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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Uruguay

Uruguay - Consular Information Sheet
September 5, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Uruguay is a middle-income nation with a developing economy. The quality of facilities for tourism varies, according to price and area. The capital city is Montevideo.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a visit of less than three months. For further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Uruguay at 2715 M Street, N.W. Third Floor, Washington, D.C. 20007, tel. (202) 331-1313; E-mail: uruwashi@iamdigex.net; Embassy home page: http://www.embassy.org/uruguay/. Travelers may also contact the Consulate of Uruguay or the Honorary Consul in: Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Reno, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Juan, Puerto Rico or Seattle.

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.

Uruguayan authorities require that a notarized statement from the non-travelling parent granting his/her authorization for the travelling parent to leave the country with the child be presented to immigration officers at the airport, port or land border crossing. If a child travels without both parents, even in a group, then both must sign the document (permiso de menor).

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Uruguayan laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Uruguayan citizens. For additional information, see Dual Nationality Flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Due to Uruguay's close proximity to the Tri-Border Area (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay), activities related to terrorism are a concern, but there are no recent reports of credible threats directed against American interests in Uruguay specifically. Throughout Uruguay, there is little-to-no anti-American sentiment. Almost no acts of civil unrest have been reported within the country. While demonstrations or protests rarely occur, U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Uruguay are advised to take common-sense precautions and avoid any large gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. If such an event occurs, additional advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone numbers listed in paragraph 18.

CRIME: In the capital city of Montevideo, petty street crime like pickpocketing, purse-snatching, confrontational robberies, and thefts from unsecured automobiles occur daily. Such crimes are usually non-violent, but the potential for violence exists if perpetrators are armed and victims resist. Potential thieves roam at all hours seeking "targets of opportunity" in the downtown areas of Montevideo such as Ciudad Vieja, Avenida 18 de Julio, Plaza Independencia, and the vicinity around the port. Visitors should avoid walking in those areas and use taxis when possible, especially at night. Victims are usually foreign tourists, individuals openly carrying valuable items, and motorists in unlocked vehicles stopped at busy intersections, particularly on Montevideo's riverfront road known as the Rambla. Drivers should keep all car doors locked, the driver's window open only one inch, and purses, bags, briefcases and other valuables out of sight on the floor or in the trunk. Parked cars, particularly in the Carrasco neighborhood, are also increasingly targetted for break-ins. During the summer months (December-March), beach resort areas such as Punta del Este attract tourists, and petty street crimes and residential burglaries--similar to those that occur in Montevideo--rise significantly. Visitors are advised to exercise common sense in the conduct of their activities around Montevideo and in Uruguayan resort areas. They should be very attentive to personal security and their surroundings in the aforementioned areas.

Uruguayan law enforcement authorities have increased the number of uniformed policemen on foot in areas where criminal activity is concentrated, and the number of patrol cars in residential areas. The clearly-marked patrol cars are equipped with cellular phones and the phone numbers are conspicuously painted on the vehicles.

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 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; .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Facilities for medical care are considered adequate. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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, 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 Uruguay 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 Assistance: Good

The Uruguayan Ministry of Transportation is responsible for maintaining safe road conditions countrywide. Excerpts from its voluminous Spanish-language road conditions inventory (unavailable on Internet) may be requested from the Embassy by fax at 598-2-408-4110 or e-mail at faracods@state.gov. The Uruguayan Ministry of Interior highway police (tel. 1954) are responsible for traffic safety on highways and other roads beyond city limits. In urban and suburban areas, transit police and municipal employees share road safety responsibilities. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Wearing seat belts and using headlights on highways and other inter-city roads 24 hours a day are mandatory. Children under 12 must ride in the back seat. Motorcyclists must wear helmets. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited. Turns on red lights are not permitted. Drivers approaching an intersection from the right or already in traffic circles have the right of way. Flashing high beams indicates an intent to pass or continue through unmarked intersections. For driving under the influence, violators are fined and confiscated licenses may be retained for up to six months. In accidents causing injury or death, drivers are brought before a judge who decides if incarceration is warranted.

Inter-city travel is via bus, taxi, car service (remise), car and motorcycle. Speed limits are posted on highways and some main roads. Most taxis have no seat belts in the back seat. Cycling outside the capital or small towns is hazardous due to a scarcity of bike paths, narrow road shoulders and unsafe driving practices.

Illumination, pavement markings and road surfaces are sometimes poor. Route 1, which runs between Montevideo and Colonia or Punta del Este, and Route 2, between Rosario and Fray Bentos, are particularly accident-ridden because of heavy tourist traffic. Road accidents rise during the austral summer beach season (December to March), Carnaval (mid-to-late February) and Easter Week.

Key road emergency numbers are: police - 109; highway police - 108; and fire brigade - 104. The Automobile Club of Uruguay responds to emergency calls for roadside assistance at 1707, "Car Up" at 0800-1501 and the Automobile Center of Uruguay at 2-408-6131/2091. SEMM (tel. 159) and UCM (tel. 147), Montevideo-based ambulance services manned by doctors, have agreements with emergency medical units in other cities.

The Uruguayan Ministry of Transportation is designing a road-specific web site. Current government web sites contain some road safety-related information at: http://minterior.gub.uy/unidades/caminera.htm and http://www.montevideo.gub.uy/transito/Indice.htm

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 Uruguayan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Uruguayan National Tourist Organization offices in Coral Gables, Florida via the Internet at http://www.turismo.gub.uy/ or at tel. (305) 443-7431.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uruguay's civil aviation authority as Category 2 - not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Uruguay's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, no flights to the U.S. by Uruguay's air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting 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 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, 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 U.S. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Uruguay's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Uruguay of items such as: precious jewels, gold, firearms, pornography, subversive literature, inflammable articles, acids, prohibited drugs (medications), plants, seeds, and foodstuffs as well as some antiquities and business equipment. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uruguay in Washington, D.C. or one of Uruguay's consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements. Note: Travelers entering Uruguay with precious jewels or gold worth more than $500.00 (U.S.) must declare them to customs officers at the port of entry or face possible detention or seizure of the goods and charges of contraband or evasion of customs controls. Visitors are expected to comply with local law and regulations by approaching a customs officer before routine inspection of all incoming baggage, conducted on standard security equipment.

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 Uruguayan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Uruguay are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

The Uruguayan Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing strictly enforces all regulations regarding hunting permits, as well as seasonal and numerical limits on game. Visitors who contravene local law have been detained by the authorities and had valuable personal property (weapons) seized. Under Uruguayan law, seized weapons can only be returned after payment of a sum equivalent to the value of the property seized. Hunters are also subject to stiff fines for practicing the sport without all appropriate permits.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

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 Uruguay are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo and obtain updated information on travel and security within Uruguay. The U.S. Embassy is located at Lauro Muller 1776; telephone (598)(2) 408-7777; fax (598)(2)408-4110 or -8611. Internet: http://www.embeeuu.gub.uy/. Consular Section hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999 to provide updated information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight and Customms Regulations; and to include sections on Dual Nationality, and Disaster Preparedness.


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