Monthly Archives: June 2014

Southwest Airlines finds itself at a crossroads

Southwest’s CEO discusses airline’s evolving business plan.

      

 

 

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Nepal

Nepal is a developing country with extensive tourist facilities, which vary widely in quality and price.  The capital is Kathmandu.  On November 19, 2013, Nepal held national elections – the second since the country’s ten-year Maoist insurgency ended in 2006 – and a new Prime Minister was sworn in on February 11, 2014.  Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Nepal for additional information.

A passport and visa are required to both enter and exit Nepal.  Many countries require at least 6 months validity remaining on your current passport to enter or obtain a visa from that country.  This requirement is applied inconsistently at Nepal’s ports of entry.

Travelers may obtain visas prior to travel from a Nepalese embassy or consulate, or may purchase a one-day tourist visa ($5), a fifteen-day multiple-entry tourist visa ($25), a one-month multiple-entry tourist visa ($40), or a three-month multiple-entry tourist visa ($100) upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and at the following land border points of entry:  Kakarvitta, Jhapa District (Eastern Nepal); Birgunj, Parsa District (Central Nepal); Kodari, Sindhupalchowk District (Northern Border– for group tourists only); Belahia, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi District, Western Nepal); Jamunaha, Nepalgunj (Banke District, Mid-Western Nepal); Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali District, Far Western Nepal); and Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur District, Far Western Nepal).  Visas and information on entry/exit requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Nepal at 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 667-4550 or the Consulate General of Nepal in New York at (212) 370-3988. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Nepalese embassy or consulate.

Tourists may stay in Nepal for a total of no more than 150 aggregate days in any given calendar year. Visas are extended only by the Department of Immigration (DOI) located in the Kalikasthan neighborhood of Kathmandu, as well as by the Immigration Office in Pokhara. The Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport is not authorized to extend visas.  Some U.S. citizens who have waited until their departure date to extend their visa at the airport have been sent to the Immigration Office in Kathmandu to pay the extension fee and, as a result, have missed their flights.  If a traveler finds that he or she must stay longer than expected, the traveler is strongly encouraged to extend his/her visa well before its expiration.  Visa overstays carry a significant fine and, in some cases, result in jail time.  U.S. citizens who have obtained a new passport from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu must have their valid Nepali visa transferred from their previous passport to the new passport through the Department of Immigration.  For more information about Nepali immigration rules and regulations, please refer to the Government of Nepal’s Department of Immigration website.  Please note that active duty U.S. military personnel and Department of Defense contractors must have a country clearance request from their parent unit forwarded to the Defense Attaché’s Office at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for both official and unofficial travel to Nepal.

Your purpose of travel will dictate what category of visa you will need to obtain.  In addition to tourist visas, Nepal issues a number of other categories, including student and work visas.  Each category of visa has a different issuing and renewing authority.  Please visit the website of the Nepal Department of Immigration which has direct links to the online application for each category of visa.  The website also provides the duration, issuing authority and application process information for each category of visa.

Travelers occasionally report immigration difficulties with Chinese authorities when crossing the Nepal-China border over land in either direction.  Chinese authorities often require U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists to organize “group” tours through established travel agencies as a prerequisite for obtaining visas and entry permits into Tibet.  The Chinese authorities have occasionally closed the border, especially around the anniversary of significant events in Tibet.  U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Tibet should factor this possibility into their travel plans, and should read the Department of State’s travel information for China.  Travelers in Nepal should check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nepal for current regulations on entry into Tibet and obtain current information about border crossing status.

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

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website, as well as under “Special Circumstances” below.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

All U.S. citizens who decide to travel to Nepal are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to register their planned itinerary with the U.S. Embassy, and to monitor the situation for the most recent security information before traveling.  Nighttime road travel should be avoided outside the Kathmandu Valley and minimized within Kathmandu.  The Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu reviews the travel plans of U.S. government employees planning to go outside of the Kathmandu Valley.

Bandhs (General Strikes) and Political Violence: “Bandhs” (forced closure of businesses and schools and halting of vehicular traffic) can occur in Nepal and are commonly used as a form of political agitation. Bandhs can be unpredictable, include violent incidents, and take place without prior notice.  In past years, bandhs have lasted for periods as short as a few hours to as long as several days or longer, causing shortages of food supplies and bringing vehicular traffic to a halt. Individuals not complying with a bandh may be harassed by bandh organizers.  Bandhs in the principal trekking areas are infrequent.  Although bandh activity generally is not directed at foreign travelers, tourists attempting to defy bandhs might be subject to intimidation and/or violence.

During bandhs, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid all unnecessary travel. If travel is necessary, you can check with the U.S. Embassy, with local police by dialing “100,” or with traffic control by dialing “103.” The police can advise which routes and forms of transportations are advisable to use. If you are planning air travel to or from Nepal during scheduled bandhs, be aware that transportation to and from airports throughout Nepal could be affected.  Bandh organizers often allow passage of specially marked buses operated by the Nepal Tourism Board to circulate between the airport and major tourist hotels. Consult the U.S. Embassy website for security-related messages for U.S. citizens, as well as the Nepal Ministry of Tourism for the latest security information.

In the past, there have been periodic small-scale improvised explosive device (IED) incidents in various parts of the country, particularly during periods of heightened political tension.

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CRIME: Although still relatively low, crime in Kathmandu and throughout the country has risen in some categories and declined in others.  Criminals have used sophisticated scams to commit crimes, particularly in Kathmandu.  In addition, there continue to be reports of robberies, burglaries, and sexual assaults involving foreigners, including in the popular tourist districts of Thamel and Bouddha in Kathmandu.  Police also report that foreigners have occasionally had sedative drugs placed in their food or drink by individuals who seek to rob or otherwise take advantage of them.  Visitors should avoid walking alone after dark, especially in areas experiencing power cuts, and should avoid carrying large sums of cash or wearing expensive jewelry.

In addition, visitors should consider exchanging money only at banks and hotels.  There have been several reported incidents in which tourists have had their belongings stolen from their hotel rooms while they were asleep or away from their room.  Valuables should be stored in the hotel safety deposit box and should never be left unattended in hotel rooms.  Travelers should be especially alert at or near major tourist sites, including the Thamel district of Kathmandu, where pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are most common.  It is recommended that passports and cash be carried in a protected neck pouch or money belt, not in a backpack or handbag.

Visitors to Nepal should also be vigilant against various scams.  One of the most prevalent involves a request to carry jewelry to a business contact in another country.  This scam can result in the unsuspecting tourist being forced to withdraw large sums of cash from his or her bank account and creates the risk of further penalties at the border.  Please also see the section on Special Circumstances below regarding scams suffered by individuals coming to Nepal to volunteer at orphanages or other organizations.  Nepali police forces have limited resources and lack sufficient manpower to effectively enforce law and order, as well as to pursue claims of fraud or petty crime.  Their services are not up to Western standards.  Many cases reported to the police remain unresolved.

Criminal activity in the Terai, the southern plains region of Nepal bordering India, remains at levels higher than the country.  In the Terai, criminal groups sometimes extort funds and kidnap people, although this activity generally is not directed at U.S. citizens.  Extortion tactics used by armed groups in the region include assault, vandalism, and low-level IED attacks.

Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available.  Purchase of bootlegged goods is illegal in the United States, and also may be illegal under local law.  Do not agree to carry or store any packages from a stranger.  There have been instances in which the packages concealed contraband material or drugs, and the foreigner who accepted the package was arrested by police for possessing the illegal substance.

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 in Nepal is “100,” which is manned 24/7 by the local police.  While many Nepali police officials understand and speak English, when calling the emergency number, you should speak slowly and enunciate so that your message gets across to the official clearly and without misunderstanding.

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

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Nepal, you are subject to its laws.  Foreign laws and legal systems are vastly different from those in the United States.  For example, driving in Nepal after consuming any amount of alcohol could land you in jail.  Also, Nepali law prohibits any form of firearm to be brought into the country.  Violators who bring in firearms or ammunition, even if in the form of jewelry, may be prosecuted. 

There are also some things that might be legal in Nepal, 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.

If you break local laws in Nepal, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution.  Be advised that if you are arrested in Nepal, during the investigation phase, the authorities may keep you in detention for weeks, or even longer if a court so orders.  As in the United States, punishment for violations of criminal laws range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the crime.

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: 

Trekking: The Government of Nepal has authorized the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to implement a system for foreign hikers called the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS).  Since 2008, foreign visitors on hiking trips in Nepal, including those not with organized hiking groups, are required to have a valid TIMS card issued by TAAN, its member agencies, or NTB.  In case of an emergency, this system helps authorities ascertain the whereabouts of trekkers.  TIMS cards cost the Nepali rupees equivalent of U.S. $20, if applying individually, and the Nepali rupees equivalent of U.S. $10 if applying in a group, through authorized trekking companies, the TAAN office in Kathmandu or Pokhara, and the NTB office.   Local agencies that organize treks often will facilitate obtaining your TIMS card.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly recommends that U.S. citizens do not hike alone or become separated from larger traveling parties while on a trail.  Solo trekking can be dangerous, and the lack of available immediate assistance has contributed to injuries and deaths, while also making one more vulnerable to criminals.  Although it is not prohibited by local law, the Government of Nepal has reiterated its strong recommendation against solo trekking.  In separate incidents in the last several years, a number of foreign women (including U.S. citizens) on popular trails have been attacked and seriously injured while trekking alone.  Foreigners have also gone missing while trekking alone.  Extensive search efforts are not always successful in tracing the trekker’s whereabouts.  The safest option for trekkers is to join an organized group and/or use a reputable trekking company that provides an experienced guide and porters who communicate in both Nepali and English.  Damage to telephone services in trekking areas caused by floods and landslides during the monsoon season complicate efforts to locate U.S. citizens and make arrangements for medical evacuations.  U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy in Kathmandu for the latest security information and to register their itinerary before undertaking treks outside the Kathmandu Valley.  Trekkers are also advised to leave their itinerary with family or friends in the United States and to check in at police checkpoints where trekking permits are logged.

Trekking in Nepal involves walking over rugged, steep terrain where one is exposed to the elements, often at high altitudes.  Many popular trekking routes in Nepal cross passes as high as 18,000 feet.  The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly recommends that U.S. citizens exercise caution when trekking at high altitudes.  Acclimatization is better achieved by walking slowly, rather than hurrying to cover the distance at high altitudes.  Without acclimatization, any trekker who flies directly from a low elevation to a high elevation runs the risk of suffering from debilitating altitude sickness.  Only experienced mountain climbers should tackle the Himalayas.  Trekkers of all ages, experience, and fitness levels can experience acute mountain sickness (AMS), which can be deadly.

Trekkers should also be alert to the possibility of avalanches, landslides, and falling rocks, even when trails are clear.  Avalanches at the narrow gorge above Deurali on the route to the Annapurna Base Camp have resulted in the deaths of trekkers and climbers.  Avalanches and landslides have killed foreign trekkers and their Nepali guides, and have stranded hundreds of others.

Trekking in certain remote areas of Nepal and in national parks may require additional permits or fees.  Travelers may consult with an experienced tour agency, or consult the website of the Nepali Department of Immigration for more information.

During peak trekking seasons (generally autumn and spring), hotel rooms may become scarce.  U.S. citizens are advised to make advance booking for hotel rooms and be aware of possible flight/airport delays.  Domestic air flight cancellations and delays occur frequently due to bad weather.  Travelers should leave ample time to catch their outbound international flights if they plan to connect from domestic flights.  U.S. citizens should be aware that many hotels in Nepal do not meet international fire or earthquake safety standards.

Before leaving Kathmandu, trekkers can check with the Himalayan Rescue Association (phone: +977-1-444-0292/444-0293) or the U.S. Embassy for reliable information about trail conditions and potential hazards of traveling in the Himalayas.

Other Outdoor Activities: Several tourists have drowned while swimming in Phewa Lake and other adjoining lakes in Pokhara due to flash floods triggered by monsoon rains or after becoming entangled in submerged tree branches or roots.  Incidents of boats capsizing on the choppy water of these lakes have also occurred.  It is recommended that visitors wear life jackets.  Paragliding has become popular in Pokhara, and many new companies have begun offering paragliding services in Pokhara.  U.S. citizens are urged to weigh the risks involved with paragliding.  There are also a number of deep and dangerous ravines not clearly visible to pedestrians in Pokhara city, mainly in the outlying areas.  Some local residents and foreigners have fallen into these ravines and sustained serious injuries or died.          

Volunteering: A number of Nepal-based volunteer organizations maintain websites offering volunteer opportunities.  The Embassy has received reports that many—if not most —such opportunities, especially those involving volunteering at orphanages or “children’s homes,” are not charities.  Instead, they are profit-making enterprises set up with the primary purpose of attracting donations from abroad and financial support from volunteers.  Many of the children are not orphans, and volunteering at such an organization indirectly contributes to child exploitation.  An organization’s bona fides can be confirmed by contacting the Nepali Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), attention Namuna Bhusal (tel. +977-9851139474 or e-mail namuna@ccwb.gov.np ).

Currency: Nepal has a controlled or fixed currency exchange rate where the Nepalese Rupee is pegged to the Indian Rupee.  The Government of Nepal requires travelers to declare either the import or export of currency.  Travelers must declare any cash currency carried that exceeds $5,000 in value by filling out a customs declaration form.  Travelers may also face difficulties if traveling with a large quantity of valuables, such as gold and jewelry. Additionally, many visitors have faced difficulty exchanging U.S.-issued travelers checks in Nepal; alternative methods of accessing local currency (e.g., exchanging U.S. dollars for Nepali rupees at a bank or money exchange office, or withdrawing rupees from an ATM) are often more reliable. The Nepalese Department of Customs has reported an increased number of foreigners arrested for currency violations.  Travelers should ensure that they keep a copy of the declaration form after customs officials have put the official endorsement and appropriate stamps on the form to prevent any problems upon departure.  Please note that this requirement is subject to change and travelers should contact the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, D.C. to obtain the latest information.  Consequences for violating this requirement generally include seizure of all cash, gold, or jewelry carried, fines, and imprisonment.  It is illegal to possess 500 or 1,000 Indian Rupee notes in Nepal.  Accordingly, travelers coming to Nepal from India who hope to change Indian currency into Nepali Rupees are advised to bring 100 Indian Rupee notes or lower denominations only.

Dual Nationality: Nepal does not recognize dual nationality.  Accordingly, when a Nepali citizen naturalizes as a U.S. citizen, he/she loses his/her Nepali citizenship.  Some travelers who have tried to maintain both U.S. and Nepali passports have faced difficulties entering or exiting Nepal.  U.S. citizens of Nepali descent may be eligible for a special visa called a “Non-Resident Nepali” or “NRN” Identity Card.  The NRN Identity Card allows a holder to open a local bank account, invest, and own certain types of property, subject to certain restrictions. For more information, contact the Nepali Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy of Nepal in the United States.

Customs: Nepal customs regulations are complex and cumbersome.  Customs authorities ensure that the appropriate customs revenues are raised by enforcing strict regulations concerning importation (even temporary importation) into Nepal and exportation from Nepal of items such as valuable metals, articles of archaeological and religious importance, wildlife and related articles, drugs, arms and ammunition, and communications equipment.  Items purported to be for donation to schools, hospitals, and other social organizations have sometimes been confiscated, or cleared only after payment of a significant fine for failure to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Finance.  Those wishing to donate items to a charity or any organization in Nepal must obtain prior approval for waiver of the custom fees from the Ministry of Finance by sending a formal request letter (not via email) to the following address: 

       Revenue Secretary
       Ministry of Finance
       Singha Durbar
       Kathmandu, Nepal
       Tel: +977-1-4211400
       Fax: +977-1-4211605

The request should include detailed information about the items to be imported, as well as the organizations receiving the donations.  The Revenue Secretary will review the request and refer it to the Ministerial level for final decision and approval.  Note that all requests are processed on a case-by-case basis.  It is highly recommended that intended recipient(s) coordinate with the Ministry to get requests processed.  Please see our Customs Information.

Natural Disasters:  Nepal lies on an active fault zone and is considered at high-risk for a major earthquake.  Lack of adequate emergency response vehicles, equipment, and medical facilities, combined with building codes that are not strictly enforced, multiply the extent of possible catastrophic damage from a major earthquake, especially in the Kathmandu Valley.  Nepal is also prone to flooding and landslides. The Government of Nepal’s ability to respond in the event of a natural disaster may be limited.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and an Embassy Emergency Preparedness Guide is also available online.

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

LGBT RIGHTS: Same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nepal actively and openly advocate for their rights.  However, Nepal remains a conservative and traditional society and discrimination exists.  Accordingly, LGBT travelers should be discrete and avoid public displays of affection.  For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Nepal, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.  For further information on LGBT travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.

ACCESSIBILITY: While in Nepal, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation difficult.  Nepali law prohibits discrimination against persons who have physical and mental disabilities, including discrimination in employment, education, access to health care, and in the provision of other state services.  The law mandates access to buildings, transportation, employment, education, and other state services, but these provisions generally are not enforced. Nepal’s poor infrastructure makes it impracticable in many cases for a mobility-impaired traveler to move around the country, including within the Kathmandu Valley.  The government is largely ineffective in implementing or enforcing laws regarding persons with disabilities.  Except for a few clinics and hospitals, Nepal mostly lacks accessible and appropriate accommodation for individuals with disabilities.

Medical care in Nepal is limited and generally not up to Western standards.  Typical travel medical complaints can be addressed by clinics in Kathmandu and some surgeries can be performed in the capital.  However, serious illnesses often require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility (New Delhi, Singapore, or Bangkok).  Serious illnesses and injuries suffered while hiking in remote areas may require evacuation by helicopter to Kathmandu.  Those trekking in remote areas of Nepal should factor the high cost of a potential helicopter rescue into their financial considerations.  Travelers are recommended to purchase medical evacuation insurance as medical evacuations can cost thousands of dollars and payment will be expected in cash before the medevac can take place, if there is no insurance coverage.  Older and disabled travelers should be aware that Medicare does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs incurred outside of the United States.  There is minimal mental health care available in Nepal.  U.S. citizens with mental health problems are generally stabilized and transported to the United States or to another regional center for care.  The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu maintains a list of local medical facilities and practitioners.

Stray dogs are common on the streets of Kathmandu.  Visitors should be aware that stray dogs and monkeys may be infected with rabies.  Any animal bites should be carefully handled and immediately brought to a medical practitioner’s attention.

Medical facilities are often overwhelmed due to insufficient resources.  Emergency medical services, especially in public hospitals, are of poor quality compared to that available in the United States.  Food hygiene and sanitary food handling practices are uncommon in Nepal and precautions should be taken to prevent water and food-borne illnesses.

You can find detailed 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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Rollin King, Southwest co-founder, dies at age 83

Industry observers remember Rollin King, who helped launch Southwest Airlines.

      

 

 

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Pre-Check rejects deserve answers from TSA

Thousands of fliers have lost access to the TSA’s fast lanes. But how do they get it back?

      

 

 

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Sweden

Sweden is a highly developed, stable democracy with a modern economy. Swedish is the official language, but English is well-spoken throughout the country. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Sweden for additional information on U.S.-Sweden relations.

Sweden is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Sweden for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes with a valid U.S. passport without obtaining a visa. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

Contact the Swedish Embassy at 901 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, tel: (202) 467-2600 (mailing address: 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007), or the Swedish Consulate General in New York at (212) 583-2550 for the most current visa information. Sweden’s Migration Board (Migrationsverket) also provides visa information. For tourist information, visit Sweden’s Tourist Board website.

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

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.

Sweden has been subject to terrorist incidents in the recent past, and the potential for a terrorist incident remains. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Sweden’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups to enter and exit the country with anonymity. You should remain vigilant and exercise caution.

To stay connected:

CRIME:  Sweden has a low crime rate, though violent crime does occur on occasion. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from cars or residences or in public areas. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are becoming more prevalent. Many U.S. citizens fall victim to these highly skilled thieves, especially at the main train stations in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and while riding the bus or train to and from airports. Do not put any bags containing valuables, such as your passport, down on the ground. Thieves particularly like computer bags. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers often work in pairs or groups so one can distract the victim while the other grabs the items; often, they operate in or near major tourist attractions such as Stockholm’s Old Town, and also at restaurants, amusement parks, museums, bars, and on public transportation, including at airports. Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target purses and briefcases left unguarded by unsuspecting tourists and business travelers. Don’t leave your valuables in parked vehicles.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into 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.  

Sweden has a limited compensation program for victims of violent, personal, and property crime. Foreign citizens who are victims of crime on Swedish territory are eligible to apply for compensation, but if the victim and offender are not residents of Sweden, compensation may not be awarded even though the crime occurred on Swedish soil. The Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority is responsible for matters concerning criminal injuries compensation and it administers the Crime Victim Fund. Application forms in English are available at local police stations and other government agencies. Claimants are generally notified of the program’s decision within four months.

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

The local equivalent to the 911 emergency line in Sweden is 112.  

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:  While you are traveling in Sweden, 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. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Sweden are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. There is no bail system in Sweden, and U.S. citizens who are arrested may be held in custody until the trial is complete.

If you break local laws in Sweden, 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.

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. 

Arrest notifications in host countryWhile 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:  We are not aware of any special currency or customs circumstances for this country.

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 Sweden.  For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Sweden, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.  For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page

ACCESSIBILITY: While in Sweden individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Accessibility to public facilities and transportation in Sweden is good, particularly in newer buildings and the public transportation systems. The Swedish government continues to implement improvements throughout the city. The government actively implements and funds programs promoting disability access to streets, public buildings, stores, restaurants, and public transportation. For more information on accessibility in Sweden, visit the Tourist Bureau’s website.

Medical care in Sweden is comparable to that found in the United States. The Swedish medical system is state-run, so instead of visiting a local private general practitioner, you can visit a local medical center or clinic, called an “Akutmottagning” or “Vardcentral.” You should be prepared to present your passport. The Swedish medical system does not cover people who don’t live in Sweden; nonresidents are expected to pay their own medical costs. In case of a medical emergency, use the emergency telephone number “112” to contact the appropriate emergency service.

If you have special needs, you should consult your personal physician and take appropriate precautions, including bringing adequate supplies of necessary medication. You can bring medicines into the country as long as they are intended for a medical reason and your personal use. Medications categorized as narcotics may only be brought into the country to cover your personal use for a maximum of five days, three weeks, or three months, depending on the type, and must be accompanied by a note from your medical doctor stating why you need them. Class II and Class III narcotics may only be brought into Sweden to cover your personal use for a maximum of five days each time you enter Sweden. Medications categorized Class IV and Class V narcotics may be brought into the country to cover your personal use for three weeks; however, if you are a foreign resident and in Sweden only temporarily, you may bring enough for the duration of your stay in Sweden, up to a maximum of three months. To find out the classification of your medication contact the Medical Products Agency in Sweden.

In addition, stringent Swedish customs regulations prohibit travelers from receiving drugs from abroad after having arrived in the country. You may find local physicians reluctant to prescribe equivalent quantities or dosages. Prescriptions are dispensed at pharmacies called “Apotek” in Swedish. Most pharmacies are open only during normal shopping hours, but major cities will have a 24-hour pharmacy.

You can find detailed 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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

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Your Take: Show us your boat!

Are you spending summer on the water? Share your boat shots and sailing stories with us.

     

 

 

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Dine al fresco atop Athens

View the Acropolis and majestic landmarks from the ancient world over a rooftop meal.

      

 

 

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Ask the Captain: When pilots become incapacitated

How pilots prepare for scenarios in which only one is able to operate the plane.

      

 

 

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10Best: Up-and-coming neighborhoods around the USA

We list ten of the most promising city neighborhoods for rebirth.

      

 

 

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NYC’s flagship farmers market is a foodie paradise

Visit Union Square Greenmarket in peak season for local fare from farmers and artisans.

      

 

 

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