East Timor - Consular Information Sheet
February 28, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Occupying 24,000 square kilometers
on the eastern half of an island in the Timor Sea between Indonesia
and Australia, East Timor has a population of approximately 800,000
people. East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in an
August 30, 1999 referendum and is currently under the authority
of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor
(UNTAET). UNTAET was established by a unanimous vote of the UN
Security Council on October 25, 1999, for the purpose of rebuilding
East Timor and helping to establish a new government. In the violence
that followed the 1999 referendum, East Timor's infrastructure,
never robust, was totally destroyed and is only slowly being rebuilt.
Electricity, telephone and telecommunications, roads and lodging
remain unreliable. East Timor's economy relies largely on international
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for six months beyond
the intended date of departure from Indonesia/East Timor is required.
A visa is not required for tourist stays up to two months. For
additional information about entry requirements for East Timor,
travelers may contact the border control unit of the United Nations
Transitional Administration in East Timor via the New York switchboard
number of 212-963-0099 or via Dili landline 670-390-312210 extension
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Violence erupted throughout East
Timor after the August 30, 1999, United Nations-sponsored ballot
in that province. Although stability returned to the area with
the arrival of international forces, American citizens are strongly
encouraged to exercise caution in East Timor.
For more specific and up-to-date information on the safety of
travel in East Timor, please consult the most recent Public Announcement
on East Timor, which can be found on the
Bureau of Consular Affairs' home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Americans can also contact the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta for updated
information. American citizens in East Timor should exercise prudence
and common sense, and avoid demonstrations and other situations
that could turn violent.
Travelers and residents should always ensure that passports and
important personal papers are in order in the event it becomes
necessary to leave the country quickly for any reason. Americans
traveling in East Timor should remember that despite its small
size, much of the territory can be isolated and difficult to reach
by available transportation or communication links.
CRIME: In the aftermath of the August 1999 vote for independence,
East Timor was swept by violence that included widespread looting
and burning and, in some cases, murder. One foreign journalist
was shot to death and several others were beaten. UN peacekeeping
forces quickly restored a measure of stability to the region,
although violent incidents remain possible in border areas due
to incursions by pro-integration militias.
The crime rate in East Timor is high. Minor crimes, such as pickpocketing
and thefts, occur throughout the territory and there have been
more violent attacks on foreigners on occasion. Incidents of robbery
have been reported, particularly in the market area in Dili. Gang
violence occurs on occasion. Visitors should be particularly careful
at nighttime and should avoid wearing clothing that may be regarded
as insensitive or provocative, particularly in crowded public
areas such as markets.
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,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Although acceptable emergency medical
care is available in Dili, routine medical care in East Timor
is extremely limited. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization
and/or medical evacuation to Australia, the nearest point with
acceptable medical care, or to the United States, can cost thousands
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. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor 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
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 East Timor is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None
All traffic operates on the left side of the road, and most vehicles
use right-hand drive. Roads are often poorly maintained and four-wheel
drive may be required in some areas. Driving at night can be hazardous
due to the lack of illumination and poor condition of roads. Taxis
are available in Dili and small buses and mini-vans provide public
transportation throughout the territory. However, public transportation
is generally overcrowded, uncomfortable and below international
As of December 2000 there are no East Timor driver's permits
and no formal requirement that drivers possess a driver's license
of any kind. UNTAET plans to introduce driver's licenses and automobile
registration in the near future.
Driving in Dili is especially hazardous, with many large trucks
and military vehicles sharing the streets with vendors, pedestrians
and livestock. Many cars and especially motorcycles operate at
night without lights.
There is a seat belt law in East Timor that is enforced by the
United Nations civilian police. There is no helmet law and wearing
of helmets is virtually unknown.
Accidents are frequent. During a recent month, seven people died
in traffic accidents in Dili, a figure comparable to a medium-large
city in the United States. UN civilian police should be contacted
in the event of an accident. It is not uncommon for bystanders
to attack the driver perceived to be responsible for a traffic
accident. This is more common in rural areas and in accidents
involving Timorese drivers, but expatriate drivers have occasionally
been attacked by crowds at the scene of an accident. When an accident
occurs, it may be advisable to drive to the nearest CIVPOL (civilian
police) district office before stopping.
While it is possible to obtain insurance for vehicles in East
Timor, only a handful of foreigners have done so and virtually
no one else has automobile insurance. Most traffic accidents are
settled informally between those involved.
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. For additional information
on road safety, see the
U.S. Embassy home page at http://www.usembassyjakarta.org/.
AVIATION 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 East Timor, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed East Timor's
civil aviation system for compliance with international aviation
safety standards. Aviation oversight for East Timor is handled
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet web site 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: East Timor's customs regulations
are similar to those in most developed nations. Questions should
be directed to the UNTAET border control unit via telephone in
New York at 212-963-0099 or via telephone in Dili at 670-390-312210.
The US dollar is the official currency of East Timor but Australian
dollars and Indonesian rupiah remain widely used. Most restaurants
and larger shops charge in Australian dollars while rupiah is
required for most small expenditures on the local economy such
as taxi fares or purchases at the market. It is advisable to have
a supply of all three currencies. Money can be exchanged at the
two banks in Dili or a licensed moneychanger. Only a few establishments
accept credit cards, usually requiring a substantial additional
fee, and visitors should be prepared to settle all bills in cash.
A single ATM machine has been installed at one of Dili's banks.
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 do not afford the same 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
the laws of East Timor, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested,
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in
illegal drugs in East Timor are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect severe jail sentences and fines. UNTAET is responsible
for security and law enforcement in East Timor.
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. When U.S. citizens are arrested or detained,
formal notification of the arrest is normally provided to the
Embassy in Jakarta in writing, a process that can take several
weeks. If detained, U.S. citizens are encouraged to attempt to
telephone the nearest U.S. consular office.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: East Timor is in a state of transition
to full independence and many civil and governmental institutions
are currently being developed. The information provided above
may change quickly as new institutions and processes become operational.
Conversely, U.S. citizens traveling or doing business in East
Timor may find it difficult to identify legal or administrative
mechanisms should problems arise.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: East Timor is located in an area
of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major
earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes
can and will continue to happen. 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/.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children or international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in
or visiting East Timor are encouraged to register with the U.S.
Embassy in Jakarta where they may obtain updated information on
travel and security within the country.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Jakarta, Indonesia at Medan Merdeka
Selatan 5; telephone:(62)(21)3435-9000; fax (62)(21) 3435-9922.
Embassy's web site is located at http://www.usembassyjakarta.org.
The consular section can
be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. The easiest way
to register with the Embassy is on-line.
Although there is a temporary U.S. representative office in East
Timor, there is no official U.S. consular presence. Americans
requiring assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta,
Indonesia or the U.S. representative office in the sea front Farol
district of Dili, phone 0407-047052.