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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Lebanon

Lebanon - Consular Information Sheet
January 12, 2001

TRAVEL WARNING (Issued August 28, 2000): The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Lebanon and recommends that Americans exercise caution while traveling there. During Lebanon's civil conflict from 1975 to 1990, Americans were the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. While there have been very few such incidents in recent years, the perpetrators of these attacks are still present in Lebanon and retain the ability to act.

The local security environment in Lebanon can limit the movement of U.S. officials in certain areas of the country. This factor, plus limited staffing, may prevent the U.S. Embassy from performing full consular functions and providing timely assistance to Americans in Lebanon. Dual nationals and spouses of Lebanese citizens can encounter particular difficulties and should see the Department of State Consular Information Sheet on Lebanon. All Department of State employees and their families, and all U.S. Government employees and their families under the authority of a chief of mission abroad, are restricted from unofficial travel in Lebanon without prior approval by the Department of State. American air carriers are prohibited from use of Beirut International Airport (BIA) due to continuing concern about airport and aircraft security arrangements. Official U.S. Government travelers take extraordinary security measures when using the BIA airport.

The Department of State keeps the security situation in Lebanon under close review and will address additional risks and take any other appropriate steps as necessary. In particular, U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should exercise caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut and portions of the Biqaa' Valley. Palestinian camps are outside the control of the Lebanese government, and all camps should be avoided. Dangers posed by land mines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon are significant. Travelers should be aware of posted mine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where mines and unexploded ordnance may be present. Conditions in areas along the Israel-Lebanon border can be subject to change. There have been isolated incidents resulting in civilian injuries, including those from accidental detonation of mines and confrontations across the border with Israeli forces in the immediate area of the border line, particularly at the now closed Kfar Kila/Fatima Gate crossing. The security situation may change rapidly, and visitors to Lebanon should monitor the news for reports of incidents that might affect their personal safety.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. The country is emerging from a long period of civil war, which has damaged the economy and the social fabric. The population is composed of both Christians and Muslims from a variety of sects. Although the government of Lebanon has made efforts to extend its control, limited areas of the country remain outside of effective government control. The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. personnel sufficiently serious to require that U.S. citizen employees of the American Embassy live and work under a strict security regime. Hizballah has not been disarmed, and it maintains a presence in several areas of the country, including training camps in the Biqaa' Valley. There are about 25,000 Syrian troops in the country. Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required. Travelers holding passports that contain visas or entry/exit stamps for Israel may be refused entry into Lebanon. Travelers whose passports contain Israeli stamps or visas and who also hold an "Arab nationality" may be subject to arrest and imprisonment. Travelers who have overstayed their entry visa validity in Lebanon have to adjust their status with the Department of Surete General (Department of Passport and Immigration) prior to their departure time. Further information on entry requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300.

Additional information can be found on the Embassy of Lebanon's web site http:///www.lebanonembassy.org/. Travelers may also contact one of the Consulates General of Lebanon:

7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-1253

1959 E. Jefferson, Suite 4A
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 567-0233

9 E.76th Street
New York, NY 10021
(212) 744-7905

6600 S.W 57th Avenue, Suite 200
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 665-3004
(Honorary Consul, for Florida residents only)

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Lebanese laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Lebanese citizens. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov forour Dual Nationality flyer . Also see the information on Compulsory Military Service below.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: The government of Lebanon does not have effective control in certain areas of the country. Syrian military forces and Hizballah are present in various parts of Lebanese territory, including parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, sections of the Beqaa' Valley, and Southern Lebanon. Security incidents have occurred in Lebanon with little warning, including random or planned criminal acts and other disturbances to public order. There have been incidents of rocket and mortar fire from southern Lebanon into Israel and the Golan Heights.

CRIME INFORMATION: While the crime rate in Lebanon is moderate, both car thefts and house break-ins occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. They are 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, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: In Beirut and the surrounding areas, basic modern medical care and medicines are widely available. Such facilities are not always available in outlying areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services. A list of doctors who speak English is available from the American Embassy.

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.

Please 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. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor 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 the 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 Lebanon 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: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Drivers often maneuver aggressively, and pay little regard to traffic lights and stops signs. Lanes are generally unmarked. Pedestrians, especially, should exercise great caution because parked cars often obstruct the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Lebanon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lebanon's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Lebanon's air carrier operations. For future information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA'S Internet home page 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: Lebanese Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of such items as firearms or antiquities. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C. or one of Lebanon'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 Lebanon's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Lebanon, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Individuals charged with drug offenses are usually not released on bail and can expect to remain in jail while judicial authorities prepare their cases for prosecution.

CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and Lebanese visa with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.

COMPULSORY MILITARY SERVICE: Lebanese males 18 to 30 years old are subject to mandatory military service of one year. Dual nationals who visit Lebanon are not exempt, except as allowed by Lebanese law. Dual nationals should contact the Military Office of the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, or call tel. (202) 265-2335 or fax (202) 667-0063 for details prior to traveling to Lebanon.

Because of the prevalence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Syrian-American males of draft age who are planning to visit Lebanon are strongly urged to check with the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. concerning compulsory military service. Even Americans who have never visited or resided in Syria may be considered Syrian and required to complete military service if their father were Syrian. Possession of a U.S. passport does not absolve the bearer of this obligation.

BUSINESS DISPUTES OR EMPLOYMENT: Travelers who enter Lebanon on work visas under the sponsorship of a Lebanese company or individual may face problems and be unable to leave the country before the completion of their contracts without the agreement of their employers. In cases of a business dispute, if jurisdiction falls under local law, the Lebanese party to a contract may obtain an injunction to prevent the departure of a foreign party from the country until the dispute is settled. In such cases, the U.S. Embassy can provide a list of local lawyers to assist U.S. citizens, but ultimate responsibility for the resolution of a dispute rests with the parties involved.

CUSTODY AND FAMILY ISSUES: Lebanese fathers of minor children (under 18 years of age) may legally prevent their children from leaving or being taken from Lebanon. Likewise, a Lebanese husband may take legal action to prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality. Once such legal orders are in place, the U.S. Embassy cannot assist American citizens to leave Lebanon. For additional information on child custody issues, please refer to our Internet site at: http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or contact the Office of Children's Issues, tel. (202) 736-7000.

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 contact the Office of Children's Issues, tel. (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Effective March 23, 1998, the U.S. Embassy resumed routine services to American citizens. Services now include passport issuance for first-time applicants, passport renewals, lost passport replacement, completion of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, notarials, and assistance to recipients of federal benefits. Restrictions continue on the movement of American Embassy employees for security reasons. Therefore, assistance in emergency cases such as arrests or deaths may not always be provided in a timely manner. Americans living in or visiting Lebanon are advised to register with the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Visitors should forward by fax or by mail their travel itineraries, contact numbers, and copies of the information pages of their passports.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Antelias, P.O. Box 70-840, Beirut, Lebanon. The telephone numbers are [961] (4) 542-600, 543-600, 544-310, 544-130, and 544-140. The Consular fax is [961] (4) 544-209. The American Citizen Services office is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until ll:00 a.m. and the Federal Benefits Unit is open from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Public inquiries are answered from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Please check the Embassy home page at http://www.usembassy.com.lb/ for up-to-date information on hours and services and to register by e-mail.

* * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999, to update the Travel Warning, the Embassy of Lebanon's web site, Country Description, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Compulsory Military Service, to add the U.S. Embassy home page and to remove Y2K information.


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