Kuwait - Consular Information Sheet
May 7, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy
with a modern economy. Day-to-day life has returned to normal
after the 1991 Gulf War, and facilities for travelers are widely
available. The workweek in Kuwait is Saturday through Wednesday.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required for
U.S. citizens traveling to Kuwait. For further information on
entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Kuwait
at 2940 Tilden St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202)
966-0702, or the Kuwaiti Consulate in New York City, telephone
(212) 973-4318. Information also may be obtained from the
Consulate's Internet home page at http://www.undp.org/missions/kuwait.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of the relationship between the
child and an accompanying adult and, when the child's parent(s)
or legal guardian is not traveling with the child, permission
from that adult for the child's travel. Having such documentation
on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
AREAS OF INSTABILITY: Travel to and near the Iraq-Kuwait
border is very hazardous. U.S. citizens having legitimate work-related
business near the border may receive updated information from
U.S. Embassy, and may also wish to consult with their employer's
security personnel. Unexploded bombs, mines, booby traps, and
other items remain present in open areas and beaches throughout
Kuwait. U.S. Embassy personnel are advised not to travel off paved
surfaces outside Kuwait City.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in Kuwait should exercise
a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains
concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against United
States citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans
should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required
travel to the extent possible, and treat mail and packages from
unfamiliar sources with suspicion. American citizens also are
urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects,
and to report the presence of such objects to local authorities.
The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait urges all Americans to be wary of unexpected
visitors or mail and to pay particular attention to suspicious
vehicles. Any suspicious activity or vehicles should be reported
to the Embassy's regional security office.
CRIME: The crime rate in Kuwait is low. Violent crimes
against expatriates are rare. However, the U.S. Embassy advises
all U.S. citizens to take the same security precautions in Kuwait
that one would practice in the United States. Both physical and
verbal harassment of women is a continuing problem. Useful information
on ways to promote a more trouble-free trip is available in the
Department of State pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. The pamphlets
may be obtained 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/.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported
immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: The health care system continues to
develop, with many medical facilities, both government and private,
available in Kuwait. Medical care at government-run clinics and
hospitals is provided at low cost to residents of Kuwait. Private
physicians and hospitals charge fees for services, and some do
not accept local health insurance. Many hospital and clinic services
do not compare to U.S. standards, and staffs often have no U.S.
experience or training. Laws and procedures governing health care
can be complex.
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 U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
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 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 brochur, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
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 Kuwait is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Poor
Driving in Kuwait can be hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive
and modern system of well-lit roads, excessive speeding on both
primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic
regulations and a high density of vehicles (one vehicle for every
2.8 residents), leads to frequent and often fatal accidents. In
2000, there were 27,696 reported vehicular accidents, and 331
traffic accident-related deaths for a population of about 2.2
The government-owned Kuwait Public Transportation Company operates
bus service throughout the Kuwait City metropolitan area on 50
different routes and is widely used by the low-income expatriate
labor force. Two types of taxi service are available: (1) orange
taxis work a fixed route and pick up passengers anywhere along
that route and may be shared, and (2) call taxis are available
at major hotels and pick up passengers at other locations on telephonic
request. Unaccompanied women should not use taxis after dark.
Visitors can use international driving permits issued by their
respective countries within the time limit of their visas; however,
the visitor must have liability insurance. It is illegal to drive
in Kuwait without a license and car registration documents. If
you are stopped and cannot produce them, you may be taken to a
police station and held until they are presented on your behalf.
If you are in an accident, Kuwaiti law mandates that you must
remain at the scene until the police arrive.
The use of seatbelts in the front seats is mandatory in Kuwait.
Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted.
Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there
is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. Parking is not allowed
where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras for
registering traffic violations, including speeding, are in use
on Kuwaiti roads.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense,
which may result in fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation. Repeat
traffic violations or violations of a serious nature may also
result in the deportation of an expatriate offender.
When a driver flashes his/her high beams in Kuwait, it is meant
as a request to move your car into a slower lane to allow the
driver with the flashing beams to proceed ahead.
Kuwait has one of the highest rates of cellular telephone ownership
per capita in the world. Although using a cellular telephone while
driving is not yet illegal, a law requiring the use of a hands
free accessory with the cellular telephone while driving is expected
to be enacted.
Local emergency service organizations may be contacted by dialing
777. Ambulance crews do not respond as quickly as in the United
States and are often not trained paramedics.
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.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of Kuwait's civil aviation authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Kuwait'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'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 telephone 1-618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Kuwaiti customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from Kuwait of items such as firearms, religious material, pornography,
and alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Kuwait
in Washington, D.C. or Kuwait's Consulate in New York 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 Sates
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
Kuwait's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, manufacture, use, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in Kuwait are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and fines.
LOCAL LAW AND PROHIBITED PRACTICES: Alcohol, pork products,
and pornography are illegal in Kuwait. Religious proselytizing
is not permitted. Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, including Americans,
charged with criminal offenses or placed under investigation,
or involved in financial disputes with local business partners,
are subject to travel bans. These bans, which are rigidly enforced,
prevent the individual from leaving Kuwait for any reason until
the matter is resolved. In purely financial disputes, it may be
possible to depart the country if a local sponsor authorizes funds
equal to the amount in dispute.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers checks and credit cards
are widely accepted. Kuwaiti currency is readily convertible to
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: In Kuwait, child custody decisions
are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for an American
woman, even a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through
a Kuwaiti court decision. Regardless of their parents' marital
status, minor children of a Kuwaiti father may not leave Kuwait
without the father's permission. 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
EMBASSY LOCATION AND REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged
to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and enroll in the Embassy's
emergency alert network in order to obtain updated information
on travel and security in Kuwait. Initial registration may be
done on-line at http://www.usembassy.gov.kw/registration-main.htm.
The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is located at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa Street,
Plot 14, Block 14, Bayan, Kuwait. The mailing address is P.O.
Box 77, Safat 13001, Kuwait. The primary telephone numbers are
965-539-5307 or 539-5308. The after-hours number is 965-538-2097.
Additional information may also be obtained through the
Embassy's Internet web site at http://www.usembassy.gov.kw.