Suriname - Consular Information Sheet
January 5, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Suriname is a Dutch-speaking
developing nation located on the northern coast of South America.
Tourist facilities, ranging in price, are widely available in
the capital city of Paramaribo, but they are less developed and,
in some cases, non-existent in the rugged jungle interior. The
Government of Suriname, which established one of the world's largest
nature preserves in 1998, and private tourism companies encourage
ecotourism and have expanded tourism to the interior by establishing
guest houses and tour packages. Travelers should note that major
credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels,
nor are ATM cash machines available. Travelers should contact
their intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards
are accepted. Transportation, communications and other infrastructure
elements, while better in Paramaribo than in other regions of
the country, do not meet U.S. standards.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa and a return
ticket for air travelers are required for travel to Suriname.
There is a processing fee for business and tourist visas. A business
visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the
reason for the visit. There is an airport departure charge and
a terminal fee. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana
and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination.
For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of
the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite
460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 7235
NW 19th Street, Suite A, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 593-2697.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: In the summer of 2000, tensions surfaced
between Suriname and neighboring Guyana after Guyana granted a
foreign company permission to drill in disputed territorial waters.
A Surinamese navy vessel demanded that the foreign oil rig withdraw
from the area, which it did. Talks between Guyana and Suriname
regarding the maritime border issue are ongoing, and the parties
hope to achieve a resolution sometime in the next two years.
Peaceful demonstrations took place throughout 1999 to protest
economic instability. Although there were no significant protests
in 2000, demonstrations can occur at any time. American citizens
traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense
precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds
have congregated to demonstrate or protest.
Police presence outside Paramaribo is scarce. Banditry and lawlessness
are on the rise in the cities of Albina and Moengo and along the
East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina. In addition to
these places, travelers proceeding to the interior should be aware
that they may encounter difficulties due to a lack of government
authority and inadequate or non-existent medical facilities. Limited
transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the
U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.
CRIME: Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur
with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pickpocketing
and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and
shopping districts in the capital, with pickpocketing being the
most common. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive jewelry or
displaying large amounts of money in public.
Although there are few reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity
of the major tourist hotels, night walks outside the immediate
vicinity of the hotels are not recommended. Visitors should avoid
the Palm Garden area ('Palmentuin' in Dutch) after dark since
there is no police presence, and it is commonly a site for illicit
Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but it does occur, especially
in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not
to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their
vehicle. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors
locked. The use of public minibuses is highly discouraged.
Criminal activity throughout the country is on the rise. Foreigners,
including Americans, are viewed as targets of opportunity. While
travel to the interior is generally trouble-free, there have been
reports of tourists being robbed. Travelers proceeding to the
interior are advised to make use of well-established tour companies
for a safer experience.
The emergency number 115 is used for police, fire and rescue.
Fire and rescue services provide a relatively timely response,
but police response, especially during nighttime hours, is a rarity
for all but the most serious of crimes.
The loss or theft 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 pamphlets,
A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to Central and South America, for ways to promote
a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail
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: Medical care, including emergency
medical care, is limited and does not meet U.S. standards. There
is one public emergency room in Paramaribo with only a small ambulance
fleet to provide emergency transport. As of December 2000, the
emergency room is without a neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists
may not always be available. Hospital facilities are not air conditioned,
although private rooms with individual air conditioning are available
at extra cost. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited,
and it is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.
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 U.S.
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: The U.S. Embassy encourages
travelers to wear sunglasses, sunscreen and hats to reduce exposure
to the sun. 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 Suriname 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: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
In Suriname, traffic moves on the left, although left-hand-drive
cars are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving
habits, poorly maintained roads and the lack of basic safety equipment
on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Visitors
are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seat belts and
to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters.
The roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, although upkeep is
often a problem. Large potholes are common on city streets, and
this is especially true during the rainy seasons, approximately
mid-November to January and April to June. Travelers should be
aware that the rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as
much as six weeks. Roads are often not marked with traffic lines.
In addition, many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing
pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same
The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw
Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive
agriculture areas; it is not uncommon to have slow-moving farm
traffic or animals on the road. Police recommend that travelers
check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety
Roads in the interior are sporadically-maintained dirt roads
that pass through rugged, sparsely-populated rain forest. Most
roads are passable for sedans in the dry season. However, these
roads deteriorate rapidly in the rainy season. Interior roads
are not lit, nor are there service stations or emergency call
boxes. Many bridges in the interior are in various states of repair.
Travelers are advised to consult with local sources, including
STINASU at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or their hotels
regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information concerning Suriname driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of
Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of Suriname's civil aviation
authority as Category 2 - not in compliance with international
aviation safety standards for the oversight of Suriname's air
carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies
are ongoing, Suriname's air carriers currently flying to the United
States will be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional
flights or new service to the United States by Suriname's air
carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to be conducted
by an air carrier from a country meeting international safety
standards. 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 carriers for suitability as official providers of air
services. In addition, the DOD does not permit its personnel to
use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business
except for flights originating from or terminating in the United
States. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
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 U.S. 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 U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Surinamese laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties
for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Suriname
are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences
and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Visitors can exchange currency
at banks, hotels and official exchange houses, which are called
"cambios." Exchanging money outside of these locations
is illegal and can be dangerous.
Dutch is the official language of Suriname, but English is widely
used, and most tourist arrangements can be made in English. Many
visitors find the water in Paramaribo to be potable; however,
some travelers report that the water made them ill. Sealed bottled
water is safe to drink and can be purchased in local hotels, restaurants
and grocery stores.
Telephone service within Suriname can be problematic, especially
during periods of heavy rains.
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/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting Suriname are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo and obtain
updated information on travel and security within Suriname. The
U.S. Embassy is located at Dr. Sophie Redmonstraat 129, telephone
(011)(597) 472-900. The Consular Section hours of operation for
American citizen services are Mondays and Wednesdays, except American
and Surinamese holidays, 8:00 am - 10:00 am, or by appointment.
U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance evenings, weekends
and holidays may contact an Embassy duty officer by pager at (011)(597)
088-0338. This Embassy is also responsible for U.S. citizens in
French Guiana. For further information on French Guiana, please
refer to the separate Consular Information Sheet on French Guiana.