This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated October 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. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel are common. Throughout Pakistan, foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to U.S. citizens. Evidence suggests that some victims of terrorist activity have been targeted because they are Americans. Terrorists and criminal groups have resorted 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:
In October 2016, terrorists killed at least 60 people and injured 190 at a police training college in Quetta, Balochistan. In November 2016, a suicide bomber detonated himself at the Sufi Shah Noorani Shrine in Khudzar, Balochistan, killing at least 52 people and injuring over 100 others. In January 2017, an improvised explosive device placed in a marketplace in Kurram Valley in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killed at least 25 people and injured at least 87 others. In February 2017, one suicide bomber detonated himself outside the Punjab Assembly in Lahore, killing at least 14 people and injuring at least 87 and another detonated himself in the Sufi Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, killing at least 88 people and injuring over 350.
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:
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:
If you choose to live or travel in Pakistan despite this warning, you should:
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:
The security situation remains complex in Israel and the West Bank and can change quickly depending on the political environment, recent events, and particular 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 ensure security, particularly in areas where foreigners frequently travel. This replaces the Travel Warning issued August 23, 2016.
Gaza is under the control of Hamas, a U.S. government-designated 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 latest Gaza conflict in 2014, sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses continue to occur.
Within Israel and the West Bank, the possibility of random violence continues to exist and can happen without warning. The frequency of attacks has declined significantly since a rise in political and religious tensions led to a spike in violence in October 2015. U.S. citizens have been killed and wounded in recent attacks, though there is no indication they were specifically targeted based on nationality. Perceived religious affiliation was a factor in some of the attacks, and the majority of recent attacks have targeted uniformed Israeli security forces often in proximity to checkpoints throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank or near religious sites significant to multiple faiths. Attacks were carried out using knives, vehicles, and guns. Israeli security forces reacted with deadly force, which has resulted in some bystanders being injured or killed in the crossfire. U.S. citizens should stay abreast of current events in order to know what areas to avoid when traveling throughout the region.
For your safety, the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens:
When planning their own travel, U.S. citizens should consider the following rules that apply to U.S. government employee travel:
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 within 1.5 miles of the Egypt border along the Sinai (including all portions of Route 10 and portions of Route 12).
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:
The Department recommends U.S. citizens avoid travel to Niger’s border regions, particularly the Malian border area, Diffa region and Lake Chad Basin area because of activity by extremist groups including al-Qa’eda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham – Islamic State West Africa, and Boko Haram. Due to security concerns and travel restrictions, the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in remote and rural areas is very limited. This replaces the Travel Warning dated January 21, 2016.
Terrorist organizations, armed robbers and smugglers operate in the areas bordering Mali, Libya, and throughout northern Niger. Mali-based extremist groups have crossed the border and carried out multiple lethal attacks on Nigerien security forces.
The government of Niger has maintained a state of emergency in the Diffa region since February 10, 2015, and a curfew has been in place in the Diffa region since December 2014. The Nigerien government declared a state of emergency on March 3, 2017 for seven departments of the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions bordering Mali after a spate of deadly attacks.
There is significant potential for violent crime outside Niamey, and armed robbers target travelers throughout the country. Outside the city of Niamey, all U.S. Embassy personnel are required to travel only during daylight hours in a minimum two-vehicle convoy accompanied by armed Nigerien government security escorts.
There is a high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups including AQIM, which has kidnapped Westerners and threatened U.S. citizens in Niger. As a result of safety and security concerns some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs and private aid organizations, have suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn family members and/or staff.
For further information:
Very poor transportation infrastructure also makes it difficult for the U.S. Mission to provide consular services in these states. All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not solely rely on U.S. government assistance. Due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks, U.S. citizens should also avoid all but essential travel to: Bayelsa, Delta, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara states. This replaces the Travel Warning dated February 8, 2017.
Boko Haram, an extremist group based in the northeast, 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. Islamic State West Africa, which is now a distinct group from Boko Haram, is present in Nigeria, and may seek to attack locations frequented by westerners including major population centers.
U.S. citizens should be vigilant at public gatherings and locations frequented by foreigners. Markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship may become targets for terrorist attacks. Exercise extreme caution throughout the country due to the threat of indiscriminate violence.
Travel to the Gulf of Guinea should also be avoided because of the threat of piracy.
U.S. Mission personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in Nigeria, with the exception of local areas of Abuja and Lagos, and may be subject to other constraints as security conditions warrant.
For further information:
U.S. citizens should avoid all travel to the Darfur region, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan states and consider carefully before planning travel to other areas of Sudan due to the risks of terrorism, armed conflict and violent crime. The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide services outside of Khartoum is extremely limited. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on January 21, 2016.
Terrorist groups are active in Sudan and have stated their intent to harm Westerners and Western interests through suicide operations, bombings, shootings, and kidnappings. Violent crimes targeting Westerners, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjacking occur everywhere in Sudan but are particularly prevalent in the Darfur region.
U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Sudan despite this warning should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times, especially when at public gatherings and any location frequented by foreigners. Exercise extreme caution, monitor reliable news sources for information on the local security situation, and follow the instructions of local authorities. All U.S. citizens in Sudan should periodically assess their personal security and have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.
Despite numerous cease fires declared by the Government of Sudan and opposition forces, tensions in the Darfur region, along the border between Chad and Sudan, and in areas that border South Sudan, including the disputed area of Abyei remain high and violence continues. In addition to risking injury or death, U.S. citizens who go to these areas without the permission of the Sudanese government may be detained by security forces.
The U.S. Embassy requires U.S. government personnel in Sudan to use armored vehicles for all travel, and prohibits travel outside of Khartoum without advance permission and extra security precautions. Family members of U.S. government employees assigned to Sudan must be at least 21 years old in order to live there.
For further information:
Very poor transportation infrastructure throughout the country and poor security conditions in eastern DRC make it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services anywhere outside of Kinshasa. All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance. This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 23, 2016.
Armed groups, bandits, and some elements of the Congolese armed forces operate in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, and the Kasai region. These groups have been known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians may be indiscriminately targeted.
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. Kidnapping for ransom is also common, particularly in areas north and west of Goma, North Kivu.
For further information:
Furthermore, violence in Yemen has spilled over into Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions. This warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued July 27, 2016.
Threat of Terrorism – Terrorist groups, including ISIS and its affiliates, have targeted both Saudi and Western government interests, mosques and significant religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places frequented by U.S. citizens and other Westerners.
Saudi authorities have announced that 34 terrorist attacks, some resulting in significant loss of life, occurred in Saudi Arabia in 2016. These included three coordinated bombings on July 4, 2016, in Medina, Qatif, and near the American Consulate General in Jeddah.
The Saudi authorities continue to vigorously counter terrorist activities and have announced that they thwarted over a dozen terrorist attacks over the past year. On February 16, 2017, Saudi security forces arrested 18 men in four cities on charges of supporting terrorist activities. On January 21, 2017, during a police raid in Jeddah, two men linked to ISIS died when their suicide vests exploded prematurely, and 16 other suspects were arrested. On January 7, 2017, two men linked to ISIS died in a shootout with Saudi security forces in Riyadh. On October 11, 2016, the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced that it successfully prevented a terrorist attack targeting a soccer match at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
Conflict in Yemen – On a number of occasions, violence from the ongoing conflict in Yemen has spilled over into Saudi Arabia. Saudi media outlets have reported that since March 2015, more than 40,000 projectiles have been launched into Saudi territory from Yemen, including at least 30 missiles.
U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel in the following areas:
Read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before considering travel near the Yemen frontier.
For further information:
Carefully consider the need to travel to Turkey at this time, and avoid travel to southeast Turkey due to the persistent threat of terrorism. On March 27, the Department of State terminated its October 29, 2016, decision to direct family members of employees posted to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul to depart Turkey temporarily. However, there are restrictions on personal and official travel by U.S. government personnel and their family members traveling to and residing in Istanbul. Restrictions on travel by U.S. government personnel to certain areas in southeast Turkey, including Adana, remain. This replaces the travel warning dated January 25, 2017.
In 2016, numerous terrorist attacks involving shootings, suicide bombings, and vehicle-borne bombings in tourist areas, public spaces, private celebrations, sporting events, and government, police, and military facilities throughout Turkey resulted in hundreds of deaths. The most recent attacks include a mass shooting at the Istanbul Reina nightclub on January 1, 2017, and simultaneous suicide bombings near Istanbul’s Besiktas/Vodafone Soccer Stadium on December 10, 2016. In addition, an increase in anti-American rhetoric has the potential to inspire independent actors to carry out acts of violence against U.S. citizens.
Additional attacks in Turkey could occur at major events, tourist sites, restaurants, nightclubs, commercial centers, places of worship, and transportation hubs, including aviation services, metros, buses, bridges, bus terminals, and sea transport. Foreign and U.S. tourists and expatriates have been explicitly targeted by terrorist organizations in Turkey for kidnapping and assassination. We remind U.S. citizens to review their personal security plans including communications preparedness/connectivity, monitor local news for breaking events, remain vigilant at all times, and check in with loved ones after an attack or security incident.
On January 4, the Turkish government extended the state of emergency through April 18, 2017. The Turkish government will decide in April whether to extend the state of emergency for another 90 days. Under the state of emergency, security forces have expanded powers and the government has, at times, restricted internet access and media content. U.S. citizens have been deported and/or detained and held without access to lawyers or family members under the state of emergency. Delays or denial of consular access to U.S. citizens detained or arrested by security forces, some of whom also possess Turkish citizenship, have become more common. U.S. citizen employees of some non-governmental organizations in Turkey have also recently experienced increased scrutiny and denials related to residence permit applications. The Department continues to monitor the security environment for potential impact on the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens in Turkey and urges U.S. citizens to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) on www.travel.state.gov to stay informed.
U.S. government personnel and their family members residing in or visiting Istanbul are restricted from congregating or traveling in large groups and are not permitted to visit these Istanbul locations without prior approval from the Consulate:
U.S. government personnel living in or visiting Turkey continue to require approval from the U.S. Embassy to visit the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, Bitlis, and Elazig. Travel within Adana by U.S. government personnel may also be subject to restriction. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy may prohibit movements by its personnel and those of its subordinate Consulates to these areas on short notice for security reasons. Due to recent acts of violence and the potential for reprisal attacks by terrorist groups due to continued Turkish military activity in Syria, we urge U.S. citizens to defer travel to large urban centers near the Turkish/Syrian border. U.S. citizens should also be aware that the Government of Turkey has closed its border with Syria. The Government of Turkey prohibits border crossings from Syria into Turkey, even if the traveler entered Syria from Turkey. Turkish authorities will consider permitting the passage of individuals seeking emergency medical treatment or safety from immediate danger on a case by case basis.
On March 21, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) announced enhanced security measures associated with passengers at certain last-point-of-departure airports to the United States in several countries, including Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport. The security enhancements require all personal electronic devices larger than a smart phone be placed in checked baggage. Approved medical devices may be brought into the cabin after additional screening. For questions about these regulations, please contact your air carrier and the Department of Homeland Security.
Numerous large gatherings and rallies, many of a political nature, are expected to be held throughout Turkey in late March and April 2017. U.S. Mission Turkey recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all gatherings, protests, or demonstrations in Turkey, regardless of their purpose, due to the potential for violence or personal injury. Under the current state of emergency, participation in illegal gatherings, protests, and/or demonstrations can result in detention or arrest.More Info...
The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott is able to provide only very limited consular services in remote and rural areas of Mauritania. This replaces the Travel Warning for Mauritania dated February 23, 2016, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation.
The government of Mauritania has designated the following areas as a restricted Security Zone, and you must have permission from Mauritanian authorities to travel there:
Additionally, there is a risk of kidnapping and other violent crime in the Hodh El Charghi region near the southern and eastern border with Mali. Aside from the security risks, these areas are dangerous due to their remoteness and harsh environment.
ISIS, 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 south of the Sahara). In recent years, AQIM has kidnapped and murdered private citizens and attacked foreign diplomatic and gendarme military installations in Mauritania. 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. Due to an increase in criminal activity, the Embassy has directed its official staff not to walk to or from work; to avoid walking whenever possible; and not to walk alone. Consider these restrictions and review your personal security plans periodically if you are in Mauritania or planning to go there.
For further information:
The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in remote and rural areas of Cameroon is extremely limited. This replaces the Travel Warning dated August 19, 2016.
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 dozens of suicide bombings in the North and Far North Regions, including the city of Maroua. The U.S. Embassy restricts U.S. official personnel travel 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.
U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution if traveling within 60 miles 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, criminal activity, and military operations that sometimes cross into Cameroon. There are Travel Warnings for neighboring Nigeria, Chad, and CAR.
There has been an increase in unrest in the Northwest and Southwest Regions since November, 2016. U.S. citizens should exercise caution when travelling to these regions, and avoid demonstrations anywhere in the country. Monitor the Embassy’s Security Messages for updates on protests and communication restrictions in these regions. Disruptions in communication services may limit the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular or emergency services in these regions.
For further information:
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 October 11, 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 ISIS and al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliateal-Nusrah Front (also known as Jabhat al-Nusrah, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and other aliases), 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 ceasefire was announced in December 2016, fighting persists in Syria. Moreover, the ceasefire does not include ISIS or al-Nusrah Front, which have not renounced the use of violence. The ceasefire 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 ISIS, including on social media, could open themselves to being targeted by ISIS itself if those individuals travel to Syria.
Fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al-Nusrah Front, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a crime under U.S. law 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
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 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:
This replaces the Travel Warning issued October 5, 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, ISIS, and members of other armed opposition groups are active throughout the country. ISIS has demonstrated its operational capability, having attacked both Afghan and foreign government facilities. These terrorist groups routinely attack Afghan, Coalition, and U.S. targets with little regard for or the express intent to cause civilian casualties. On January 12, 2017, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham-Khorosan (ISIS-K) carried out a suicide bomb attack on a mosque, killing 30 and wounding 70. On February 7, 2017, the Afghan Supreme Court was attacked by an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest, killing more than 20 people. On March 1, 2017, Taliban insurgents conducted a complex attack on two separate Afghan police stations in the Kabul area, killing seven and wounding 24. On March 8, 2017, ISIS-K conducted a complex attack on the Afghan National Army Hospital in Kabul City killing more than 50 and wounding more than 90.
Two professors, one American and one Australian, from the American University in Afghanistan were reported kidnapped in Kabul in August 2016. One Australian and one Spanish NGO worker were kidnapped in November and December 2016. A U.S citizen journalist working for National Public Radio and his Afghan assistant were killed when they came under attack in Helmand Province in June 2016, and in August 2016, insurgents fired a rocket at a bus carrying EU and U.S. citizen tourists in Herat Province, wounding six 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 U.S. 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:
The Government of Eritrea restricts the travel of all foreign nationals in the country, including U.S. diplomats. These restrictions make it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens outside the city of Asmara. This replaces the Travel Warning dated August 26, 2016.
U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea Region because of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the contested border area, and because of the military tensions between the two countries. In June 2016, fighting in this region resulted in numerous deaths. U.S. citizens should also avoid travel to the contested Eritrea-Djibouti border region, where military troops patrol and tensions are high.
For further information:
U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware of the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on July 29, 2016.
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.
There is potential for death or injury in Lebanon because of terrorist bombings and attacks. Violent extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including U.S. government-designated terrorist organizations Hizballah, ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Nusrah Front (ANF), Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). ISIL and ANF have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon. U.S. citizens have been the targets of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity persists, as does the risk of death or injury as a non-targeted bystander.
The Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens against sudden outbreaks of violence, which can occur at any time in Lebanon. Armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders and in Beirut. On August 31, 2016, a bomb exploded on a main road near the eastern Lebanese city of Zahleh, killing at least one person and wounding 11 others. 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 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. On January 21, 2017, Lebanese security forces thwarted an attempted suicide attack at a busy café on Hamra Street in downtown Beirut. The Lebanese Armed Forces are routinely brought in to quell the violence in these situations.
Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning. Also, celebratory gunfire in Lebanon has resulted in accidental injuries and deaths. 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.
Public demonstrations can occur with little warning and could become violent. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings. 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.
Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, has occurred in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings may have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations. The U.S. government’s ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is 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 makes it illegal to provide material support to terrorist organizations.
AREAS OF SPECIAL CONCERN
Avoid the Lebanon-Syria border region: U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor political and security developments in both Lebanon and Syria. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region. There have been incidents of cross-border shelling and air strikes of Lebanese villages from Syria, resulting in deaths and injuries. 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. There have also been reports of armed groups from Syria kidnapping or attacking Lebanese citizens living in border areas.
Avoid the Lebanon-Israel border region: 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. 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.
Avoid the Bekaa Valley: Clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements continue to occur in areas of the Bekaa Valley and border regions. Hizballah maintains a strong presence in the Bekaa Valley, in addition to areas in southern Lebanon and south Beirut. Hizballah has been the target of attacks by other extremist groups for their support of the Asad regime in Syria.
Avoid travel to refugee camps: Violence within refugee camps has resulted in shootings and explosions. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to refugee camps. 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. 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.
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.
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. Additional information on the Department’s role during emergencies is provided on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
For more information:
El Salvador has one of the highest homicide levels in the world and crimes such as extortion, assault and robbery are common. This replaces the Travel Warning for El Salvador dated January 15, 2016.
Gang activity is widespread in El Salvador. There are thousands of gang members operating in the country, including members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Eighteenth Street (M18). Gangs (maras) focus on extortion, violent street crime, narcotics and arms trafficking. Muggings following ATM or bank withdrawals are common, as are armed robberies at scenic-view stops (miradores). While the majority of the violence occurs between rival gangs and there is no information to suggest U.S. citizens are specifically targeted, its pervasiveness increases the chance of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Due to armed robberies in national parks, we strongly recommend that hikers in back country areas engage local guides certified by the national or local tourist authority. The National Civilian Police (PNC) has a special tourist police force (POLITUR) to provide security and assistance to visitors. More information can be found on POLITUR’s website.
Remain alert to your surroundings, especially when entering or exiting homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. When possible, travel in groups. U.S. Embassy personnel are advised not to walk, run, or cycle in unguarded streets and parks, even in groups. 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. Motorists should avoid traveling at night. Drive with windows up and doors locked to deter robberies. Avoid travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital. Only use radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.
For further information:
This system imposes unduly harsh sentences for actions that would not be considered crimes in the United States and threatens 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 November 9, 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:
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 Department of State 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:
U.S. Embassy in Beijing
American Citizens Services Unit
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000
Emergency after-hours number for U.S. citizens: (86-10) 8531-4000
The Embassy of Sweden Pyongyang (U.S. Protecting Power in North Korea)
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
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.
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 July 6, 2016.
U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. 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.) Such groups regularly attack both the Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias may also threaten U.S. citizens and western companies throughout Iraq. Kidnappings and attacks by means of improvised explosive devices (IED) occur frequently in many areas of the country, including Baghdad. U.S. citizens should pay particular attention to the possibility of terrorist attacks around religious and civic holidays.
Methods of attack have included explosively formed penetrators, 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.
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 KRG 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, 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 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 protestors have even penetrated the IZ, actions that resulted in personal injury to both protesters and security personnel.
The Department of State strongly cautions U.S. citizens not to travel near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders with Iraq 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 improve the structural integrity of the Mosul Dam. However, 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 personal security threats 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 change at any time without advance notice. The Mission will regularly restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice for security threats or demonstrations.
U.S. citizens who come to Iraq despite this warning should have medical insurance which provides coverage in Iraq, as well as supplemental medevac insurance to provide medical transport out of the country. The U.S. government does not pay medical bills or medical transport fees for U.S. citizens. Medicare does not cover medical costs outside the United States. Travelers should expect no medical assistance from the U.S. government.
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:
On July 26, 2014, the U.S. Embassy suspended all embassy operations in Libya and relocated staff outside of the country because of violence between Libyan militias. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli remains closed, and the security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. U.S. citizens in Libya should make contingency emergency plans and maintain situational awareness at all times. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on June 9, 2016.
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.
Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Libya to LibyaACS@state.gov. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747. Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.
Recent worldwide terrorism alerts, including the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East region, including Libya.
Tripoli and other cities have witnessed fighting between armed groups and government forces as well as terrorist attacks. Hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Militia controlled checkpoints are common. Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary reasons, do not grant detainees access to a lawyer or legal process, and do not allow detainees to inform others of their status. U.S. citizens should carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times but be aware that these documents do not guarantee fair treatment. The Department of State has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained in Libya.
Most international airports are closed, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. On December 23, 2016 an airplane traveling from Sabha to Tripoli was hijacked and diverted to Malta by armed men threatening to blow up the plane. The U.S. government is very concerned about the targeting of commercial transportation in Libya, and 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 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 also close with little or no warning. Violence in Libya against civilian commercial interests raises serious concerns about the safety of maritime vessels and their crews. The Libyan National Army (LNA) announced on January 7, 2015 that all vessels in Libyan waters require LNA 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. Mariners planning travel to Libya should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Updates may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”) advisories.
Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests. Threats against U.S. citizens may include murder or kidnapping. ISIL claimed responsibility for two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in Tripoli in September 2016.
U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom.
If travel in the desert or border regions of Libya is critically necessary, exercise caution and comply with local regulations. Terrorist organizations, including Islamic State-affiliated groups and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, continue to threaten the region. Recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the border region, where extremists have kidnapped Westerners, most recently two Italians and a Canadian citizen in September 2016. Please note the travel warnings and alerts for neighboring countries, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, and Sudan.
For more information:
In addition, the greater urban areas of San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, and La Ceiba have notably high crime and violence rates. This replaces the Honduras Travel Warning dated August 5, 2016.
The U.S. Embassy restricts U.S. government staff from traveling to the Department of Gracias a Dios due to frequent criminal and drug trafficking activity. Infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce. Those who choose to travel to, or currently reside in, Gracias a Dios should remain alert to local conditions and signs of danger.
Criminals, acting both individually and in gangs, in and around certain areas of Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba engage in murder, extortion, and other violent crimes. About 70% of U.S. citizen homicides since 2010 occurred in these urban areas. San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa rank as two of the most violent cities in the world.
With one of the highest murder rates in the world and criminals operating with a high degree of impunity, U.S. citizens are reminded to remain alert at all times when traveling in Honduras.
To be safe, you should review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings and local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and follow instructions of local authorities. For more information on how to travel safely in Honduras, please review the Country Specific Information for Honduras.
For further information:
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 June 30, 2016.
For your safety:
In 2016, terrorist attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices resulted in 122 fatalities. The bulk of these incidents occurred in Wajir, Garissa, Lamu and Mandera counties. Potential terrorist threats remain in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country.
Terrorist targets have included Kenyan and foreign government sites, police stations and vehicles, hotels, public transportation and other infrastructure targets, nightclubs and bars, religious and academic institutions, and shopping areas. On September 11, 2016, press accounts noted that three women purportedly attacked a police station in Mombasa with knives and petrol bombs, wounding two Kenyan police officers. The next month, on October 27, 2016, an assailant with a knife attacked a police officer guarding the U.S. Embassy compound.
Violent and sometimes fatal crimes, including armed carjackings, muggings, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time. U.S. citizens and U.S. Embassy employees have been victims of such crimes in the past.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a 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 and local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and follow instructions of local authorities.
For further information:
U.S. citizens should be aware of the threat of kidnapping in all parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. There is no U.S. embassy presence in Somalia. This replaces the Travel Warning dated May 24, 2016.
There is a particular terrorist threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, hotels, and shopping areas. In 2016, there were 14 documented attacks directed at hotels, restaurants, and the international airport in Mogadishu.
In addition, al-Shabaab has carried out attacks in government-controlled territories. In 2016, they targeted government facilities, foreign delegations' facilities and convoys, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali diaspora.
Al-Shabaab has repeatedly attacked the Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) with mortars and other weapons. The group has conducted attacks from within the airport’s secure perimeter, and they detonated an explosive device hidden in a laptop on an airplane shortly after it took off from the airport on February 2, 2016.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia. 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 should avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia due to the risk of pirate attacks. 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. See the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
For further information:
The Department is updating this Travel Warning to reflect the change in the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka’s status to “partially accompanied,” effective January 5, 2017, allowing only employed adult family members of U.S. government personnel to remain in or return to Dhaka. The U.S. Embassy remains open and will provide all consular services. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated July 10, 2016.
On July 1, 2016, terrorists killed more than 20 people in a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave, including one U.S. citizen. Da’esh (also referred to as IS, ISIL, or ISIS) and Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) have publicly claimed credit for multiple attacks since September 2015. In October 2016, Da’esh threatened to target “expats, tourists, diplomats, garment buyers, missionaries, and sports teams” in the most “secured zones” in Bangladesh.
The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Bangladesh to be serious enough to require them to live, work, and travel under strict security guidelines. The internal security policies of the U.S. Mission in Bangladesh may be changed or adjusted at any time and without advance notice.
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:
For further information:
The Department of State has terminated Ordered Departure status for Embassy Juba, and simultaneously adjusted its staffing profile to reflect new conditions on the ground. This replaces the Travel Warning dated July 10, 2016.
In July 2016, violent clashes between government and opposition forces broke out in Juba. Since then, instability has continued, exacerbated by intertribal and intercommunal violence, cattle raiding, economic uncertainty, and an increase in violent crime. Aid workers, including U.S. citizens, have been the targets of shootings, ambushes, violent assaults, harassment and robberies. All U.S. citizens in South Sudan should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance, and should carry medical evacuation insurance.
The risk of violent crime is high throughout South Sudan, including in Juba. Due to the risk of carjacking and crime, 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.
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:
For security reasons, the U.S. Mission in Egypt prohibits diplomatic personnel from traveling to the Western Desert and the Sinai Peninsula outside the beach resort of Sharm El-Sheikh; U.S. citizens should also avoid travel to these areas. U.S. Mission personnel are only permitted to travel to and from Sharm el-Sheikh by air – overland travel is not allowed anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula.
The Egyptian Government maintains a heavy security presence at major tourist sites, such as Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, and other beach resorts on the Red Sea and on the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, and at many of the temples and archaeological sites located in and around greater Cairo and in the Nile Valley, such as Luxor, Aswan, and Abu Simbel. U.S. Mission personnel are allowed to travel to these areas. However, terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in the country.
There are a number of extremist organizations, including the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), operating in Egypt. Over the past two years, terrorist attacks have targeted Egyptian government and security forces, public venues, including tourist sites, civil aviation and other modes of public transportation, and a diplomatic facility. On December 11, a suicide bomber killed dozens of civilians in a church adjacent to the main Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. This incident followed two roadside bombings targeting police officers on December 9, one that killed six police officers in Giza, about three kilometers from the Pyramids, and a second that killed a civilian and injured three policeman in a rural area in the Nile Delta. Other recent high profile incidents in or near Cairo include: the killing of an Egyptian Army Brigadier General and failed assassination attempts on a former Grand Mufti, a judge, and a Deputy Prosecutor General.
The Egyptian Military conducts active anti-terrorist operations in Egypt’s border areas with Gaza and Libya. The northeastern Sinai Peninsula remains a particularly restive area, with frequent terrorist attacks targeting Egyptian security forces and civilians. Terrorists are also active in Egypt’s Western Desert – the large, mostly isolated area west of greater Cairo and the Nile Valley – including in the vicinity of various oasis towns. U.S. citizens should avoid these areas.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Egypt, 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.
For further detailed information and assistance:
Terrorist organizations, including the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), its affiliates, and sympathizers, have successfully conducted attacks in Jordan and continue to plot assaults in the country. Jordan's prominent role in the counter-ISIL Coalition and its shared borders with Iraq and Syria increase the potential for future terrorist incidents.
Travelers should be aware that both U.S. and Jordanian interests have been targeted in recent attacks. On December 18, 10 people, including a Canadian tourist and seven Jordanian security and police officers, were killed at or near a tourist site in Karak, 130 km south of Amman. A shootout between gunmen and Jordanian security forces occurred in the same area two days later. On June 6, a gunman killed five Jordanian security personnel stationed at a security office in Baqaa, north of Amman. In November 2015, a Jordanian police officer killed two U.S. citizen trainers and wounded two others in a shooting at the Jordan International Police Training Center (JIPTC) outside Amman.
Travelers to Jordan should avoid the country's border with Syria and Iraq given the continued threat of cross-border attacks. All U.S. government personnel on official travel must receive prior permission to visit any area within 10 km from the Jordan-Syria border, which includes the town of Ramtha. The 10 km area does not include the tourist site of Umm Qais or the city of Irbid. U.S. government personnel must also have permission for official travel on Highway 10 east of the town of Ruwayshid toward the Iraq border. U.S. government employees on personal travel are not permitted to visit the border areas or refugee camps, and the embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid both.
The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens that terrorist and extremist organizations have expressed a desire to conduct attacks targeting U.S. citizens and Westerners in Jordan. Within the last year, Jordanian authorities have notified the U.S. Embassy of several disrupted terrorist plots targeting U.S. citizens and Westerners. In addition, terrorist entities continue to express interest in attacking malls, hotels, restaurants, and other soft targets in country.
For more information:
Effective December 27, the Embassy will change its status to "Adult Eligible Family Members Only," meaning that no one 21 years old or younger will be allowed to accompany U.S. government employees assigned to Mali. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated July 1, 2016.
The security environment in Mali remains fluid, and the potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains high. Locations frequented by Western visitors, including but not limited to hotels and restaurants, continue to be targets for attacks. U.S. citizens are reminded to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings, and exercise caution, especially at night.
Northern Mali and parts of central Mali in particular continue to be at high risk for terrorist attacks, armed conflict, and banditry. U.S. government personnel in Mali are restricted from these regions except for mission critical travel, and in such cases are heavily reliant on United Nations and host country security support. U.S. citizens are highly discouraged from travel to these regions.
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. Exemplifying the security challenges across the region, in October 2016, extremist groups kidnapped a U.S. citizen in Niger and reportedly took him to Mali.
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. 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.
On March 7, 2015, armed gunmen attacked the La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako and killed five people, including French and Belgian citizens. Al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the attack, the Government of Mali declared a State of Emergency and increased its security presence in Bamako. The State of Emergency has been extended through March 2017. Roadblocks and random police checkpoints, especially between sundown and sun-up, are possible.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Mali, 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 FAA's Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
For further information:
This replaces the Travel Warning dated April 21, 2016.
Terrorist and insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago continue to kidnap foreigners in the eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and the southern Sulu Sea area. This area stretches from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, 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 2016, at least 13 separate kidnappings of foreigners have been reported across Mindanao. In western Mindanao, terrorist, insurgent, and criminal gangs regularly conduct kidnappings for ransom. In central Mindanao, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remain 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.
In September 2016, a terrorist group conducted a bombing in Davao City, killing 15 and wounding 69 people. Following the attack, the Philippine government declared a "State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao." 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.
U.S. government personnel are required to obtain special authorization from Embassy security officials before traveling to Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
For further information:
All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy that limits their travel within Caracas and other parts of the country. These security measures may restrict the services the Embassy can provide. Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to social unrest, including violence and looting. Security forces have arrested individuals, including U.S. citizens, and detained them for long periods with little or no evidence of a crime. The U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed. The detained citizen may be denied access to proper medical care, clean water, and food. This replaces the Travel Warning issued July 15, 2016.
Venezuela has one of the world's highest crime rates, including one of the highest homicide rates. Violent crime - including murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking - is endemic throughout the country. Armed robberies and street crime take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas 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. Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active in the Colombian border states of Zulia, Tachira, and Apure.
The political and security situation in Venezuela is unpredictable and can change quickly. Political rallies and demonstrations occur with little notice, and are expected to occur with greater frequency in the coming months in Caracas and 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 participants; several deaths have been reported during such protests. Due to shortages of some food and medical supplies, U.S. citizens should be prepared to cover their own needs while in country. In the event that the security climate worsens, U.S. citizens should be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Venezuela.
U.S. citizens may be detained and/or deported by Venezuelan immigration officials for not complying with visa or immigration regulations. U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela must have a valid visa that is appropriate for their specific type of travel (tourism, journalism, employment, study, etc.)
Journalists must possess the appropriate accreditation and work visa from the Venezuelan authorities before arriving. International journalists are closely scrutinized and have been expelled and/or detained for lacking appropriate permissions to work in Venezuela or for participation in what could be seen as any anti-government activity, including observing and reporting on public health facilities.
For further information:
This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated June 17, 2016.
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 a limited number of operational checkpoints controlled by government and separatist forces. There have been multiple casualties due to land mines in areas previously controlled by separatists, and both sides of the contact line are mined. 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. 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:
This replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated March, 1 2016.
Terrorist groups remain active. While major cities are heavily policed, extremists have conducted attacks (often using bombs, ambushes, or false roadblocks) in the mountainous Kabylie region (provinces of Boumerdes, Tizi Ouzou, Bouira, and Bejaia) and the southern and eastern border regions, including the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras, near the Tunisian border.
Although most attacks are directed towards Algerian military or police, in September 2014, an ISIL-affiliated group abducted and beheaded a French citizen in the Kabylie region. In January 2013, an Al-Qaeda-linked organization attacked a gas production facility near In Amenas, Algeria, near the Libyan border, holding foreign and Algerian workers hostage, with dozens killed, including three U.S. citizens.
U.S. citizens should:
The Algerian government requires all foreign employees of foreign companies or organizations based in Algeria to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before traveling in the country's interior so that the Government can evaluate need for police coordination. The Algerian government also requires U.S. Embassy employees to coordinate all staff travel outside of the Algiers wilaya (province) with the government; for this reason U.S. consular services may be limited outside of the Algiers wilaya.
For further information:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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 email@example.com 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.
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:
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:
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.
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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:
On occasion, these travel restrictions prevent the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.
For your safety:
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.
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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.
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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:
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: