Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Avoid driving in Venezuela. If you do drive, drive defensively as most drivers do not obey rules. Child car seats and seatbelts are not required and are seldom available in rental cars and taxis. Some Caracas municipalities have outlawed the use of hand held cell phones while driving.
- Do not drive at night outside the major cities. Road damage is not clearly marked. Traffic jams are common within Caracas during most of the day and are frequently exploited by criminals.
- Armed motorcycle gangs operate in traffic jams. Armed robberies by motorcyclists have increased. Comply with demands as victims may be killed for not complying.
- Stops at National Guard and local police checkpoints are mandatory. Follow all National Guard instructions and be prepared to show vehicle and insurance papers and passports. Vehicles may be searched.
- Do not use buses, even though they are plentiful and inexpensive, due to the high levels of criminal activity.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As of May 1, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a notice prohibiting all flight operations in the territory and airspace of Venezuela at altitudes below FL 260 by all U.S. air carriers and commercial operators. The FAA previously assessed the government of Venezuela?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Venezuela?s air carrier operations, however the May 1 notice was released based on the current situation, and takes precedence. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
On May 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order suspending immediately all nonstop flights between the United States and Venezuela, after the Department of Homeland Security concluded that conditions in Venezuela threaten the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and crew traveling to or from that country. See: 2019-5-5 Order on www.regulations.gov
Maritime Travel: Incidents of piracy off the coast of Venezuela remain a concern. Yachters should note that anchoring off shore is not considered safe. Marinas, including those in Puerto la Cruz and Margarita Island (Porlamar), provide only minimal security, and U.S. citizens should exercise a heightened level of caution in Venezuelan waters.
Mariners planning travel to Venezuela should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website ; select ?broadcast warnings?).
There is an outbreak of measles in Venezuela. Venezuelan authorities have reported confirmed cases of measles in nine states: Bolivar, Capital District, Miranda, Monagas, Delta Amacuro, Apure, Anzo?tegui, and Vargas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional information on measles.
Immunization levels among the local population have deteriorated seriously and all travelers should ensure that they have received full series of all childhood immunizations before arrival in Venezuela. Children who will be staying for prolonged periods should have all immunizations up to date as availability of immunizations in Venezuela is sporadic.
Mosquito control measures have also deteriorated and malaria cases have returned to areas that had not had cases for many years. Check with CDC or other sources for the need for malaria prophylaxis in the areas you are visiting. Other mosquito borne diseases such as chikungunya, dengue and Zika virus are highly prevalent. CDC recommended topical repellants should be purchased before arrival in Venezuela.
Medical Services: There is a nationwide shortage of medicine and medical supplies. Medical care at private hospitals and clinics in Caracas and other major cities is adequate. However, public (government-funded) hospitals and clinics generally provide a lower level of care, and basic supplies at public facilities are in short supply or unavailable. Doctors and hospitals require cash payment in advance. Patients who cannot provide advance payment may be referred to a public hospital for treatment. Public ambulance service is unreliable.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. Serious medical conditions will require medical evacuation to the United States.
You should ensure that you have sufficient quantities of all medications for the duration of your stay. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Illnesses: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The following mosquito-borne illnesses are present:
The following parasitic diseases are also present:
For more information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: While in Venezuela, you are subject to local laws and will be detained or arrested for violating them.
In Venezuela, it is illegal to take pictures of sensitive buildings, including the presidential palace, military bases, government buildings, and airports.
Drug trafficking is a serious problem in Venezuela and treated as such by Venezuelan authorities. Convicted traffickers receive lengthy prison sentences, usually eight to 10 years. If you do something illegal in Venezuela, being a U.S. citizen will not help you.
Some offenses committed overseas can be prosecuted in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see the Department of State website and the Department of Justice website on crimes against minors abroad.
Consular Access: There have been instances of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in recent years. The U.S. Department of State may not be informed of your arrest/detainment. Due to the suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, consular visits to detained U.S. citizens are not possible. Consular access to detained U.S. citizens who also have Venezuelan nationality is severely restricted by the Venezuelan government and consular access may never be provided in these cases. Detainees should not assume they will promptly be charged with a crime or brought before an independent judicial authority. If you are arrested, request that the U.S. Department of State be notified.
Currency and Exchange: The Venezuelan government maintains strict currency exchange controls. Authorized exchange houses are located in the international airports and near most major hotels. More information on the currency is available in Spanish on the Central Bank?s website.
Avoid black market currency exchange. You will likely encounter individuals in Venezuela who are willing to exchange bolivars for U.S. dollars at a rate significantly more favorable than the official exchange rates. These "black market" currency exchanges are prohibited under Venezuelan foreign exchange controls. Travelers charged in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities and face criminal penalties.
Credit Cards: Most major U.S. credit cards are accepted for purchases in Venezuelan shops, restaurants, and other businesses. However, credit card fraud is a significant risk. Check your statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made.
Wire transfers: Wire transfers cannot be used reliably as a source of emergency funds.
Women Traveler Information: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Venezuela. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in Venezuela, you may review the State Department?s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.
Accessibility: Venezuela does not have national standards for accessibility, thus most buildings lack accommodations for those with disabilities.
Safety and Security
Demonstrations: Political marches and demonstrations are frequent in all areas of Venezuela, including major cities and tourist destinations. Avoid demonstrations as even peaceful demonstrations may turn violent or result in arrests. Follow local news media reports or contact the U.S. Department of State for up-to-date information.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates from the U.S. Department of State, including alerts about upcoming demonstrations (see above).
Crime: Violent crime is pervasive throughout Venezuela. Be alert to your surroundings at all times and take personal security precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
- Maintain a low profile.
- Carry as little U.S. currency as possible.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Avoid having cell phones or other electronic devices visible.
- Remain vigilant even in upscale residential areas.
- Do not take public transportation.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
- Travel in groups.
- Provide your itinerary to a family member or friend.
- Avoid traveling at nighttime.
Avoid police activity. Corruption within police forces is a concern. Individuals wearing uniforms and purporting to be police officers or National Guard members have committed robberies and other crimes.
Criminal gangs operate openly and with little repercussion, often setting up fake police checkpoints. Armed robberies take place throughout the country, including in tourist areas. Some robberies involve individuals robbed at gunpoint and taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs. Heavily armed criminals have used grenades and assault rifles to commit crimes at banks, shopping malls, public transportation stations, and universities. Only a very small percentage of crimes result in trials and convictions.
Popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park in Caracas, are associated with violent crime. Travel in groups of five or more, and provide family or friends with your itineraries prior to departure.
Homicides: According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 23,047 deaths due to violence in Venezuela in 2018, amounting to a rate of 81 deaths due to violence per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world.
Kidnapping: Kidnappings are a serious issue.
- Virtual kidnappings: Criminals collect information on minors and then use the data to call parents for ransom without the children being taken,
- Inside kidnappings: Domestic employees are paid large sums of money for keys and information in order to kidnap children for ransom.
Drugs: There is an active narcotics trade in Venezuela. Do not accept packages from anyone, and keep your luggage with you at all times. U.S. citizens have been actively recruited to act as narcotics couriers or ?drug mules.? U.S. citizens arrested at the airport with narcotics in their possession can expect to serve extended jail terms in Venezuela under extremely difficult prison conditions.
Taxis: Do not use ?libre? taxis or any taxis hailed on the street. Taxi drivers in Caracas are known to overcharge, rob, injure, and even kidnap passengers. Use only radio-dispatched taxis or taxis from reputable hotels. Call a 24-hour radio-dispatched taxi service from a public phone or ask hotel, restaurant, or airline staff to contact a licensed taxi company.
Public Transportation: Do not use public transportation such as city buses and the metro (subway) in Caracas.
Avoid Driving. If you do drive, be aware of attacks in tunnels, and avoid obstacles in the road.
Maiquetia International Airport: Only travel to and from Maiquet?a International Airport near Caracas in daylight hours. Kidnappings, robberies at gunpoint, thefts, and muggings are common. Be wary of all strangers, even those in official uniform or carrying official identification. Do not pack valuable items or documents in checked luggage. Individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms and displaying airport or police credentials have been involved in crimes inside the airport, including extortion, robberies or forcing travelers to sign documents in Spanish they do not understand.
Make advance plans for transportation from the airport to your hotel or destination using a trusted party or dispatch taxi service.
Money: You are encouraged to use major credit cards, but be aware of the widespread theft of credit card data. Do not use travelers? checks. It is possible to exchange U.S. currency at approved exchange offices near major hotel chains in Caracas. (The use of U.S. currency in exchange for goods or services is generally illegal in Venezuela.) Obtaining local currency, the bolivar soberano, is difficult as cash is scarce. Even if you have a Venezuelan bank account, daily cash withdraws are limited to small amounts.
ATMs: Most ATMs do not accept U.S.-issued debit or credit cards and malfunctions are common. Use only those located in well-lit, public places. ATM data is often hacked and used to make unauthorized withdrawals from users? accounts. Criminals target ATMs to rob people making withdrawals. Many ATMs do not have cash.
Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, contact the local police and the U.S. Department of State.
Colombian Border: The area within a 50-mile radius along the entire Venezuela/Colombia border is extremely dangerous. Cross-border violence, kidnapping, drug trafficking and smuggling occur frequently in these areas. Some kidnapping victims are released after ransom payments, while others are murdered.
Do not attempt to cross the land border. The Government of Venezuela closes the border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia regularly.
Seismic Activity: Venezuela is an earthquake-prone country and is occasionally subject to torrential rains, which can cause landslides. If you live in Venezuela, you are encouraged to seek a professional structural assessment of your housing.
For further information on seismic activity, you may wish to visit:
- The Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program website
- Fundaci?n Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismol?gicas (Funvisis)
- Visit our Crisis Abroad: Be Ready webpage
Aviation: Private aircraft companies and operators are strongly encouraged to consult with the Venezuelan Civil Aeronautical National Institute regarding current Venezuelan laws and regulations.
Tourism: No functioning tourism industry infrastructure is in place. 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
You must have:
- a valid U.S. passport in good condition, with at least six months of validity remaining from the date of arrival in Venezuela, and
- a valid Venezuelan visa. Visas are not available upon arrival.
Interim President Guaido appointed a Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States, whom the US government has accredited, but the Venezuelan embassy and consulates are not currently open for visa processing. Contact the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington for updates about the future availability of visa services.
Immigration officials often require proof of accommodation while in Venezuela, adequate means to support, and an onward departure itinerary. Only use official crossing points when entering Venezuela. You must obtain an entry stamp to prove you entered the country legally.
Journalists: Journalists must have the appropriate accreditation and working visa before arriving in the country. There have been recent cases of international journalists being expelled and/or detained for not having proper permission/documentation to work in Venezuela. The process for accreditation is lengthy, so journalists are advised to apply well in advance of their travel date.
Airport Security: You should arrive and depart during daylight hours due to the frequency of robberies at gunpoint along the roads leading to and from the airport. The U.S. Department of State has received reports of harassment of travelers arriving at the Maiquetia airport by panhandlers soliciting U.S. dollars. The U.S. Department of State strongly advises against tipping in U.S. dollars and that all arriving passengers make advance plans for transportation from the airport to their place of lodging using a trusted party or dispatch taxi service. More information on taxis, currency, and tipping can be found in the below ?Safety & Security? and ?Local Law & Special Circumstances? sections.
Margarita Island: Venezuela uses biometric equipment to register photos and fingerprints of all travelers to Margarita Island. Please take your U.S. passport with you when traveling to the Island.
Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire: In the past, the Maduro regime has closed the border between Venezuela and Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire which has affected commercial flights and maritime trade.
Traveling with children: Venezuela’s child protection law mandates that minors (under 18) of any nationality who are traveling alone, with only one parent, or with a third party, must present a copy of their birth certificate and written, notarized authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent, or with a third party. If documents are prepared outside of Venezuela, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Embassy of Venezuela or a Venezuelan Consulate. Additional information on the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the travel.state.gov website.
Dual Nationality: Venezuelan law requires Venezuelan citizens to enter and depart Venezuela using Venezuelan passports. Therefore, if you hold dual U.S.-Venezuelan nationality, you must plan to travel between Venezuela and the United States with valid U.S. and Venezuelan passports. Please see our website for more information on entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationals.
Resident Visas: If you reside in Venezuela, you must plan to renew your residency visa well in advance of expiration. U.S. citizens residing in Venezuela have experienced difficulties and delays renewing their residency visas. Venezuelan immigration authorities ask foreigners for proof of their identification and legal status in the country.
If you live in Venezuela, be sure to obtain legitimate Venezuelan residency documentation. Do not employ intermediaries to purchase Venezuelan resident visas and/or work permits. You must sign the resident visa in person at the Servicio Administrativo de Identificaci?n, Migraci?n y Extranjer?a (SAIME) headquarters in Caracas.
Yellow Fever: Travelers entering Venezuela from certain countries are required to have a current yellow fever vaccination certificate. Carry your International Certificate of Vaccination (or yellow card) with you, as they may ask you to present it upon arrival or departure.
Measles: due to deterioration of public health in Venezuela outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, pertussis and chickenpox are common. Travelers should ensure that they have received all routine immunizations recommended. Visit the CDC website for other travel vaccines recommended.
HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Venezuela. However, be aware that HIV/AIDS medications, like other medications, are often not available in Venezuela.
Customs: For the most current information concerning visa, tax, and customs requirements for Venezuela, travelers may contact the nearest Venezuelan embassy or consulate.
Although only in Spanish, the website for the Maiquet?a International Airport, the main airport in Caracas, has helpful information for travelers.
Stay up to date:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements.
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at +1(888) 407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, +1 (202) 501-4444, from other countries.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Venezuela. Travelers should review the latest Travel Advisory. See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Venezuela for information on U.S. ? Venezuela Relations.
The political, economic, and security situation in Venezuela is unstable. Currently, there are two competing political forces. The United States recognizes Juan Guaid? as the interim president of Venezuela and recognizes Venezuela?s National Assembly as the only legitimate, democratically elected legislative body at the national level. Nicolas Maduro, the former president, retains control of the executive and judicial branches as well as the military and security forces. Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to social unrest. The Maduro regime?s actions include the erosion of human rights guarantees, the persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, destruction of civilian trucks with humanitarian aid at land border crossings, the use of violence and other human rights abuses in response to antigovernment protests, arbitrary arrests or detentions, and wide-spread government corruption. Violent crime is pervasive throughout Venezuela. Homicides, kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Venezuela depart. More information can be found within the U.S. Department of State?s Venezuela Travel Advisory. The U.S. Embassy in Caracas suspended operations on March 13, 2019 and therefore cannot provide protection or consular services to U.S. citizens in Venezuela.
If you are a U.S. citizen in Venezuela in need of assistance, or are concerned about a U.S. citizen in Venezuela, please contact us in one of the following ways: