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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Tip for a Safe Trip Abroad

Millions of U.S. citizens travel abroad each year and use their U.S. passports. When you travel abroad, the odds are in your favor that you will have a safe and incident-free trip. However, crime and violence, as well as unexpected difficulties, do befall U.S. citizens in all parts of the world. No one is better able to tell you this than U.S. consular officers who work in the more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Every day of the year U.S. embassies and consulates receive calls from American citizens in distress.

Fortunately, most problems can be solved over the telephone or by a visit of the U.S. citizen to the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. But there are less fortunate occasions when U.S. consular officers are called on to meet U.S. citizens at foreign police stations, hospitals, prisons and even at morgues. In these cases, the assistance that consular officers can offer is specific but limited.

In the hope of helping you avoid unhappy meetings with consular officers when you go abroad, we have prepared the following travel tips. Please have a safe trip abroad.

BEFORE YOU GO

What To Bring

Safety begins when you pack. To avoid being a target, dress conservatively. A flashy wardrobe or one that is too casual can mark you as a tourist. As much as possible, avoid the appearance of affluence.

Always try to travel light. If you do, you can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended.

Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan a place or places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to conceal them in several places rather than putting them all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid hand bags, fanny packs and outside pockets which are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing.

If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair. Bring them and any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.

To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring a copy of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country first.

Bring travelers checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.

Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.

Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality and if possible, lock your luggage.

Consider getting a telephone calling card. It is a convenient way of keeping in touch. If you have one, verify that you can use it from your overseas location(s). Access numbers to U.S. operators are published in many international newspapers. Find out your access number before you go.

What To Leave Behind

Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:

-- valuable or expensive-looking jewelry,

-- irreplaceable family objects,

-- all unnecessary credit cards.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.

A Few Things To Bring And Leave Behind

Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driverÕs license and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry your valuables.

Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your travelers checks with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list.

What To Learn About Before You Go

Security. The Department of State's Consular Information Sheets are available for every country of the world. They describe unusual entry, currency regulations or unusual health conditions, the crime and security situation, political disturbances, areas of instability, special information about driving and road conditions and drug penalties. They also provide addresses and emergency telephone numbers for U.S. embassies and consulates. In general, the sheets do not give advice. Instead, they describe conditions so travelers can make informed decisions about their trips.

In some dangerous situations, however, the Department of State recommends that Americans defer travel to a country. In such a case, a Travel Warning is issued for the country in addition to its Consular Information Sheet.

Public Announcements are a means to disseminate information about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers. They are issued when there is a perceived threat usually involving Americans as a particular target group. In the past, Public Announcements have been issued to deal with short-term coups, pre-election disturbances, violence by terrorists and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.

Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements are available at the 13 regional passport agencies; at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad; or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4818. They are also available through airline computer reservation systems when you or your travel agent make your international air reservations.

In addition, you can access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements 24-hours a day in several ways.

Telephone

To listen to them, call (202) 647-5225 from a touchtone phone.

Fax

From your fax machine, dial (202) 647-3000, using the handset as you would a regular telephone. The system prompts you on how to proceed.

Internet

Information about travel and consular services is available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' World Wide Web home page. The address is http://travel.state.gov. It includes Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, passport and visa information, travel publications, background on international adoption and international child abduction services and international legal assistance. It also links to the State Department's main Internet site at http://www.state.gov which contains current foreign affairs information.

Consular Affairs Bulletin Board

If you have a personal computer, modem and communication software, you can access the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To view or download the documents from a computer and modem, dial the CABB on (301) 946-4400. The login is travel; the password is info. There is no charge to use these systems other than normal long distance charges.

Local Laws and Customs

When you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country where you are. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are your library, your travel agent, and the embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries.



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Disclaimer: Although we've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities before you travel.

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