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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Estonia

Estonia - Consular Information Sheet
October 17, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Estonia is a rapidly developing nation that has experienced significant success in reforming its political and economic institutions since regaining independence in 1991. Tourist facilities are generally good, though some amenities may be lacking in rural areas. Some goods and services may not be available outside of major cities. The capital is Tallinn.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. Tourists and business travelers may stay in Estonia for up to 90 days without a visa. U.S. citizens who wish to work in Estonia or remain longer than 90 days must obtain a visa or residence permit. For further information concerning entry requirements and residency permits, please contact the Estonian Embassy, 2131 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C 20008, telephone (202) 588-0101, or the Consulate General of Estonia in New York City at telephone (212) 883-0636. Also, please see the Estonian Embassy's Internet home page at http://www.estemb.org.

CRIME INFORMATION: Travelers in Estonia should exercise the same precautions with regard to their personal safety and belongings that they would take in major U.S. cities. The most common crimes encountered by foreign tourists are purse snatching, pickpocketing and mugging. Violent crime, though rarely directed against foreigners, does occur. Intoxicated people leaving bars alone or in small groups late at night are a favorite target for muggings, which can turn violent. Car thefts are common and can occur in daylight. Police capabilities in Estonia are improving, but they still suffer from lack of equipment, training, personnel and resources. Few police officers speak English. Credit card fraud is on the rise. Travelers should take prudent precautions to safeguard their credit card and report any suspected unauthorized transactions to the credit card company immediately. Racially motivated verbal and, on occasion, physical harassment of Americans of non-Caucasian ethnicity can occur. If an incident occurs, it should be reported to the 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 can 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: The quality of medical care in Estonia is improving, but it still falls short of Western standards. Estonia has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Elderly travelers and those with health problems may be at increased risk.

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.

Please 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. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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 by autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Cases of resistant strains of tuberculosis have been reported in Estonia. Visitors to forest areas in warm weather also should guard against tick-borne encephalitis. 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 the 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 Estonia 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

Driving in Estonia is more dangerous than in the United States. Aggressive driving is the norm, and many roads are not up to Western standards. Wild animals, such as moose, and icy road conditions can create unexpected hazards. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly risky. Local law requires that headlights be turned on while driving during the day as well as at night. Use of seatbelts by all pssengers is required, and children too small to be secure in seatbelts must use child car seats. The speed limit is 50 km/h out of town unless otherwise indicated. A right turn on a red light is prohibited unless otherwise indicated by a green arrow. Laws against driving under the influence of alcohol are strict and follow a policy of zero tolerance. It is not uncommon for the police to set up checkpoints on major streets, and drivers should pull over when asked. Americans planning to drive in Estonia must obtain an international driver's license prior to arrival.

For information about international driving permits, please contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. The Eesti Autoklubi (Estonian Auto Club), which is affiliated with AAA, provides emergency roadside assistance. Drivers do not need to be a member to receive assistance, however, the fees charged are higher for non-members. The number to call for roadside vehicle assistance and towing service is 118. For ambulance, fire or police assistance the number is 112. Please note that for both numbers, the level of English spoken by the operator answering may be minimal.

For additional information about road safety, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

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

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA 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 the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

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

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Estonia's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (202) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental 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/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Estonia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Estonia. The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn is located at Kentmanni 20, telephone (372) 668-8100; fax (372) 668-8267; emergency cell phone (011)(372)509-2129, if dialed from the U.S., and 0-509-2129 if dialed from within Estonia. The Embassy's home page on the Internet is at http://www.usemb.ee.

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