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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan - Consular Information Sheet
November 30, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Azerbaijan became an independent nation in 1991 following the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Goods and services are increasingly available in the capital, Baku.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Entry visas issued at the airport have recently been made available to foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, for a fee of USD 40. U.S. citizens who obtain a visa at the port of entry are permitted to remain in Azerbaijan for up to one month, after which an extension of stay must be requested. For persons in Azerbaijan, visa applications, extensions or renewals are made at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shikhali Kurbanov str., 4, Baku; tel. (9-9412) 93 59 40. For additional information, please contact the Embassy of Azerbaijan, 927 15th Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005; tel. (202) 842-0001, Internet: http://www.azembassy.com.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: As a result of conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh area of Azerbaijan, 20% of Azerbaijani territory (in the southwest along the borders with Iran and Armenia) is occupied by insurgent forces. A cease-fire has been in effect since 1994, although reports of armed clashes along the cease-fire line and along the border with Armenia continue. Anti-personnel mines are a danger in areas close to the front lines. It is not possible to enter the self-proclaimed "Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh" from Azerbaijan. Travelers are cautioned to avoid travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas. Because of the existing state of hostilities, consular services are not available to Americans in Nagorno-Karabakh.

CRIME: Although Azerbaijan has a low rate of violent crime, incidents of street crime and assaults on foreigners are increasing. Visitors should follow the same precautions they would in any major city. Do not walk alone at night, if at all possible. All crime incidents should be reported to the local police and U.S. Embassy.

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 more 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: A few Western-type medical clinics, the quality of which is comparable to those in Western countries, have recently opened in Baku. The quality of these clinics is good. However, medical facilities outside the capital remains inadequate, unsanitary, and unsafe. There is often a shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles and vaccines.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you may 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 Azerbaijan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

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

Driving hazards such as open manholes, debris, and potholes are common. Drivers pay little heed to traffic regulations, signals, lanes, or other drivers. Drivers often travel at extremely high rates of speed, and accidents are frequent. Driving in Baku should be considered extremely hazardous. Outside the city, even where roads are present, conditions are similar. Roads are often in poor repair, unlit, and lack lane marking, traffic signs, and warnings. Many rural roads are unpaved and rarely traveled.

Public transportation throughout the country is overcrowded and poorly maintained. The U.S. Embassy strongly discourages use of the Baku Metro. Train travel in the Caucasus region is not secure. For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial service at present between the United States and Azerbaijan, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Azerbaijan air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http:// www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf. 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 the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

Travelers on airlines among the countries of the Caucasus may experience prolonged delays and sudden cancellations of flights. In addition to frequent delays, flights are often overcrowded with passengers without seats standing in the aisle along with excess unsecured cabin luggage. Even basic safety features such as seat belts are sometimes missing. Air travel to Azerbaijan on international carriers via the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Turkey is more reliable.

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 Azerbaijani laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Azerbaijan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Azerbaijan is mostly a cash economy country. Traveler’s checks and credit cards are accepted only in some hotels and a few restaurants and supermarkets. The local currency is the manat. U.S. dollars are required in most hotels and preferred in many restaurants.

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

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Azerbaijan are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Baku and obtain updated information on travel and security within Azerbaijan. The U.S. Embassy is located at Prospect Azadlig 83; tel. (9-9412) 98-03-35, 36, or 37; (9-9412) 90-66-71. More information can be obtained from Embassy Baku’s Internet site at http://www.usembassybaku.org/.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999, in order to update information on Entry Requirements, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and to delete Y2K information.

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