TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Road conditions and driving habits in a foreign country can differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning North Korea is provided for general reference only. You are not allowed to drive in North Korea unless you hold a valid DPRK driver?s license. Bicycles are unavailable for rental or purchase. Please refer to our Road Safety information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and North Korea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed North Korea?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
As a result of concerns arising from unannounced missile launch activities and GPS navigation systems interference and/or disruption, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Prohibition and Advisory notice to U.S. airmen and operators. The FAA has issued Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 79 which prohibits U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Pyongyang Flight Information Region (FIR) west of 132 degrees east longitude, and the FAA has advised those flying in and around the Pyongyang (FIR) east of 132 degrees east longitude to be aware of possible GPS interruptions. For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration?s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.
MARITIME SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Mariners planning travel in the vicinity of North Korea should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation?s Maritime Security Communications with Industry WebPortal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency?s website.
If you have medical problems, do not travel to North Korea:
- Medical facilities in the DPRK lack resources and electricity.
- Medical personnel have inadequate or outdated skills.
- Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available.
- Avoid surgery.
- If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance.
- Hospitals will expect immediate U.S. dollar cash payment for medical treatment.
- You cannot use credit cards or checks in the DPRK.
Carry your regular medication with you along with the doctor?s prescription: DPRK Customs says that most prescription medication may be brought into the country with no restrictions.
Medical Evacuations: Local DPRK hosts are often not aware of options available for medical evacuations and might claim that no such options exist.
- Insist on contacting the Embassy of Sweden, which will attempt to arrange flight clearances for air ambulances performing emergency medical evacuations.
- Costs for medical air evacuation vary, but according to SOS International, an evacuation from Pyongyang to Beijing averages approximately USD 40,000 including medical personnel (1 doctor and 1 nurse), the aircraft, and clearance costs.
- The General Bureau of the Koryo Civil Aviation of the DPRK says that it provides around-the-clock service and that requests for air clearance will be granted within 24 hours.
- If a U.S. citizen with a medical emergency is in Pyongyang, the Embassy of Sweden can usually arrange a medical evacuation to Beijing in one day. If the patient is located outside Pyongyang, it will take longer.
- Medical evacuation by regularly scheduled airlines can be arranged, but very few flights operate from Pyongyang to Beijing (Air Koryo and Air China), Shenyang (Air Koryo), or Vladivostok (Air Koryo).
- Air Koryo flights go to Shanghai only on a charter basis in the tourist season (April-October).
- In order to transit China, Chinese visas for injured foreigners and any escorts must be obtained prior to the evacuation from North Korea. Even in the case of a medical emergency, transit visas may take several days to arrange.
Evacuation across the DMZ to South Korea is not allowed.
Vaccinations: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection are located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC Internet site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website. If you have special dietary requirements, you are advised to bring food with you to North Korea, as the restaurants available to foreigners have limited menus that may not meet your dietary needs.
Companies that may be able to arrange evacuation services include, but are not limited to, those listed below. You may wish to contact these or other emergency medical assistance providers for information about their ability to provide medical evacuation insurance and/or assistance for travelers to North Korea.
Telephone (inside China): 400-818-0767
Telephone (outside China): (86-10) 6462-9100
United Healthcare Global Assistance
Telephone: (U.S.) (410) 453-6330
Telephone: (Toll free within China) 10-8888-800-527-0218
Telephone: (outside China) (86-10) 6595-8510)
Telephone (emergency): (China) (86-10) 5915-1199.
You can find useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Also, see our extensive tips and advice on Traveling Safely Abroad.
Bills – We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas: The DPRK says U.S. citizens are accountable for costs associated with detention or incarceration in North Korea such as lodging, food, telephone calls, and medical assistance (hospital bills).
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription.
Major country-specific health concerns: Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in North Korea. For further information, please consult the CDC’s information on TB.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information, go to:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the Embassy of Sweden immediately. See our webpage for further information
Educate yourself about North Korean law. The North Korea legal system is an instrument of state power and not an independent branch of the government. Protections guaranteed under the U.S. legal system do not apply, and your U.S. passport does not confer special status. Your local host/liaison may be able to provide useful guidance. However, do not assume your host will provide assistance to you if you are arrested, or that any information you shared with your host will not be turned over to North Korean authorities.
Criminal acts unique to North Korea:
- Showing disrespect (both physically and verbally) to the country?s former leaders, Kil Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, or the country?s current leader, Kim Jong Un including but not limited to tampering with or mishandling materials bearing their names or images such as money, newspapers, or political slogans in Korean
- Entering North Korea without proper travel documentation
- Possessing material, printed or digital including e-book readers, DVDs, USB drives, documents, literature, audio and video files that is critical of or hostile to North Korea
- Proselytizing or carrying out religious activities, including activities that may be construed as such, like leaving behind religious materials, either intentionally or unintentionally
- Engaging in unsanctioned political activities
- Unauthorized interacting with North Koreans
- Taking unauthorized photographs
- Having unauthorized conversations with North Koreans
- Traveling without authorization even for short distances
- Exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor
- Shopping at stores not designated for foreigners
- Bringing pornography into the country
No Expectation of Privacy:
- All electronic and multimedia devices including USB drives, CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, Internet browsing histories, and cookies are subject to search for banned content.
- Personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
- If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your mobile phone when you enter the country, it will not function unless you use the DPRK mobile service, which will enable DPRK authorities to monitor your calls. GPS-trackers and satellite phones are not allowed.
- A host or minder will keep track of you.
- Removing or tampering with political slogans and signs or pictures of political leaders.
Criminal Penalties: At least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years. While in North Korea, you are subject to North Korean laws. If you violate North Korean laws, even unwittingly, you may be:
- Held in isolation without charges for lengthy periods of time,
- Interrogated without counsel,
- Compelled to draft public confessions,
- Sentenced, and
- Sent to a labor camp for years.
Press: North Korea officials watch journalists closely to prevent them from unauthorized conversations with North Koreans or questioning the policies, actions, or public statements of North Korea?s leadership.
- North Korea has confiscated objectionable material from foreign journalists.
- Journalists who engaged in activities that challenged the regime have been deported, arrested, or detained to face criminal charges.
- For additional information on the lack of freedom of information in North Korea, see the Department of State?s Human Rights Report for North Korea.
U.S. Government Economic Sanctions Against North Korea: North Korea remains one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world.
- The government of North Korea and the Workers? Party of Korea are blocked persons, and U.S. citizens may generally not engage in transactions with them or with their property.
- Most exports to North Korea are subject to licensing by the Commerce Department?s Bureau of Industry and Security.
- The importation and exportation of goods, services, and technology from or to North Korea are generally prohibited unless authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and, for exports or goods, the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security.
UN Security Council statements November 17, 2017: For information on the United States and the United Nations Security Council concern regarding escalating tensions from the recent missile launch, and other activities prohibited by United Nations Security Council Resolutions, see UN website.
Customs Regulations: North Korean authorities may seize documents, literature, audio and video files, computer equipment, DVDs, USB drives and other digital media, and letters deemed by North Korean officials to be pornographic or intended for religious proselytizing or subversive activities. Please see our information on customs regulations.
Dual Nationality: North Korea does not recognize dual nationality. If you are of Korean heritage ? even if you are a U.S. citizen ? you could be subject to ten years of military service in North Korea and taxes on foreign source income. Please see our information on Information on Dual Nationality.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State?s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations because same-sex sexual relations are considered a foreign phenomenon. DPRK claims that there are no LGBTI in the country. It would therefore not be possible to organize an LGBTI event here.
Additionally, any open demonstration of affection is frowned upon, as well as between opposite sex couples.
Persons with Mobility Issues. Hotels and medical facilities are generally accessible. However, pavements/curbs are high.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Please see the sections on ?Local Laws and Special Circumstances? and ?Criminal Penalties.?
Crime: North Korea does not release crime statistics. Petty thefts have been reported at the airport in Pyongyang.
Do not buy counterfeit and/or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. The purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods is illegal in the United States and may be illegal in North Korea.
Victims of Crime: Report the crime to your local host/liaison and contact the Embassy of Sweden for assistance. Your local host/liaison should contact the local authorities on your behalf.
Lost or Stolen Passports:
If your passport is lost or stolen in North Korea, you will need to contact the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang, U.S. Protecting Power, for assistance in reaching out to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and obtaining a replacement passport. You will also need a replacement visa for China.
Tourism: Individuals cannot use a U.S. passport to travel to, in, or through North Korea without a special validation from the Department of State. Special Validations are granted only if it is in the US national interest to do so. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
U.S. passports are not valid for travel into, in, or through the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) due to the serious and mounting risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. citizens in North Korea. Those traveling on U.S. passports in North Korea should have already departed North Korea. Those who wish to travel to North Korea on a U.S. passport after this time must obtain a special validation in a limited validity passport under 22 C.F.R. 51.64, which will be granted only under very limited circumstances. U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizen nationals abroad can apply for this special validation at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
With a special validation to enter North Korea in a limited passport: one to three months validity to enter North Korea. If you enter and depart North Korea through China, six months validity on your passport with multiple entry/exit visas for China. Note: you cannot enter North Korea through the Demilitarized Zone from South Korea.
If you enter North Korea without a special validation: the Department of State can revoke your passport for misuse under 22 C.F.R. 51.62(a)(2). Further, you may be subject to felony prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1544 for misuse of a U.S. passport.
Where to apply for a DPRK visa: DPRK Embassy in Beijing, China or in any country that has diplomatic relations with North Korea.
The Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Beijing:
No. 11, Ritan Bei Lu,
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 6532-6639 (Visa Office)
Telephone: (86-10) 65312-1186
Facsimile: (86-10) 6532-6056
If you reside in the United States, inquire through the DPRK Mission to the UN whether your request for a DPRK visa will be approved before you leave the United States for China:
The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People?s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 972-3105
Facsimile: (212) 972-3154
If you reside in a country with diplomatic relations with the DPRK, ask the DPRK embassy in that country for visa advice.
If you try to enter North Korea without required travel documents: you may be denied entry, fined, detained, arrested, or imprisoned.
If you plan to enter and depart North Korea through China without multiple Chinese visas in your passport or with Chinese visas that expire before you depart North Korea, you may not be able to exit North Korea.
HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrtictions for visitors to or foreign residents of North Korea.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on North Korea for information on U.S. ? North Korea relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
- The Department strongly urges U.S. citizens not to go to North Korea/the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea (DPRK) due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention.
- North Korean authorities, under North Korea?s system of law enforcement, impose unduly harsh sentences–including for actions that in the United States would not be considered crimes.
- They also threatened U.S. citizens with being treated in accordance with the ?wartime law? of the DPRK.
Sweden as Protecting Power: Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to its citizens:
- Sweden serves as the protecting power for Canada, Australia, and the United States, providing limited emergency consular services.
- North Korea still routinely delays or denies consular access to U.S. citizens, even when requested by the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang and despite North Korea and the United States both being signatories to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Telephone: +(850)(2) 3817-485 (reception)
Fax: +(850)(2) 3817-663
Emergency Contact at the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang: Telephone: (850-2) 3817-904, (850-2) 3817 907 (Deputy); Telephone: (850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
Department of State Emergency Contact: 24/7 from within the United States 1-888-407-4747 / from outside the United States 1-202-501-4444.
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300