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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Greece

Greece - Consular Information Sheet
August 9, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Greece is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. An AIDS test is required for performing artists and students on Greek government scholarships; U.S. test results are not accepted. For other entry questions, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at http://www.greekembassy.org.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Greek laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Greek citizens. For additional information, see Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil disorder is rare. However several active terrorist groups, including the "17 November" organization, have at times targeted U.S. and western government and commercial interests, as for example in 1999 when terrorists bombed a major international chain hotel perceived to have American ties. Prominent Greek businessmen, journalists, and politicians have also been targeted. In a June 8, 2000 terrorist attack, the British Defense Attaché was murdered. The potential for terrorist activities against U.S. and commercial interests remains high. There have been no specific threats against private American citizens traveling in Greece. Travelers should nevertheless review their security practices and be alert to their surroundings. The Consular Affairs home page provides updated information whenever there is a need to alert Americans to a specific situation.

CRIME: Crime against tourists (purse-snatchings, pickpocketing) appears to be on the rise at popular tourist sites and on crowded public transportation, particularly in Athens. The usual safety precautions practiced in any urban area ought to be practiced during a visit to Greece. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://access.gpo.gov/su_docs,. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are adequate, and some in Athens and Thessaloniki are quite good, though nursing care, particularly in public hospitals, may be less than adequate.

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, 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 international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299, or by visiting CDC's Internet home page 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 Greece is provided for general reference only and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Visitors to Greece must be prepared to drive defensively. Heavy traffic and poor highways pose hazards, especially at night. Extreme care is warranted in operating a motorbike. The majority of U.S. citizen traffic casualties in Greece have involved motorbikes. Drivers must carry a valid U.S. license as well as an international driver's permit. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses: AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Vehicles may be rented without the permit, but the driver will be penalized for failure to have one in the event of an accident. Fines are high. Small motorbike rental firms frequently do not insure their vehicles; the customer is responsible for damages. Review your coverage before renting.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet completed its assessment of Greece's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece'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 the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. 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: Greek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export from Greece of antiquities, including rocks from archaeological sites. Penalties range from large fines to prison terms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Greece in Washington or one of Greece's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Customs Authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, an/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 call 212-354-4480, send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

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

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Labor strikes in the transportation sector (national airline, city bus lines, and taxis) occur with some frequency. Most are announced in advance and are of short duration. Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly recommended.

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE: People traveling in Greece who do not speak Greek may call 112 if they require emergency services. This is a 24-hour toll-free number. Callers will be able to receive information in English and French (as well as Greek) to request ambulance services, the fire department, the police and the coast guard.

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 tel (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Greece are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, tel: (30)(1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel: (30)(31) 242-905. The Embassy's website is http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the consular section is consul@global.net. The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is cons@compulink.gr.

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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 21, 2000 to add the section on Emergency Assistance.



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