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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Algeria

Algeria - Consular Information Sheet
June 14, 2001

WARNING (Issued May 31, 2001): The United States Department of State warns U.S. citizens to evaluate carefully the implications for their security and safety before deciding to travel to Algeria. Although considerably fewer terrorist incidents have taken place in Algeria over the last three years, unpredictable attacks still occur in rural villages, on roadsides and public transport, and at night. The most recent terrorist activity has occurred in rural areas in northern Algeria.

At the height of terrorist violence in Algeria, many commercial airlines cancelled service to and from Algeria. Since then, a number of carriers have resumed service, including one western airline. Most official foreign travel by U.S. government employees and visitors is via chartered aircraft, although commercial carriers are sometimes used.

The Department of State strongly recommends that those Americans who travel to Algeria exercise maximum caution and take prudent measures. These include limiting use of regularly scheduled commercial flights and being met and accompanied by pre-arranged local contacts upon arrival and departure at airports. Nighttime and overland travel should be avoided. Visitors to Algiers should stay only in the large, internationally-recognized hotels where security is provided. U.S. citizens should not move anywhere in Algeria unless accompanied by a known Algerian companion. This applies to walking the streets of Algiers and other cities.

U.S. Embassy personnel take all of the precautions mentioned above. In addition, Embassy employees and official visitors are restricted to the Embassy compound or their hotels except as necessary to conduct official business or limited personal business in the capital. All travel by official Americans in Algiers is by armored car with appropriate security.

U.S. oil companies operating in the desert region south of the Saharan Atlas Mountains have experienced no attacks in the past year. The Algerian government and the companies themselves take stringent security precautions to ensure their safety, including many of the measures described above.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Algeria is a republic with a developing economy. Facilities for travelers are widely available, but sometimes limited in quality. The workweek in Algeria is Saturday through Wednesday. The U.S. Embassy workweek is Sunday through Thursday.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Algeria. For more information concerning entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria at 2137 Wyoming Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 265-2800 or go to http://www.algeria-us.org/ on the Internet.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Algerian fathers of minor children (under 18 years of age for boys, 19 years of age for girls) may legally prevent their children from leaving Algeria.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Algerian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Algerian citizens. For additional information, see Dual Nationality flyer.

The Algerian Government requires all U.S.-Algerian dual national males under the age of 35 to register for service in the Algerian military. Dual nationals and those subject to registration may be prevented from leaving Algeria until granted permission to do so by the relevant Algerian authorities. Authorities sometimes grant waivers to U.S. citizen dual nationals studying abroad, though there is no guarantee that this practice will continue.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: More than 120 third country nationals (no U.S. citizens) have been murdered in Algeria since September 1993. In response to these threats, the U.S. Government substantially reduced the number of U.S. government personnel in Algeria. Dependents of U.S. Government personnel may not accompany employees to Algeria.

Ports, trains, and airline terminals are potential terrorist targets and U.S. citizens should carefully consider the security implications of traveling on regularly scheduled commercial transport. Terrorists occasionally attack buses traveling in rural areas. Most official air travel by U.S. government employees is via chartered aircraft, although commercial carriers are sometimes used.

Areas of Instability: Political, social, and economic problems have created an environment in which acts of terrorism are regularly perpetrated. A state of emergency has been in effect since early 1992. Although terrorist violence has dropped substantially in the last two years, terrorists continue to attack security forces and strike randomly at civilians, claiming scores of lives each month. In the last two years the terrorist violence has greatly diminished in the major cities and now mostly occurs in the countryside of northern Algeria and the periphery of urban areas. In localities where large numbers of foreigners reside, Algerian military and other security personnel offer generally adequate protection, but in many other localities, especially in remote hamlets and the poorer sections of urban areas, protection is not assured.

Although the Government of Algeria has discontinued a late-night curfew in the central area of Algiers, it continues to maintain roadblocks on primary roads heading into and out of the capital. Security personnel at these roadblocks expect full cooperation. Terrorists also occasionally put up false roadblocks as ambushes in parts of northern Algeria.

Banditry and assault involving foreigners has occurred in the far southern region of Algeria near the border with Niger. Although violence in this area is now largely limited to occasional small scale attacks against local security forces, bandits have robbed, assaulted, kidnapped, and killed travelers in Algeria south of Tamanrasset. In April, May, and June 2001, there were violent disturbances, mostly in the Kabylie region, caused by long-standing social and economic woes. Dissatisfaction with the current political and economic situation is behind several large demonstrations in Algiers in May and June.

Travel overland is treacherous in many parts of Algeria. The Department of State recommends that American citizens in Algeria avoid traveling overland outside major urban areas. Americans who must travel overland or work in locations outside of major cities should do so with substantial armed protection.

CRIME: The crime rate in Algeria is moderately high and increasing. Serious crimes have been reported in which armed men posing as police officers have entered homes of occupants, and robbed them at gunpoint. Armed carjacking is also a serious problem. Petty theft and home burglary occur frequently, and muggings are on the rise, especially after dark in the cities. Theft of contents and parts from parked cars, pickpocketing, theft on trains and buses, theft of items left in hotel rooms, and purse snatching are common. Alarms, grills, watchdogs, and/or guards protect most foreigners' residences.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Hospitals and clinics in Algeria are available, but of uneven quality, and are not up to Western standards. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Algeria is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor

Drivers will encounter checkpoints on primary roads heading into and out of Algiers and other major cities. Security personnel at these checkpoints expect full cooperation.

For specific information concerning Algerian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Algerian Embassy.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Algeria, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Algeria's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Algerian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Algeria of items such as firearms, body armor, binoculars, communications equipment, antiquities, medications, business equipment or ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Algeria in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Algeria's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Algeria are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which Algeria is a party, competent authorities in the host country must notify a consular post of the arrest of one of its citizens without delay.

CURRENCY INFORMATION: Travelers checks and credit cards are accepted in only a few establishments in urban areas. The Government of Algeria requires all foreigners entering the country to exchange $200 into local currency. Documentary proof of legal exchange of currency is needed when departing Algeria.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Algeria are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Algeria and obtain updated information on travel and security within Algeria. The U.S. Embassy is located at 4 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi, B.P. 549 (Alger-gare) 16000, in the capital city of Algiers. The telephone number is [213] (21) 691-425/255/186. The fax number for the U.S. Embassy is [213] (21) 69-39-79. The U.S. Embassy workweek is Sunday through Thursday. The former U.S. Consulate in Oran is closed.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 5, 2001 to update or add sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Areas of Instability, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Registration/Embassy Location.

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