Ethiopia - Consular Information Sheet
August 3, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia is a developing east African country comprising 11 semi-autonomous
administrative regions organized loosely along major ethnic lines.
A border dispute between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea erupted
in May 1998 and escalated into full- scale conflict that continued
through June 2000. On December 12, 2000, a peace treaty was signed
between the two countries ending the conflict. Tourism facilities
in Ethiopia are minimal.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a valid Ethiopian visa
are required to enter or transit Ethiopia. Due to animosity stemming
from the recent border conflict with Eritrea, U.S. citizens of
Eritrean origin who travel to Ethiopia may experience delays in
processing of their visa applications, as all such applications
must be cleared through the main Ethiopian immigration office
in Addis Ababa, the capital. Laptop computers must be declared
upon arrival and departure. Tape recorders require special customs
permits. Individuals intending prolonged stays should check, prior
to travel, with the
Ethiopian Embassy, 3506 International Dr., N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 364-1200; fax (202) 686-9857; website
http://www.ethiopianembassy.org. Inquiries overseas may be made
at the nearest Ethiopian embassy or consulate.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Ethiopia does not recognize dual nationality.
The Ethiopian Government may not recognize the Ethiopian citizenship
of those Ethiopian citizens who have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Ethiopian citizens who attempt to conceal their U.S. citizenship
from Ethiopian authorities may face difficulties. For additional
information, see the
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although Ethiopia and Eritrea signed
a peace treaty, American citizens should exercise caution if traveling
to the northern Tigray and Afar regions (within 50km/30 miles
of the Ethiopian/Eritrean border) because of land mines and unsettled
conditions in the border area. As a result of the tensions, the
Government of Ethiopia has occasionally deported some people of
Eritrean origin, including U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens of all
backgrounds should stay clear of security operations and should
not try to intercede with police on behalf of Eritreans or anyone
Armed attacks apparently targeting foreigners have occurred in
Ethiopia. In 1996, bombs at the government-owned Ghion and Wabe
Shabelle Hotels in Addis Ababa killed five Ethiopians and wounded
numerous Ethiopians and foreigners. Elsewhere in Addis Ababa,
three coordinated grenade attacks in public places in April 1997
killed one Ethiopian and injured numerous people, including several
foreigners. In May 2000, a large demonstration took place in front
of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa to protest U.S. policies relating
to the Eritrean/Ethiopian conflict. The demonstration required
police intervention and was finally dispersed after several hours.
U.S. citizens throughout Ethiopia are advised to consider carefully
security implications when visiting public places such as markets,
restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotel lobbies. It is advisable
to lodge at larger hotels that offer better security.
Travel to the Ogaden region of Ethiopia is considered to be very
dangerous due to incidents of clan fighting, armed banditry, threats
of kidnapping and violence, all which may target foreigners. Travel
in this region should not be attempted. U.S. citizens should exercise
particular caution in the towns of Harar and Dire Dawa. Two foreigners
were killed and one wounded in daylight shooting incidents in
Dire Dawa in October 1996. A February 1997 grenade attack at a
hotel in Harar wounded five foreign nationals. The attacks appear
to have targeted foreigners. In addition, improvised explosive
devices have been used as recently as the summer of 2000 to target
hotels and other facilities in Dire Dawa and Nazret. Since the
mid-1990's, there have also been several clashes between various
opposition elements and Government forces around Harar and in
the Somali Regional State, particularly near the border with Somalia.
The Awash-Mile Road has been the site of shootings, apparently
by bandits, at night or in the pre-dawn hours.
In southern Ethiopia along the Kenyan border, banditry and incidents
involving ethnic conflicts are common.
In western Ethiopia, the western-most tip of the Gambella Region
is subject to inter-ethnic conflict and to political violence
originating from Sudan. Visitors should seek current guidance
from the Embassy in Addis Ababa or local officials before traveling
to other areas along the Sudan border.
Travel in Ethiopia via rail is also strongly discouraged due
to episodes of sabotage and derailment as recently as the summer
CRIME: Pickpocketing and other petty crimes are prevalent
in urban areas. There are occasional reports of thieves snatching
jewelry. Visitors should exercise normal caution, not wear excessive
jewelry or carry large sums of money, and keep wallets and other
valuables where they will be less susceptible to pickpockets.
Armed banditry can occur on roads outside major towns or cities
and may be accompanied by violence.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. The pamphlets A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information
on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the
region. Both are available via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov
or from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Health facilities are extremely limited
in Addis Ababa and completely inadequate outside the capital.
Although physicians are generally well trained, even the best
hospitals in Addis Ababa suffer from inadequate facilities, antiquated
equipment and shortages of supplies (particularly medicine). Emergency
assistance is limited. Travelers must bring their own supplies
of prescription drugs and preventive medicines.
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)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Ethiopia is a mountainous country
in which the high altitude may cause health problems even for
healthy travelers. Addis Ababa is located at an altitude of 8000
feet. Individuals may experience shortness of breath, fatigue,
nausea, headaches, and inability to sleep.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may
be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
international traveler's hotline at tel.: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747);
fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the
CDC website 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 Ethiopia 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: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
While travel on both paved and unpaved roads is generally considered
safe, land mines and other anti-personnel devices can be encountered
on isolated dirt roads that were targeted during various conflicts.
Before undertaking any off-road travel, it is advisable to inquire
with local authorities to ensure that the area has been cleared
of mines. Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits,
pedestrians and livestock in the roadway, and the lack of basic
safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Ethiopian
roads. In addition, road travel after dark outside Addis Ababa
and other cities is dangerous due to broken-down vehicles left
on the roads, people using the roads, stray animals, and the possibility
of armed robbery in some locations. Road lighting in cities is
inadequate at best and nonexistent outside of cities.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov/Road_Safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Ethiopia's civil aviation
authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for oversight of Ethiopia's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
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.
The FAA has determined that Bole International Airport in Addis
Ababa meets international standards for aviation security. There
have been no hijackings of domestic or international flights since
November 1996, when an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa
to Kenya was hijacked and crashed near the Comoros Islands.
The Ethiopian government has closed air routes near the border
with Eritrea and has referred to the airspace as a "no-fly
zone." The FAA currently prohibits U.S. aircraft and U.S.
pilots from flying in Ethiopian airspace north of 12 degrees north
latitude, the area along the country's northern border with Eritrea.
For complete information on this flight prohibition, travelers
may visit the
FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/arm/sfar87.doc.
CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS: Permits are required before either
antiques or animal skins can be exported from Ethiopia. Antique
religious artifacts, including "Ethiopian" crosses,
require documentation from the National Museum in Addis Ababa
for export. Laptop computers must be declared upon arrival and
departure. Tape recorders require special customs permits.
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
Ethiopian laws, even unknowingly, may be arrested, imprisoned,
or expelled. There are currently no agreements in place between
the governments of Ethiopia and the U.S. requiring notification
of the arrest of U.S. citizens. Penalties for possession, use
or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ethiopia are strict and convicted
offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CURRENCY ISSUES: Visitors must declare foreign currency
upon arrival and may be required to present this declaration when
applying for an exit visa. Official and black market exchange
rates are nearly the same. Penalties for exchanging money on the
black market range from fines to imprisonment. Credit cards are
not accepted at most hotels, restaurants, shops, or other local
facilities, although they are accepted at the Hilton and Sheraton
Hotels in Addis Ababa. Foreigners are generally required to pay
for hotel and car rental in foreign currency.
PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Ethiopian law strictly prohibits
the photographing of military installations, police/military personnel,
industrial facilities, government buildings and infrastructure
(roads, bridges, dams, airfields, etc.). Such sites are rarely
clearly marked. Travel guides, police, and Ethiopian officials
can advise if a particular site may be photographed. Photographing
prohibited sites may result in the confiscation of film and camera.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: In Ethiopia there is a high risk
of earthquakes. 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, and international
parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues or telephone 202-736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged
to register at the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated information
on travel and security in Ethiopia.
The U.S. Embassy is located at Entoto Avenue, P.O. Box 1014,
in Addis Ababa, telephone:  (1) 550-666, extension 316/336;
emergency after-hours telephone:  (1) 552-558; consular fax:
 (1) 551-094; website: http://www.telecom.net.et/~usemb-et
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet of June 13, 2001
to update the section on Aviation Safety.