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Afghanistan Travel Warning

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan.

The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Afghanistan issued on September 5, 2014.

The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Afghanistan), U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and foreign interests. Attacks may target official government convoys and compounds, including Afghan and U.S. government facilities, foreign embassies and military installations, as well as restaurants, hotels, airports, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, international organizations, religious institutions, educational centers, foreign guest houses, and other commercial entities.

Extremists associated with various Taliban networks and members of other armed opposition groups are active in every province of the country.  Despite numerous security operations and checkpoints by Afghan and coalition forces in and around the capital, Kabul is at high risk for militant attacks, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), direct and indirect fire, and suicide bombings. The same risks also exist in other major cities in Afghanistan, including Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar. A strong possibility for hostile acts exists throughout the country at all times, either targeted or random, against both U.S. and other foreign nationals. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Afghanistan.  Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to ongoing military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, and the possibility of insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IED). 

Militant attacks throughout the country continue, with many of these attacks specifically targeting U.S. and other foreign citizens and entities. On May 17, 2015, a suicide bomber used a VBIED in Kabul to attack a European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) convoy, killing three including one British citizen. On May 13, 2015, an attack on the Park Palace Hotel killed 14 people including ten foreigners, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. In that incident, several other foreigners, including U.S. citizens, were held hostage at the hotel until the situation was resolved. On April 10, 2015, a suicide bomber used a VBIED to target a NATO military convoy in Jalalabad, killing four Afghan civilians nearby. On April 8, 2015, an Afghan soldier opened fire at the provincial governor’s compound in Jalalabad, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding eight others.  On February 26, 2015, an attack in Kabul on a Turkish diplomatic vehicle killed one Turkish national. Militants later claimed that their intended target was actually an American military convoy. On January 29, 2015, an Afghan soldier attacked four U.S.-citizen contractors at a military base connected to Kabul’s International Airport, killing three and seriously wounding one.

On December 11, 2014, a suicide-bombing at a French-funded school and cultural center in Kabul targeted foreigners and students attending a performance, killing one German national and wounding several others.  A lengthy assault on the Kabul headquarters of a U.S.-based NGO and guesthouse on November 29, 2014, resulted in the deaths of the South African head of the organization and his two children, as well as a local Afghan employee.  On November 27, 2014, a suicide attack against a British government convoy in Kabul killed five people, including a British national, and wounded more than 30.  Later that day, militants conducted a separate attack in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, a normally secure area comprising other foreign embassies, foreign guesthouses, and international agencies that is adjacent to the more secure zone housing the U.S. Embassy.  A November 24, 2014, bombing targeted a NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy in Kabul, killing two U.S. soldiers.  A foreign security guard was killed in an October 26, 2014, attack against an international organization and guesthouse in Kabul’s diplomatic zone.  On October 13, 2014, a suicide bomber struck an ISAF convoy in Kabul, wounding three foreigners and killing one civilian.  Two U.S.-citizen military personnel, one additional foreign military official, and 13 civilians were killed in a September 16, 2014, attack carried out against an ISAF convoy.

On August 20, 2014, an assailant fatally stabbed a U.S. soldier near Kabul International Airport.  A lone gunman opened fire on a group of high-level military officers inspecting Marshal Fahim National Defense University on August 5, 2014, killing a U.S. two-star General and wounding twelve others, which included U.S. citizens. On July 22, 2014, a suicide bomber attacked a U.S. base near the Kabul International Airport, killing six guards and wounding ten.  On July 17, 2014, a group of insurgents detonated a VBIED and occupied a building north of Kabul International Airport, targeting the airport with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.  On April 24, 2014, an Afghan guard at Kabul’s Cure Hospital killed three U.S. doctors and wounded another U.S. doctor and nurse.  On March 28, 2014, four insurgents armed with small arms infiltrated and attacked the Serena Hotel, killing ten civilians including four foreigners, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. Also, on March 20, 2014, a suicide bomber and three insurgents attacked the compound of an international NGO, killing two Afghan citizens and wounding ten.

Riots and incidents of civil disturbance can occur in Afghanistan, often without warning.  U.S. citizens should avoid all rallies and demonstrations.  Protests intended as peaceful can become confrontational and escalate into violence at any point.  The size of these demonstrations has ranged from as small as 20 to as large as 3,000 people.  The issues that typically prompt demonstrations include grievances against the government and coalition forces, as well as spontaneous, public expressions of social, political, and ethnic tensions. 

U.S. citizens representing various foreign interests in property or contract disputes – a common problem for foreign companies doing business in Afghanistan – have reported that local parties to the disputes have threatened their lives or held them or their employees captive under extrajudicial conditions while awaiting payouts or intervention by local authorities.  U.S. citizens who find themselves in such situations should not assume that local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will assist them in resolving such disputes or intervene on their behalf with Afghan officials.

The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Afghanistan sufficiently critical to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions.  All locations outside the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities are considered off limits to Embassy personnel unless there is a compelling government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk.  In addition, the internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be changed or adjusted at any time and without advance notice.  The Embassy will regularly restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice and for reasons such as terrorist attacks, security threats, or demonstrations.  Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. Government employees and their family members is also restricted, and requires prior approval from the Department of State.

The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly for those persons outside of Kabul.  U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Afghanistan despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to limit nonessential travel within Afghanistan, formulate personal contingency plans, monitor the Embassy’s website, and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to obtain the most current information on travel and security within Afghanistan.  Enrollment in STEP makes it easier for the Embassy to contact U.S. citizens in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe, commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport and Afghan visa may hinder a U.S. citizen’s ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to assist.  U.S. citizens in Afghanistan should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns.  The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans.  U.S. citizens should not expect to be evacuated to the United States and should always maintain medevac insurance while living or traveling abroad in case they need emergency medical evacuation back to the United States, which can be a significant expense.  For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is located at Great Massoud Road (also known as Bibi Mahru or Airport Road) between Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) and the Ministry of Public Health.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be reached at 301-490-1042, ext. 8499 from the United States, or +93(0) 700-108-499 from abroad during business hours, Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Kabul time.  For after-hours, truly exigent emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the Embassy Duty Officer at +93-(0)700-108-001.  Any routine consular correspondence relating to services for U.S. citizens may be sent to KabulACS@state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy often receives threat information concerning U.S. citizens and interests in Afghanistan.  For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Consular Affairs’ website where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Afghanistan can be found.  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 in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review the Traveler's Checklist, which includes valuable security information for those living or traveling abroad.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Philippines Travel Warning

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago, certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao, and the southern Sulu Sea area.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated November 20, 2014, and reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.

Based on a history of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings of foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area by terrorist or insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago, U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao.

U.S. citizens should also continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao.  Separatist and terrorist groups continue to conduct bombings, kidnappings and attacks against civilians, political leaders, and Philippine security forces.  In particular, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remain active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence.  There have been no recent reported terrorist threats or incidents within the Davao City or Surigao city limits.  There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern.

Although U.S. government officials in the Philippines travel to Mindanao for official business without incident, the Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on all but the most essential travel to the area, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for the Philippines.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000.  The American Citizens Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-301-2017, and you may reach the ACS Section by email at ACSinfoManila@state.gov.  The ACS Section's website includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in the Philippines.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Ethiopia Travel Alert

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Ethiopia of the upcoming elections scheduled for May 24, 2015.

U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period. This Travel Alert expires on June 30, 2015.

The State Department recommends U.S. citizens maintain a high level of security awareness during the electoral period and avoid political rallies, polling centers, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind as instances of unrest can occur. Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Although there have been no specific incidents of violence targeting U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution and stay current with media coverage of local events. Election results are scheduled to be announced June 22, 2015.

During previous elections, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) required all diplomats and international organization staff living in Addis Ababa to receive an official pass from the MFA if they planned to travel outside of Addis Ababa during the election season. While not in effect this election, the U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens to be aware of election sensitivities. We especially recommend avoiding public polling stations on the day of the election, including schools and other public buildings. In Addis Ababa alone there will be nearly 1,600 polling stations – roughly one polling station for every kilometer.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Ethiopia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to enroll directly.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel WarningsTravel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Ethiopia. For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is located at Entoto Street, P.O. Box 1014. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached by telephone: +251-111-306000 or e-mail at consacs@state.gov, and is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens should call +251-111-306911 or 011-130-6000 and ask to speak with the duty officer.

Posted in Travel Alerts (U.S. Dept of State)

Burundi Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Burundi and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Burundi depart as soon as it is feasible to do so.

As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Department of State ordered the departure of dependents of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Burundi on May 14.  The U.S. Embassy is able to offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burundi.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 11, 2015.

The security situation remains fluid and volatile because of military and security forces activity in Bujumbura.  There have been increased political tensions and civil disturbances related to these actions.  Airport and land borders are reportedly closed.  U.S. citizens should shelter in place until it is safe to move about, ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date, and confirm that air and land borders are open before attempting to depart the country. 

The terrorist organization al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, has threatened to conduct terror attacks in Burundi.  It may also target U.S. interests in Burundi.  Political violence persists throughout Burundi, a carryover of the Burundian civil war. Armed groups operate in Burundi.  Weapons are easy to obtain and some ex-combatants have turned to crime or political violence.  Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits or street children, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors.  Exchanges of gunfire and grenade attacks have increased but are usually not directed at foreigners.  If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors in a ground floor interior room away from doors and windows.  Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, and robberies.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time.  Local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.

Demonstrations, gatherings, and even sporting events that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent without advance warning.  For this reason, U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest, and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.

Travel outside the capital, Bujumbura, presents significant risks, especially after nightfall.  Note the U.S. embassy limits and monitors the travel of its personnel in Burundi.  All movement by embassy employees outside the city from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. is prohibited.  Likewise, U.S. citizens should not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn.  Armed criminals ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura.  Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up when stopped in heavy traffic.

Corruption is endemic in Burundi and contributes to an environment where the rule of law is not respected.  Government officials may ask for bribes for providing routine services.  Travelers are frequently stopped, questioned, and asked for bribes by security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks throughout the country.  Likewise, criminals who have paid off local officials may operate with impunity.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Burundi.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, located on the corner of Avenue des Etats-Unis and Avenue du Cinquantenaire, at +257-22-20-7000, 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +257-22-20-7318, or +257-79-93-88-41.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

 

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Kenya Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.

U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 19, 2014, to update information about the current security situation.

Although thousands of U.S. citizens visit Kenya each year without incident, caution and keen awareness of one’s personal security situation is vitally important. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings - kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, Al-Shabaab, have attacked targets in Kenya for years. Since late 2013, there have been numerous attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya, killing hundreds and causing injury to hundreds more within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and in the northeastern region of the country. Most of these attacks occurred in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties. The most deadly of these took place on April 2 at the Garissa University College, where al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people, primarily students, and wounded many others. Al-Shabaab targets have included government sites, such as police stations and police vehicles, and soft targets including public transportation, nightclubs and bars, religious institutions, universities, and shopping areas.

Grenade and improvised explosive device attacks have occurred in Nairobi, inculding the January 2014 attack at a restaurant in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In 2014 and 2015, the Mombasa area had at least eight such attacks. Two occurred in May 2014, one of which targeted a local resort frequented by Westerners.

In September 2013, al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people, both Kenyan and non-Kenyan nationals, and wounding hundreds of others, including five U.S. citizens who were confirmed injured.

Kenyan security services have disrupted several other terrorist plots throughout the country, which may have prevented additional deaths and injury from terrorist attacks. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, some of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.

Ethnic clashes sometimes occur in various parts of Kenya, primarily in the rural areas of the country. These clashes are often fueled by disagreements over land or ownership of cattle. While this violence is not directed at foreigners, ethnic clashes and protests are unpredictable and may affect non-Kenyans. U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions and monitor local media reports before traveling to these areas.

Kidnappings of Westerners have occurred in Kenya in the past. In April 2014, gunmen ambushed a convoy vehicle and attempted to kidnap an international humanitarian staff member at the Dadaab refugee complex. While the kidnapping attempt was unsuccessful, one national staff member was injured in the attack.

As part of a wide-ranging security operation that began in 2014, refugees, primarily Somalis, in Nairobi and other cities were ordered to report to established refugee camps. U.S. citizens of Somali descent should be aware that they may encounter interruptions in their travel due to increased police scrutiny based on the encampment policy. It is very important to carry at all times proof of identity and legal status in Kenya (i.e., valid visa). If you are detained by police or immigration officials, you should request to speak to someone from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

As a result of these events and threats, the U.S. Embassy has restricted travel for U.S. government personnel to the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh, to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu - and the coastal portion only of Tana River County, the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border, and northeastern Kenya, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Liboi. Travel to these restricted areas by any U.S. Embassy personnel must be pre-approved by appropriate Embassy offices. The Embassy continues to consider carefully all U.S. government-sponsored regional conferences and trainings in Nairobi and the number of temporary duty personnel coming to the country for official purposes. In addition, the Embassy relocated some staff to other countries in June and July of 2014 due to the security situation. As of July 2014, the Peace Corps suspended its volunteer activities in Kenya and all Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya departed the country due to the security situation. The Peace Corps will continue to assess the security situation in Kenya and return when conditions permit.

Although these restrictions do not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, U.S. citizens in Kenya should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification. Travelers should keep informed of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to their visits. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Kenyan business contacts, hotels, tour guides, and travel organizers.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. U.S. citizens, including U.S. Embassy employees, have been victims of such crimes within the past year.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as clubs, hotels, resorts, shopping centers, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship. U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. U.S. citizens should use commonsense precautions at all times, to include the following practices: avoid crowded transportation venues; visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas only during daylight hours; use well-marked taxis and be sure to lock vehicle doors and keep windows up; lock all lodging doors and windows; carry minimal amounts of cash and credit cards; do not wear jewelry which attracts undue attention; know emergency phone numbers; do not resist or antagonize armed criminals; and always be aware of your surroundings. These measures can help prevent a “wrong place, wrong time” scenario in the event of an attack as well as ensuring that your travel to Kenya is safe and enjoyable.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (+254) (20) 363-6000; fax (+254) (20) 363-6410. In the event of an after-hours emergency, contact the Embassy duty officer at (+254) (20) 363-6000.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Kenya, as well as Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, which are all available on the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The most recent security and emergency messages can be found on U.S. Embassys Nairobi’s website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Kenya Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.

U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 19, 2014, to update information about the current security situation.

Although thousands of U.S. citizens visit Kenya each year without incident, caution and keen awareness of one’s personal security situation is vitally important. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings - kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, Al-Shabaab, have attacked targets in Kenya for years. Since late 2013, there have been numerous attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya, killing hundreds and causing injury to hundreds more within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and in the northeastern region of the country. Most of these attacks occurred in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties. The most deadly of these took place on April 2 at the Garissa University College, where al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people, primarily students, and wounded many others. Al-Shabaab targets have included government sites, such as police stations and police vehicles, and soft targets including public transportation, nightclubs and bars, religious institutions, universities, and shopping areas.

Grenade and improvised explosive device attacks have occurred in Nairobi, inculding the January 2014 attack at a restaurant in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In 2014 and 2015, the Mombasa area had at least eight such attacks. Two occurred in May 2014, one of which targeted a local resort frequented by Westerners.

In September 2013, al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people, both Kenyan and non-Kenyan nationals, and wounding hundreds of others, including five U.S. citizens who were confirmed injured.

Kenyan security services have disrupted several other terrorist plots throughout the country, which may have prevented additional deaths and injury from terrorist attacks. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, some of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.

Ethnic clashes sometimes occur in various parts of Kenya, primarily in the rural areas of the country. These clashes are often fueled by disagreements over land or ownership of cattle. While this violence is not directed at foreigners, ethnic clashes and protests are unpredictable and may affect non-Kenyans. U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions and monitor local media reports before traveling to these areas.

Kidnappings of Westerners have occurred in Kenya in the past. In April 2014, gunmen ambushed a convoy vehicle and attempted to kidnap an international humanitarian staff member at the Dadaab refugee complex. While the kidnapping attempt was unsuccessful, one national staff member was injured in the attack.

As part of a wide-ranging security operation that began in 2014, refugees, primarily Somalis, in Nairobi and other cities were ordered to report to established refugee camps. U.S. citizens of Somali descent should be aware that they may encounter interruptions in their travel due to increased police scrutiny based on the encampment policy. It is very important to carry at all times proof of identity and legal status in Kenya (i.e., valid visa). If you are detained by police or immigration officials, you should request to speak to someone from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

As a result of these events and threats, the U.S. Embassy has restricted travel for U.S. government personnel to the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh, to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu - and the coastal portion only of Tana River County, the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border, and northeastern Kenya, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Liboi. Travel to these restricted areas by any U.S. Embassy personnel must be pre-approved by appropriate Embassy offices. The Embassy continues to consider carefully all U.S. government-sponsored regional conferences and trainings in Nairobi and the number of temporary duty personnel coming to the country for official purposes. In addition, the Embassy relocated some staff to other countries in June and July of 2014 due to the security situation. As of July 2014, the Peace Corps suspended its volunteer activities in Kenya and all Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya departed the country due to the security situation. The Peace Corps will continue to assess the security situation in Kenya and return when conditions permit.

Although these restrictions do not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, U.S. citizens in Kenya should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification. Travelers should keep informed of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to their visits. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Kenyan business contacts, hotels, tour guides, and travel organizers.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. U.S. citizens, including U.S. Embassy employees, have been victims of such crimes within the past year.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as clubs, hotels, resorts, shopping centers, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship. U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. U.S. citizens should use commonsense precautions at all times, to include the following practices: avoid crowded transportation venues; visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas only during daylight hours; use well-marked taxis and be sure to lock vehicle doors and keep windows up; lock all lodging doors and windows; carry minimal amounts of cash and credit cards; do not wear jewelry which attracts undue attention; know emergency phone numbers; do not resist or antagonize armed criminals; and always be aware of your surroundings. These measures can help prevent a “wrong place, wrong time” scenario in the event of an attack as well as ensuring that your travel to Kenya is safe and enjoyable.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (+254) (20) 363-6000; fax (+254) (20) 363-6410. In the event of an after-hours emergency, contact the Embassy duty officer at (+254) (20) 363-6000.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Kenya, as well as Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, which are all available on the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The most recent security and emergency messages can be found on U.S. Embassys Nairobi’s website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Burundi Travel Alert

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of traveling to Burundi and urges caution during its election season which could extend from May through September 2015.

  Political protests and demonstrations related to these elections have resulted in several incidents of violence.  Tensions and incidents are likely to increase further in the run-up to, during, or immediately after the May 26 legislative and the June 26 presidential elections. Though previous national elections also witnessed episodes of political violence, this election period is likely to generate violence in excess of 2010 elections.  U.S. citizens are, therefore, urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2015.

U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of security awareness during the electoral period and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, polling stations, and crowds of any kind in the weeks before and after the elections. Even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations can suddenly turn violent or confrontational. There is presently no reason to believe U.S. citizens would be specifically targeted in the event of election-related violence. We urge U.S. citizens to monitor local news stations for updates. Instances of civic unrest through the election period are possible.

U.S. citizens should maintain adequate supplies of food, water, essential medicines, and other supplies to shelter in place for at least 72 hours should this become necessary. Additional recommendations on emergency preparedness are available on the Travel.State.gov web page “Emergencies Abroad.”

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Burundi.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, located on the corner of Avenue des Etats-Unis and Avenue du Cinquantenaire, at +257-22-20-7000, 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +257-22-20-7318, or +257-79-93-88-41.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Posted in Travel Alerts (U.S. Dept of State)

Mali Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali.

We especially warn against travel to the northern parts of the country and along the border with Mauritania because of ongoing military operations and threats of attacks and kidnappings targeting westerners. Mali faces significant security challenges because of the presence in northern Mali of extremists and militant factions. The potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 13, 2015. 

Violent extremist and militant elements, including al- Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), and al-Murabitun are present in northern Mali. While these extremist elements have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers of Gao and Timbuktu, they continue to conduct attacks targeting security forces in and around these locations.

During the past year, there has been an increase in attacks targeting the United Nations peacekeepers of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Rocket attacks targeting MINUSMA camps in various northern locations were reported. In addition, separate violent incidents involving suicide bombings, explosives, and land mines have occurred. The majority of these incidents resulted in numerous injuries and casualties.

Terrorist groups have increased their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.

While the security situation in Bamako and southern Mali has been relatively stable, on March 7, there was an armed attack on La Terrasse, a nightclub in the Hippodrome area of Bamako, in which a French citizen, a Belgian citizen, and three Malian citizens were killed. The Government of Mali has increased security in the capital, but the potential for additional attacks targeting Westerners in the capital city and throughout the country remains. Police harassment and violent crime in Bamako persist, including several armed carjacking incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a French citizen.

Following the 2012 unrest, most international organizations resumed operations and allowed family members and staff to return, but with renewed focus on exercising caution and putting into place varying levels of security restrictions. While the U.S. Embassy is operating normally, it is closely monitoring the situation and will update U.S. citizens of any major security changes. Our Security and Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens are available on the Embassy's website.

The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist activity throughout Mali. U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, be alert to their surroundings, and avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gatherings when visiting locations frequented by westerners, in and around Bamako. Periodic public demonstrations occur throughout Mali. While most demonstrations are peaceful, a few have become confrontational. U.S. citizens throughout Mali should develop a personal security plan. We recommend you vary your daily routine, and travel only on main roads to the extent this is possible. Malian security forces regularly update security safeguards, including checkpoints and other movement control measures, without prior notice.

The Government of Mali may periodically impose curfews and other restrictions as security needs dictate. U.S. citizens should monitor local news broadcasts regarding these measures. The U.S. Embassy may also impose temporary curfews or other restrictions on U.S. Embassy employees as needed and, from time to time, close to review its security posture in response to particular warnings or events. Such actions will be shared with the private U.S. citizen community through the Embassy's website.

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Mali despite this Travel Warning, particularly to destinations outside of Bamako, should consult the U.S. Embassy's website or your host organization for the most recent security assessment of the areas where you plan to travel.

Citizens should also note that the U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Mali due to hazards associated with ongoing fighting involving military forces, militant groups, and the unstable security situation in the country. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below a certain altitude in the airspace over Mali. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

In late 2014, Mali saw its first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case. However, there was limited transmission of EVD in Mali, and, on January 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the Travel Notice for Mali regarding EVD. On January 18, the World Health Organization declared Mali EVD-free. Persons whose travel originated in Mali will no longer be subject to enhanced screening and monitoring when entering the United States, nor will they be required to enter the country through designated airports. The CDC has also removed the Alert Level 2 Travel Notice for Mali, which advised travelers to practice enhanced precautions when visiting Mali. For further health information for Travelers to Mali, visit the CDC website.

Travelers departing Mali via Senou International Airport in Bamako should, however, be aware that the Government of Mali continues to conduct outbound airport screening procedures because of the recent presence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mali. Travelers should consider arriving at the airport at least three hours in advance of their flight and consult relevant authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, for the most up-to-date information. Travelers are encouraged to check with their airline for any changes and cancellations prior to travelling to the airport.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Mali despite this Travel Warning should enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, you will receive security updates, and the Embassy can contact you more easily in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Mali and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 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).

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. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako is located in ACI 2000 at Rue 243, Porte 297. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone number, including for after-hour emergencies, is 223 2070-2300. The consular fax number is 223 2070-2340.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Eritrea Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea.

The Government of Eritrea continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals, including U.S. diplomats posted in Asmara.  Consequently, the U.S. Embassy cannot guarantee its ability to provide emergency consular assistance outside of Asmara.  In addition, contrary to its obligations under the Vienna Convention, the Government of Eritrea does not notify the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested.  U.S. citizens of Eritrean ethnicity are often subject to the same laws and obligations as Eritrean nationals, particularly those who enter the country using their Eritrean identity card in lieu of a U.S. passport with an Eritrean visa.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Eritrea dated September 12, 2014.

The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals.  These restrictions require all visitors and residents, including U.S. diplomats, to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel beyond 25 kilometers (15 miles) of Asmara’s city limits.  While permission is often granted for popular tourist destinations such as Massawa and Keren, requests to travel near the border areas, particularly with Ethiopia and Djibouti, are regularly denied.  Requests by U.S. diplomats to travel to areas outside of Asmara are also routinely turned down, thus impairing the ability of consular officers to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in areas outside Asmara. 

Travelers should be aware that travel permits are valid for the approved final destination only, and do not allow for stops along the way to or in the proximity of the approved destination.  In addition, travel to religious institutions, such as monasteries, requires separate travel permissions even when such facilities are located in or near approved destination cities.  Foreign travelers not adhering strictly to the terms of travel permits have reported being detained by law enforcement authorities.

U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea Region because of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the contested border area, and because of the military tensions between the two countries.  U.S. citizens should also avoid travel to the contested Eritrea-Djibouti border region, where troops from Qatar patrol this area and tensions remain high.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a serious problem in parts of the country.  Some areas still have not been certified free of mines and unexploded ordnance following the 30-year war of independence and the subsequent 1998-2000 border conflict with Ethiopia.  Visitors should avoid walking alone and hiking in riverbeds or areas that local government officials have not certified as safe.

Eritrea has complicated citizenship laws and does not recognize renunciation of Eritrean citizenship.  U.S. citizens born in Eritrea to Eritrean parents or who in other ways may have Eritrean origins are required by the Government of Eritrea to register with the Immigration and Nationality Office in Asmara within seven business days of their entry into the country.  The Eritrean government sometimes subjects U.S. citizens of Eritrean ethnicity to the same entry/exit requirements as Eritrean citizens, including obtaining an exit permit.  Dual nationals, who enter the country on Eritrean travel documents, including a national ID, are treated as Eritrean citizens, regardless of their dual citizenship status and may be subject to additional obligations.  Dual nationals may not be able to obtain Eritrean civil documents, such as birth and death certificates, marriage and divorce documents, educational transcripts, or property ownership records, without proof of payment of the two percent government diaspora tax.

U.S. citizens choosing to travel to Eritrea despite this Travel Warning must obtain an Eritrean visa before their arrival.  Persons arriving in Eritrea without a visa are generally refused admission and returned to their point of origin on the next flight unless prior arrangements were made for an airport visa. 

In connection with the May 24 Independence Day holiday, travelers will notice an increase in the presence of military and police personnel throughout Asmara during the months of April and May.  It is during these two months that military and police personnel most frequently check documentation. 

Although there have been no specific incidents of violence targeting U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, stay current with media coverage of local events, and be aware of their surroundings at all times. 

Piracy on the Red Sea continues to occur and recreational vessels are strongly encouraged to avoid the region.  Commercial vessels without explicit agreements with Eritrean authorities are urged to avoid Eritrean territorial waters.  The Eritrean government has, as recently as December 2013, seized ships which do not hold such agreement.  These seizures have resulted in lengthy detentions of international crew members, including U.S. nationals.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at some Eritrean ports, even to refuel.  The Eritrean government has not granted the U.S. Coast Guard access to Eritrean ports to assess safety and security conditions despite repeated requests to do so.  U.S. citizens should consult the Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.

Modern telecommunications options are limited in Eritrea and cannot be counted upon in an emergency.  International cell phone service plans do not work on Eritrean networks.  Local cellular phone service is tightly controlled by the Eritrean government and difficult to obtain.  When available, international cell phone calls are extremely expensive and only available using pre-paid minutes.  Internet cafés are widespread but sometimes lack power, and internet service is often very slow, unreliable, and does not support Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype.

The U.S. Embassy in Asmara urges citizens who travel or remain in Eritrea despite this travel warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so you can receive the most up-to-date security information.  Please keep all of your information in STEP current. 

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Eritrea and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 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).

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.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

The consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Asmara is open for all U.S. citizen services on Thursday afternoon by appointment only.  In the case of an emergency, please contact the Embassy for an emergency appointment.  The U.S. Embassy in Asmara is located at 179 Alaa Street, P.O. Box 211, Asmara, Eritrea; telephone (291) (1) 120-004, available 24 hours a day in case of emergency; fax (291) (1) 124-255 and (291) (1) 127-584.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Mexico Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.

U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states. For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued April 13, 2015, to update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.

General Conditions:

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere, and U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery. While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 81 in 2013 and 100 in 2014.

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, and have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been temporarily prevented from leaving the area. Criminal organizations have used stolen cars, buses, and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable. We recommend that you defer travel to the areas specifically identified in this Travel Warning and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the other areas for which advisories are in effect.

The number of kidnappings throughout Mexico is of particular concern and appears to be on the rise. According to statistics published by the Mexican Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB), in 2013 kidnappings nationwide increased 20 percent over the previous year. While kidnappings can occur anywhere, according to SEGOB, during this timeframe, the states with the highest numbers of kidnappings were Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico, and Morelos. Additionally, according to a widely publicized study by the agency responsible for national statistics (INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography), Mexico suffered an estimated 105,682 kidnappings in 2012; only 1,317 were reported to the police. Police have been implicated in some of these incidents. Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized. More than 130 kidnappings of U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico between January and November of 2014.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to lower their personal profiles and to avoid displaying indicators of wealth such as expensive-looking jewelry, watches, or cameras. U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain awareness of their surroundings and avoid situations in which they may be isolated or stand out as potential victims.

Kidnappings in Mexico have included traditional, "express," and "virtual" kidnappings. Victims of traditional kidnappings are physically abducted and held captive until a ransom is paid for release. "Express" kidnappings are those in which a victim is abducted for a short time and forced to withdraw money, usually from an ATM, then released. A "virtual" kidnapping is an extortion-by-deception scheme wherein a victim is contacted by phone and convinced to isolate themselves from family and friends until a ransom is paid. The victim is coerced (by threat of violence) to remain isolated and to provide phone numbers for the victim's family or loved ones. The victim's family is then contacted and a ransom for the "kidnapped" extracted. Recently, some travelers to Mexico staying at hotels as guests have been targets of such "virtual" kidnapping schemes.

Of particular safety concern are casinos, sports books, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments. U.S. government personnel are specifically prohibited from patronizing these establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.

Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region, and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers' demands have reported that they were not physically harmed. Carjackers have shot at vehicles that have attempted to flee. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including roadblocks, bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop, and running vehicles off the road at high speeds. There are indications that criminals target newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs. However, even drivers of old sedans and buses coming from the United States have been targeted. While violent incidents can occur anywhere and at any time, they most frequently occur at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk when traveling by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads ("cuotas") whenever possible.

The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat organized criminal groups. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways by car or bus may encounter government checkpoints, staffed by military or law enforcement personnel. In some places, criminal organizations have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and have killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.

Demonstrations are common and occur in all parts of the country. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Protesters in Mexico may block traffic on roads, including major thoroughfares, or take control of toll booths on highways. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests. Travelers who encounter protestors demanding unofficial tolls are generally allowed to pass upon payment. Travelers are urged not to exit from major highways. U.S. Citizens should avoid participating in demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the authorities as the Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.

The Department imposes restrictions on U.S. government employees' travel in Mexico. Since July 2010, USG employees are prohibited from driving on non-official travel from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America. Personal travel by motor vehicle is permitted during daylight hours on Highway 15 toll road between Hermosillo and Nogales, on Highway 45 between Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, and on the main roads between Palomas, Chihuahua and Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which it is advised to "defer non-essential travel.” When travel for official purposes is essential, it is conducted with extensive security precautions. U.S. government personnel and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory is to exercise caution. While the general public is not forbidden from visiting places categorized under "defer non-essential travel," U.S. government personnel will not be able to respond quickly to an emergency situation in those areas due to security precautions that must be taken by U.S. government personnel to travel to those areas. Travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel in some states as indicated below.

For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico's roadways, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

State-by-State Assessment: 

Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico. Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, crime and violence can still occur. For general information about travel and other conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.

Aguascalientes: Exercise caution when traveling to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas, as criminal organization activity in that region continues.

Baja California: Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Baja California - Exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. Criminal activity along highways is a continuing security concern. According to the Baja State Secretariat for Public Security, from January to October 2014 Tijuana and Rosarito experienced increasing homicide rates compared to the same period in the previous year. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.

Baja California Sur: Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Southern Baja California – Exercise caution in the state capital of La Paz. According to the Department of Interior of Mexico, in 2013 Baja California Sur registered its highest homicide rate since 1997. Many of these homicides occurred in La Paz, where there has been an increase in organized crime-related violence.

Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Chiapas: Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas are major cities/travel destinations in Chiapas - No advisory is in effect.

Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua - Exercise caution in traveling to: the business and shopping districts in the northeast section of Ciudad Juarez and its major industrial parks, the central downtown section and major industrial parks in the city of Chihuahua, the town of Palomas, the urban area of the city of Ojinaga, and the towns of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes and their immediate environs. Travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area should be through the Palomas port of entry (POE) on U.S. Highway 11, continuing south until reaching Mexico Highway 2 west to Nuevo Casas Grandes. Travel to Ojinaga should be on the U.S. side via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio POE. Defer non-essential travel to other areas in the state of Chihuahua and travel between cities only on major highways and only during daylight hours. Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the southern portion of the state and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon.

Coahuila: Defer non-essential travel to the state of Coahuila except the city of Saltillo, where you should exercise caution. Violence and criminal activity along the highways are continuing security concerns, particularly along the northern border between Piedras Negras and Nuevo Laredo. The state of Coahuila continues to experience high rates of violent crime, including murder, kidnapping, and armed carjacking.

Colima: Manzanillo is a major city/travel destination in Colima - Defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state of Colima that border the state of Michoacán, including the city of Tecoman. The security situation along the Michoacán border continues to be the most unstable in the state, and personal travel by U.S. government personnel is not permitted in this area.

Durango: Exercise caution in the state of Durango. Violence and criminal activity along the highways are a continuing security concern. Several areas in the state continue to experience high rates of violence and remain volatile and unpredictable. U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Durango only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of Durango to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are major travel destinations in Estado de Mexico - Exercise caution in the State of Mexico. Many areas of the state have seen high levels of crime and insecurity as organized criminal groups have expanded their activities from the states of Guerrero and Michoacán, and have also experienced high levels of street crime. The September 2014 INEGI crime victimization survey indicated that the State of Mexico had the highest incidence of crime in Mexico, with 47,778 victims per 100,000. Due to high rates of crime and insecurity, defer non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, and Ixtapaluca, which are eastern portions of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area, located just to the east of the Federal District of Mexico and Benito Juarez airport, unless traveling directly through the areas on major thoroughfares. Defer non-essential travel to the municipality of Tlatlaya in the southwest portion of the state and non-essential travel on any roads between Santa Marta in the southeast portion of the state and Huitzilac in the state of Morelos, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas, due to high rates of crime and insecurity.

Guanajuato: San Miguel de Allende and Leon are major cities/travel destinations in Guanajuato - No advisory is in effect.

Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrero - Defer non-essential travel to all parts of the state, except for the cities of Acapulco, Ixtapa, and Zihuatanejo. Travel to Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo only by air or cruise ship, exercise caution, and remain in tourist areas. Travel in and out of Acapulco by air and cruise ship is permitted for U.S. government personnel. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling within Guerrero state by land, including via the 95D toll road (“cuota”) to/from Mexico City and Acapulco, as well as highway 200 between Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than two blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. Lodging for U.S. government personnel is limited to the hotel zone (“zona hotelera”) of Acapulco, beginning from the Krystal Beach Acapulco hotel in the north and going south through Puerto Marquez, including the Playa Diamante area and ending at The Resort at Mundo Imperial hotel. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. Any activity outside the hotel zone for U.S. government personnel is limited to the coastal area from La Quebrada to the beginning of the hotel zone and only during daylight hours. The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2013, with 2,087 homicides and 207 reported cases of kidnapping, according to the Mexican Secretariado Ejecutivo Nacional de Seguridad Publica. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.

Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect.

Jalisco: Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco – Exercise caution throughout the state, particularly in rural areas and when using secondary highways. Violent clashes between criminal organizations and government authorities, and related disturbances including barricades of burning vehicles blocking major roads and highways, are ongoing concerns that typically occur without notice. Defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca for any reason. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, and are prohibited from intercity travel at night.

Mexico City (also known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect. See also the discussion in the section on Estado de Mexico for areas within the greater Mexico City metropolitan area.

Michoacán: Morelia is a major city/travel destination in Michoacán - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacán except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas and the area north of federal toll road 15D, where you should exercise caution. U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling by land in Michoacán except on federal toll road 15D during daylight hours. Flying into Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas is the recommended method of travel. Attacks on Mexican government officials, law enforcement and military personnel, and other incidents of organized crime-related violence, have occurred throughout Michoacán. Armed members of some self-defense groups maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable. Some self-defense groups in Michoacán are reputed to be linked to organized crime.

Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelos - Exercise caution in the state of Morelos due to the unpredictable nature of organized crime violence. You should also defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta in the state of Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca.

Nayarit: The Riviera Nayarit coast, including the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas, is a major travel destination in Nayarit - Defer non-essential travel to areas of the state of Nayarit that border the states of Sinaloa or Durango, as well as all rural areas and secondary highways.

Nuevo Leon: Monterrey is a major city/travel destination in Nuevo Leon – Exercise caution in the state of Nuevo Leon. Although the level of organized crime-related violence and general insecurity in Monterrey has decreased dramatically within the last two years, sporadic incidents of violence have occurred. Security services in and around Monterrey are robust and have proven responsive and effective in combating violent crimes; however, instances of violence remain a concern in the more remote regions of the state. U.S. government personnel and their dependents may travel outside the city of Monterrey only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., except for travel to the airport after 5 a.m.

Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca - No advisory is in effect.

Puebla: No advisory is in effect.

Queretaro: No advisory is in effect.

Quintana Roo: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum are major cities/travel destinations in Quintana Roo - No advisory is in effect.

San Luis Potosi: Exercise caution in the state of San Luis Potosi. U.S. government personnel may travel outside the City of San Luis Potosi only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of San Luis Potosi to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Sinaloa: Mazatlan is a major city/travel destination in Sinaloa - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the city of Mazatlan, where you should exercise caution, particularly late at night and in the early morning. One of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided. We recommend that any travel in Mazatlan be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport.

Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora - Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades and can be extremely dangerous for travelers. Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours. The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including the towns of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity, and non-essential travel between these cities should be avoided. Travelers should also defer non-essential travel to the eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), and defer non-essential travel within the city of Ciudad Obregon and south of the city of Navojoa. You should exercise caution while transiting Vicam in southern Sonora due to roadblocks that can be instituted ad hoc by local indigenous and environmental groups. U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, and limit driving to daylight hours.

Tabasco: Villahermosa is a major city/travel destination in Tabasco- No advisory is in effect.

Tamaulipas: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico are major cities in Tamaulipas. Defer all non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas. Throughout the state violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, pose significant safety risks. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited to nonexistent in many parts of Tamaulipas. Violent conflicts between rival criminal elements and/or the Mexican military can occur in all parts of the region and at all times of the day. Violent criminal activity occurs more frequently along the northern border. While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, the highways between Matamoros-Ciudad Victoria, Reynosa-Ciudad Victoria, Ciudad Victoria-Tampico, Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros-Reynosa, and Monterrey-Reynosa, are more prone to criminal activity. Organized criminal groups sometimes target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas. These groups sometimes take all passengers hostage and demand ransom payments. In Tamaulipas, U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Victoria have experienced numerous gun battles and attacks with explosive devices in the past year. The number of reported kidnappings in Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico, and the number of U.S. citizens reported to the consulates in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo as being kidnapped, abducted, or disappearing involuntarily in 2014 has also increased.

Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect.

Veracruz: Exercise caution when traveling in the state of Veracruz. The state of Veracruz continues to experience violence among rival criminal organizations.

Yucatan: Merida and Chichen Itza are major cities/travel destinations in Yucatan - No advisory is in effect.

Zacatecas: Exercise caution in the state of Zacatecas. Robberies, carjackings, and organized criminal activity remain a concern. U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Zacatecas only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of Zacatecas to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Further Information 

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Mexico.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's internet web site, where the current Worldwide CautionTravel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 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 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate with responsibility for that person's location in Mexico. For information on the ten U.S. consular districts in Mexico, complete with links to Embassy and Consulate websites, please consult the Mexico U.S. Consular District map. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. U.S. citizens may also contact the Embassy by e-mail.

Consulates (with consular districts):

  • Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua): Paseo de la Victoria 3650, telephone. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000.
  • Guadalajara (Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguas Calientes, and Colima): Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100.
  • Hermosillo (Sinaloa and the southern part of the state of Sonora): Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500.
  • Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402.
  •  Merida (Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo): Calle 60 no. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050, telephone (011)(52)(999) 942-5700 or 202-250-3711 (U.S. number).
  • Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila):Prolongacion Ave. Alfonso Reyes No. 150, Col. Valle Poniente, Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon, 66196, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.
  • Nogales (the northern part of Sonora): Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150.
  • Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.
  • Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Paseo de Las Culturas s/n Mesa de Otay, telephone (011) (52) (664) 977-2000.
  • All other Mexican states, the Federal District of Mexico City, and the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, are part of the Embassy's consular district. 

Consular Agencies:

  • Acapulco: Hotel Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – Suite 14, telephone (011)(52)(744) 481-0100 or (011)(52)(744) 484-0300.
  • Cancún: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH Torre La Europea, Despacho 301 Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77500, telephone (011)(52)(998) 883-0272.
  • Los Cabos: Las Tiendas de Palmilla Local B221, Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 27.5, San José del Cabo, BCS, Mexico 23406 telephone, (624) 143-3566 Fax: (624) 143-6750.
  • Mazatlán: Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.
  • Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (011)(52)(951) 514-3054, (011) (52)(951) 516-2853.
  • Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., telephone, (011)(52)(878) 782-5586.
  • Playa del Carmen: "The Palapa," Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303 or 202-370-6708(a U.S. number).
  • Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (011)(52)(322) 222-0069.
  • San Miguel de Allende: Centro Comercial La Luciernaga, Libramiento Manuel Zavala (Pepe KBZON), telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)