles, human and vehicle-borne IEDs, mines placed on or concealed near roads, mortars and rockets, and shootings using various direct fire weapons. Such attacks often take place in public venues such as cafes and markets. Facilities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the U.S. Government, and western interests remain possible targets, as evidenced by the April 17, 2015, bombing near the entrance to U.S. Consulate General Erbil.

Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq, including Da'esh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL). Da'esh controls Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as well as significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, particularly along the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. They regularly attack Iraqi security forces in those areas. The Embassy is unable to assist U.S. citizens who face difficulty in Da’esh-controlled areas.

The U.S. Government particularly warns private U.S. citizens against traveling to Iraq to engage in armed conflict. In addition to the extreme personal risks of kidnapping, injury, or death posed by such actions, legal risks include arrest, fines, and expulsion. Since the closure of the border between Syria and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), the government of the IKR has stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the border.  U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including Da'esh, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a crime in the United States that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.

The Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Iraq to avoid protests and large gatherings.  Iraqi authorities have responded forcefully when violence has occurred, including on two occasions in April and May 2016 when protestors gained access to the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad and attacked Iraqi government buildings.  Demonstrations in Basrah have occurred at the offices of the Provincial Council and governor. Demonstrations in Baghdad have occurred in and around Tahrir Square and have also penetrated the IZ, resulting in personal injury.

The Department of State discourages U.S. citizens from traveling near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined. U.S. citizens traveling near border areas may encounter aerial or artillery bombardments, unmarked minefields, border skirmishes with smugglers, and large refugee flows. Neighboring governments, including Iran, have detained U.S. citizens who approach these borders.

The Government of Iraq strictly enforces regulations regarding visas and entry, authorizations for weapons, and movements through checkpoints. U.S. citizens traveling to Iraq without the proper authorization or whose purpose for travel is not readily apparent have been detained without warning. For more information on entry/exit requirements, please see our Country Specific Information page for Iraq.

The Government of Iraq has begun to take measures to improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. A dam failure could cause significant flooding and interruption of essential services from Mosul to Baghdad. While it is impossible to accurately predict the likelihood of the dam failing, the Embassy has made contingency plans to relocate its personnel in such an event. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens in Iraq, especially those who reside in the floodplain of the Tigris River, prepare their own contingency plans, have valid U.S. passports, and stay informed of local media reports and Embassy security messages for updates.  

The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy and Consulates. The internal security policies of the U.S. Mission in Iraq may be changed or adjusted at any time and without advance notice. The Mission will regularly restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice and for security threats or demonstrations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that U.S. civil aviation flying in Iraqi airspace is at risk from ongoing combat operations involving military forces (military aerial combat operations and other militarily-related activity) and militant groups. As a result, the FAA currently prohibits U.S. civil aviation from operating in or overflying Iraqi airspace with very limited exceptions. Foreign airlines operating in Iraq may cancel their operations without warning due to the security environment or other factors. Travelers should remain vigilant and reconfirm all flight schedules with their airline prior to commencing any travel. For further background information regarding FAA prohibitions on U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices website.

For more information:

27. Mali Travel Warning

Posted on 1 July 2016 | 7:39 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Mali of ongoing terrorist attacks and criminal violence in Mali.

The security environment in Mali remains fluid, and the potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains high. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revised its advisory NOTAM for Mali advising U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below 26,000 ft (FL260) over the airspace of Mali. This Travel Warning is being updated to notify U.S. citizens that on July 1, 2016, the Department of State ordered the departure of eligible family members 21 and younger and authorized the departure of their accompanying adult parents from the U.S. Embassy in Bamako.  This notice replaces the Travel Warning issued on April 21, 2016.

Violent extremist groups targeting foreigners, including al-Qa'ida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Murabitoun, have claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks in Mali over the past year, as well as kidnappings in Timbuktu and along the border with Burkina Faso.  Furthermore, violent extremist elements continue to target Malian security forces, resulting in attacks on Malian government outposts and base camps for The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). 

On March 21, 2016, heavily armed assailants attacked the European Union’s Training Mission (EUTM) headquarters and primary residence in the diplomatic enclave in Bamako.  Although no U.S. citizens were affected by the attack and no EUTM staffs were injured, one Malian security officer was shot and required extensive medical care. AQIM claimed responsibility for the attack.

On November 20, 2015, one U.S. citizen and 19 other foreigners were murdered when heavily armed assailants stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako using gunfire and grenades.  AQIM and al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Following the November 20, 2015 attacks on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the government of Mali increased its security presence in Bamako.  Roadblocks and random police checkpoints, especially between sundown and sun-up, are possible. U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling outside the Bamako region, and may be subject to other restrictions, as security situations warrant.  U.S. citizens should consider taking similar precautions, are reminded to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and exercise caution throughout the country, especially at night.

The U.S. government also warns about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Mali due to hazards associated with ongoing fighting involving military forces and extremist/militant groups. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below a certain altitude in the airspace over Mali.  For further information on FAA flight prohibitions, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices

 For further information:

 

28. Kenya Travel Warning

Posted on 30 June 2016 | 2:23 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the border areas of Kenya because of threats by the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

U.S. citizens should also be aware of potential terrorist threats and the high risk of crime throughout the country. This replaces the Travel Warning dated November 10, 2015.  

Thousands of U.S. citizens travel to Kenya without incident. For your safety:

  • Avoid travel to the northeastern Kenyan counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa (including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Liboi), the coastal counties of Tana River and Lamu, the area of Kilifi county north of Malindi, and the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh.
  • In Mombasa, the U.S. Embassy recommends U.S. citizens visit Old Town only during daylight hours, and avoid using the Likoni ferry due to safety concerns.

Terrorist attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices have occurred, killing and injuring many in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties, and also in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi. Potential terrorist threats, such as bombings, kidnappings, and attacks on civil aviation, remain in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country.

Al-Shabaab targets have included government sites, police stations and vehicles, public transportation, nightclubs and bars, religious institutions, universities, and shopping areas. The most deadly of these took place on April 2, 2015 at Garissa University College, where al-Shabaab terrorists killed almost 150 people, primarily students, and wounded many others. Additionally, there was an attack at the Westgate Mall in September 2013 that killed 67 people and wounded many others.

Violent and sometimes fatal crimes, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, including Nairobi. U.S. citizens and U.S. Embassy employees have been victims of such crimes in the past.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an updated Notice to Airmen for Kenyan airspace. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

To be safe, you should review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities. 

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution,Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Kenya.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, at  telephone (+254) (20) 363-6000, 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. Citizens is (+254) (20) 363-6000. 
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

29. Ukraine Travel Warning

Posted on 17 June 2016 | 4:29 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and recommends those U.S. citizens currently living in or visiting these regions to depart.

This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated December 14, 2015.

Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, where violent clashes have resulted in over 9,000 deaths. A ceasefire agreement established a de facto dividing line between Ukrainian government-controlled and separatist-held areas of Ukraine, with numerous checkpoints controlled by government and separatist forces. The Department of State warns all U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. There have been multiple casualties due to land mines in areas previously controlled by separatists, and separatist leaders have made statements indicating their desire to push the front line to the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Artillery and rocket attacks near the line of contact continue to occur regularly. Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained, or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at separatist checkpoints. The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who enter Ukraine from Russia through separatist-controlled territory, will not be allowed through checkpoints into government-controlled territory. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Ukrainian Simferopol (UKFV) and Dnipropetrovsk (UKDV) Flight Information Regions. This prohibition remains in effect.  For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly. U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors should protests or demonstrations escalate.

U.S. Embassy Kyiv's Consular Section is open for all public services; however, in light of the ongoing unrest, the Embassy has severely restricted the travel of U.S. government personnel to Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and Crimea, and occasionally limits travel to adjacent regions. As a result, the Embassy's ability to provide consular services, including responding to emergencies, to U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine's Crimean region is extremely limited.

For further security information in Ukraine:

30. Libya Travel Warning

Posted on 9 June 2016 | 4:54 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately.

The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable, and extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. If in Libya, make contingency emergency plans and maintain security awareness at all times. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on September 16, 2015.

On July 26, 2014 the U.S. Embassy suspended operations in Libya. The Department of State has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens in Libya.

Government authorities lack control over much of the country, and local police and security services may have limited to no capacity to respond to emergencies or requests for assistance. Crime levels remain high, including the threat of kidnapping, and various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Hotels frequented by westerners have been attacked by armed groups and terrorists. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high. Foreigners may be targeted by violent extremist groups seeking to injure, kidnap or kill anyone associated with the United States.

Most international airports are closed, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. Military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, U.S. and UN-designated terrorists, and other armed groups in Libya. These include antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. The U.S. government prohibits U.S. commercial aviation operations within Libyan airspace. Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Libya, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices

Seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting in or near Libyan territorial waters. The Libyan National Army announced on January 7, 2015 that all vessels in Libyan waters require army approval for transit, following the January 4, 2015 bombing of a Greek-operated oil tanker that killed two crewmen near Derna, Libya. Vessels are advised to proceed with extreme caution when approaching all Libyan oil terminals and ports, and are encouraged to adhere to the recommendations in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Security Advisory 1-14 issued April 1, 2014. Mariners planning travel to Libya should check the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport website for any Port Security Advisory Updates and the NGA Broadcast Warnings Website (select “Broadcast Warnings”) for any special warnings or Maritime Administration Advisories before arrival.

Various militias have supplanted the police in maintaining internal security. Militia members operate checkpoints within and between major cities.  Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary or unclear reasons, without access to a lawyer or legal process, and without allowing detainees to inform others of their status. You should carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times, though these documents do not guarantee fair treatment. Militias in control of Libya’s airports have arbitrarily detained and held U.S. citizen travelers for weeks at a time before being released. The State Department has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained by militia groups.

If travel in desert and border regions of Libya is critically necessary, exercise caution and comply with local regulations. Militia groups control many border crossings, and recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the border region, where extremists have kidnapped Westerners.  Please note the travel warnings and alerts for neighboring countries, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, and Sudan.

For more information:

 

31. Somalia Travel Warning

Posted on 24 May 2016 | 8:58 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Somalia because of continuous threats by the al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab.

U.S. citizens should also be aware of the risks of kidnappings in all parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. There is no U.S. embassy presence in Somalia.   This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 1, 2015.

The security situation in Somalia remains unstable and dangerous. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia continue to attack Somali authorities, the troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military targets. Kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents are common throughout Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. Al-Shabaab remains intent on conducting attacks against popular restaurants, hotels, locations known to be popular with Westerners, and convoys carrying Somali and other government officials. Last year, there were at least eight prominent hotel attacks located in the heart of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. One U.S. citizen was killed during one of these attacks. Munitions caches and unexploded ordnance exist in various parts of the country and remain a danger to civilians. 

In addition, al-Shabaab has demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territories, with particular emphasis on targeting government facilities, foreign delegations' facilities and movements, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali diaspora. There is a particular threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, and shopping areas. Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little or no warning. 

There are continuing threats of attacks against airports and civil aviation, especially in Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab continues to conduct attacks against the Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) using mortars and other standoff weapons. The group also has conducted attacks from within the airport’s secure perimeter and successfully detonated an explosive device concealed in a laptop on an airplane shortly after take-off. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia due to security risks toward civil aviation. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices

U.S. citizens are urged to avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia. Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure and detention by pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia. Pirates and other criminals have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners working in Somalia, including two U.S. citizens in the past several years. Consult the Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region. 

For further information:

 

 

32. Philippines Travel Warning

Posted on 21 April 2016 | 3:02 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago and through the southern Sulu Sea, and to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the island of Mindanao, due to continued terrorist threats, insurgent activities and kidnappings.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated October 21, 2015.

U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers, increased threat of maritime kidnappings against small boats in the vicinity of the Sulu Archipelago, and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.

U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel through the southern Sulu Sea region from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao. Terrorist and insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago continue to target foreigners for kidnapping in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area.

U.S. citizens should also continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao. Separatist and terrorist groups continue to carry out attacks and kidnappings against civilians, foreigners, political leaders, and Philippine security forces in Mindanao. Since January 2015, at least 15 separate kidnappings have been reported across Mindanao. In western Mindanao, terrorist, insurgent, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom, including the kidnapping of a foreigner in Dipolog City in early October 2015 by unknown assailants. In central Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remains active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence. While there have been no recent reported terrorist threats or incidents within the Davao City or Surigao city limits, eastern Mindanao is not free from threats. In September 2015, assailants belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group kidnapped four individuals, including three foreigners, from the popular resort island of Samal, a 15 minute boat ride from Davao City. There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern.

Although U.S. government officials in the Philippines travel to Mindanao for official business without incident, the Embassy has imposed strict restrictions on all but the most essential travel to the area, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Philippines Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, at +(63) (2) 301-2000, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +(63) (2) 301-2000.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

33. Colombia Travel Warning

Posted on 5 April 2016 | 2:38 pm
Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work.

Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.  However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas. Despite significant decreases in overall crime in Colombia, continued vigilance is warranted due to an increase in recent months of violent crime, including crime resulting in the deaths of American citizens.  This Travel Warning replaces the previous travel warning released on June 5, 2015.  

There have been no reports of U.S. citizens targeted specifically for their nationality. While the U.S. Embassy has no information regarding specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist groups continue to condemn any U.S. influence in Colombia.  The Department of State strongly encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including in Bogota. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and  criminal elements, including armed gangs (referred to as "BACRIM" in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia's major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery. 

Violence associated with crime is a threat throughout Colombia.  During the period November 2014 to January 2016, there were several homicides of U.S. citizens in connection with robberies, including armed robbery on streets and in taxi cabs, public transport, home invasions, and muggings.  The victims represented a mix of tourists, long-term residents and persons with dual U.S.-Colombian citizenship.    

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000.  However, kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom.  No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. 

U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena without incident. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are permitted to travel to major cities only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. U.S. government officials in Colombia and their families are restricted to traveling within certain areas. This includes using the main highways to travel between Bogota and Bucaramanga, and between Bogota and Ibague. Personnel are allowed to drive between Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia and within the “coffee country” departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío. On the Caribbean coast, personnel are restricted to driving along Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta.  Travel to all other areas of Colombia is off limits unless specific authorization is granted.  All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions and exercise extra caution outside of the aforementioned areas.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Colombia, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Colombia. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs' internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens living or traveling in Colombia are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to obtain updated information on travel and security within Colombia. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Colombia, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate as listed below.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Colombia.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, located at Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50 Bogota, D.C., Colombia, at (+57-1) 275-2000, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (+57-1) 275-2701.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

34. Algeria Travel Warning

Posted on 1 March 2016 | 8:25 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Kabylie region and remote areas of southern and eastern Algeria.

This replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated August 26, 2015, to update information on the current security situation in Algeria. 

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks to their personal safety.  There is a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria, as noted in the Department of State's most recent Worldwide Caution.  Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks are still possible.  The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes have historically occurred in the mountainous areas to the east of Algiers (Kabylie region and eastern wilayas) and in the expansive Saharan desert regions of the south and southeast.  Social media accounts affiliated with ISIL, however, have claimed responsibility for small, non-lethal attacks on government security forces to the south and west of Algiers.

Although most attacks are directed towards Algerian military or police, in September 2014, the ISIL-affiliated Jund al- Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) abducted and beheaded a French citizen in the Kabylie region.  In January 2013, an Al-Qaeda-linked organization, “Those Who Sign in Blood,” attacked a gas production facility near In Amenas, Algeria, near the Libyan border, holding foreign and Algerian workers hostage for four days with dozens killed, including three U.S. citizens.  In addition to these attacks, there have been kidnappings for ransom by terrorist groups operating in the trans-Sahara region.  Terrorist groups, including Al-Murabitoun, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and various self-proclaimed ISIL affiliates remain active in the region.  There are also extremists along the Algeria/Tunisia border in the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras, and Algerian and Tunisian security forces are conducting ongoing security operations there.

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel to the areas east of Algiers or in the Sahara.  It is prudent to be cautious when traveling outside of Algiers and to ensure reliable and experienced transportation and logistical support.  The Algerian government requires all employees of foreign companies or organizations based in Algeria, who are not Algerian citizens, to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before engaging in any travel within the interior of the country; the Ministry will notify local police of the planned travel and the police may choose to assign escorts for that travel.  Travelers should avoid mountainous regions located in less populated and less traveled areas where Algerian security services do not have a significant presence. 

The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under security restrictions.  The U.S. Department of State permits U.S. diplomats in Algeria to be accompanied to post by adult family members and children under age 12.  Embassy travel restrictions limit and occasionally prevent the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.  Likewise, the Government of Algeria requires U.S. Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel outside the wilaya of Algiers and provides police escorts.  Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization. 

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Algeria Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Algeria, located at 5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi in the El Biar district of Algiers.  For routine inquiries, please email ACSAlgiers@state.gov.  The Embassy is open Sunday-Thursday 0800-1630.  For emergencies, including after-hours, call [213]770 08 20 00. 
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

35. Mauritania Travel Warning

Posted on 23 February 2016 | 7:39 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Mauritania, particularly the eastern regions, due to activities by terrorist groups including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which are active in the neighboring regions of Mali.

The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services in remote and rural areas of Mauritania is severely limited.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Mauritania dated October 2014, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation.

Kidnapping and other violent acts, including by terrorist groups, have occurred in the past in the border regions of Guidimagha, Hodh El Charghi and Hodh El Gharbi near the south-eastern border with Mali, the eastern half of the Assaba region (east of Kiffa), Tidjikja, the eastern half of the Tagant region (east of Tidjikja), the eastern half of the Adrar region (east of Ouadane), and the Zemmour region of northern Mauritania (other than F’Derick and Zouerat).  Aside from the security risks, the remoteness and harsh environment of these areas present safety challenges as well.  The government of Mauritania has designated most of this area as a restricted security zone.  Entry into this region requires permission from the Mauritanian authorities.

AQIM and al-Murabitun terrorist organizations and affiliates have declared their intention to attack foreign targets in north and west Africa (particularly the Sahel region bordering the Sahara).  In recent years, AQIM terrorist activity in Mauritania included kidnapping, murder, and attacks on foreign diplomatic missions and private citizens, gendarme military installations and personnel.  Although not currently active in Mauritania, the threat of terrorism remains.  Christian faith-based organizations operating in Mauritania, or individuals perceived to be proselytizing, may be targeted.

U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling outside Nouakchott unless specifically authorized to do so, and then only during daylight hours.  U.S. citizens should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. 

U.S. citizens in Mauritania should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times.  They should maintain good personal security practices, including always locking their homes and cars, varying routes and times of travel.  U.S. citizens should be particularly alert when frequenting locales associated with foreigners, including grocery stores, hotels, cultural centers, social and recreation clubs, beach areas, and restaurants.  Additionally, U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and highly publicized events/venues with no visible security presence.

Landmines remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara.  Travelers should cross borders only at designated border posts.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Mauritania Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy Nouakchott located between the presidency building and the Spanish Embassy on Rue Abdallaye B. P. 222, Nouakchott, at (222) 4525-2660, 4525-1145, or 4525-3038 8:00a.m – 5:00p.m. Monday – Thursday, and 8:00am – 12:00pm on Friday.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (222) 4525-3288.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

 

36. Sudan Travel Warning

Posted on 21 January 2016 | 2:58 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the continued risks of travel to Sudan.

U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to the Darfur region, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan states, and consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan, due to the continued threat of terrorism, armed conflict, violent crime and kidnapping. The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide services outside of Khartoum is very limited. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on June 15, 2015.

Terrorist groups remain present in Sudan and are intent on harming Westerners and Western interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, shootings, or kidnappings. The threat of violent crime targeting Westerners, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings is particularly high in the Darfur region.  

U.S. citizens should mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of terrorism or violent crime by being vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially at public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners. Exercise caution at all times and monitor reliable news sources for information on the local security situation. Follow the advice of local authorities. All U.S. citizens should assess their personal security and have evacuation plans that can be carried out quickly. Do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance.

Violent flare-ups, tribal violence, and armed banditry continue in the Darfur region, along the border between Chad and Sudan, and in areas that border South Sudan. There are landmines and unexploded ordnance in Sudan, especially in the Eastern Sudan, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan regions. Hostilities between Sudanese forces and armed opposition groups continue in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, including the disputed area of Abyei. In addition to risking injury or death, U.S. citizens who are in these areas without permission of the Sudanese government may be detained by security forces.

The U.S. Coast Guard from time to time issues Maritime Security Directives designating certain sea areas as "high risk waters" due the possibility of terrorism, piracy, or armed robbery against ships. U.S. flag vessel owners take these designations into consideration in the development of vessel security plans. In the past, the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) advised that regional tensions increase the risk of maritime attacks being conducted against vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions. View current advisories here.

The U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel, including requiring travel in armored vehicles at all times. U.S. government personnel are not authorized to travel outside of Khartoum without advanced permission or to certain areas of Darfur without appropriate security precautions. Family members of U.S. personnel under age 21 are not allowed to reside in Sudan.

For further information:

37. Niger Travel Warning

Posted on 21 January 2016 | 1:56 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger and specifically recommends citizens avoid travel to Niger’s border regions, including the Diffa region and particularly the Lake Chad basin area.

The entire Lake Chad region is especially vulnerable because of ongoing activities by the extremist group Boko Haram. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated July 17, 2015, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation in Niger.

U.S. citizens currently in or travelling to Niger should evaluate their personal security situation. The U.S. Embassy has very limited capability to assist U.S. citizens in remote and rural areas. You should take steps to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of violent acts, and avoid locations routinely frequented by Westerners, such as markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. Violent groups have targeted these kinds of venues in the past and will likely do so again. The Embassy requires that all U.S. Embassy personnel stay only in hotels having an armed Nigerien government security presence and recommends U.S. citizens follow the specific additional security guidance on the Embassy website.        

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn family members and/or staff. Check with your organization’s security office before making travel plans to Niger.

Terrorist groups have called for and executed attacks against countries that supported the intervention against terrorist groups in northern Mali, including Niger. Because of terrorist and kidnapping threats, the Embassy Travel Policy requires armed Nigerien government security escorts for U.S. government employees’ official travel north of Niamey and east of Maradi. The areas bordering Mali and Libya, and northern Niger continue to be areas in which bandits, smugglers, and terrorist organizations operate. Operations to counter Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger have resulted in security degradation along the Niger-Nigeria border, primarily east of Maradi. The border is porous, and there are frequent reports of suspected terrorists and smugglers crossing into Niger.

In 2015, Boko Haram used small arms fire and suicide bombers to attack Bosso, Diffa town, and other villages in the Diffa region of Niger. On February 10, 2015, the Government of Niger declared a state of emergency in the Diffa region. A curfew has been in place in Diffa region since December, 2014. 

The terrorist organization Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has kidnapped Europeans in the region and continues to threaten to kidnap Westerners, including U.S. citizens, in Niger. Exercise extreme caution in Niger due to the seriousness of this kidnapping threat. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

In 2015, large-scale protests occurred throughout Niger, which caused extensive property damage. The return of political candidate Hama Amadou to Niger sparked another large scale protest in Niamey, which resulted in the death of at least two people. You should avoid large public gatherings, and stay indoors if you hear reports of demonstrations in your area. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational without warning. Nigerien security services may interrupt cell and social media connection before and during protests. 

The Government of Niger maintains security checkpoints in Niamey. Be especially careful around these checkpoints, as the security forces may be on a heightened state of alert. Do not drive away from, or through, a checkpoint until you receive clear permission to do so. If the instructions are unclear, request verbal confirmation before proceeding.

Outside Niamey, the potential for violent crimes increases significantly. Armed bandits target travelers on roads in all parts of the country. For U.S. government personnel, all travel outside Niamey must occur during daylight hours with a minimum of a two vehicle convoy. We recommend U.S. citizens follow a similar procedure, travelling no earlier than after sunrise and no later than one hour prior to sunset. 

For further information:

 

38. Burkina Faso Travel Warning

Posted on 20 January 2016 | 5:06 am
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burkina Faso. U.S. citizens in Burkina Faso, and those considering travel to Burkina Faso, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats to safety and security.

The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services in remote and rural areas is limited.  U.S. citizens should take steps to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of violent acts, and reduce exposure to locations routinely frequented by Westerners.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning issued on October 9, 2015. 

Citizens who decide to remain in Burkina Faso despite this travel warning should maintain situational awareness at all times and register their presence within Burkina Faso with the Embassy by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  

The security environment in Burkina Faso is fluid and the potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Ouagadougou, remains.  On January 15, armed assailants attacked civilians at the Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino restaurant with gunfire and explosives.  People from 18 different countries were murdered in the attack, including one U.S. citizen.  Violent extremist and militant elements, including al-Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Murabitun, have claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Also on January 15, two gendarmerie officers were killed in an attack on their patrol near the mining town of Tinakoff (10km from the Malian border) and two Australian citizens were kidnapped in Baraboule, near the border with Mali.  They are allegedly being held by a group with links to al-Qaeda.

In 2015, a Romanian citizen was kidnapped at the Tambao manganese mining site (near the Nigerien border) by the extremist group al-Murabitun; gendarmerie outposts in Oursi and Samorogouan were attacked and several people were killed; and a complex attack (involving improvised explosive devices, RPGs, and small arms) on a gold convoy near Djibo resulted in one death.  Investigations into these incidents are ongoing.

The U.S. Embassy has placed restrictions on official government travel to Dori, Djibo, the road that connects these cities, and all areas north of that road.  Embassy personnel are also prohibited from traveling to or staying at Parc National du W (Parc W), the regional national park located on Burkina Faso’s southeastern border with Niger and Benin.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to follow the same guidance.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Burkina Faso.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou, in Ouaga 2000, Sector 15, on Avenue Sembene Ousmane, southeast of the Monument aux Héros Nationaux, at (+226) 25-49-53-00, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. If you are a U.S. citizen in an emergency situation after normal Embassy operating hours, please contact the Embassy, dial “1,” and ask to be connected to the duty officer.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). 

39. El Salvador Travel Warning

Posted on 15 January 2016 | 8:42 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that crime and violence levels in El Salvador remain critically high, and U.S. citizens traveling to El Salvador should remain alert to their surroundings.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 22, 2015, and includes updated information on crime and security in El Salvador.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit El Salvador each year for study, tourism, cruise ship visits, business, and volunteer work.  There is no information to suggest that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted by criminals; however, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country. Since a rise in violence in the summer of 2015, the current murder rate in El Salvador is among the highest in the world, an annual rate of 103.1 murders per 100,000 citizens for 2015. In comparison, the U.S. rate is 4.5 per 100,000.  While U.S. citizens are not singled out as targets, the pervasive violence greatly increases the chance of someone being “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  Since January 2010, 38 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador.  During the same time period, 449 U.S. citizens reported having their passports stolen, while others were victims of violent crimes.

Typical crimes in El Salvador include extortion, mugging, highway assault, home invasion, and car theft.  There have also been cases reported in which criminals observe and follow customers making withdrawals at ATMs and banks, then rob them on the road or at a residence.  Some victims unwittingly wander into gang-controlled territory and may be targeted, normally at night.  Assaults against police officers have risen, and public shootouts are not uncommon.  Armed robberies of climbers and hikers in El Salvador’s national parks are known to occur, and the U.S. Embassy strongly recommends engaging the services of a local guide certified by the national or local tourist authority when hiking in back country areas.  The National Civilian Police (PNC) has a special tourist police force (POLITUR) to provide security and assistance to visitors.  It has officers located in 19 tourist destinations.

A majority of serious crimes are never solved; only seven of the 38 murders of U.S. citizens since January 2010 have resulted in convictions.  The Government of El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.  While several of the PNC’s investigative units have shown promise, routine street-level patrol techniques, anti-gang, and crime suppression efforts are limited.  Equipment shortages (particularly radios, vehicles, and fuel) further limit their ability to deter or respond to crimes effectively. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout El Salvador.

El Salvador, a country of roughly six million people, has, according to Government of El Salvador statistics, thousands of known gang members from several gangs including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Eighteenth Street (M18). Gang members are quick to engage in violence or use deadly force if resisted.  These “maras” concentrate on narcotics and arms trafficking, murder for hire, carjacking, extortion, and violent street crime.  Authorities believe a significant number of disappearances are related to gang activity, since many of the missing were in gangs or were friends or family members of gang members.  Police sources claim that the families of gang members often face the same risks of being killed or disappearing as the gang members themselves. 

In the past year, Salvadoran gangs have escalated their tactics.  In late July 2015, they used threats and violence to halt most public transportation, killing 8 drivers and burning two buses from the transportation companies that continued to provide service.  This followed a July 25, 2015 grenade attack near the Sheraton hotel in San Salvador.  On August 28, 2015, an improvised explosive device (IED) was placed in a vehicle parked in front of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security; the device was constructed with military-grade explosives, but failed to detonate.  On September 10, 2015, a homemade IED detonated inside a car parked in front of the Ministry of Finance; there were no reported injuries although the blast did cause damage to nearby buildings. Similar IEDs have been found, made from both military-grade and household materials, and they represent an escalation in gang tactics to target Salvadoran government personnel and facilities.  Local police have arrested members of M18 in relation to these devices. 

Extortion is a very common crime in El Salvador.  Some extortion attempts are no more than random cold calls that originate from imprisoned gang members using cellular telephones, and the subsequent threats against the victim are made through social engineering and/or through information obtained about the victim’s family.  U.S. citizens who are visiting El Salvador for extended periods are at higher risk for extortion demands.  Many extortions and other crimes are not reported by victims for fear of reprisal and lack of faith in the ability of the local government to protect the victims.

U.S. citizens should remain alert to their surroundings, especially when entering or exiting their homes or hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces.  Whenever possible, travel in groups.  U.S. Embassy security officials advise all U.S. government personnel not to walk, run, or cycle in unguarded streets and parks, even in groups, and recommend exercising only in gyms and fitness centers.  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, and do not carry large sums of money or display cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables.  Avoid walking at night in most areas of El Salvador. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking, are common in El Salvador.  Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their windows up and doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets.  Travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital, is risky and not recommended.  The Embassy advises official visitors and personnel to avoid using mini-buses and regular buses and to use only radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.

For more detailed information regarding personal security, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for El Salvador.  U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in El Salvador are strongly encouraged to sign up for the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to obtain updated information on travel and security within El Salvador.  Travelers may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or on a regular toll line at 202-501-4444.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Urbanización Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad, and can be reached at:

Telephone: 503-2501-2999
Fax: 503-2278-5522 / 503-2278-6020
Email
Website 
Facebook
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For after-hours emergencies, please call 503-2501-2999. 

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