Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Holidays! Double Your Impact!

Happy Holidays! Double Your Impact! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season! It was well worth the 35 plus hours, Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season! It was well worth the 35 plus hours, 2 taxis, 4… Continue reading

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Trilingual Mozart, Travel Kid Expert, Speaks at GEC about World Education

Trilingual Mozart, Travel Kid Expert, Sp… Continue reading

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Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten is the Dutch side of the island shared with St. Martin, which is administered by the French government. English is the predominant language on the island; however, several other languages are also commonly spoken. The Netherlands Antilles florin (NAf) is the official currency. The U.S. dollar is also widely accepted on Sint Maarten.

All U.S. citizens must have a U.S. passport for all air travel, including to and from Sint Maarten. All sea travelers must also now have a passport or passport card. We strongly encourage all U.S. citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport or passport card well in advance of anticipated travel. U.S. citizens can call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.

You are required to have an onward/return ticket, proof of sufficient funds and proof of lodging accommodations for your stay. The typical length of stay granted by immigration to U.S. citizens is 30days, and may be extended to 180 days by the office of immigration. For further information, travelers may contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch Consulate in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston or Miami. Visit the web site for the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Sint Maarten Department of Immigration for the most current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Sint Maarten.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

There are no known terrorist or extremist groups, or areas of instability on St. Maarten, although gangs and drug trafficking organizations do operate on the island.

Stay up to date:

  • Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution;
  • Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook ;
  • Downloading our free Smart Traveler App through  iTunes  and Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips;
  • Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays); and take some time before you travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.

CRIME: Street crime remains a concern on Sint Maarten. Valuables, including passports, left unattended on beaches, in cars, and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft. Visitors should leave valuables and personal papers secured at their hotel. Burglaries and break-ins are common at resorts, beach houses, and hotels. Armed robbery occasionally occurs. The American boating community has reported a handful of incidents in the past, and visitors are urged to exercise reasonable caution in securing boats and belongings. Be especially observant when visiting isolated areas.

Car theft, especially of rental vehicles, can occur. Incidents of break-ins to rental cars to steal personal items have been reported by U.S. citizen tourists. Damages may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles, jet skis, and other equipment.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • For violent crimes such as assault or rape, help you find appropriate medical care,
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and contact family members or friends.
  • Although the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and can direct you to local attorneys.

Call “911” on Sint Maarten for emergency police assistance.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling on Sint Maarten, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Sint Maarten, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Persons violating Sint Maarten’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Local law is based on Dutch law, which allows for the detention of subjects during an investigation with the approval of a judge. Persons imprisoned on Sint Maartendo not have the option of posting bond for their release.

If you are arrested on Sint Maarten, local authorities are required to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Dutch law, in principle, does not permit dual nationality. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For detailed information, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, DC, or one of the Dutch consulates in the United States.

LGBT Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Sint Maarten. For more detailed information about LGBT rights around the world, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.

Accessibility: While on Sint Maarten, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Sidewalks and crossings in some areas are not wheelchair accessible, and many public building lack ramps.

Medical care is generally considered to be good on Sint Maarten. Health care is tiered, so the level of accommodations will vary according to insurance and ability to pay. Sint Maarten Medical Center (79 beds) is a relatively small hospital where general surgery is performed. Complex cases are sent to Curacao, or another country. Airlift is available to Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. in case of medical emergency. Please be aware that there is no decompression chamber available on either side of the island. We urge caution for scuba divers, since persons suffering from decompression sickness have to be medically evacuated for proper treatment.

You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Change the world! Cambiar el Mundo! 改变世界! Adorable Video by Trilingual Mozart!

Change the world! Cambiar el Mundo! 改变世界… Continue reading

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Laos

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) is a developing country ruled by a one-party, Communist government. Political power is centralized in the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. Services and facilities for tourists are adequate in the capital, Vientiane, and in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, but are extremely limited in other parts of the country. Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Laos for additional information.

You must have both a passport and visa to enter Laos, and your passport must also have at least six months validity remaining beyond the date that you enter Laos. You can get a visa on arrival in Laos if you are traveling for tourism, have two passport-size photographs and pay $35 at the following ports of entry: Wattay Airport, Vientiane; Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang Airports; Friendship Bridge, Vientiane and Savannakhet; Nam Heuang Friendship Bridge, Sayabouly Province; and border crossings at Boten-Mohan, Dansavan-Lao Bao, Houaysay-Chiang Khong, Thakhek-Nakhon Phanom, Nong Haet-Nam Kan, Nam Phao-Kao Cheo, Veun Kham-Dong Calor, and Vangtao-Chong Mek. You can also get a visa on arrival at the Tha Naleng train station in Vientiane, which connects to the train station in Nongkhai, Thailand. If you obtain a visa from a Lao embassy or consulate prior to your travel to Laos, you may also enter at the following international entry points: Napao-Chalo, Taichang-Sophoun, Pakxan-Bungkan, and Xiengkok

If you get your visa on arrival in Laos, you will generally be allowed to stay in Laos for 30 days after you arrive. If you were born in Laos, you may be admitted for 60 days or longer. You can extend your 30-day tourist visa up to an additional 60 days for a fee of $2 per day through the Department of Immigration in Vientiane. If you overstay your visa in Laos, you risk arrest and you will be fined $10 for each day of overstay as you leave. The Lao government calculates visa fees and fines in U.S. dollars. Thai baht and Lao kip may sometimes be accepted for the fees but at unfavorable exchange rates. Additional information is available from the Lao National Tourism Administration.

If you enter Laos with a visitor (tourist) visa issued at a Lao embassy abroad, you will generally be allowed to stay in Laos for 60 days. If you wish to obtain a visa in advance, please contact a Lao Embassy or consulate. In the United States, you can get visa and other information about Lao entry requirements from the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2222 S St. NW, Washington, DC, 20008, tel: 202-332-6416, fax: 202-332-4923.

Business visas can only be arranged in advance. A company or individual “sponsor” must contact the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Vientiane, request a visa for you, and offer a “guarantee.” Once the Lao MFA approves the request, the Lao MFA will send the approval to the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C., and business travelers may then apply for a business visa. This process usually takes one to three months. After you arrive in Laos, your business visas can generally be extended for one month.

Do not attempt to enter Laos without valid travel documents or outside of official ports of entry. You should not cross the border between Laos and Thailand along the Mekong River except at official immigration check crossings. If you attempt to enter Laos outside of official ports of entry, you may be arrested, detained, fined, and deported.

Immigration offices at some of the less frequently used land border crossing points are not well marked. Make sure you complete all immigration and customs requirements when you enter or depart Laos. If you enter Laos without completing these formalities, you may be subject to fines, detention, imprisonment, and/or deportation.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated additional procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship, such as the child’s birth certificate, and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.

At Wattay Airport (Vientiane), Pakse Airport, Savannakhet Airport, and the Luang Prabang Airport, there is an international airport departure tax of US $10. This tax may be included in the price of the airline ticket, depending on the carrier. There is also a 5,000 kip (equivalent to approximately U.S. 60 cents) departure tax for domestic flights, which may be included in the price of the airline ticket, depending on the carrier. At the Friendship Bridge (Vientiane, Laos – Nong Khai, Thailand border crossing) there is an overtime fee after 4:00 pm weekdays and during weekends. Visit the Embassy of Laos web site for the most current information. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Laos.

There have been reports in the past of violent incidents carried out by anti-government forces. The Department of State recommends that if you travel to or reside in Laos, exercise caution and be alert to your surroundings at all times.

The Lao government security forces often stop and check all transport on main roads, particularly at night. You must comply with requests to stop at checkpoints and roadblocks. Especially if you are considering travel outside urban centers, please contact relevant Lao government offices, such as Lao Immigration Police Headquarters in Vientiane, the Lao Tourist Police, local police and customs offices, or the U.S. Embassy for the most current security information. To avoid trouble with the authorities, if you are traveling outside of normal tourist areas or contemplating any unusual activity (including, but not limited to, engaging in business, extensive photography, or scientific research of any kind), be sure to seek advance permission from the Village Chief, District Head, Provincial Governor, or National Tourism Authority, as appropriate.

The large amount of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War causes more than 200 casualties a year. UXO can be found in some parts of Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Saravane, Khammouane, Sekong, Champassak, Houaphan, Attapeu, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane Provinces. In addition, numerous mine fields are left over from the Indochina war along Route 7 (from Route 13 to the Vietnam border), Route 9 (Savannakhet to the Vietnam border), and Route 20 (Pakse to Saravane). Never pick up unknown metal objects and avoid traveling off well-used roads, tracks, and paths.

You should also exercise caution in remote areas along the Lao border with Burma. Bandits, drug traffickers, and other people pursuing illegal activities operate in these border areas, as do armed insurgent groups opposed to the Government of Burma.

Stay up to date by:

CRIME: Laos generally has a low rate of violent crime, but you should remain aware of your surroundings and exercise appropriate security precautions. Residential burglary is common place. The number of thefts and assaults in Laos has increased, and some have turned violent. Sexual assaults do occur in Laos. You should exercise caution, particularly after dark, at roadside restaurants, bars, and stalls. Foreigners are often victims of purse snatchings while they are dining or riding bicycles or motorcycles. Please be careful when carrying purses, bags, and other personal items.

Local law enforcement responses to crimes, even violent crimes, are often limited. Foreigners attempting to report crimes have reported finding police stations closed, emergency telephone numbers unanswered, or policemen lacking transportation or authorization to investigate crimes that occur at night. If you move to Laos, please contact the U.S. Embassy Vientiane for security information.

If you travel to Vang Vieng, be aware that some tourists have been robbed and sexually assaulted in that area. Many restaurants in the Vang Vieng area offer menu items, particularly “pizzas,” “shakes,” or “teas,” that may contain unknown substances or opiates. These products are often advertised as “happy” or “special” items. These unknown substances or opiates can be dangerous, causing serious illness or even death. Travelers in Vang Vieng have been fined and detained for purchasing, possessing, or using illegal substances. In recent years, foreigners, including U.S. citizens, have died in Laos after using illegal drugs, such as methamphetamines, opium, or heroin. The potency of some of these drugs can be several times that of similar substances found in the United States.

Please exercise caution on overnight bus trips, particularly on buses travelling to/from Vietnam. The Embassy has received reports of scams and thefts of personal belongings on these trips.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law. 

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. We can:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, we can contact family members or friend.
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

In Laos, the local equivalent to the U.S. “911” emergency lines are: 190 for fire, 191 for traffic police, and 195 for ambulance. The Tourist Police can be reached in Vientiane at 021-251-128. 

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim-compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Laos, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in Laos, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with minors or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Laos, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. 

Arrest notifications in Laos: If you are arrested in Laos, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the Embassy.

Accessibility: While in Laos, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Lao law does not mandate accessibility to buildings or government services for persons with disabilities. Vientiane has some local regulations providing building access, but these regulations are not effectively enforced. Currently, except for buildings and hotels that have been built under international standards, most public places and public transportation are not accessible. Persons with disabilities will face difficulties in Laos because foot paths, rest rooms, road crossings, and tourist areas are not equipped to accommodate disabilities.

Travel of foreigners within Laos: The Lao tourist police have informed foreign tourists that a licensed Lao tour guide must accompany any group of more than five foreign tourists; however, this regulation does not appear to be strictly enforced. The authorities may restrict travel in rural areas outside of popular tourist destinations. Restricted areas may not be marked or even widely known by local citizens. If you travel without a reputable tour guide who is aware of local conditions, please talk to local authorities before entering remote areas away from obvious tourist destinations. Lao citizens who wish to have any foreign citizen, including a family member, stay in their home must obtain prior approval from the village chief. You may be held responsible if the Lao host has not secured prior permission for your visit. U.S. citizens are strongly advised to ensure that such permission has been granted before accepting offers to stay in Lao homes. 

Surveillance: Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the local authorities. Please review the section below on Photography and Other Restrictions.  

Relationship with Lao citizens: Lao law prohibits sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao Family Law. Any foreigner who enters into a sexual relationship with a Lao national risks being interrogated, detained, arrested, or fined. Lao police have confiscated passports and imposed fines of up to $5,000 on foreigners who enter into unapproved sexual relationships. The Lao party to the relationship may be jailed without trial. Foreigners are not permitted to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to their hotel rooms; police may raid hotel rooms without notice or consent.

Marriage: A Lao Prime Ministerial decree requires that marriages of Lao citizens performed abroad be registered with Lao embassies in order to be legal in Laos. If you marry a Lao citizen in the United States, when you visit or return to Laos, you may be subject to penalties under the Lao law governing sexual relationships (above) if your marriage was not registered beforehand with a Lao Embassy. 

If you plan to marry a Lao national, you are required by Lao law to obtain prior permission from the Lao government. The formal application process can take as long as a year. The Lao government will not issue a marriage certificate unless the correct procedures are followed. You can obtain information about marriage requirements from the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane. Any attempt to circumvent Lao regulations may result in arrest, imprisonment, a fine of $500 to $5,000 and deportation.

If you cohabit with or enter into a close relationship with a Lao national, Lao authorities may accuse you of having entered into an illegal marriage, and you will be subject to these same penalties. If you wish to become engaged to a Lao national, you must also obtain prior permission from the chief of the village where the Lao national resides. Failure to obtain prior permission can result in a fine of $500 to $5,000. Lao police may impose a large fine on a foreign citizen a few days after he or she holds an engagement ceremony with a Lao citizen based on the suspicion that the couple subsequently had sexual relations out of wedlock. 

Religious workers: Religious proselytizing or distributing religious material is strictly prohibited. If you are caught distributing religious material, you may be arrested or deported. The Government of Laos restricts the importation of religious texts and artifacts. While Lao law allows freedom of religion, the Government registers and controls all associations, including religious groups. Meetings, even in private homes, must be registered and those held outside of established locations may be broken up and the participants arrested.

Modes of transportation: When you travel in Laos, please consider carefully and evaluate the relative risks of the three modes of transport (see sections on Aviation Safety Oversight, Traffic Safety, and River Travel) below.  

River travel: River travel is common in Laos, but safety conditions do not conform to U.S. standards. In particular, travel by speedboat (the local term is “fast boat”) is dangerous and should be avoided, particularly during the dry season, which generally runs from December through April. Avoid travel on or across the Mekong River along the Thai border at night. Lao militia forces have shot at boats on the Mekong after dark. 

Photography and other restrictions: If you photograph anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest, including bridges, airfields, military installations, government buildings, or government vehicles, you may be detained or arrested, and local authorities may confiscate your camera. Be cautious when traveling near military bases and strictly observe signs delineating military base areas. Lao military personnel have detained and questioned foreigners who have unknowingly passed by unmarked military facilities. Because of the prohibition on religious proselytizing, you should avoid taking photographs or videotaping non-Buddhist religious services. If attending public services or religious gatherings, ask permission from the local police and civil authorities to photograph or videotape. Please see the section above on Religious Workers. Local police may suspect persons using any kind of sophisticated still or video camera equipment of being professional photographers or possibly photojournalists, which may lead to questioning, detention, arrest, or deportation.  

Financial transactions: Network-connected ATMs are available in Vientiane, including those operated by the Australia and New Zealand Bank – Vientiane (ANZV) and the Foreign Commercial Bank of Laos, also known as the Banque Pour le Commerce Exterieur de Laos (BCEL). BCEL also has network-connected ATMs in Vang Vieng, and most provincial capitals, or “Muang.”. These machines are generally limited to withdrawals of the equivalent of about 100 U.S. dollars in Lao kip only. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and tourist-oriented businesses. Credit card cash advances and/or Western Union money transfers are available at banks in most provincial capitals and other tourist centers. While the government requires that prices be quoted in Lao kip, prices are often given in U.S. dollars or Thai baht, especially in tourist areas or at markets. The Lao government requires payment in U.S. dollars for some taxes and fees, including visa fees and the airport departure tax. 

Customs/currency regulations: Lao customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Laos of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, foreign currency, cameras and other items. Please contact the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please also see section on “Religious Workers” above. Prohibitions exist against importing or exporting currency of any kind in excess of U.S. $2,500 or its equivalent without authorization. Contact the Lao Embassy or Lao customs authorities for more details.

Medical facilities and services in Laos are limited and do not meet Western standards. In Vientiane, U.S. citizens may wish to contact the Primary Care Center, also known as the Centre medical de L’Ambassade de France (CMAF), which is supported by the French Embassy. The CMAF is located on Khou Vieng Road across the street from the Green Park Hotel, tel. 856-21-214-150, or 856-20-5558-4617, or email. The Australian government also supports a fee-for-service clinic located at the Australian Embassy, which is located at Kilometer 4 on Thadeua Road, tel. 21-353-840. Both facilities have well-trained physicians who can handle routine and urgent health problems and provide travel medicine services. The Alliance Clinic, operated by the Wattana Hospital group from Thailand, is located in the Honda building near the airport. It has basic clinical services provided by Thai physicians.

U.S. citizens in Laos often seek medical care in Thailand. The Friendship Bridge linking Vientiane, Laos, to Nong Khai, Thailand, is open daily 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Officials generally will allow travelers to cross after hours in cases of medical emergency. AEK International Hospital (tel:  66-42-342-555) and North Eastern Wattana General Hospital, both in Udorn, Thailand (tel:  66-1-833-4262), have English-speaking staff accustomed to dealing with foreign patients. Ambulances for both AEK International Hospital and Nong Khai Wattana Hospital have permission to cross the Friendship Bridge to collect patients from Vientiane. In Vientiane, the Setthatirat Hospital ambulance (tel: 021-413-720) can take patients to Thailand. The Department of State assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or reputation of these hospitals.

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a problem throughout Southeast Asia. Please be aware of this problem and purchase pharmaceuticals only through the most reputable pharmacies and with a physician’s prescription.

Avian influenza (H5N1) continues to be a concern in Laos. In Laos and other Southeast Asian countries affected by avian influenza, you should avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals. For information on influenza, please refer to the Department of State’s Influenza Fact Sheet.

You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Kiribati

The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kir-ree-bas) is an island group in the Western Pacific Ocean. It consists of three archipelagos totaling 33 mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs, with a total land area of 800 square kilometers. Kiribati gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Kiribati has an elected president and a legislative assembly. The capital city is Tarawa. Kiribati has few natural resources, and its economy is very small. Kiribati does have small but growing niche markets for fishing, especially at Christmas Island, diving, surfing and bird watching.

Tourist facilities are not widely available. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kiribati for additional information. 

You will need a valid passport with a minimum of six months validity until the expiration date is required for entry. U.S. citizens are not required to obtain visas prior to travel to Kiribati. To see this and other general immigration and visa information, please go to the Kiribati National Tourism Office web site. For information on long-term visit or residency requirements, please contact the Consulate of the Republic of Kiribati, 95 Nakolo Place, Rm. 265, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819, tel. (808) 834-6775, fax (808) 834-7604, or via email.

There is an Airport Embarkation Tax of 20 AUD (Australian Dollars) levied on all passengers leaving Kiribati. Children under two years of age and transit passengers who do not leave the airport and continue their journey by the same aircraft are exempt from this tax.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Kiribati.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Stay up to date by:

  • Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution;
  • Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook;
  • Downloading our free Smart Traveler App through iTunes  and Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips;
  • Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays); and
  • Taking some time before you travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:  Although the crime rate in Kiribati is low, visitors should not be complacent regarding their personal safety or protecting valuables.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.  

VICTIMS OF CRIME:  If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:

  • Replace a stolen passport;
  • Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape;
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, we can contact family members or friends;
  • Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.  

Emergency Numbers in Kiribati: The general emergency equivalent to “911” is 999. You can also reach individual emergency services by directly dialing 992 for police, 993 for fire, and 994 for ambulance.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:  While you are traveling in Kiribati, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In Kiribati, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Kiribati, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Accessibility: While in Kiribati, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Accessibility of buildings, communications, and information for persons with disabilities is not mandated, and there are no special accommodations for persons with disabilities.

Customs: Kiribati’s customs authorities strictly prohibit the importation of firearms, ammunition, explosives and indecent publications or pornography. Strict quarantine laws govern the import of any part of plants, fruits, or vegetables, as well as soil, animals, and animal products. Visitors are not allowed to export human remains, artifacts that are 30 or more years old, traditional fighting swords, traditional tools, dancing ornaments, or suits of armor. For more information, please contact the Consulate of the Republic of Kiribati in Honolulu at (808) 834-6775 or via e-mail.

Currency: The Australian dollar is the legal currency in Kiribati. Traveler’s checks and all major currencies are accepted by banks and may also be exchanged for local currency at some local hotels. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most hotels.

Natural Disasters:  Kiribati is located in an area of high seismic activity. Undersea earthquakes in the South Pacific region can also generate destructive tsunamis. The government of Kiribati has only limited capability for notifying residents and visitors in the event of a tsunami warning. Visitors should take immediate precautions, such as seeking higher ground or refuge on an upper floor in a sturdy building, if you notice seismic activity and/or unusual tidal activity. Strong winds are common, especially during the cyclone season from November to April.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Health care throughout Kiribati, including Tarawa, is substandard. Travelers may encounter shortages of routine medications and supplies. Hospital accommodations are inadequate throughout the country and advanced technology is lacking. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization or evacuation to the United States or elsewhere may cost thousands of dollars. A serious medical condition could require an expensive medical evacuation to Honolulu, Hawaii.

If a person dies in Kiribati, there are no funeral homes with embalming or cremation services. If a relative wishes to return their deceased family member to the United States, there will be additional requirements needed to prepare the deceased member for travel. These requirements depend on the cause of death. The only international air connections in Kiribati are a weekly flight connecting Kiritimati (Christmas) Island to Honolulu and two weekly connections between Tarawa and Fiji. Air Kiribati provides infrequent domestic flights between the far-flung islands of Kiribati. 

All water should be regarded as a potential health risk. Visitors should refrain from drinking any water that is not bottled, boiled, or otherwise sterilized. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit should be peeled before being eaten. 

You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Cambodia

Cambodia is a developing country with a constitutional monarchy and an elected government. King Norodom Sihamoni is the constitutional monarch and head of state. Elections for Members of the National Assembly were held in July 2008 and are scheduled to take place again in July 2013. The July 2008 elections sent representatives from five different parties to the National Assembly, with the Cambodian People’s Party holding a majority of seats. The country has a market economy, with approximately 80 percent of the population of 13.4 million engaged in subsistence farming. The quality of tourist facilities varies widely in Cambodia, with the highest standards found in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Cambodia for additional information.

You will need a valid passport and a Cambodian visa to travel to Cambodia. Tourist and business visas are valid for one month beginning with the date of entry into Cambodia. Cambodia offers on-line visa processing. You may also apply in person at the Cambodian Embassy located at 4530 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011, tel. 202-726-7742, fax 202-726-8381. Tourists and business travelers may also obtain a Cambodian visa at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings. Cambodian airports now collect fingerprints upon entry using an inkless, electronic process. You will need two passport-sized (4cm by 6cm) photographs and a passport valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry into Cambodia. Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstay of an expired visa. If the overstay is 30 days or less, the charge is USD $5.00 per day; for overstays of more than 30 days, the charge is USD $6.00 per day. You should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Cambodia or visit the Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia web site for the most current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Cambodia.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

The State Department is concerned that individuals and groups may be planning terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests, as well as at sites frequented by Westerners in Southeast Asia, including in Cambodia. Extremist groups in Southeast Asia have transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. U.S. citizens residing in, or traveling to, Cambodia should therefore exercise caution in clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, places of worship, schools, outdoor recreation venues, tourist areas, beach resorts, and other places frequented by foreigners. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and avoid crowds and demonstrations. From time to time, the U.S. Embassy places local establishments off limits to Embassy personnel due to safety and security incidents. You can contact the Embassy for notification on the current restrictions in place for Embassy personnel, or register with the Embassy through STEP for security updates and alerts.

The U.S. Embassy frequently receives reports of random gunfire in the vicinity of bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues. While U.S. citizens have not been injured and do not appear to have been targeted, the potential exists for serious injury. U.S. citizens should be vigilant in these areas.

The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel along the Cambodian-Thai border in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, and the Banteay Ampil district of Banteay Meanchey province because of a continuing border dispute between the two countries. Thai and Cambodian soldiers have been stationed along the border in this area since July 2008 and have exchanged gunfire on several occasions. Land mines and unexploded ordnance are found in rural areas throughout Cambodia, and especially in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Siem Reap, and Kampong Thom provinces. Travelers in these regions should never walk in forested areas or even in dry rice paddies without a local guide. Areas around small bridges on secondary roads are particularly dangerous. Travelers should not touch anything that resembles a mine or unexploded ordnance; they should notify the Cambodia Mine Action Center at 023-368-841/981-083 or 084.

You should exercise extreme caution when traveling on boat tours and excursions in the coastal areas of the country. In April 2011, a boat containing 90 tourists capsized off the coast of Sihanoukville. While no one was seriously injured, such incidents could occur any time, as boat tour operators do not take into account basic safety concerns and rarely provide life jackets for all passengers.

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CRIME: Cambodia has a high crime rate, including street crime. Military weapons and explosives are readily available to criminals despite authorities’ efforts to collect and destroy such weapons. Armed robberies occur frequently, and foreign residents and visitors, including U.S. citizens, are among the victims. The Embassy has also received reports that hotel rooms of U.S. citizen visitors in Phnom Penh were burglarized while the occupants were asleep. 

The most common type of theft is “snatch and grab” robbery, and anything that can be quickly grabbed is at risk: cameras, jewelry, purses, backpacks, mobile phones, etc.  Exercise caution and keep belongings out of sight if you travel via “tuk-tuk,” as passengers in these open-air vehicles have been targeted by thieves. If walking along the street, make yourself less of a target by carrying bags or items in your hand or on the shoulder this is furthest from the street. If someone attempts to rob you, you should surrender your valuables immediately, since any perceived resistance may be met with physical violence, including lethal force. 

Pickpockets, some of whom are beggars, are present in the markets and at the tourist sites. Sometimes they may act overly friendly, placing their hand on your shoulder or back to distract you in order to pick your pocket. 

To avoid the risk of theft or confiscation of original documents, the U.S. Embassy advises its personnel and all U.S. citizens traveling to, or residing in, Cambodia to carry photocopies of their U.S. passport, driver’s license, and other important documents and to leave the originals in a hotel safe or other secure place. Local police rarely investigate reports of crime against tourists, and travelers should not expect to recover stolen items. It has also been reported that some police stations charge foreigners from $20-$100 to file a police report.

In 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Embassy received reports of presumed ATM/debit card fraud. ATM fraud can take place in many different ways, but the most common method is “skimming” card data as a transaction is made, while simultaneously recording the Personal Identification Number (PIN) that corresponds with the card. Several people have reported that unauthorized transactions have occurred after they have used their ATM cards in Cambodia. In light of these events, you should exercise caution by planning ahead and making copies of your ATM card, front and back, so that if you lose it, you still have the card number and contact information. Use ATMs located in secure areas, such as bank or hotel lobbies. Consider using only a few ATMs, and be aware of their appearance. If something looks unfamiliar about a machine, don’t use it until you have verified that any modification is legitimate. You should also be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Robberies are more likely to occur as you depart an ATM, so please stay alert to your surroundings and depart an ATM quickly.

The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel who travel to the provinces to exercise extreme caution outside the provincial towns at all times. Many rural parts of the country remain without effective policing. Avoid walking alone after dusk anywhere in Sihanoukville, especially along the waterfront. You should be particularly vigilant during annual festivals and at tourist sites in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, where there have been marked increases in motorcycle “snatch and grab” thefts of bags and purses.

If you are visiting Cambodia, you should practice sound personal security awareness by varying your routes and routines, maintaining a low profile, not carrying or displaying large amounts of cash, not wearing flashy or expensive jewelry, and not walking alone after dark. In addition, you should travel by automobile and not use local moto-taxis or cyclos (passenger-carrying bicycles). These vehicles are more vulnerable to armed robberies and offer no protection against injury when involved in traffic accidents.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the ‘bootlegs’ illegal in the United States, if you purchase them or try to bring them back into the United States you may also be breaking local or federal laws.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

We can:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • For violent crimes such as assault or rape, help you find appropriate medical care,
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities and, if you want us to, we can contact your family members or friends.
  • Although the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and can direct you to local attorneys.

The American Citizen Services (ACS) unit is located in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy at #1, St. 96 (entrance on St. 51 between St. 96 and 102), Phnom Penh. The Consular Section telephone number is 855-23-728-801 Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 855-23-728-000 after business hours and weekends.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Cambodia is 117 for police, 118 for fire, and 119 for ambulance.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Cambodia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws, legal systems, and criminal penalties can be vastly different than our own. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also acts that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Cambodia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. 

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Cambodia, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Accessibility:  While in Cambodia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Currently, except for buildings and hotels that have been built under international standards, most public places and public transportation are not accessible. Persons with disabilities will face difficulties with Cambodia’s sidewalks, rest rooms, road crossings, and tourist areas.

Water Festival During this annual festival which takes place in Phnom Penh in November, the population of the city nearly quadruples as millions of Cambodians from every town and province flock to the capital for three days. In November 2010, this festival was marred by a tragic stampede killing more than 300 people. Please avoid crowded areas near the riverfront during the Water Festival holiday.

Customs: Cambodian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cambodia of items such as drugs, firearms, antiquities, or ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Cambodia in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is allowed under Cambodia’s 1996 nationality law. In addition to being subject to all Cambodian laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who possess Cambodian nationality may also be subject to laws that impose special obligations on Cambodian citizens.

Business Transactions: Some U.S. citizens have reported threats of personal injury, extortion, detention, or kidnapping related to personal business disputes, in particular those involving real estate. If you are planning to engage in real estate deals or other significant financial transactions, please proceed with caution and retain the appropriate legal counsel. .

Financial Transactions: The U.S. dollar is widely used, especially for larger transactions, and most prices are quoted in dollars. Ripped or torn U.S. bills are not accepted. The Cambodian riel can also be used, but it is less favored and is mostly given to tourists as change for dollar purchases. The riel is commonly used in smaller towns and rural areas. Credit cards are increasingly accepted within Cambodia, and a number of banks in Phnom Penh accept Visa cards for cash advances. Credit cards are often subject to a service charge. Banks and major hotels accept travelers’ checks but usually charge a service fee. Several international banks operate ATM machines that allow travelers to obtain U.S. dollar currency in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other urban centers. Please see the section on crime for information on ATM and credit card fraud. Personal checks are not generally accepted. Several banks serve as Western Union agents to which funds can be wired, including in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and other provincial cities. Information on Western Union can be found at their website.

Photography: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest — including government buildings, military installations, airfields, and bridges — may result in problems with the authorities and confiscation of your camera. Please see our Customs Information.

Medical facilities and services in Cambodia do not meet international standards. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have a limited number of internationally-run clinics and hospitals that can provide basic medical care and stabilization. Medical care outside these two cities is almost non-existent. Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications, but because the quality of locally obtained medications can vary greatly, make sure to bring a supply of your medications that is adequate for the duration of your stay in Cambodia. You should be wary of purchasing local medication. Counterfeit medication is readily available, often indiscernible from authentic medication, and potentially lethal.

You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Madagascar Travel Alert

The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Madagascar that legislative elections, as well as the second and final round of presidential elections, will take place on Friday, December 20, 2013.

As election results will not be finalized immediately, the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo urges continued caution in the months following the elections. This Travel Alert will expire on February 28, 2014. 

Currently, elections are proceeding on the basis of an agreement brokered by the South African Development Community (SADC), with support from the international community. The agreement aims to place Madagascar on a path to a democratically elected presidency. Despite the agreement, the possibility of spontaneous protests during this election cycle remains a serious concern.

U.S. citizens in Madagascar are strongly urged to avoid voter polling places, demonstrations, political rallies, or large crowds of any kind during the election period. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn violent with little or no warning. 

The U.S. Embassy is closely monitoring election activity throughout Madagascar, and will provide updates as the situation warrants on the Embassy website and via Facebook and Twitter. U.S. citizens should regularly monitor these sites and local media outlets for updates. U.S. citizens should also be aware of their surroundings and exercise good judgment in the coming weeks. General information on preparing for emergencies is available on U.S. Embassy Antananarivo’s website.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens gain access to vital security information and enable the U.S. Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website at travel.state.gov, where the Worldwide CautionTravel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. An archive of messages for U.S. citizens in Madagascar is available on the Embassy website. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Google Play Store, for travel information at your fingertips.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy in Madagascar is located at:

Lot 27 A Point Liberty
Andranoro-Antehiroka, Antananarivo, Madagascar 
Telephone: [261] (20) 23-480-00 (available 24 hours)

Fax: [261] (20) 23-480-35

Website: http://www.antananarivo.usembassy.gov/

U.S. citizens in need of urgent assistance should call the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy: 034-49-328-54

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Indonesia

Indonesia is an independent republic consisting of more than 17,500 islands spread over 3,400 miles along the Equator. The main islands are Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Papua, Halmahera, and Seram. The capital city of Jakarta lies in the lowlands of West Java, the most populated island. The country has approximately 246,000,000 people and more than 300 ethnic groups.

Indonesia’s geographic location and topography make the country prone to natural disasters, especially seismic upheaval due to its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Indonesia is a developing country with a growing economy and many infrastructure shortcomings, especially in rural areas. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Indonesia for additional information.

You will need a passport valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Indonesia. The U.S. Embassy cannot obtain entry permission for U.S. citizens with expiring passports. If you arrive and your passport has less than six month’s validity, Indonesian authorities will require you to depart Indonesia immediately to obtain a new U.S. passport elsewhere; you will not be allowed to renew your passport here and follow-up later with Indonesian authorities. Also, if your passport does not have the required six month’s validity remaining on your passport, you may be denied boarding at your point of origin or at a transit point en route. Generally, you should expect to wait two weeks for a U.S. passport to be issued outside of the United States.

You are required to have a visa to enter Indonesia, obtained either beforehand or on arrival. Tourist passport holders traveling for private purposes may apply for a 30-day visitor visa on arrival at the airports in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Banda Aceh, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Manado, Biak, Ambon, Balikpapan, Pontianak, Kupang, Batam, and South Sumatra. Visas-on-Arrival are also available at a limited number of seaports, including the Batam and Bintan ferry terminals opposite Singapore, but they are unavailable at any land border crossing. Visas-on-Arrival are only for private, temporary business or pleasure visits. Visas-on-Arrival are valid for 30 days and cost U.S. $25. A Visa-on-Arrival may be extended one time only. An onward/return ticket is required to apply for a Visa-on-Arrival at these ports of entry. The Indonesian Embassy website indicates that Visas-on-Arrival are unavailable to government travelers who want to enter Indonesia on a diplomatic or official passport for an official purpose or mission.

Travel for other purposes requires the appropriate Indonesian visa before arrival. For details on Visas-on-Arrival and other visa information please visit the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia website. 

If you are entering Indonesia through Bali, you must have two fully blank passport pages in your passport. If you are entering through other ports of entry, you must have at least one blank page. Indonesian immigration inspectors do not consider amendment pages in your passport as blank pages. If your passport is nearly full, be sure to obtain extra blank passport pages before you travel – go to How to Add Extra Pages to Your U.S. Passport. If you don’t meet Indonesian entry criteria properly, you may be denied entry on the spot with no recourse and put on the next available flight departing Indonesia.

Please be advised that Indonesian entry and visa procedures may be inconsistently applied at different ports of entry, and when faced with making a decision, Indonesian authorities usually make the more conservative, restrictive decision. Entry requirements are subject to change at the sole discretion of the Indonesian authorities, a process over which the U.S. government has no control. 

You may apply for a visa at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., or at an Indonesian consulate elsewhere in the United States. In some cases, you may also apply at Indonesian embassies and consulates in other countries. If you are traveling overseas and wish to apply for an Indonesian visa, you should inquire with the local Indonesian Embassy in the country where you are currently traveling. For up-to-date information, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia: 2020 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20036, phone: (202) 775-5200, or at Indonesian Consulates in Los Angeles (213) 383-5126; San Francisco (415) 474-9571; Chicago (312) 920-1880; New York (212) 879-0600; and Houston (713) 785-1691. Visit the Embassy of Indonesia website for the most current visa information.

Indonesia strictly enforces its immigration/visa requirements. Travelers who overstay the date stamped in their Visa-on-Arrival are subject to a fine of 200,000 Rupiah, approximately U.S. $22, per day, and other sanctions. Westerners, including U.S. citizens, have been jailed for visa violations and/or overstays. Violators may also be subject to substantial fines and/or deportation from Indonesia for immigration and visa violations. Immigration officials have also detained foreigners for conducting work, academic, or other non-tourist activities while on visitor status. Even gratis volunteer work with local or international NGOs is not permitted on visitor status. Penalties for such immigration/visa violations have included a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of Rupiah 25 million. Travelers should contact an Indonesian consular office to determine the appropriate visa category before traveling to Indonesia. Please consult the Criminal Penalties section below for further information.

All airline passengers, including children, diplomats, and officials, are subject to a departure tax, which must be paid in Rupiah, cash only. The international departure tax as of August 2012 is 150,000 Rupiah in Jakarta and varies at other international airports. The domestic departure tax in Jakarta is 40,000 Rupiah and also varies elsewhere. 

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Indonesia. The Indonesian Government screens incoming passengers in response to reported outbreaks of pandemic illnesses.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Since 2005, the Indonesian police and security forces have disrupted a number of terrorist cells, including Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization that carried out several bombings at various times from 2000 to 2012. Indonesia suffered its worst terrorist attack in 2002, when more than 200 foreign tourists and Indonesian citizens were killed in Bali. Deadly car bombs have exploded outside hotels and resorts frequented by Westerners in Jakarta and Bali in 2003 and 2005 and outside of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004. In July 2009, JI-affiliated elements bombed two Western hotels in Jakarta, killing nine Indonesians and foreigners and injuring over 50, including six U.S. citizens. Since these attacks, Indonesia has effectively pursued counterterrorism efforts through legislation and law enforcement. In 2010, security forces arrested more than 100 individuals on terrorism-related charges. However, violent elements in Indonesia continue to demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out violent attacks with little or no warning.

Regionally, terrorist cells and insurgents have targeted police stations and officers. In October 2012, two police officers were found assassinated in Poso, Sulawesi. In November 2012, there were various armed attacks on police stations and officers in Central Java, including a bomb found in Pasar Kliwon Police Precinct, Surakarta. Fortunately, many of these attacks failed due to Indonesian National Police (INP) intervention.

Extremists may target both official and private interests, including hotels, nightclubs, shopping areas, and restaurants. Whether at work, pursuing daily activities, and/or while traveling, you should be vigilant and prudent at all times. Monitor local news reports, vary your routes and times, and maintain a low profile. Be sure to consider the security and safety preparedness of hotels, residences, restaurants, and entertainment or recreational venues that you frequent.

In November 2009, unknown assailants shot at foreigners in Banda Aceh, North Sumatra, an area that was devastated by the 2004 tsunami and the scene of a long-running separatist conflict that ended in 2005. The gunfire wounded a European development worker. In the same area, a house occupied by U.S. citizen teachers was targeted and hit by gunfire, but there were no U.S. citizen casualties. 

Be aware that a real or even perceived offense may generate a negative or even violent response from local people. For example, in June 2008, two U.S. citizens in western Sumatra were beaten after they reportedly accused a local man of theft. In the same month, another U.S. citizen in Sumatra was threatened by members of a local mosque when he complained about being awakened from his sleep by the morning call to prayer.

Demonstrations are common in Jakarta and throughout Indonesia. Common areas for protest activity in Jakarta include both the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the U.S. Embassy. While these demonstrations are usually peaceful and police presence is normally sufficient to maintain order, demonstrations have occasionally become violent, particularly when involving issues related to religion. In the past, anti-American demonstrations at the Embassy have been sparked by U.S. foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other issues related to the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

From September through November 2012, significant protest activity occurred throughout the region following the release of “Innocence of Muslims,” a video that depicted extremely anti-Islamic sentiment. 

We advise that people avoid large crowds and other gatherings that could turn violent. 

Localized political violence and civil unrest due to ethnic, sectarian, religious and separatist reasons is not uncommon in various parts of the country. Religious and ethnic violence is common in Central Sulawesi. Papua harbors a persistent separatist movement, which includes a small number of armed Free Papua Movement guerillas who have attacked Indonesian government targets and personnel in the Puncak Jaya area of the Papuan highlands, and security forces continue to pursue separatist guerillas there. In the area between Timika and the copper and gold mine of Grasberg in Papua, there have also been over 30 shooting incidents between 2009 and early 2012 by unknown gunmen who were targeting Indonesian security personnel employees, and contractors of a U.S. multi-national mining company. 

Indonesia’s location on the “Ring of Fire” often results in severe seismic events that can pose grave threats, and disrupt daily life and regional air travel. When these events occur, there is typically little to no warning and Indonesian emergency response capabilities are limited in the best of circumstances. U.S. citizens must prepare for unforeseen emergencies when living or traveling in Indonesia. 

If you have an Indonesian cell phone you may sign up to receive U.S. Embassy emergency text message alerts by composing a text message on your cell phone utilizing the following format:

REGALRTLASTNAME#FIRSTNAME, e.g. REGALRTDOE#JOHN;
Send to 9388 from your Indonesian cell phone and you will receive a text message confirmation of enrollment. Please note that you will be charged RP1000 per SMS Alert Message.

Please maintain up-to-date travel documents and personal papers in the event you must depart Indonesia quickly in an emergency. Travel distances, poor communications, and inadequate infrastructure make it extremely difficult for the Embassy to respond to U.S. citizen emergencies in some areas. Many parts of Indonesia (including many tourist destinations) are isolated and difficult to reach or contact.

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CRIME: Crime can be a problem in some major metropolitan areas in Indonesia. Crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing and theft occur throughout the country. If you are in Jakarta and Surabaya, hire a taxi either at a major hotel or shopping center queue, or by calling or hailing a reputable taxi company, such as Silver Bird, Blue Bird or White Express. If you are arriving at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, use only these taxis obtained at a designated taxi queue or clearly marked taxi stand. Politely decline all offers of help from touts or anyone who approaches you. Major hotels have staff on duty to offer safe meet-and-greet service at airports and can also direct their hotel guests to a reliable taxi. It is best to request meet and greet services from your hotel in advance. Add about 25,000 Rupiah to the metered fare for required airport taxes and toll road fees. Depending on traffic, a minimum metered fare is 150,000-200,000 Rupiah from Soekarno-Hatta airport to central Jakarta. Criminals in Jakarta regularly rob customers in taxis painted to look like taxis from reputable companies; booking taxis by telephone directly from the company or through hotels is the best way to avoid falling victim to this scam.

Armed car-jacking, theft of vehicles and non-violent residential break-ins do occur in Indonesia. Personal and “snatch-and-grab” robberies are the most common type of crime, and have occurred regularly, to include targeting expatriates and embassy personnel. There continue to be crimes committed against people taking disreputable and freelance taxis. These types of crimes usually involve the driver taking his passenger(s) – usually women – to a remote area where a group of armed men rob them of their jewelry, cell phones, money and any other items of value such as ATM cards and force the victim(s) to reveal his or her PIN codes so that the assailants could obtain cash. In a few instances, the criminals drove with the victim in the taxi to an ATM machine and forced them to withdraw cash. Visitors to Indonesia should use only reputable taxi companies and avoid public mass transit platforms such as buses and trains. Pick pocketing is another crime that both locals and visitors fall victim to, with most pick pocketing occurring in crowded areas such as the mass transit system or in restaurants/bars. Indonesian police have noted an upward trend in burglaries and armed robberies in Jakarta, an increase of 25 percent in 2010, particularly in wealthier areas where expatriates tend to live. The best defense is to proactively take personal responsibility for your own security: know the layout of your dwelling, have someone at home at all times, discuss security procedures with your family and household staff, and know your neighborhood.

Claiming to act in the name of religious or moral standards, certain extremist groups have, on occasion, attacked night spots and places of entertainment. Most of these attacks have sought to destroy property rather than to injure individuals. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-American or anti-Western demonstrations.

Credit card fraud and theft is a serious and growing problem in Indonesia, particularly for Westerners. Travelers should minimize use of credit cards and instead use cash. If used, credit card numbers should be closely safeguarded at all times. Travelers should also avoid using credit cards for online transactions at Internet cafes and similar venues. Travelers who decide to use credit cards should monitor their credit card activity carefully and immediately report any unauthorized use to their financial institution. ATM cards have been skimmed and cloned, resulting in bank accounts being drained. If you choose to use an ATM, exercise the same level of caution you would in the United States when using unfamiliar ATM machines and monitor your statements closely. Selecting tour guides, hotels, and business partners based on their reputation, competence, and ability to help can be very useful when considering a stay in Indonesia.

Additionally, organized crime is also a problem in Indonesia including illegal logging and fishing, trafficking-in-persons, the sale of illicit and counterfeit drugs, and corruption. You are encouraged to carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship are readily available. If you are arrested or detained, formal notification of the arrest is normally provided in writing to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, a process that can take several weeks. If detained, telephone the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, or the nearest U.S. consular office immediately.

Drink poisoning and “drink-spiking” incidents have been of increasing concern. There have been several reports of foreign tourists and Indonesians suffering from methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor or cocktails, most recently in Bali and Lombok. This has led to serious illness and, in some cases, death. There have also been reports of methanol poisoning from drinking adulterated Arak/Arrack, a local rice or palm liquor. The symptoms of methanol poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, and lack of coordination. Symptoms that can occur from 10 to up to 30 hours after initial consumption of methanol include, blurring or complete loss of vision. 

There have been many reports of “drink-spiking” in clubs and night spots. One drug used in these incidents is believed to be an animal tranquilizer, and its effects are extremely powerful. Besides putting the victim in an unconscious state for a long time, the side effects include memory loss, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. Although most of these incidents involve male victims, it is important to remember that females have been victimized in the past with “Date-Rape” drugs. Local, “home brew” alcoholic drinks may also be spiked.

Some ways to avoid “drink-spiking” and drink poisoning include: go out with a group; do not leave drinks unattended; drink at reputable establishments licensed to serve alcohol; do not drink home-brewed alcoholic drinks; be aware that labels on bottles may have been altered or the contents may have been changed; and drink responsibly, in moderation. Even though alcohol is widely available, public inebriation is highly frowned upon. 

If you or someone you are traveling with exhibit signs of methanol poisoning or drink spiking, seek immediate medical attention.

Maritime piracy in Indonesian waters continues, although incidents have decreased steadily in recent years. The most recent reports are of thefts of valuables or cargo from boats that are in port and not at sea. Before traveling by sea, especially in the Straits of Malacca between the Riau Province and Singapore and in the waters north of Sulawesi and Kalimantan, travelers are recommended to review the current security situation with local authorities.

While counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available in Indonesia, if you purchase them you may be breaking local law. Travelers are reminded that penalties may apply if bootleg items are brought into the United States.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will be able to assist travelers to:

  • Replace a stolen passport.
  • Help you find appropriate medical care for violent crimes such as assault or rape.
  • Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and contact family members or friends.

Although the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and can direct you to local attorneys.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency telephone line in Indonesia is 112. In addition, dial 110 for police, 113 for fire, and 118 for ambulance. While these numbers exist, they are not always answered. It is often more effective to physically go to Indonesian authorities to ask for their help rather than to wait for emergency services to respond to your phone call. There are sets of local direct emergency numbers in each district and you should learn and keep these emergency numbers at hand. Indonesian emergency services, police, fire and ambulance, if available at all, is often rudimentary at best. 

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Indonesia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Persons violating Indonesian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. In Indonesia, you may be detained for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. It is also illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, and driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Indonesia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. 

In March 2008, the Indonesian parliament passed a bill criminalizing the access of internet sites containing violent or pornographic material. Anyone found guilty of the new offense could be jailed for up to three years or have to pay a heavy fine.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children, using, and/or disseminating child pornography is a crime prosecutable in the United States regardless of the country where the activity occurs. The Indonesian child protection law imposes up to 15 years in prison for those convicted of engaging in sexual contact with a child, and the anti-trafficking in persons law imposes 15 years in prison for anyone engaging in sex with a victim of trafficking.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Indonesia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. A life sentence or the death penalty can be given in cases of drug trafficking; several foreigners have been sentenced to death in recent years. One U.S. citizen was given a life sentence for drug trafficking. Indonesian prisons are harsh and do not meet Western standards. Many prisoners are required to supplement their prison diets and clothing with funds from relatives. Medical and dental care in Indonesian prisons, while available, is below Western standards, and access to medical testing to diagnose illness as well as medications to treat conditions is often difficult to obtain.

Arrest notifications in Indonesia: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States Government is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

To reach the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, dial (62) (021)-3435-9000 ext. 0 for the operator and ask for the duty officer. Please remain calm and accept the assistance from and information provided by an Embassy Consular Officer who will visit the arrestee at the earliest possible opportunity.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The Regional Security Officer of the U.S. Embassy must receive prior notice from U.S. government employees of their travel to Papua, Aceh, Central Sulawesi, and Maluku (these areas are subject to change.) Separate pre-travel procedures apply to U.S. Armed Forces personnel who intend to travel to Indonesia for any reason. For further information, please see the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide.

Accessibility: Indonesia enacted laws in 1997, 1998, 2004, 2007, and 2008 regarding accessibility for the disabled. However, except for buildings constructed under international standards, most public places and transportation facilities are not accessible, and applicable laws are not enforced. Persons with disabilities will face severe difficulties in Indonesia as walkways, road crossings, rest rooms, and tourist and other areas are not equipped with accommodating features.

Sharia law: Sharia law is enforced in Aceh, northern Sumatra, by a separate police force. In a few other areas, it exists unofficially or through local legislation. In these areas, implementation is uneven, processes are opaque, and enforcement can be arbitrary. Sharia authorities rarely confront non-Muslims about violations of Sharia law, but instances have occurred. Visitors to all areas are encouraged to respect local tradition, dress modestly, and seek guidance from local police if confronted by Sharia authorities. Many women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, carry a scarf to drape around their head while traveling in Aceh, although wearing a headscarf is not compulsory, and non-Muslim women are not necessarily expected to wear one. The Sharia concept of “khalwat” forbids an unmarried man and unmarried woman (who are not close relatives) to be alone together in closed rooms or secluded areas.

Natural disasters: Many areas of Indonesia are at high risk for natural disasters due to the country’s geographic location and topography. If you are planning hikes or other outdoor activities in Indonesia, obtain up-to-date information on local conditions, travel with a reputable local guide, have overseas medical insurance, and carry a local mobile phone. Obey instructions from security and emergency personnel, and do not enter restricted areas. Organized and trained rescue services are rudimentary in populated areas and do not exist in many remote areas.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis: Indonesia is geographically located on the “ring of fire” and there are minor, and sometimes major, earthquakes somewhere in the archipelago every week. In addition to the seismic activity, there are volcanos, tsunamis, and other natural disasters, including occasional flooding. 

An earthquake in the Mentawai islands in October 2010 caused a tsunami which killed over 450 locals and displaced up to tens of thousands for several weeks. Because of the islands’ remoteness, emergency response personnel needed several days to evacuate tourists and bring in emergency relief supplies. In 2011, the Government of Indonesia recorded more than 250 earthquakes measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale or higher across the country. In September 2011, a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake struck Singkil Baru in Aceh. It caused three casualties and affected more than 1,500 buildings in the area.

In places where tsunamis are a potential threat, you should head inland for high ground immediately when large tremors are felt as tsunami warning systems may not be operable or reports delayed; be sure to establish an escape route beforehand. The city of Jakarta lacks an earthquake plan, according to its own 2010 report, which is a common problem replicated throughout the country. 

Volcanoes: In 2010, several Indonesian volcanoes erupted and caused major damage and disruption to the populace and to economic interests. Mount Sinabung in the Tanah Karo Highlands of North Sumatra erupted in August 2010. The eruption caused the evacuation of 30,000 people. Mt. Merapi, the largest of these eruptions, resulted in 279,000 internally displaced persons, with 141 casualties and 453 injuries. Indonesia has deployed an effective volcano monitoring system, which has enabled the Government of Indonesia to inform the population about potential eruptions and to direct evacuations that prevent casualties. When Mt. Karangetang in Central Sulawesi erupted in March 2011, 1,200 residents were evacuated with no casualties. 

Flooding and Landslides: During the rainy season, which runs from December to March, floods and mudslides wreak havoc in many areas of Indonesia, including Jakarta. In November 2012 alone, 40 natural disasters occurred, affecting approximately 33,000 people. Floods were the most frequent, accounting for 60 percent of all natural disasters during the month and claimed 17 casualties. Furthermore, as of January 2013, substantial flooding had occurred in Jakarta due to heavy rains. Landslides frequently follow heavy rains, and travelers should exercise caution both in and outside of cities. On the roads, be aware of the possibility of land slippage, road washouts, and potholes. 

Fires: Fire departments lack modern equipment and training. Seventy percent of Jakarta’s fire hydrants are inoperative, and the city fire department is only manned at fifty percent of its recommended level. Outside of Jakarta, fire prevention can be even more challenging. Occupants of high floors and crowded markets are at great risk, since fire departments typically are unable to reach those places. 

Environmental quality: Air quality outside of Jakarta and other major cities is acceptable most of the time. However, within Indonesia’s major cities, air quality can range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy.” Some expatriate residents of Jakarta have tested positive for highly elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. The air and water quality in Jakarta is particularly polluted. Individuals susceptible to chronic respiratory illnesses should consult with their doctor before spending significant amounts of time in Jakarta. Open burning of rain forests continues, although to a lesser degree than in the early 2000s. Water is not potable. A 2008 study showed that 100 percent of Jakarta’s water is contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria. Only bottled water should be consumed. Sewage and drainage systems are incomplete.

Scuba diving, snorkeling, and surfing: Exercise prudence when scuba diving, snorkeling, or surfing and when visiting remote tourist locations. Strong seasonal undercurrents in coastal waters pose a fatal threat to surfers and swimmers; every year, several U.S. citizens drown in unstable water. Surfers and divers should also be aware that local fishermen in coastal waters may use explosives and poisons to catch fish, although this practice is illegal in Indonesia. Rescue services are mostly ad hoc and cannot be relied upon. Dangerous marine life such as cnidaria (jellyfish) and physalia (Portuguese Man-O-War) are common, and divers and swimmers should be prepared to provide first aid if encountered. Divers should contact the Divers Alert Network (DAN) and obtain diving medical insurance in the event decompression is required as air evacuation is usually the only way to get to the nearest decompression chamber. DAN has a large network of dive physicians that are available for consultation and emergency response to its members.

Papua: All travelers to Papua and West Papua provinces, whether traveling as a private citizen or in an official capacity, must obtain prior approval to travel from the Indonesian government. Low-intensity communal conflict exists in Papua and has caused numerous deaths and injuries. Travelers should strictly avoid situations involving armed tribal members or riots/demonstrations. There have been numerous deaths and injuries during anti-government protests or during actions by the Indonesian security forces against suspected separatists. Between 2009 and 2012, gun shots from unknown attackers on the private road from Kuala Kencana to Tembagapura caused several casualties, including deaths, of government forces, local workers, and expatriates.

Mountain hiking: Hikers on Puncak Jaya or other mountains in Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia should organize their trip through a reputable tour operator and ensure that they have firm, realistic, primary and backup plans for climbing down the mountain, including evacuation insurance. In the past, some local tour operators have abandoned climbers after they reached the summit or hiking that has lasted more days than expected have led to disputes with tour operators over cost, leading to hikers being abandoned. Climbers should be aware that transiting private or commercial properties on the way down the mountain is considered trespassing and not a safe or legal alternative to a proper plan. Hikers should assume that they will be completely on their own in case of any emergency. Hikers should be aware that severe seismic events occur frequently and without notice.

Teaching English in Indonesia: If you would like to teach English in Indonesia, carefully review employment contracts before traveling to Indonesia. Most contracts include a monetary penalty for early termination. English schools may hold passports to insure that the employee complies with the terms of the contract or pays the appropriate penalty. There have been many U.S. citizens who were unable to depart Indonesia when they desired after having terminated their employment contracts early because their employer would not release their passports.

Commercial disputes: If you are involved in commercial or property matters, be aware that the business environment is complex, and formal, regulated, transparent dispute settlement mechanisms are not fully developed. Local and foreign businesses often cite corruption and ineffective courts as serious problems. Business and regulatory disputes, which would be generally considered administrative or civil matters in the United States, may in some cases be treated as criminal cases in Indonesia. It can be challenging to resolve trade disputes. For more information, please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Report and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s page for Indonesia.

Internet purchases: U.S. citizens frequently may be defrauded when purchasing goods by Internet from Indonesian suppliers whom the buyer has not met personally.

Currency: The widespread use of counterfeit currency causes banks, exchange facilities, and most commercial establishments to not accept U.S. currency that is worn, defaced, torn, or issued before 1996.

Dual nationality: Indonesian law does not recognize dual nationality for adults over 18 years of age. Because of this law, U.S. citizens who are also documented as Indonesian nationals may experience difficulties with immigration formalities in Indonesia. Holding dual citizenship may also hamper the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular protection to dual national U.S. citizens. In addition to being subject to all Indonesian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Indonesian citizens. In July 2006, the Indonesian Parliament passed new legislation allowing children under age 18 to hold foreign as well as Indonesian citizenship. Parents whose children hold both Indonesian and U.S. citizenship continue to experience difficulties with entry and exit immigration procedures.

Transportation: There has been a rapid rise in all manners of public and private transportation within Indonesia. New private airlines have begun operations over the past several years, as have new bus and ferry lines. Air, ferry, and road accidents resulting in fatalities, injuries, and significant damage are common. Indonesia experienced several fatal plane crashes and non-fatal runway overruns in 2011. Additionally, several ferry accidents and a train collision resulted in dozens of fatalities and even more injuries, due to over-crowding and unsafe conditions. Indonesia continues to hold a category 2 safety rating after the Federal Aviation Administration lowered the rating in March 2007.

While all forms of transportation are ostensibly regulated in Indonesia, oversight is spotty, equipment tends to be less well maintained than that operated in the United States, amenities do not typically meet Western standards, and rescue/emergency response is notably lacking. Travelers by boat or ferry should not board before confirming that adequate personal floatation devices are provided. Ferries are frequently overcrowded and lack basic safety equipment, and there have been a number of sinking ferries’ resulting in loss of life.

Customs regulations: Indonesian customs authorities strictly regulate the import and export of items such as prescription medicines and foreign language materials or videotapes/discs. You should contact the Embassy of Indonesia in Washington or Indonesian consulates elsewhere in the United States for specific information about customs requirements. Transactions involving such products may be illegal, and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeiture and/or fines.

Please see our Customs Information.

LGBT issues: Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia and is not specifically criminalized. In 2009, Aceh’s provincial legislative council passed a measure criminalizing homosexuality; however, it has not been signed into law. In recent years, hardliners have disrupted some LGBT events, but there are a number of LGBT organizations and venues across Indonesia, particularly in major cities and tourist areas.

The general level of sanitation and health care in Indonesia is far below U.S. standards. Some routine medical care is available in all major cities, although most expatriates leave the country for all but the simplest medical procedures. Psychological and psychiatric services are limited throughout Indonesia. Medical procedures requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to locations with acceptable medical care, such as Singapore, Australia, or the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Physicians and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment or sizable deposits before offering medical care. A non-exhaustive list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals is accessible via the U.S. Embassy Jakarta’s website. Many places in Indonesia are inaccessible to the physically handicapped. Sidewalks tend to be uneven and difficult to navigate, and many buildings do not have elevators.

Ambulance services are individually run by hospitals and clinics. Indonesian ambulance attendants lack paramedical training equivalent to U.S. standards, and there is no reliable emergency ambulance service in Indonesia. If you are staying in Indonesia for an extended period, especially if you have known health problems, you are advised to investigate private ambulance services in your area, and to provide family and close contacts with the direct telephone number(s) of the preferred service. Traffic congestion is a significant problem in urban Indonesia and roads are generally in poor condition in rural Indonesia, so ambulance transport, if it exists at all, even over short distances can take hours.

Community sanitation and public health programs are inadequate throughout Indonesia and subject to frequent breakdowns. Water and air pollution and traffic congestion have rapidly increased with the unstructured growth of major cities. Almost all maladies of the developing world are endemic to Indonesia, and immediate treatment is problematic. Residents are subject to water- and food-borne illnesses such as typhoid, hepatitis, cholera, worms, amebiasis, giardia, cyclospora, and bacterial dysentery.

Mosquito-borne dengue fever and tuberculosis exist throughout Indonesia and have been serious in Jakarta. Indonesia has the highest incidence of dengue fever in Asia, which is caused by several species of mosquitoes biting during the day. Multiple drug-resistant strains of malaria are endemic in some parts of Indonesia but not in metropolitan Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, and Bali; even short stays can be disastrous without malaria prophylaxis. Precautions against being bitten – such as mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeves, and sleeping under a bed net are all recommended. Malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended for travel to malaria-endemic areas outside major cities. Travelers to Sulawesi should be tested for schistosomiasis.

Asthma and other respiratory difficulties are common and generally worse in Jakarta than in other areas, exacerbated by the high pollution levels. Indonesia has one of the highest prevalence of tuberculosis, which is transmitted through the air, shared smoking devices, and particularly in densely crowded areas. Precautions include wearing a face mask when in crowded areas, and having a PPD test after departure. Skin allergies are also common. Avian (H5N1), swine (H1N1) influenza, and seasonal influenza (H2N3) are endemic in Indonesia all year with peaks during the rainy season (November- April). Influenza vaccination may be helpful to reduce instances of seasonal flu (H2N3). High risk areas for highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) are live-bird markets around the greater Jakarta area. Current information about influenza in Indonesia can be found on Flu Net. Rabies is endemic in Indonesia, but extensive dog vaccination has reduced cases in Bali by almost 80% with a possibility for elimination by the end of 2012; other islands in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Sumatra still pose risks for rabies. Rabies is a highly fatal disease and treatment availability is very limited. If bitten, immediately seek treatment at a reputable medical clinic or hospital. If you will spend time in rural areas while in Indonesia the CDC recommends rabies vaccination. Indonesia has been polio-free since 2007. Travelers are urged to consult with their personal physicians and to get updated information on prevalent diseases before traveling to Indonesia. Travelers should be current on all recommended immunizations; those planning on traveling extensively should consider the series of three pre-exposure inoculations against rabies. Local pharmacies carry a range of products of variable quality, availability, and cost. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a significant risk and U.S. citizens should patronize only reputable pharmacies.

Tap water is not potable. In 2008, Indonesian authorities found that 100 percent of tap water samples from the Jakarta area tested positive for coliform bacteria, as well as high concentrations of toxic chemicals, including lead and mercury. Bottled water should be used for consumption, including for cooking. Factory bottled soft drinks, and juices and milk sold in sealed containers are generally safe. Take extra care preparing fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. If you cannot see refrigerators, expect that any food, especially street food, is preserved with high concentrations of formaldehyde derivatives. Consider that unprocessed or raw food may be unsafe even in higher end establishments. Washing, soaking, peeling, and/or thoroughly cooking food are mandatory procedures to minimize insecticide, bacterial, and parasitic contamination. Gastrointestinal disorders are common. A wide variety of foods are available in local markets and supermarkets, and with some care and effort, it is possible to eat a well-balanced diet.

Frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer, wearing mosquito repellent, not eating street food, and drinking only bottled beverages are some ways to stay healthy while traveling.

Car and motorcycle accidents are the primary causes of severe injury to foreigners living and traveling in Indonesia. Defensive driving and use of seatbelts are encouraged. Use of motorcycles and bicycling in traffic are both discouraged. Rh negative blood may be difficult to obtain in an area with very few Westerners. Therefore, it is important to know your blood type and recognize that scarcity may be a problem.

Updated information and links to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are posted on the U.S. Embassy Jakarta’s website.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Indonesia. For further information, please consult the CDC’s information on TB.

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Kid World Citizen’s Inspiring Speech at Global Education Conference

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