Monthly Archives: April 2014

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The capital city is Juba. South Sudan’s independence came after many years of civil war between forces in the south and the Government of Sudan. Despite the signing of numerous agreements in September 2012 regarding oil transport, border security, economic and financial matters, a safe demilitarized border zone, and the final status of disputed areas, the relationship between the two countries remains fragile.

South Sudan is one of the world’s least developed countries. Its economy relies largely on revenues from oil exports and trade with its neighbor, Sudan. Oil production stopped in January 2012 following a dispute with Sudan over transit fees, further and considerably reducing the country’s foreign reserves and forcing it further into debt. Production of oil in South Sudan resumed in April 2013.

In December 2013, South Sudan fell into a highly destructive conflict that led to the evacuation of most U.S. Embassy staff and severely limited the activities and capacity of those that remained.  The conflict directly affected Juba, which experienced fighting for several days in December 2013, as well as Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile States, each of which continues to experience occasional fighting between rebel and government forces, and sometimes brutal attacks on civilians. Juba remains tense with an increased presence of security forces. Approximately 31,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to live on two Protection of Civilian (POC) areas located on the two United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compounds due to continued fears of returning to their neighborhoods.

The Security Council established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) under a Chapter VII mandate in 2011. UNMISS consists of approximately 7600 uniformed staff, 900 international civilian staff, 1300 local civilian staff, and 400 UN Volunteers. Numerous UN agencies and non-governmental organizations provide humanitarian and development assistance. South Sudan also has a large diplomatic presence, although numbers have diminished since the conflict began in December 2013.

Electricity, telephone and telecommunications, roads, and other forms of infrastructure are unreliable or sparse in many areas. Civilian institutions, including the criminal justice system, are rudimentary and not presently functioning at a level consistent with international standards. There are no government services available in many parts of the country. South Sudan operates as a cash economy, and tourist facilities are limited throughout the country. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on South Sudan for additional information on U.S. – South Sudan relations.

U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter South Sudan. If visiting or living in South Sudan, you should ensure that your passport is current and secure and that it has at least two vacant visa pages and is valid for six months beyond your date of entry. U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa in advance of arrival. Further, you may be asked to state the purpose of your visit upon arrival. You should register with the Aliens Department at the Ministry of Interior in Juba if you are staying in South Sudan for more than three days.

If you are traveling from South Sudan to Sudan, you will be required to obtain a Sudanese visa or an entry permit prior to arrival at a port of entry.  

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

You can find information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs. For further information about customs regulations, please refer to the Bureau’s Customs Information sheet. 

On December 15, 2013, violence erupted in Juba within the Presidential Guard Force of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). During the days and weeks that followed, elements of the government security forces conducted targeted ethnic killings and attacks across the city. These events led to armed conflict between government forces and rebel forces in several states across the country and ethnic violence by civilians. This conflict is ongoing in several parts of the country, including Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile States, and Juba remains tense and insecure. The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to South Sudan.

Extreme care should be exercised in all parts of the country, including the states that continue to experience insecurity in the current conflict. Care should also be exercised in border states between South Sudan and Sudan where tensions exist due to the long, un-demarcated border. Armed militias with decades of experience in the long civil war that preceded South Sudan’s independence will require time to adapt to peace. Clashes between ethnic groups are common. In the past, a Ugandan rebel group known as the “Lord’s Resistance Army” has operated along South Sudan’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Government of South Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers, especially outside the capital city of Juba.

The U.S. Embassy in Juba has implemented measures to protect U.S. government personnel living and working in South Sudan. These include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Juba. Currently, eligible family members of U.S. government personnel are not permitted to reside in South Sudan. Similar measures are followed by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), many embassies, and many non-governmental organizations with operations in South Sudan.

Land mines remain a hazard in South Sudan, especially outside of Juba. Visitors should travel only on main roads, unless a competent de-mining authority has marked an area as clear of mines. 

The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of Juba, including emergency assistance, is severely limited. Many areas of South Sudan are extremely difficult to access, and travel in these areas is sometimes hazardous. The conflict which began in December 2013 has led to extreme insecurity in several areas in the country. Less than 300 kilometers of paved roads exist in the country, which is the size of France. The infrastructure is extremely poor, and medical care is not always available or is very basic.  

To stay connected:

CRIME: High unemployment and severe economic downturn have encouraged criminal activity.  Following an increase in security-related incidents in Juba and the current insecurity due to the ongoing civil conflict, the U.S. Embassy has imposed a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. to better ensure the safety of its personnel. U.S. Embassy personnel are also only allowed to travel throughout the city in armored vehicles. You should try to avoid crowded public areas and public gatherings, and avoid traveling alone if possible. Report all incidents of crime to the South Sudanese police and the U.S. Embassy.

Carjackings and banditry occur in South Sudan. Travel outside of Juba should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency. 

Do not 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 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. The U.S. Embassy currently can offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. Due to the draw down in personnel in Juba, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi [Tel.: 254 (20) 363 6451 or 254 (20) 363 6170, e-mail: Kenya_acs@state.gov] is available to assist U.S. citizens in South Sudan; in an emergency, contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba (Daytime phone: +(211) 912-105-188; After Hours: +(211) 912-105-107). 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.

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

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in South Sudan, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. You may be questioned or detained by police if you don’t have your passport with you. South Sudan’s security services commit arbitrary arrests and often detain foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. The country’s legal system is rudimentary and sometimes ineffective. U.S. citizens may have little recourse to justice should they be detained and legal proceedings can be lengthy and seemingly subjective. Contractual and other business disputes with local partners may not be resolved in a manner that is consistent with international practices and judicial fairness. Security forces often operate outside civilian control, and do not always follow laws governing due process and treatment of detainees.   

If you break local laws in South Sudan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not while you’re in South Sudan. Penalties for breaking the law may be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating South Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States.  You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws.  Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well. 

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and international law, if you are arrested in South Sudan, 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. 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. That said, security officials rarely contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba when U.S. citizens are detained.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: South Sudan is in a state of transition, as it recently became an independent nation and is recovering from many years of civil war with Sudan, and it is currently experiencing a significant civil conflict affecting several parts of the country. Civil and governmental institutions are being developed with international assistance, and the current conflict has further diminished their already limited capabilities. If you are traveling or doing business in South Sudan, you may find it difficult to identify legal or administrative remedies if problems arise. We often do not get timely notification of the detention of U.S. citizens in South Sudan. 

South Sudan’s official currency is the South Sudanese pound. You must be prepared to pay cash for all purchases, including hotel bills, airfares purchased locally, and all other travel expenses. South Sudan has no international ATMs, and local ATMs draw on local banks only. U.S. currency issued prior to 2006 is not accepted in South Sudan.

Photography in South Sudan is a very sensitive subject. It is strongly advised that you apply for a South Sudan Photo Permit through the Ministry of the Interior. In addition to filling out a form you will also need to submit: two passport size photos, a copy of the bio page from your passport and US $50.00.

Even with a permit, you must be careful taking pictures in South Sudan, as people have been arrested and even physically assaulted by police for using a camera. Please follow these simple rules to reduce the risk of being harassed or arrested:

  • Never take pictures of official/government buildings, vehicles, or persons in uniform.
  • Do not take pictures of infrastructure such as bridges.
  • Keep your camera concealed and do not take random photos in public.
  • Always ask a person’s permission before taking his or her photograph.
  • Always be courteous if someone shies away from having his or her picture taken.

Be prepared for people to react negatively if you are taking pictures in public or in crowds. If someone becomes hostile toward you, get out of that situation as soon as possible.

If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on Travel.State.gov.  

LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in South Sudan with penalties up to 10 years’ imprisonment. If non-consensual, the penalty is up to 14 years imprisonment. There are no reports that this law was enforced during this year. Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is widespread, and there are no known LGBT organizations. While there are no reports of specific incidents of discrimination or abuse during this year, stigma could have been a factor in preventing incidents from being reported. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page. 

ACCESSIBILITY: While in South Sudan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. South Sudan does not mandate access to transportation, communications, or public buildings for persons with disabilities. It is very difficult for persons with physical disabilities of any kind to travel in South Sudan

Persons with conditions which may require medical treatment are strongly discouraged from traveling to South Sudan. Medical facilities in Juba fall far short of western standards; outside the capital, few hospitals exist; hospitals and clinics are often poorly equipped and staffed. If you need medical treatment, you must pay cash in advance for it. Ambulance services are not available outside Juba. Not all medicines are regularly available and many medicines in pharmacies are counterfeit; you should carry sufficient supplies of needed medicines in clearly-marked containers.

Mosquito borne illnesses such as malaria and yellow fever are a significant problem and prevention of bites and proper Yellow Fever immunization are important for all areas.

Travelers should carry and use insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.  Treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets will help diminish  bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc, some of which may also carry infections.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is highly prevalent throughout South Sudan in all seasons. Before traveling you should discuss with your doctor the best antimalarial medication to avoid malaria.

Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline or mefloquine (Lariam) are appropriate antimalarials for this region.  Chloroquine can no longer be recommended due to the high incidence of resistance.  For information that can help you and your doctor decide which of these drugs would be best for you, please see CDC’s “Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria.”  If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in South Sudan, or for up to one year after returning home, you should seek prompt medical attention, tell the physician your travel history and what antimalarials you have been taking. 

Yellow Fever is spread by day biting mosquitoes (as opposed to the night biting malaria carrying mosquitoes).  Yellow Fever, although rare among travelers, can be severe or fatal in about 10% of those infected.  It can be nearly 100% prevented through use of the Yellow Fever vaccine.  Although not required for entry into South Sudan, all those 9 months or older should be immunized prior to arrival.

All routine US immunizations should also be up to date prior to arrival in South Sudan.  This includes measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, Hepatitis A and tetanus, all of which are more common in South Sudan than in the US.  Additionally it is also recommended that all travelers receive typhoid immunization.  Hepatitis B immunization is recommended for those with possible sexual contact or who may have blood contamination through use of needles, tattoos or piercings or any medical procedures.

Meningococcal meningitis is much more common than in the US and immunization with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine should be given to all children and health care workers, and it should be considered for all adults,especially in the dry season of December through June.

Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks, traveling to remote, rural areas, or expecting exposure to animals.  Even in urban areas dogs may have rabies. Bites and scratches from dogs, bats or other mammals should immediately be cleaned with soap and water and checked by a medical provider to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.

Polio is circulating in nations in the region and immunization (adequate primary series and  single adult booster dose) is recommended for aid, refugee, and health care workers only.

Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities and luxury accommodations.   Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk, and drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water).

Tuberculosis is more than 20 times more common in South Sudan than in the United States.  Those planning on staying in South Sudan longer than a month should consider tuberculin skin testing before travel and then again 6-12 weeks after returning from South Sudan.

Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that is spread by fresh water snails particularly along tributaries of the Nile. The larval stage of the worm can burrow through your skin when in contact with contaminated fresh water. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in, and drinking from, bodies of fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs.

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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Tajikistan

Tajikistan is a small land-locked country that borders Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Afghanistan and is home to some of the highest mountains in the world. Tajikistan is the poorest of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. It is a nominally constitutional, democratic, and secular republic, dominated by President Emomali Rahmon who has been in power since 1992. Tourist facilities are undeveloped and many goods and services usually available in other countries are unavailable. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Tajikistan for additional information.

A valid passport and visa are required to enter and exit Tajikistan, as well as to register at hotels. Your visa should be valid for the entire period of stay in-country and ideally, you should request a visa that allows for changing travel dates. If you do not have a valid visa, you may be required to leave the country immediately.

If you travel to Tajikistan from countries that have Tajik embassies or consulates, you must obtain your visa abroad prior to your travel. Tajikistan is represented by embassies and consulates in the following countries: the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan (Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharif), Austria, Belarus, Belgium, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), and Uzbekistan. 

If you travel to Tajikistan from a country in which there is no Tajik embassy or consulate, you may apply for a visa at the Dushanbe International Airport upon arrival.

To apply for a tourism (T) visa you need two visa application forms, a letter of invitation from a licensed tourist agency, your travel itinerary, two passport photos, a U.S. passport with at least six months validity beyond the duration of your planned stay in Tajikistan, and two photocopies of the biographical page of your passport. Please keep in mind that Tajik embassies and consulates reserve the right to request additional documents.  Tourist visas are issued for a duration not exceeding 45 days and cannot be extended or replaced. If you are issued a tourist visa you should leave the country before the visa expiration date. If you are planning to visit neighboring countries during your stay, make sure you obtain a multiple-entry tourist visa. Before making travel arrangements, visit the Embassy of Tajikistan website for the most current visa information.

All other types of visa applicants must have Tajik visa support in the form of a letter from the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirming that a visa may be issued upon arrival at the Dushanbe airport. This “upon arrival” visa service does not apply to any other Tajik airports or land borders. Receiving a visa at the Dushanbe airport may also entail some waiting time at the airport’s Consular Bureau, which in rare cases, may not be staffed.

To receive your visa support, the organization that invited you to Tajikistan must submit a request to the MFA at least two weeks in advance of your planned travel date. If you are invited by a private Tajik resident (e.g., a friend or relative), he or she first needs to obtain a notification letter from the Department of Visas and Registration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (OVIR). Obtaining the notification letter can take up to 45 days, after which the Tajik resident should request your visa support letter from the MFA. A copy of the MFA visa support letter should be sent to you. The original will be filed with the Consular Bureau at the Dushanbe airport.

If you plan to stay in Tajikistan three days or more you must obtain a Tajik visa registration stamp in your passport within three days of arrival,. Official travelers, employees of international organizations, and journalists must register with the MFA. All other travelers must register with OVIR.  If you travel to an area outside of your registered district for more than 3 days, you must temporarily re-register in the new district.  Please contact OVIR in the new district to register.  If OVIR does not have an office, register with the nearest police station.  Failure to register can result in fines.  If you plan to stay for more than 30 days, you must register with OVIR prior to the 30 day limit. Tourism (T) visa holders who plan to stay in Tajikistan less than 30 days are exempted from the registration requirement. A few hotels in Dushanbe are also allowed to register foreign citizens staying at their hotels. If you fail to register your visa, airport immigration authorities may prohibit your exit from Tajikistan until you have paid a fine and obtained a registration stamp from the MFA or OVIR.

Entry into the Gorno-Badakhshan region, both from inside and from outside Tajikistan, requires a special permit in advance in addition to a valid Tajik visa. You can obtain this permit at Tajik embassies and consulates abroad, or by applying to the MFA or OVIR once in Tajikistan. Tajik authorities advise sponsoring organizations in Tajikistan to submit their authorization requests at least two weeks in advance of the planned travel. If your request is granted, the names of the settlements and cities you are authorized to visit are annotated in your passport. The permit is not listed on your visa. It is important to remember that entering the Gorno-Badakhshan region without permission is illegal and persons violating Tajik laws may be subject to arrest or imprisonment.

Occasional closures occur along the Tajik-Afghan border. Please confirm the status of the border before crossing from Tajikistan to Afghanistan.

Tajikistan Embassy location and contact information in the United States:

The Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan

1005 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C., 20037
Phone: 202-223-6090; Facsimile: 202-223-6091
Email: tajikistan@verizon.net
tjusconsulate@verizon.net (Consular section)

Visit the Embassy of Tajikistan website for the most current visa information.

Transit Visas: If you transit through Russia en route to a third country you should consult the U.S. Embassy Moscow website for up-to-date information regarding transit visas for Russia. Even if you are simply changing planes in Russia for an onward destination you may be asked to present a transit visa issued by a Russian Embassy or Consulate. If you do not have a transit visa you may be required to immediately return to the point of embarkation at your own expense. Please note it is not possible to obtain a Russian visa at the airport. Arrival without an appropriate visa may result in additional restrictions on future travel to Russia.

Note: Departure options from Tajikistan may be limited in an emergency. You can maximize your departure options by obtaining extended visas for travel to countries with reliable connections to Tajikistan, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia. Other destinations, including Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany offer at least one flight a week and do not require U.S. citizens to obtain visas in advance. Please note, however, that in emergency situations, flights may be suspended.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Tajikistan. Visitors and foreign residents who will be in Tajikistan for more than 90 days must present a medical certificate showing that they are HIV-free, or to submit to an HIV test in Tajikistan. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Tajikistan before you travel.

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.

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), al-Qaida, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement as well as anti-Western, anti-Semitic extremist organizations such as Hizb’ut-Tahrir have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government or private interests in the region, including in Tajikistan.

Terrorist attacks involving the use of suicide bombers have occurred in Tajikistan and in neighboring Uzbekistan. Minor explosions occasionally occur in Dushanbe and  rarely cause serious injuries or damage. From time to time, the Tajik government conducts counter-terrorist operations in areas outside Dushanbe. Although there have been rare instances of criminal or terrorist groups specifically targeting U.S. citizens or foreigners, you should take care to abide by government-imposed restricted areas. Additionally, insurgent activity in neighboring Afghanistan could also affect the security situation along the border and in Tajikistan. You should exercise extra caution if traveling in border provinces.

Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists may seek softer civilian targets such as residential areas, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and other venues. The limited number of facilities catering to Westerners in Tajikistan presents a heightened risk. You should also avoid demonstrations and large crowds. Demonstrations and mobs are rare in Tajikistan since the 1992–1997 civil war, and police reaction to such behavior is unpredictable.

To stay connected:

CRIME: The level of criminal activity in Dushanbe is moderate to high. Of significant concern is the inability of Tajikistan’s law enforcement entities to provide adequate and immediate assistance. Lack of manpower, low salaries, and inadequate training all contribute to a lack of professionalism among law enforcement entities. Tajikistan’s struggling economy and high unemployment have resulted in incidents of street crime, including pick-pocketing, muggings, and armed robberies. Alcohol-related incidents such as drunk driving are common. Criminals are not deterred by the risk of confrontation and tend to operate in groups of two or more to decrease their chances of arrest. When crimes do occur, they can be violent in nature. Additionally, the lack of a free media and infrequent government outreach through the media do not provide the average citizen with current and accurate information to make informed decisions about safety. Government statistics are typically inaccurate because many crimes are not reported to law enforcement organizations. Often police refuse to open minor or routine cases that seem difficult to resolve.

Crimes of opportunity can occur against anyone, and you are reminded to be careful and cautious in your own personal security, whether within the city limits of Dushanbe or in the more remote areas of the country. You should be aware that danger increases after dark, and to use caution when traveling alone or on foot after dark. The U.S. Embassy encourages visitors to travel in pairs and to notify colleagues of their whereabouts when not working, especially during evening hours. It is wise to refrain from wearing expensive jewelry or anything that may indicate that you have any amount of wealth. Travelers are also encouraged to carry a copy of their passport (separate from their wallets) to speed up issuance of a new passport in case of theft.

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, 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.  
  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line is in Tajikistan is 01 for fire, 02 for police, 03 for ambulance service and state traffic control (GAI) duty officer – 235-4545.

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

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:  While you are traveling in Tajikistan you are subject to its laws.  Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own.  Persons violating Tajikistan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tajikistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Tajikistan has no legal alcohol limit for driving; however, consuming any alcoholic beverages and driving is illegal. In Tajikistan, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings.  .  If you break local laws in Tajikistan your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. 

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States.  You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws.  Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well. 

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not.  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. 

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:  

You must fill out a Customs Declaration Form upon arrival in Tajikistan, have it stamped by Tajik customs officials at the port of entry and retain the form until your departure to demonstrate that you are not leaving Tajikistan with more money than you brought into the country. Please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in the United States for specific information about customs requirements.

The Government of Tajikistan may enforce strict customs regulations. Customs authorities may subject all items, including travel souvenirs, imported into or exported from Tajikistan to a high level of scrutiny. The export of antiques, precious stones and metals, and cultural valuables requires special permission. The number of items that can be exported may be limited. It is illegal to export or possess unprocessed stones and metals and jewelry without a hallmark (mark of authenticity). Even if travelers have a receipt confirming legal purchase of such items at a store in Tajikistan, the items must be declared upon departure. Failure to abide by Tajik customs laws and regulations may result in heavy fines, arrest, or imprisonment.

Tajikistan has a cash-only economy. International banking services are limited, but ATM machines have been installed in various locations. Cash is dispensed in both U.S. and local currency. Few establishments in the country accept credit cards and none accepts travelers’ checks. Tajikistan’s national currency is the Somoni, which is convertible.

The Republic of Tajikistan does not recognize dual citizenship with most countries, including the United States. An exception is with Russia, where dual citizenship is regulated by a special interstate agreement. Dual nationals who attempt to leave Tajikistan on U.S. passports without valid Tajik visas in them are likely to have problems with immigration authorities upon departing Tajikistan.

Travelers to Tajikistan are subject to frequent document inspections by local police. You are strongly encouraged to carry copies of your U.S. passport, Tajik visa, and visa registration at all times (including while traveling within Tajikistan) so that proof of identity, U.S. citizenship, and valid visa status in Tajikistan are readily available. Always check your visa and registration validity dates so that these documents can be renewed if necessary before they expire.

Travelers to Tajikistan should keep in mind that the rationing of electricity is an ongoing practice in Tajikistan – especially during the colder seasons of the year (i.e., from September to March). During the winter, it is not unusual for Dushanbe to be without electricity at night and sometimes even during the daytime. Wintertime brings even more severe limitations of electricity outside Dushanbe.

Tajikistan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

LGBT RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Tajikistan    For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Tajikistan, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.  For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.

 ACCESSIBILITY: When in Tajikistan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Tajikistan has no laws regarding discrimination against persons with disabilities. Buildings, public transportation, communication, and road crossings are inaccessible. 

The quality of Tajikistan’s medical infrastructure is significantly below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, prescription drugs, and antibiotics. Many trained medical personnel left the country during or after the civil war. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities.

Significant disease outbreaks are possible due to population shifts and a decline in some immunization coverage among the general population. There have been outbreaks of polio in the southwest areas of the country near the borders with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, including the capital city Dushanbe; typhoid outbreaks in the Dushanbe area and in the south of the country; an outbreak of Congo Crimea hemorrhagic fever to the west of Dushanbe; and the risk of contracting malaria, cholera, and water-borne illnesses is high. Throughout Central Asia, infection rates of various forms of hepatitis and tuberculosis (including drug-resistant strains) are on the rise. Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Tajikistan. For further information, please consult the CDC’s information on TB.

It is advisable to drink only bottled or thoroughly boiled water while in Tajikistan.

The government of Tajikistan requires all foreign citizens who remain in the country for more than 90 days to present a medical certificate from a medical facility or to submit to an HIV test in Tajikistan if they are already in Tajikistan without such a certificate (with the exception of persons applying for diplomatic, official, investor, and humanitarian types of visas).

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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