Road Conditions and Safety: There are very few paved roads; most are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained. Roads are often impassable during the rainy season, March to November. Pedestrians and animals in the roadways, excessive speed, erratic driving, lack of street lights, and overloaded or poorly maintained vehicles pose additional risks.
When driving in remote areas, travel during daylight hours only and use convoys of multiple vehicles to mitigate the threat of roadside criminals. Carry spare tires, parts, fuel, and provisions. Service stations are separated by long distances. Professional roadside assistance service is not available.
Checkpoints: Approach all vehicle checkpoints with caution, especially after dark or during times of heightened political or military tensions, and do not attempt to evade them. Even stops at checkpoints operated by the government of South Sudan may become hostile or violent.
Keep car doors locked at all times to prevent carjacking and vehicle intrusion. Only roll car windows down enough to communicate when necessary. Anyone staffing checkpoints will often solicit bribes. Display requested documents, but do not surrender them, as officials may take them if bribes are not paid. You may wish to keep a laminated copy of your documents with you that can be shown in place of your actual passports or identification cards.
Landmines: Years of conflict have left the threat of unexploded ordnance, including landmines, as a hazard on or near major roads. Stay on main roads marked as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.
Traffic Laws: An international driver’s license and third-party liability insurance from the government is required. Those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face fines, jail sentences, and corporal punishment.
Accidents: If involved in an accident resulting in death or injury, report the incident to the nearest police station or police officer as soon as possible. Remain inside the vehicle and wait for police. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly. Many local drivers are uninsured.
Public Transportation: You should hire private transportation from a reputable source. The use of public transportation (small buses, vans, or motorbike taxis ?boda-bodas?) is off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel and should be avoided whenever possible. Drivers of these vehicles frequently have little training and are reckless, and the vehicles are often poorly maintained. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. There is some public transit to rural communities by irregularly scheduled mini-buses.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in South Sudan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of South Sudan?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.
Please visit the Embassy?s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in South Sudan.
There is no central ambulance dispatch system in South Sudan and ambulance services are generally not available.
Medical facilities in Juba fall far short of western standards. Outside Juba, the few hospitals and clinics that exist are poorly equipped and staffed.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: 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. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. Check with South Sudanese customs to ensure the medication is legal in South Sudan.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general:
- Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
- All hospitals and doctors require payment ?up front? prior to service or admission. All hospitals and medical professionals require cash payment.
- Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities.
- Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
- In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Always ensure that the bottle is sealed and do not allow staff to open the bottle for you. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Diarrheal illnesses
- Hepatitis A
- Meningococcal disease
- Yellow fever
- Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
- There are shortages of food, water, medicine, and medical supplies throughout South Sudan.
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in South Sudan.
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
South Sudan?s security services commit arbitrary arrests and often detain foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens.
Security forces often operate outside civilian control and do not always follow laws governing due process and treatment of detainees.
U.S. citizens may have little recourse to justice should they be detained. Legal proceedings can be lengthy and subjective.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
South Sudanese law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals and dual nationals in detention.
If you have reason to believe a U.S. citizen may be detained or incarcerated in South Sudan, do not assume the Embassy is already aware. Contact the Embassy and provide as much information as possible.
Journalism: Reporting in South Sudan without the proper documentation from the South Sudanese Media Authority is considered illegal. Journalists regularly report being harassed in South Sudan and have been killed while covering the conflict. They have also reported being detained with no due process or deported from the country with no warning.
Controlled Items: Certain items which are normal and legal to possess elsewhere are tightly controlled in South Sudan. Bringing them into the country without government permission, or even traveling internally with them, can result in extra scrutiny by security officials, the confiscation of your items, and your arrest.
Metal detectors, which can be used for prospecting, are tightly controlled, especially if you are traveling to an area where mining takes place. Some forms of communication equipment such as satellite phones (commonly referred to by their trade names: Thurayas or Iridiums) are required to be registered with the government. Imports of any form of military material or ?dual-use? items are highly scrutinized.
U.S. citizens should contact the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan for questions regarding what equipment they may or may not import into the country and how to obtain authorizations for specific equipment or to bring in large sums of cash.
Dual Nationals: The embassy recommends all dual nationals obtain visas for their U.S. passport covering the duration of their stay in South Sudan. If staying longer than a typical visa will allow, dual nationals are strongly encouraged to obtain a five-year residency permit. These documents are available for a fee at any local Government of South Sudan Immigration office.
Aid Workers: Consult with the security personnel representing your organization. Compounds housing aid workers have been breached and aid workers, including U.S. citizens, have been the targets of shootings, ambushes, violent assaults, harassment, and robberies.
Currency: The South Sudanese pound (SSP) is the official currency. It is a cash exclusive society. Carry sufficient funds in to cover all your expenses for the duration of your stay. ATMs draw on local banks only. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. U.S. currency that is damaged or issued prior to 2006 is not accepted.
Photography: For any photography, amateur and professional, a permit is required and may be obtained from the Ministry of Interior for $50. Even with a permit, you must be careful taking pictures, as police have arrested and physically assaulted tourists for using a camera. In addition, traveling with professional photography equipment will trigger extra scrutiny regardless of occupation.
- Never take pictures of government buildings, vehicles, or persons in uniform.
- Do not take pictures of infrastructure such as bridges or airports.
- Keep your camera concealed and do not take random photos in public.
- Do not take photos of South Sudanese without their permission and be courteous of those who shy away from having their pictures taken.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations are considered illegal in South Sudan with penalties of up to 10 years? imprisonment, if consensual. If non-consensual, the penalty is up to 14 years? imprisonment. Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons is widespread, and there are no known LGBTI organizations.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, public buildings, hotels, and communication accommodations. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack elevators.
Women Travelers: Women suffer from high levels of sexual violence, including abduction, rape, and forced marriage. The law does not prohibit domestic violence. Spousal abuse is common and police seldom intervene.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
The U.S. Embassy?s ability to provide consular services outside of Juba, even in emergencies, is extremely limited.
Land mines remain a hazard, especially outside of Juba.
Armed conflict between various political and ethnic groups continues throughout the country.
- Exercise extreme care in all parts of the country, including Juba.
- Be vigilant when traveling outside of cities and avoid travel along border areas.
- Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
- Monitor local/international news and consular messages.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. U.S. government personnel in South Sudan are under a strict curfew. They must use armored vehicles for nearly all movements, and official travel outside Juba is limited. Due to the critical crime threat in Juba, walking is also restricted; when allowed, it is limited to a small area in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy and during daylight hours only. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in South Sudan.
Crime: The population has ready access to weapons due to years of civil war, tribal conflict, and political unrest.
In Juba, the most frequently reported violent crimes include armed robbery, carjacking, and home invasion. Criminals target people who are walking, driving, traveling alone or in small groups, especially at night. Criminals frequently wear security service uniforms, carry military weapons, and use the ruse of security check points or official business to stop individuals or gain access to compounds.
Outside Juba, road ambushes and roadside crime are common and often involve violence. Violent crimes (murder, armed robbery, home invasions, cattle raiding, kidnapping) and non-violent petty theft and fraud are pervasive.
Throughout the country, crimes of opportunity include:
- theft from vehicles
- fraudulent currency exchanges
Thefts usually occur near restaurants, banks, or other areas in proximity of foreigners.
- Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
- Do not display cash or valuables.
- Dress conservatively.
- Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
- Travel with a copy of your U.S. passport and visa. Keep original documents in a secure location.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Report crimes to the local police by going in-person to the closest police station and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(211) 912-105-188. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place on any level. 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
Please visit the Embassy?s COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in South Sudan.
Requirements for Entry:
- Passport with two blank pages, valid for six months after date of entry
- Visa obtained before arrival
- World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination
- If traveling while assigned to the United Nations, you must obtain pre-authorization from the Government of South Sudan prior to your arrival. Contact the United Nations for additional information.
Visit the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan website for the most current visa information.
If you are staying longer than three days, register with the Department of Immigration and Aliens Control at the Ministry of Interior in Juba.
Do not work without a work permit or your passport could be temporarily confiscated. A work permit and/or long-term visa may be obtained at any Republic of South Sudan Immigration office.
Requirements for Exit:
- Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. Countries with direct flights from South Sudan (including Kenya and Ethiopia) typically require yellow fever immunization for passengers arriving from South Sudan.
- South Sudanese passport must be presented if you are a dual U.S -South Sudanese citizen. South Sudanese authorities have delayed or detained dual U.S.-South Sudanese nationals attempting to use their U.S. passport to depart South Sudan.
- Sudanese visa or entry permit obtained in advance when traveling from South Sudan to Sudan.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Sudan.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on South Sudan for information on U.S.-South Sudan relations.