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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Samoa

Samoa - Consular Information Sheet
April 6, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The island country of Samoa has a stable parliamentary democracy with a developing economy. Tourist facilities are accessible by bus, taxi, and car and are within walking distance of access roads. The Samoan Visitor's Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted at http://www.samoa.co.nz.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required for travel to Samoa. Visas are not required for a stay of up to 30 days. Further information about entry requirements may be obtained from the Samoa Mission to the United Nations at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400J, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 599-6196, fax (212) 599-0797.

CRIME INFORMATION: Overall crime in Samoa is low, though there are incidents of petty theft/robberies of personal effects. 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. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote 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: Health care facilities in Samoa are adequate for routine medical treatment, but are limited in range and availability. A national hospital is located in Apia and district hospitals are available on Savai'i and Upolu. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

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. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor 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 Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

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 Samoa is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Not Available

Most major roads are tar-sealed, but secondary roads are predominantly dirt and gravel, and may be overgrown. A four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for travel on these roads. Travelers should be aware that vehicle safety regulations are rarely enforced and traffic violations occur routinely. Night driving on unlit rural roads can be dangerous and should be avoided if possible. For information concerning the operation and rental of motor vehicles, contact the Samoan Visitor's Bureau via the Internet at www.samoa.co.nz.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The FAA has assessed the Government of Samoa's Civil Aviation Authority as Category I -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Samoa's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the United States 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.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Samoa's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Samoa of items such as fruit, pets, firearms, and drugs. It is advisable to contact the Samoan Mission to the United Nations 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 do not always 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 Samoa's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Samoa are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Some overseas treatment centers, known as Behavior Modification Facilities, operate in Samoa. Though these facilities may be operated and staffed by U.S. citizens, the Samoan government is solely responsible for compliance with local safety, health, sanitation and educational laws and regulations, including all licensing requirements of the staff in the country. These standards, if any, may not be strictly enforced or meet the standards of similar facilities in the U.S. Parents should be aware that U.S. citizens 18 years of age and older have a right to apply for a passport and to request repatriation assistance from the U.S. government, both without parental consent. Any U.S. citizen enrollee has the right to contact a representative from the U.S. Embassy. For further information, consult the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Behavior Modification Facilities, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. Parents may also contact the U.S. Embassy in Apia or the country officer in the Office of American Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5226.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Samoa is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes can and will continue to happen. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children or international parental child abduction, refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy in Samoa is located in the John Williams Building, Fifth Floor, Beach Road, Apia. The Embassy is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every morning and by appointment at other times. The Embassy's mailing address is U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box 3430, Apia, Samoa. The telephone number is (685) 21-631. The fax number is (685) 22-030. Americans may obtain updated information on travel and security for Samoa at the U.S. Embassy or by visiting the Embassy's home page at http://travel.state.gov/samoa.html.

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