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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Guyana

Guyana - Consular Information Sheet
September 27, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Guyana is a developing nation. Tourist facilities are not fully developed, except for hotels in the capital city of Georgetown and a limited number of eco-resorts.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens to enter and depart Guyana. On arrival in Guyana, visitors are granted a 30-day stay. Extensions of stay may be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs at 60 Brickdam Street, Georgetown. The Central Office of Immigration located on Camp Street, Georgetown, must then note the extension in the visitor's passport. Travelers for other than tourism purposes should check with the Ministry of Home Affairs for information about requirements for work permits and extended stays. U.S.-Guyanese dual nationals departing Guyana for the U.S. under a Guyanese passport must present to Guyanese authorities a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or similar document establishing that they may freely enter the United States.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

For further information about entry, exit and custom requirements, travelers may consult the Embassy of Guyana at 2490 Tracy Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 625-6900, the Consulate General in New York, or honorary consuls in California, Florida, Ohio and Texas. Internet: http://www.guyanaca.com or http://www.guyana.org; or email: guyanaembassy@hotmail.com.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Guyana continues to suffer from political and labor unrest. Following national elections in March 2001, demonstrations, assaults, road blockages, vandalism, looting and confrontations with law enforcement authorities occurred both in Georgetown and outlying areas. These events have continued on a sporadic and unpredictable basis. Although protests in the past have not been directed at U.S. citizens, and violence against Americans in general is rare, visitors should nevertheless remain alert and take prudent personal security measures to deal with the unexpected while in Guyana. When protests occur, avoid areas where crowds have congregated, take common-sense precautions, monitor news broadcasts closely, and maintain a low profile.

CRIME: Serious crime is primarily confined to the more populated areas of the country. Robberies and thefts occur frequently in Georgetown, and foreigners, in particular, are viewed as wealthy targets of opportunity. Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, assaults and thefts occur in all areas of Georgetown. The areas adjacent to the sea wall and the National Park in Georgetown, although frequented by joggers, have been the scenes of crimes ranging from pick-pocketing to armed assaults. The risk increases after dusk. Travelers should exercise extra care in visiting these areas. There has been a rise in the number of thefts from vehicles and carjackings in Georgetown. Vehicle occupants should keep their doors locked and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Police are cooperative, but they are often hampered by lack of resources. Americans who are victims of crime are encouraged to contact the police as well as the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy Consular Section.

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 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: Medical care is available for minor medical conditions. Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or surgery is available, but it is limited due to lack of appropriately trained specialists, outdated diagnostic equipment and poor sanitation. Ambulance service is substandard and may not routinely be available for emergencies. Visitors are advised to bring prescription medicine sufficient for their length of stay and should be aware that Guyana's humid climate may affect some medicine. Some prescription medicines (mainly generic rather than
name-brand) are available.

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 if 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 United States 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, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if 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 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 Guyana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair to Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

The Traffic Division of Guyana's National Police Force is responsible for road safety, but it is ill-trained and ill-equipped. Driving in Guyana is hazardous because of very poor road surfaces; an almost total lack of street lights; farm animals bedded down on or wandering by the roads; and poor driving habits including speeding, reckless driving, tailgating, quick stops without signaling, failure to dim headlights and weaving in and out of traffic. Visitors should exercise caution at all times while driving and limit driving at night as much as possible.

Penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death are severe, including life imprisonment. If involved in an accident, call 911 for police and 913 for an ambulance. Police may be slow to respond and an ambulance may not be immediately available.

Drivers use the left side of the road in Guyana. There presently are no laws in Guyana concerning use of seat belts or child car seats. Both drivers and passengers on motorcycles must wear protective helmets that meet certain specifications.

Mini-buses (small twelve to fifteen-passenger vans) ply various routes both within and between cities on no fixed schedule. Mini-bus drivers have come under severe criticism by the government, press and private citizens for speeding, aggressive and reckless driving, overloading of vehicles, poor vehicle maintenance and repair, and offensive remarks directed at passengers. Mini-buses have been involved in a number of fatal accidents.

For additional general 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. For specific information concerning Guyana driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Guyana in Washington, D.C.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Guyana's civil aviation authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Guyana's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's 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 tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Guyana customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guyana of items such as firearms. For information on the export of animals and exotic birds, please see the paragraph on Special Circumstances below. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Guyana in Washington, D.C. or any of Guyana's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: TRANSPORT OF ANIMALS: Many exotic birds found in Guyana are protected species. The Guyana Ministry of Agriculture will permit only those persons who have been legally residing in Guyana for more than one year to take an exotic bird out of the country when they leave. Those Americans who have legally resided in Guyana for more than a year and who would like to take back to the United States any birds or animals, including pets, listed in Appendices I, II and III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), must have a Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) import permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Please note that this is a U.S. regulation that applies regardless of distinctions among the three Appendices. U.S. residents and non-residents continue to arrive at U.S. ports of entry without WBCA permits, and they encounter difficulties. Individuals can obtain WBCA fact sheets and permit applications from the USFWS Office of Management Authority, Branch of Permits, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203, telephone (703) 358-2104, fax (703) 358-2281.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE: American citizens are advised to exchange currency only with banks, hotels, and established money exchange houses ("cambios"). Many foreigners who opt to exchange money on the streets, lured by promises of higher exchange rates, are increasingly becoming victims of fraud and recipients of counterfeit currency. There is no legal recourse unless the police are successful in apprehending the perpetrator; even then there is no guarantee that the money will be recovered. Street vendors usually offer rates very near to bank or "cambio" rates, so there is little advantage to be gained by changing money outside the formal system.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: Guyana is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. 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 telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Guyana are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown and obtain updated information on travel and security within Guyana. The U.S. Embassy is located at 100 Young and Duke Streets, telephone 011-592-225-4900 through 54909, fax 011-592-225-8497. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., except on local and U.S. holidays. For emergencies after hours, on weekends and on holidays, U.S. citizens are requested to call the U.S. Embassy duty officer at telephone 011-592-226-2614 or 226-8298 or 227-7868 and to leave a message for pager number 6516.

* * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 6, 2001 to update sections on Safety and Security, Crime, and U.S. Embassy telephone numbers.



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