You are here > 1Up Travel > Travel Warnings & Consular Information Sheet > Iraq


Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets

By Name of Country


Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Iraq

Iraq - Consular Information Sheet
September 14, 1999

Warning: In light of Iraq's continuing challenges to the U.S./Coalition enforcement of the no-fly zones, and the potential for retaliatory action by the Government of Iraq against U.S. citizens, the U.S. government urges all U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Iraq, and those already in Iraq are advised to depart as soon as possible. Iraq is engaged in a persistent pattern of challenges to the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. These challenges include firing on the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones, illuminating them with surface-to-air missile radar, and placing bounties on coalition aircrews. Coalition aircraft respond in self-defense to Iraqi threats by striking Iraq's air-defense system. Coalition aircraft respond in self-defense to Iraqi threats by striking Iraq's air-defense system. Conditions throughout the country remain unsettled and dangerous. Foreigners present in Iraq have in the past been used as "human shields" by the regime during periods of confrontation with the international community.

With the exception of the passports of American professional reporters or journalists on assignment in Iraq, and Americans residing in Iraq as of February 8, 1991, U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they are validated by the Department of State.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and there is no U.S. Embassy in Iraq. While our interests in Iraq are represented by the Embassy of Poland in Baghdad, that embassy's ability to obtain consular access to detained U.S. citizens and to perform other emergency services is severely constrained by Iraq's unwillingness to cooperate. In addition, the United States as well as the United Nations imposed sanctions which severely restrict financial and economic activities with Iraq, including travel-related transactions.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Iraq is governed by the repressive regime under Saddam Hussein. Iraq’s economy was seriously damaged in the 1991 Gulf War. U.N sanctions have also affected the economy, including increased crime and decreased availability of medical services. Tourist facilities are not widely available. The workweek in Iraq is Sunday through Thursday.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Should you travel to Iraq, despite the Travel Warning, passports and visas are required. On February 8, 1991, U.S. passports ceased to be valid for travel to, in or through Iraq and may not be used for that purpose unless a special validation has been obtained. See paragraphs on Passport Validation and U.S. Government Economic Sanctions. For visa information, contact the Iraqi Interests Section of the Algerian Embassy, 1801 P Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, telephone 202-483-7500.

DUAL NATIONALITY: Dual nationals may be subject to Iraqi laws, which impose special obligations. For additional information, see the Dual Nationality flyer.

TERRORISM: The risk of terrorism directed against U.S. citizens in Iraq remains a continuing concern.

AREAS OF INSTABILITY: Since Desert Fox, Iraq has actively targeted U.S./coalition flights within the no-fly zone and greatly increased the security concerns. U.S. citizens and other foreigners working near or traveling to the Kuwait-Iraq border have been detained by Iraqi authorities for lengthy periods under harsh conditions. In response to the Iraqi government's stated inability to protect American and British personnel, the United Nations has withdrawn all American and British UN humanitarian workers from Iraq. Parts of northern Iraq are currently outside the central government's control. These areas are administered by local Kurdish authorities. In southern Iraq, governmental repression of the Shia communities is severe. Government authorities may not have full control of all areas of the South. Travel in the South, particularly at night may be hazardous.

All foreigners using some mode of transportation must obtain a special permit from the Iraqi authorities to travel within Iraq. All cars are inspected at checkpoints located at the city limits. Security personnel, regular police officers, sometimes officers or non-commissioned officers of the Republican Guard units and the military police staff these checkpoints. Guides or chauffeurs of rented cars carrying groups of visitors are expected to cooperate with security authorities.

SECURITY: Iraqi security personnel may place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities or, at least, in the confiscation of film and camera. Carrying maps and making some annotations on them while sightseeing may lead to very serious charges.

CRIME INFORMATION: Reports of crime in Iraq are increasing, especially in the larger cities. Thefts of money, jewelry, or valuable items left in hotel rooms are common. There are cases of pickpocketing in busy places like bazaars. It is not advisable to visit suburbs of big cities after dark or alone. Although traveling by private car to Iraq is unlikely, any involvement in a traffic accident could be very dangerous and costly (so-called blood money could be promptly requested.) There are reports of some unscrupulous taxi drivers. Avoid traveling alone by taxi with a large sum of money.

Iraqi authorities may not be in full control of the security situation in some areas in the south. Some cars and buses have been stopped on highways particularly at night. Passengers have been robbed at gun point. In some cases, the cars are also stolen.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Interests Section at the Polish Embassy. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa 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, DC 20402, or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines may not be available. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Medical facilities do not meet U.S. standards and frequently lack medicines and supplies. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. 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.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: 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. Ascertain if 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 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 from the United States at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their 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 Iraq 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: narrow
Availability of roadside assistance: available in the cities, occasionally on large highways and at main exits.

Buses run irregularly and frequently change routes. Poorly-maintained city transit vehicles are often involved in accidents. Long distance buses are very slow but in good condition. Jaywalking is common. Drivers usually do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, and ignore traffic lights, traffic rules and regulations. Some motorists drive at excessive speeds, tailgate and force other drivers to yield the right of way.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: UN sanctions prohibit all air traffic in and out of Iraq. As there is no direct service, or economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Iraq’s civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Iraq’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Iraq has strict customs regulations. Upon arrival, a traveler must declare any foreign currency, audio-visual equipment, satellite telephones, personal computers and especially modems. There may be difficulty in obtaining a permit to take these items out when leaving Iraq. The Iraqi authorities may request the surrender of such equipment for depositing at the border (there might be then difficulties in reclaiming it when leaving Iraq). Videotapes may be confiscated. Carrying firearms and pornography are forbidden. Any news publications may be regarded as hostile propaganda and confiscated. Usually cars are very thoroughly checked. Offering gifts to inspectors may result in charges of bribery which could lead to serious consequences. Generally, export of gold, foreign currency, any more valuable equipment, antiquities and expensive carpets is forbidden.

All foreigners (except diplomats) are requested to take an AIDs or HIV test at the border. Sanitary conditions at the Ministry of Health border stations are questionable.

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

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and there is no U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The Embassy of Poland represents U.S. interests in Iraq; however, its ability to assist American citizens is limited. Comprehensive UN sanctions on Iraq imposed following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait prohibit all economic and financial transactions with the Government of Iraq, persons or entities in Iraq unless specifically authorized by the UN. Since 1998, foreigners traveling in Iraq may legally exchange foreign currency in money exchange kiosks or bureaus (run privately or state banks). Payments for hotel, renting a taxi, etc. must be paid in foreign currency. No ATM machines exist.

Telecommunications are very poor. There are no public telephones in the cities; however, calls may be made from hotels, restaurants or shops. Calls may be monitored.

PASSPORT VALIDATION: Without the requisite validation, use of a U.S. passport for travel to, in or through Iraq may constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1544, and may be punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. An exemption to the above restriction is granted to Americans residing in Iraq as of February 8, 1991 who continue to reside there and to American professional reporters or journalists on assignment there.

The categories of individuals eligible for consideration for a special passport validation are set forth in 22 C.F.R. 51.74. Passport validation requests for Iraq should be forwarded in writing to the following address:

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services
Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services
U.S. Department of State
2401 E Street, N.W., 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522
Telephone 202-663-2662, Fax 202-663-2654.

The request must be accompanied by supporting documentation according to the category under which validation is sought. Currently, the four categories of persons specified in 22 C.F.R. 51.74 as being eligible for consideration for passport validation are as follows:

[a] Professional Reporters: Includes full-time members of the reporting or writing staff of a newspaper, magazine or broadcasting network whose purpose for travel is to gather information about Iraq for dissemination to the general public. Professional reporters or journalists on assignment are specifically exempted from the passport restriction for Iraq and need not apply for a passport validation.

[b] American Red Cross: Applicant establishes that he or she is a representative of the American Red Cross or International Red Cross traveling pursuant to an officially-sponsored Red Cross mission.

[c] Humanitarian Considerations: Applicant must establish that his or her trip is justified by compelling humanitarian considerations or for family unification. At this time, "compelling humanitarian considerations" include situations where the applicant can document that an immediate family member is critically ill in Iraq. Documentation concerning family illness must include the name and address of the relative, and be from that relative's physician attesting to the nature and gravity of the illness. "Family unification" situations may include cases in which spouses or minor children are residing in Iraq, and dependent on, an Iraqi national spouse or parent for their support.

[d] National Interest: The applicant's request is otherwise found to be in the national interest.

In all requests for passport validation for travel to Iraq, the name, date and place of birth for all concerned persons must be given, as well as the U.S. passport numbers. Documentation as outlined above should accompany all requests. Additional information may be obtained by writing to the above address or by calling the Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services at 202-955-0231 or 955-0232.

U.S. GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS: In addition to the restrictions on the use of a U.S. passport discussed above, all U.S. persons (defined as "U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens of the United States, anyone physically located in the United States, and any entity organized under the laws of the United States") are subject to the Iraq Sanctions Regulations administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). For up to date information about the embargo on Iraq, consult OFAC's home page on the Internet at http://www.treas.gov/ofac/ or via OFAC's Info-by-Fax service at 202-622-0077.

In August 1990 former President Bush issued Executive Orders 12722 and 12724, imposing economic sanctions against Iraq including a complete trade embargo. OFAC administers the regulations related to these sanctions, which include restrictions on all financial transactions related to travel to Iraq. These regulations prohibit all travel-related transactions, except as specifically licensed. The only exceptions to this licensing requirement are for persons engaged in journalism or in official U.S. government or U.N. business.

Sanctions regulations prohibit all U.S. persons from engaging in unauthorized travel-related transactions to or within Iraq. Please note, however, that transactions relating to travel for journalistic activity by persons regularly employed in such capacity by a newsgathering organization are exempt from the prohibition. Please note as well that U.S. persons may engage in travel-related transactions for the sole purpose of visiting immediate family members in Iraq, provided that the U.S. persons seeking travel obtain a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The only exceptions to this licensing requirement are for journalistic activity or for U.S. government or United Nations business.

Questions concerning these restrictions should be addressed directly to:

Licensing Division
Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Washington, D.C. 20220
Telephone: 202-622-2480; Fax: 202-622-1657

FAMILY ISSUES: In accordance with the Iraqi law, any child whose father is an Iraqi citizen is also considered an Iraqi citizen. Even if the names of children are written in their mother's foreign passport, Iraqi authorities may consider the children Iraqi citizens if the father is Iraqi. Children require their father's permission to travel.

Women under the age of 45 must travel with an escort, such as her husband, father, or a close male member of the family who has the permission of the husband or father to be an escort for his wife or daughter. The authorities may apply this law to women traveling on foreign passports. Otherwise, when in Iraq, a woman married to an Iraqi and traveling on her foreign passport may be required to produce evidence of her husband's permission to leave the country.

For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international 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: There is no U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The U.S. Government is not in a position to accord normal consular protective services to U.S. citizens who, despite the travel warning, are in Iraq. U.S. Government interests are represented by the Government of Poland, which, as the protecting power, is able to provide only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens. The U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Poland is located opposite the Foreign Ministry Club (Masbah Quarter); P.O. Box 2447 Alwiyah, Baghdad, Iraq. The telephone numbers are (964)(1) 718-9267 and 885-2286. The fax number is (964)(1) 718-9297.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 25, 1997, to update the Travel Warning, entry requirements, medical facilities, crime information, criminal penalties, passport validation (on professional reporters) and U.S. government economic sanctions. It adds new sections on dual nationality, safety/security issues, medical insurance, other health information, traffic safety and road conditions, aviation safety oversight, customs regulations, special circumstances, and family issues.

Go Up - Top of Page

More Travel Related links for Iraq

  • Presents the Country Guide to Iraq

  • Examine the Detailed Country Study on Iraq

  • Explore Large, and Detailed Maps of Iraq

  • View the Country Flag of Iraq

  • Reveals every detailed facts about the Country Flag of Iraq

  • Uncover the Geography, and Geographic Facts of Iraq

  • Read the Consular Info Sheet, and Travel Warning related to Iraq

  • Make 1Up Travel your HomepageSend this Page to a FriendGo to Top of PagePrint this PageAdd 1Up Travel to your Favorites


    • Compare Country Info • Hotel Directory • Geography • Flags • World Maps • Travel Warnings • National Parks


    • Asia • Africa • Caribbean • Middle East • North America • South America • Central America • Oceania Pacific • Europe • Polar Regions


    • Destinations • Monuments • Ancient Wonders • Modern Wonders • Natural Wonders


    • World Time • ISD Codes • Travel Links • Link Exchange


    Disclaimer: Although we've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities before you travel.

    Copyright © 1Up Travel All Rights Reserved.
    Go Up

    Privacy Policy