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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Macau

Macau - Consular Information Sheet
June 11, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Macau, formerly a Chinese territory under Portuguese administration, became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China on December 20, 1999, with a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense and foreign policy. Macau retains its own currency, laws, and border controls. Facilities for tourism are well developed. Gambling, tourism, textile and apparel manufacturing are the major factors in Macau's economy. Macau's revenue from tourism exceeds exports. Macau, population 437,000, covers a thirteen-square-mile area on the mainland of China bordering the South China Sea and the small, adjacent islands of Taipa and Coloane.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports are required. A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 30 days. For further information on entry requirements contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, Tel: (202) 328-2500 through 2502, or the Consulates General of the PRC in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. For more information regarding PRC visas, travelers to Macau may contact the visa section of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China at (202) 265-9809 or (202) 338-6688. Travelers may also consult the Macau Tourist Office,(operated as Integrated Travel Resources Inc.), 5757 West Century Boulevard, Suite 660, Los Angeles, CA 90045-6407, Tel: (310) 670-2234 or Fax: (310) 338-0708. See also the Macau Government home page at http://www.macau.gov.mo.

The pataca (US$1.00 to approximately 7.78 patacas) is the official currency in Macau. Included in the cost of ferry tickets from Macau to Hong Kong is a departure tax of 19 patacas. The airport departure tax for flights from Macau to China is 80 patacas, and 130 patacas for flights to other destinations.

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: Under Chinese nationality law, persons who are of Chinese descent and who were born in mainland China, including Macau, are Chinese citizens. However, under an agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China, all U.S. citizens entering Macau on their U.S. passports, including such persons who may be considered Chinese nationals by the Chinese authorities, are considered U.S. citizens by the Macau SAR authorities for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection during their legal stay in Macau.

However, dual national residents or former residents of Macau who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after the initial 30-day period of visa-free admission into Macau, should declare their U.S. nationality to the Macau Immigration Department upon arrival. Dual national residents of Macau who enter Macau on travel documents other than their U.S. passports, and who desire to guarantee U.S. consular protection, should declare their U.S. nationality as soon as possible after entry. This declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and will also result in loss of one's Chinese nationality (but not necessarily one's right of abode). Whereas failure to declare U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such failure will not jeopardize U.S. citizenship itself.

Dual nationals contemplating onward travel into mainland China should be attentive to use of their U.S. passports. Dual nationals who enter or depart China using a U.S. passport and a valid PRC visa retain the right of U.S. consular access and protection under the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention. The ability of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates General to provide normal consular services would be extremely limited should a dual national enter the PRC on a Chinese or other non-U.S. passport.

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

SAFETY AND SECURITY: A fall in violent crime in the Macau SAR occurred after the return of Macau to Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999. According to the Macau Security Bureau, there were eleven cases of murder in the first ten months of 2000 in Macau as opposed to thirty-five cases in the same period in 1999. Kidnappings also fell from twenty to seven cases in the same period. These criminal acts were not aimed at Americans or other foreign tourists.

CRIME: Petty street crime occasionally occurs in tourist areas in Macau, including in and around casinos. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. The Macau Immigration Department, in normal circumstances, will facilitate the person's travel to Hong Kong to apply for a replacement passport at the American Consulate General. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal safety, and other suggestions for promoting a more 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, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Several major hospitals in Macau have adequate medical facilities and are able to provide emergency medical care. Highly developed medical facilities and trained personnel are available in Hong Kong, which is about an hour by jetfoil and ten minutes by helicopter from Macau.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance companies 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, 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 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 Internet at http://travel.state.gov/medical.html and through the Bureau's autofax service at (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), via the CDC autofax service at 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 Macau 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: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

Traffic moves on the left in Macau, and roads are narrow and winding. Traffic is generally congested throughout the day. Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, as are public buses.

For additional general 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. For specific information concerning Macau driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Macau Tourist Office (operated as Integrated Travel Resources, Inc.), 5757 W. Century Boulevard, Suite 660, Los Angeles, California 90045-6407 (Tel: (310) 670-2234, Fax: (310) 338-0708), or the Macau Transport Department (Comissariado de Transito de Macau, Ave Sidonio Pais, Macau (Tel: (853) 374-214, Fax: (853) 522-966).

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by Macau carriers at present between the U.S. and Macau, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Macau'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 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website 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 DOD at (618) 229-4801.

At present, Eva Air, a Taiwan-based company, is the only passenger air service flying to the United States (with stopover in Taipei) from Macau International Airport. See the Macau International Airport home page at http://www.macau-airport.gov.mo/.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Macau customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Macau of items such as firearms, ivory, certain categories of medications, and other goods. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Washington or one of China's consulates in the United States, or the Macau Marine and Customs Police, Calcada da Barra, N 47, Capitania Dos Portos, Macau (Tel: (853) 559-944, Fax: (853) 371-136), 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 Macau laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Macau are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The official languages in the Macau SAR are Chinese and Portuguese. English, however, is spoken in tourist areas. There are no currency restrictions for tourists in Macau. Although the pataca is the official currency in Macau, Hong Kong currency is commonly used in transactions, especially in tourist areas. Pegged to the value of the Hong Kong dollar, a pataca is worth slightly less than one Hong Kong dollar. Travelers visiting Macau from Hong Kong may wish to bring sufficient Hong Kong dollars to cover their expenses. Credit cards and ATM network debit cards are widely accepted in Macau. Banks and major hotels accept travelers' checks.

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 telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL LOCATION: There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Macau. Consular assistance for U.S. citizens is provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. U.S. citizens living in or visiting Macau are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and obtain updated information on travel and security within Macau. The address is 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. The telephone number in Hong Kong is (852) 2523-9011 or (852) 2841-2211; fax (852) 2845-4845. The e-mail address of the American Citizen Services Section of the Consulate General is: acshnk@netvigator.com. The mailing address (from the U.S.) of the Consulate General is PSC 461, Box 5, FPO AP 96521-0006; the Internet home page is http://www.usconsulate.org.hk.

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