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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Armenia

Armenia - Consular Information Sheet
August 23, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Armenia, located in the southern Caucasus Mountains, is the smallest of the former Soviet republics. It is a nation still emerging from its Soviet past. Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are closed due to the dispute over the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Long transportation routes and economic difficulties limit the availability of imported goods, though the extreme shortages of the early- and mid-1990s have eased significantly. Tourist facilities, especially outside of Yerevan, the capital, are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may be difficult to obtain. Travelers frequently experience problems with local officials seeking bribes to perform basic duties.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passport and visa required. For further information on entry requirements contact the Armenian Embassy at 2225 R St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 tel. (202) 319-1976; the Armenian Consulate General in Los Angeles at 50 N. La Cienega Blvd., Suite 210, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, tel. (310) 657-6102 or visit the Armenian Embassy's website at http://www.armeniaemb.org.

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.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Armenian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Armenian citizens. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of national security interest may result in problems with authorities.

Since 1988, armed conflict has taken place in and around the self-proclaimed "Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh," a breakaway autonomous republic of Azerbaijan. A cease-fire has been in effect since May 1994, although there have been some reports of minor violations. Travelers should exercise caution near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and consult the Consular Information Sheet for Azerbaijan if considering travel to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian territory. Armenia's land borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan remain closed and continue to be patrolled by armed troops who stop all persons attempting to cross. There are still land mines in numerous areas in and near the conflict zones.

CRIME: Armenia has a low rate of violent crime, but common street crime has increased, especially at night. Generally incidents are limited to pickpocketing and other petty thefts. However, expatriates have been victims of several attacks involving knives in the last year. Robberies on board train service to Georgia are a problem. 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. The Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Additional information on the region can be found in the brochure Tips for Travelers to Russia and the Newly Independent States. Both publications are available 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, or http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Though there are many competent physicians, medical care facilities in Armenia are limited, especially outside the major cities. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English speaking physicians in the area. There is a severe shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities.

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.

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, which differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Armenia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Fair
Urban road condition/ maintenance: Fair
Rural road condition/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor

Travel in Armenia requires caution. Public transportation, while very inexpensive, may be unreliable and uncomfortable. Travel at night is not recommended and winter travel can be extremely hazardous in mountain areas and higher elevations.

With the exception of a few major arteries, primary roads are frequently in poor repair, with sporadic stretches of missing pavement and large potholes. Some roads shown as primary roads on maps are unpaved and can narrow to one lane in width, while some newer road connections have not yet been marked even on recently produced maps.

Secondary roads are normally in poor condition and are often unpaved and washed out in places. Street and road signs are poor to nonexistent. Truck traffic is not heavy except on the main road linking Yerevan to the Iranian border.

Though crime on the roads is rare, the police themselves often seek bribes at periodic checkpoints on main routes. Drivers in Armenia often take great risks, and traffic laws are frequently ignored. This problem is only slightly offset by the fact that congestion on city streets is light.

Furthermore, pedestrians are as prone to risky behavior as the drivers are. Travelers driving in towns at night should be especially cautious. In the cities, a pedestrian dressed all in black crossing an unlit street in the middle of the block is a common occurrence.

The quality of gasoline in Armenia ranges from good at some of the more reliable stations in cities to very poor. The gasoline and other fuels sold out of jars, barrels and trucks by independent roadside merchants should be considered very unreliable.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. See also road safety information from other sources in Armenia (http://www.international.fhwa.dot.gov/links/intl.cfm).

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 Armenia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Armenia'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: Armenian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Armenia of items such as firearms, pornographic materials, medication and communications equipment. For export of antiquities and other items, which could have historical value, such as paintings, carpets or other artisan goods, a special authorization is required in advance from the Armenian Ministry of Culture. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Armenia in Washington or consulate in Los Angeles for specific information regarding customs requirements.

CRIMINAL PENATIES: 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. Person's violating Armenian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Armenia are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Armenia remains largely a cash-only economy, and credit cards are accepted at some businesses, but not at hotels. Limited facilities exist for cashing traveler's checks and wiring money into the country. Dollars are readily exchanged at market rates.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Armenia is an earthquake- and landslide-prone country. In addition to these natural disasters, the possibility of chlorine gas spills and radiation poisoning due to industrial accidents exists. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov. All U.S. citizens visiting Armenia are advised to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy upon arrival.

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

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans are living in or visiting Armenia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and obtain updated information on travel and security within Armenia. The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan is located at 18 General Bagramian Street, telephone 011 (3741) 151-551 and fax 011 (3741) 151-550. The consular section is open from 9:00 AM until 5:30 PM, with time reserved for American citizen services from 2:00 PM until 5:30 PM Monday through Friday. For more information visit the Embassy of Armenia's Internet home page at http://www.armeniaemb.org.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999 to add or update information on Entry Requirements, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight, Customs Regulations, Criminal Penalties, Disaster Preparedness, Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location and to remove Y2K Information.

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