Yemen - Consular Information Sheet
August 20, 2001
WARNING: The Department of State continues to warn United
States citizens to defer travel to Yemen in light of recent events,
including the terrorist attack on a U.S. Navy vessel in port at
Aden, Yemen, in October 2000.
The Department believes the level of risk to U.S. citizens and
interests in Yemen remains high. On June 9, 2001, the U.S. Embassy
in Sanaa temporarily suspended public services, and the Department
of State authorized the departure of Embassy personnel in non-emergency
positions as the result of information indicating an increased
terrorist threat to U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen. The
U.S. Embassy in Sanaa resumed full public services on July 13,
and the Department of State on August 3 terminated the authorized
departure of Embassy personnel in non-emergency positions. The
U.S. Embassy in Sanaa will continue to review its security posture
and, if necessary to ensure adequate security, may again temporarily
close or suspend public services.
On October 12, 2000, 17 American servicemen and women were killed
and many more were injured in a terrorist attack on a U.S. Navy
ship in port in Aden, Yemen. On December 23, 1998, six extremists
were arrested by Yemeni authorities and accused of planning to
bomb Western targets in Yemen. Also in December 1998, an anti-Western
terrorist group abducted 16 Western tourists in Southern Yemen;
four of the tourists were killed during a subsequent clash between
the terrorists and Yemeni government forces. In October 1999,
following the execution of the leader of the terrorist group responsible
for the abduction of these 16 tourists, persons claiming to speak
on behalf of the terrorist group warned Westerners they would
be attacked if they did not leave Yemen. This threat has not been
carried out. Again, as these incidents indicate, the level of
risk for foreigners in Yemen remains high.
More than 100 kidnappings have occurred throughout Yemen since
1991. In addition to the one noted above, American citizens were
the victims of kidnappings in late October 1999 and January 2000.
These kidnappings are mainly conducted by armed tribesmen with
grievances against the Yemeni government. They are normally resolved
peacefully within a few days, although in rare cases tribesmen
have held some foreigners for extended periods. Some kidnappings
or attempted kidnappings are initiated by carjacking.
U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance,
take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness and
to reduce their vulnerability. Americans should maintain a low
profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat
mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. In addition,
American citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious,
unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects
to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended,
if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times. U.S.
Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same
Americans in Yemen also should ensure they are registered with
the American Embassy in Sanaa, and remain in contact with the
Embassy for up to date security information.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Yemen was established
in 1990 following unification of the former Yemen Arab Republic
(North) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South).
A President, prime minister and cabinet, and an elected parliament
govern the country. Islamic and traditional ideals, beliefs and
practices provide the foundation of the country's customs and
laws. Yemen is a developing country, and modern tourist facilities,
except in the major cities, are not widely available. The capital
city is Sanaa.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required.
American citizens may obtain tourist visas upon arrival at the
international airport in Sanaa but may not be able to do so at
other international airports or the ports of entry in Aden. Yellow
fever and cholera vaccinations are recommended. For further information
on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of the Republic of
Yemen, Suite 705, 2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
20037, telephone (202) 965-4760; or the Yemen Mission to the U.N.,
866 United Nations Plaza, Room 435, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone
(212) 355-1730. The
Embassy of Yemen in Washington maintains a home page at http://www.yemenembassy.org.
Americans who are considering studying in Yemen should make this
fact clear to a Yemeni consular official in the U.S. and apply
for the appropriate visa. Some Americans studying in Yemen without
official permission have been deported.
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 Government of Yemen may not recognize
the U.S. citizenship of persons who are citizens of both Yemen
and the United States. This may hinder the ability of U.S. consular
officials to assist persons who do not enter Yemen on a U.S. passport.
Dual nationals may also be subject to national obligations, such
as taxes or military service. Travelers can contact an embassy
or consulate of Yemen for further information on Yemeni policy
on dual nationality. For additional information, please see the
Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
and click on Citizenship
SAFETY AND SECURITY: All American citizens are urged to
give close attention to the warning cited in the first section
of this Consular Information Sheet. U.S. citizens in Yemen are
urged to maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate
steps to increase their security awareness and to reduce their
vulnerability. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes
and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages
from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. In addition, American
citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar
objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities.
Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and
should be kept locked at all times. U.S. Government personnel
overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. In addition,
U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public
services from time to time as necessary to review their security
posture and ensure its adequacy. Americans in Yemen are urged
to register with the American Embassy in Sanaa, and remain in
contact with the Embassy for updated security information at (967)
(1) 238-844 through 238-852.
TRIBAL KIDNAPPINGS: As described in the WARNING section
of this Consular Information Sheet, well-armed and independent
tribesmen with grievances against the Yemeni government have a
well-established history of kidnapping foreigners. More than 100
such kidnappings since 1991 have occurred throughout Yemen, in
both major cities and rural areas. These kidnappings normally
are resolved within a few days, but in rare cases tribesmen have
held foreigners, including Americans, for extended periods. In
late October 1999, three U.S. citizens were kidnapped, held by
tribesmen for 36 hours and then released unharmed. In January
2000, an American oil worker was kidnapped from his compound.
Tribal kidnappings of foreigners have been on the decline since
1998, partly as the result of tough penalties enacted by the Yemeni
government as a deterrent.
RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS: Yemeni government security organizations
have arrested and expelled foreign Muslims, including Americans,
who have associated with local Muslim organizations considered
extremist by security organs of the Yemeni government. The events
mentioned in the WARNING section of this Consular Information
Sheet have served to make Yemeni authorities, if anything, more
suspicious of some foreign Muslims. Any American in Yemen who
is considering associating with any political or fundamentalist
Islamist group should discuss those intentions with a Yemeni consular
official in the U.S. before traveling to Yemen. Americans risk
arrest if they engage in either political or other activities
that violate the terms of their admission to Yemen.
AREAS OF INSTABILITY: Travel on roads between cities throughout
Yemen can be dangerous. Yemeni security officials advise against
casual travel to rural areas. Kidnappings of foreigners, including
the late October 1999 kidnapping of a group of Americans, have
occurred on the Sanaa-Dhamar-Aden road, Yemen's most heavily traveled
highway. Travel is particularly dangerous in the tribal areas
north and east of Sanaa and close to the undemarcated border with
Saudi Arabia, in Shabwa and Abyan provinces, or sailing near Socotra
and adjacent islands in the Gulf of Aden. If travel through these
areas is necessary, the risk to personal security may be reduced
if such travel is undertaken by air or with an armed escort provided
by a local tour company. Armed carjackings, especially of four-wheel
drive vehicles, occur in many parts of the country, including
In June 1998, increases in the price of diesel fuel and other
commodities have resulted in civil disturbances in urban areas.
Any area where demonstrations are taking place should be avoided.
Other potential hazards to travelers include land mines and unexploded
ordnance dating from the 1994 civil war. This is of particular
concern in areas where fighting took place in the six southern
provinces, particularly around Aden.
CRIME INFORMATION: The most serious problems affecting
travelers to Yemen are kidnapping and carjackings (See WARNING
and AREAS OF INSTABILITY sections above.) Travelers have rarely
been victims of petty street crime. The loss or theft of a U.S.
passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police
and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information
on safeguarding valuables, personal security, and other matters
while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State
Safe Trip Abroad, and Tips
for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They
are available 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: Medical facilities approaching Western
standards for quality are present only in the cities of Sanaa
and Aden. There is no adequate emergency ambulance service anywhere
in Yemen. Not all prescription drugs are available in Yemen, and
visitors requiring prescription medications are urged to bring
with them a supply of their medications adequate for their visit.
Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical
evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars
or more, and adequate health insurance that provides overseas
and medevac coverage is essential. Doctors and hospitals often
expect 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)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Malaria is a serious problem
in locations outside Sanaa, at altitudes below 4,800 feet, and
especially along the coasts. Cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis
and other exotic and contagious diseases are also present. The
altitude of Sanaa (7200 feet) may cause problems for visitors
who have respiratory or cardiac diseases.
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
Should visitors require medical attention while in Yemen, they
are encouraged to contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy
in Sanaa (967-1-303-155), which maintains a listing of many of
the physicians, surgeons, dentists and hospitals in the country.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Yemen, U.S.
citizens will encounter road conditions that differ significantly
from those in the United States. The information below concerning
Yemen is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally
accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None
In addition to the security considerations noted above, travel
by roads in Yemen should be considered risky. Within cities, minivans
and small buses ply somewhat regular routes, picking up and dropping
off passengers with little notice or regard for other vehicles.
Despite the presence of traffic lights and traffic policemen,
each intersection requires an act of negotiation. Yemen has no
traffic laws governing turns on red lights, maintaining lanes,
merging or right-of-way. Drivers commonly drive on the wrong side
of the road. A large number of underage drivers are present on
the roads. Many vehicles are in poor repair and frequently lack
functional turn signals, headlights, taillights, and brake lights.
Pedestrians, especially children, and animals on the roads constitute
hazards in both rural and urban areas. The major inter-city roads
are paved and maintained in fair condition, but rural roads generally
require four-wheel drive vehicles or vehicles with high clearance.
Accurate statistics on the number of traffic accidents and related
deaths are not kept, but the American Embassy estimates that the
number of each is high.
Right-hand driving is specified by law in Yemen, but no laws
mandate use of seat belts or child car seats. The maximum legal
speed for private cars is 100 km (62.5 miles) per hour, but speed
limits are not posted and rarely enforced.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and reckless
driving which causes an accident resulting in injury, carry penalties
of a fine and/or prison sentence. If a traffic accident results
in death, the driver responsible for causing the death is subject
to a maximum three-year prison sentence or a fine. Under traditional
practice, the family of a traffic accident victim negotiates a
monetary compensation from the responsible driver. The amount
of payment generally is proportionate to the extent of injuries
and is highest in the case of a fatality.
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.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority
to operate such service between the U.S. and Yemen, the U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Yemen'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
FAA 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.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at 1-618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Yemeni law prohibits the removal
of antiquities from the country. Yemeni authorities define antiquities
loosely as anything man-made that is more than 50 years old. Persons
attempting to depart with antiquities are subject to arrest, imprisonment
Yemeni customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning
temporary importation into or export from Yemen of items such
as firearms, pornography, and antiquities. It is advisable to
contact the Embassy of Yemen in Washington 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. Penalties for
possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and
convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. The use
of the mild stimulant "qat" is legal and common in Yemen,
but it is considered an illegal substance in many other countries,
including the United States.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Photography of military installations,
including airports, equipment, or troops is forbidden. In the
past, such photography has led to the arrest of U.S. citizens.
Military sites are not always obvious. If in doubt, it is wise
to ask specific permission from Yemeni authorities.
Travelers should be aware that automatic teller machines (ATM)
are not available in Yemen. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
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
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or
visiting Yemen are encouraged to register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and obtain updated information on
travel and security conditions within Yemen. The U.S. Embassy
normally is open for American citizen services between 8:30 and
10:30 a.m., Saturday through Tuesday, but is closed for public
services at this time. The Embassy is located at Dhahr Himyar
Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347. The telephone number
of the Consular Section is (967) (1) 303-155 extension 118, 265
or 266. The fax number is (967) (1) 303-175.
* * * * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 24, 2001,
to update information in the Warning section and to provide new
material on the absence of ATM machines, the general non-acceptance
of credit cards, and the law prohibiting removal of antiquities
from the country.