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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Libya

Libya - Consular Information Sheet
June 13, 2001

WARNING (Issued June 6, 2001): The United States Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to or residence in Libya. There has been evidence of hostility to the United States in some segments of the population and some elements of the Libyan Government.

There is no U.S. Embassy in Libya. Therefore, the U.S. Government is unable to provide any assurances of the safety of travel to Libya by U.S. citizens. U.S. Government interests are represented by the Government of Belgium, which as a protecting power can provide only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens.

United Nations sanctions against Libya were suspended following the surrender of the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing; U.S. sanctions remain in place. All financial and commercial transactions with Libya by U.S. citizens are prohibited unless licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department. U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in, or through Libya unless a special validation is obtained beforehand from the Department of State.

Those Americans who decide to travel to Libya despite the Travel Warning should exercise a high level of caution.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Officially known as the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Libya has a developing economy. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws, and practices. Tourist facilities are not widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required. On December 11, 1981, U.S. passports ceased to be valid for travel to, in, or through Libya and may not be used for that purpose without a special validation. See paragraphs on Passport Validation and U.S. Treasury Economic Sanctions. Visa application and inquiries must be made through a Libyan Embassy in a third country. Under certain circumstances such as a family visit or business meeting, a person may apply for a visa at the Libyan Mission to the United Nations in New York. The land border with Egypt is subject to periodic closures even to travelers having valid Libyan visas. Short-term closures of other land borders occur with little notice.

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.

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

SAFETY/SECURITY: Security personnel may at times 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 the authorities. Business travelers who are planning to remain in Libya for longer than one month must register their stay with local police authorities.

CRIME: Crime is a growing problem in Libya. The most common types of crime are auto theft and theft of items left in vehicles. Libya's beaches are the frequent site of muggings and purse-snatchings. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police, the U.S. Interests Section at the Belgium Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Libya. 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. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 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: Basic modern medical care and medicines may not be available in Libya. The hospital with the best reputation in Libya is the "Oil Clinique-N.O.C." Most Libyan citizens prefer to be treated outside of Libya for ailments such as heart diseases and diabetes.

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 whether 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. 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 you incur. However, please note section on U.S. Treasury Sanctions, which may impact on the ability of insurers to provide payment and air ambulance services to provide assistance in Libya. 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 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 Libya is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service, is poor.

Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: fair
The major streets in most cities are maintained properly as a matter of necessity since they are heavily trafficked. Many smaller side streets in urban areas, however, are in poor conditions and are seldom maintained.

Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
The paved roads in rural areas are satisfactory, however, many rural roads are unpaved (i.e. dirt roads). Also, major highways both along the seacoast and leading south merge into single-lane highways once they are outside the cities. These roads are heavily trafficked and precarious to navigate especially at night and during the winter rainy season. The presence of sand deposits and domestic and wild animals that frequently cross these highways and rural roads make them even more hazardous.

Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Availability of roadside assistance is extremely limited. Inside urban areas and near the outskirts of major cities there is a greater possibility of assistance by police and emergency ambulance services although they are usually ill equipped to deal with serious injuries or accidents.

Driving in Libya may be hazardous and there is a high accident rate. Police enforcement of traffic signs and laws is rare. As a result, it is often difficult to anticipate the actions of other drivers on Libyan streets and highways. Wind-blown sand can make roads impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles. Road conditions are poor, and public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service, is poor. Taxis, which are available, are usually on a shared-basis. Rental cars are often old and poorly-maintained and are not recommended for long-distance driving. The sidewalks in urban areas are often in bad condition but pedestrians are able to use them.

For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. See also road safety information on Libya at http://www.arab.net/libya/libya_contents.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Commercial air service between the U.S. and Libya is prohibited by U.S. sanctions. As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Libya, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Libya's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.

PASSPORT VALIDATION: Without the requisite validation, use of a U.S. passport for travel to, in, or through Libya may constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1544, and may be punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

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 Libya can be forwarded in writing to the following address:

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services
U.S. Department of State
2401 E Street, NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-0907
Attn: Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services
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: This category 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 Libya for dissemination to the general public.

(b) American Red Cross: An applicant in this category must establish 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: An applicant in this category 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 Libya. 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 the gravity of the illness. "Family unification" situations may include cases in which spouses or minor children are residing in Libya with and dependent on a Libyan national spouse or parent for their support.

(d) National Interest: For this category, the applicant's request must be otherwise found to be in the national interest.

In all requests for passport validation for travel to Libya, applicants must submit their name, date and place of birth, and U.S. passport number for themselves and all individuals requesting validations.

U.S. TREASURY SANCTIONS: In addition to the restrictions on the use of a U.S. passport discussed above, all U.S. persons (defined as all U.S. citizens, permanent alien residents, wherever they are located, all people and organizations physically in the United States and all branches of U.S. organizations throughout the world) are subject to the Libyan 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 Libya, consult OFAC's home page on the Internet at http://www.treas.gov/ofac or via OFAC's Info-by Fax service 202-622-0077.

On January 7, 1986, the United States imposed economic sanctions against Libya, which broadly prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in unauthorized financial transactions involving Libya, including, in part, the following: the export to Libya of all goods, services, or technology; the import of goods or services of Libyan origin; engaging in the performance of a contract in support of an industrial, commercial, or governmental project in Libya; or dealing in any property in which the Government of Libya has any interest. The economic sanctions also prohibit U.S. persons from working in Libya. (Note that the U.S. Department of Commerce controls the re-export of U.S.-origin goods, technology or software whether such items are exported by a U.S. person or a non-U.S. person.) For further information about exports, contact the Department of Commerce as follows:

U.S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of Export Administration
Office of Strategic Trade and Foreign Policy
15th and Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC. 20230
Telephone 202-482-4196
FAX 202-482-6088)

In addition, these restrictions prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in unauthorized travel-related transactions to and within Libya. Please note, however, that transactions relating to travel for journalistic activity by persons regularly employed in such capacity by a news gathering 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 Libya, provided that the U.S. persons seeking to travel register with the Office of Foreign Assets Control or the U.S. Interests Section at the Embassy of Belgium in Tripoli. To register, U.S. persons who are potential travelers should provide (for each potential traveler - parents and children) the following information:

(A) name, date and place of birth of the person registering (including the name under which a registrant's most recent U.S. passport was issued, if that is different);

(B) if applicable, place and date of birth of the registrant's naturalization as a U.S. citizen, and the number of the registrant's naturalization certificate, or, for permanent resident aliens, the alien registration number of the registrant's alien registration receipt card;

(C) the name, relationship, and address of the immediate family member in Libya whose relationship forms the basis for the registrant's eligibility; and

(D) the number and issue date of the registrant's current U.S. passport, and the most recent date on which the passport was validated by the U.S. Department of State for travel to Libya; or if the registrant does not hold a U. S. passport, the country issue date and number of the registrant's current passport.

Potential travelers should contact the Treasury Department at the following address and phone number:

Licensing Division
Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Telephone 202-622-2480
FAX: 202-622-1657.

UN SANCTIONS: The UN Security Council sanctions against Libya were suspended in April 1999 following Libya's surrender of the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government remain in place.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Libyan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the introduction into Libya or removal from Libya of firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, and currency. Importation of alcohol is forbidden. Any passenger arriving in Tripoli is required to bring into Libya a minimum of $500. This requirement is subject to a border check, and the passenger faces possible deportation if this requirement is not met. It is advisable to contact any Embassy of Libya abroad for specific information regarding customs requirements.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Libya's economy operates on a "cash-only" basis for most transactions. ATM machines are rare. Although there is a wide discrepancy between the official exchange rate and the "black market" value of Libyan currency, foreign visitors should be aware that the penalties for use of unauthorized currency dealers are severe. Foreign visitors should also be aware that their passports might be confiscated in business disputes. There is a Sunday-Thursday workweek.

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 Libya's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Libya, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, heavy fines, and/or flogging or other physical punishment.

FAMILY ISSUES: Children under 18 whose fathers are Libyan must have the father's permission to depart Libya, even if the mother has been granted full custody by a Libyan court. Women in Libya are often subjected to strict family controls; on occasion families of Libyan-American women visiting Libya have attempted to prevent them from leaving the country. Young single women are most likely to be vulnerable in these circumstances. Finally, a Libyan husband is permitted to take legal action to prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality. For information on 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/U.S INTERESTS SECTION LOCATION: There is no U.S. Embassy in Libya. The U.S. Government is not in a position to accord normal consular protective services to U.S. citizens in Libya. U.S. Government interests are represented by the Government of Belgium, which, as a protecting power, can provide only limited services to U.S. citizens. Inquiries on the present local situation, like currency regulations, should be made to the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of Belgium. The Belgian Embassy is located at Dhat El-Emad Towers Complex, Tower Number Four, Fifth Floor, in the capital city of Tripoli; mailing address: P.O. Box 91650, Tripoli, Libya. The telephone number is (218-21) 33771; fax number is (218-21) 335-0937

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