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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Oman

Oman - Consular Information Sheet
June 19, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Oman is a monarchy that has developed rapidly in the past 30 years. Its economy is largely dependent on the production and export of oil. Tourist facilities are available in the capital city of Muscat, as well as in Salalah, Sohar, and Nizwa. Modern tourist facilities also are being expanded in other regions of the country.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport and visa are required. Omani embassies and consulates issue two-year, multiple-entry tourist and/or business visas to qualified American citizens. "No-objection certificates" for entry into Oman may also be arranged through an Omani sponsor. Certain categories of visitors may qualify to obtain a visa upon arrival at a port of entry. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required if the traveler enters from an infected area. For further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, 2535 Belmont Road N.W., Washington, D.C., telephone (202) 387-1980, 1981 or 1982.

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.

DUAL NATIONALITY: The Omani Government does not recognize dual nationality. Omani authorities usually confiscate the U.S. passports of U.S./Omani dual nationals. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Muscat. For additional information, please refer to the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov and click on Citizenship and Nationality, then look under Dual Nationality/Non-Citizen Nationality.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: American citizens in Oman are urged to maintain 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. The State Department suggests that all Americans in Oman maintain an unpredictable schedule and vary travel routes whenever possible. Americans also are urged to treat mail from unfamiliar sources with suspicion and to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects. Suspicious objects should be reported to local authorities.

CRIME INFORMATION: The incidence of street crime is low in Oman, and violent crimes are very rare. Nevertheless, travelers to Oman should take normal precautions, such as avoiding travel in deserted areas and after dark. Furthermore, travelers should also take normal precautions to protect their personal property from theft. In particular, valuables and currency should not be left unsecured in hotel rooms. Common sense and caution are always the best crime prevention. Useful information on ways to promote and 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 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 abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Care and medicines are available in Oman. Local medical treatment varies in quality, however, and can be inadequate. While hospital emergency treatment is available, there is no ambulance service in Oman. Malaria is a concern in the interior and on the Batinah Coast. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

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. 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 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 Oman 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
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Poor -- There is no ambulance service in Oman.

Road conditions, lighting, and traffic safety in cities and on major highways are good. Drivers are generally courteous and follow traffic rules. However, travel between cities, especially at night, may be dangerous due to poor or no lighting, wandering livestock, and speeding drivers.

Local Traffic Laws: Observing local traffic laws in Oman is a must. Seat belts are required, and the use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited. There are stringent penalties for violation of these laws, particularly for driving under the influence of alcohol. In the event of a traffic violation and fine, drivers should pay the fine as directed and should not attempt to pay the fine or negotiate payment at the time of the traffic stop. In the event of an accident, the driver should not move the vehicle from the location of the accident until police grant permission; moving a vehicle is equivalent to an admission of guilt. The Royal Oman Police may be contacted at telephone 968-560-099

Licensing: Visitors should not drive without a valid license. Visitors in possession of a valid U.S. driver's license may drive rental vehicles, but residents must have an Omani driver's license. To obtain an Omani license, an American citizen must have a U.S. license that has been valid for at least one year or must take a driving test.

Insurance: Visitors hiring rental cars are urged to insure the vehicles adequately against loss or damage. Residents of Oman may insure their vehicles outside the Sultanate; however, third party liability must be purchased locally.

Local Traffic Customs: The use of European-style traffic circles is prevalent in Oman. However, unlike European traffic practice, the driver on the inside lane always has priority. A car flashing its high beams is generally asking for a chance to pass.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Omani driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Omani Office of Tourism of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry via the Internet at http://www.omanet.com.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Oman's civil aviation authority as category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Oman's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States 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. As a result of the August 23, 2000, crash of a Gulf Air flight in the Persian Gulf, DOD has recommended that military commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for DOD official travel, at least until investigation of the crash is complete. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Travelers entering Oman may not carry with them, or bring into the country in accompanied baggage, firearms, ammunition, or pornography; all are subject to seizure if found. No more than one bottle of liquor is permitted per non-Muslim adult. Unaccompanied baggage and shipments of household goods are subject to inspection. Books, videotapes, and audiotapes may be reviewed prior to being released to the owner. A copy of the packing list is required to clear effects through customs. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Pets entering Oman require an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Animal Health, before shipment. Forms may be obtained from the Ministry through one's sponsor and must be submitted with a copy of the pet's rabies vaccination record and a health certificate. Vaccination against rabies is required no less than one month and no more than six months before the travel date. There are additional vaccination requirements for dogs and cats less than 30 days old. A second health certificate dated 48 hours before the pet travels is also required. Pets may be subjected to a six-month quarantine, although this is usually not required when importing the pet from a rabies-free country. Pets must be manifested as cargo on an airway bill when transported by air.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are 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 Omani laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Oman are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Death sentences are possible for violators of Oman's drug laws. Visitors are additionally cautioned that it is illegal to use aggressive, obscene or abusive language or gestures in public. In accordance with Omani law, penalties for these offenses can range from deportation or fines to imprisonment. Civil charges may also be filed.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Omani employers often ask that expatriate employees deposit their passports with the company as a condition of employment. Although customary, this practice is not required by Omani law. The U.S. Embassy in Muscat advises Americans to exercise caution in agreeing to employer confiscation of passports, since this operates as a restraint on travel and could give undue leverage to the employer in a dispute.

Islamic ideals provide the conservative foundation of Oman's customs, laws and practices. Foreign visitors are expected to remain sensitive to the Islamic culture, and not dress in a revealing or provocative manner, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter tops and shorts. Athletic clothing is worn in public only when the wearer is obviously engaged in athletic activity. Western bathing attire, however, is permissible at hotel pools and beaches.

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.

EMBASSY LOCATION AND REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Oman are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Oman. The U.S. Embassy in Oman is located on Jameat A'Duwal Al Arabiya Street, Al Khuwair area, in the capital city of Muscat, P.O. Box 202, Medinat Al Sultan Qaboos 115, Sultanate of Oman, telephone (968) 698-989, fax (968) 699-189. The Embassy's e-mail address is aemctcns@omantel.net.om, and its web site can be visited at http://www.usa.gov.om/.

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