VenezuelaOfficial Name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
A tourist visa to Venezuela is required and must be secured before entering the country. Visas are not available upon arrival.
See Entry Information below.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or more must be declared.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or more must be declared.
Embassies and Consulates
Calle F con Calle Suapure,
Urb. Colinas de Valle Arriba,
Caracas, Venezuela 1080
Telephone: +(58) (212) 975-6411
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(58) (212) 907-8400
Fax: +(58) (212) 907-8199
U.S. Consular Agent - Maracaibo
Calle 77 (5 de Julio) Con Avenida 3F No. 3F-13
Sector Valle Frio
Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Caracas +(58) (212) 907-8400
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Caracas +(58) (212) 907-8400
Fax: +(58) (212) 907-8199
Venezuela is a medium-income country with a large and important petroleum sector. Venezuela’s political leadership maintains an anti-U.S. government discourse, and its political climate is highly polarized and fluid. Violent crime is a serious problem, and the capital city of Caracas has one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world. Kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country; no areas are safe. Scheduled air service and all-weather roads connect major cities and most regions of the country. Venezuela’s tourism infrastructure varies in quality according to location and price. For an in-depth country description of Venezuela, please read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Venezuela.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A valid passport and valid visa are required to enter Venezuela. Airlines will refuse to board U.S. citizens who do not possess a valid Venezuelan tourist visa. Venezuelan immigration authorities require that U.S. passports have at least six months validity remaining from the date of arrival in Venezuela. Some U.S. citizens have been turned back to the United States because their passports were to expire in less than six months. Passports should also be in good condition, as some U.S. citizens have been delayed or detained overnight for having otherwise valid passports in poor condition.
Travelers may be required to show immigration officials proof of accommodation while in Venezuela, an adequate means to support themselves and an onward departure itinerary. When entering Venezuela, travelers should only use official crossing points. It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain an entry stamp to prove s/he entered the country legally. It should be noted that some entry points enforce the policy of stamping passports more than others.
As of March 2015 all U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela must have a tourist visa. According to the website of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, U.S. citizens should plan to apply for a visa three months in advance of travel. U.S. citizens should expect to pay $30 for a one-year, multiple-entry visa good for a 90- day stay in Venezuela. All U.S. citizens planning travel to Venezuela are urged to check both the Venezuelan Embassy’s English and Spanish webpages regularly for the most current information about visa application requirements and procedures. U.S. citizens should direct visa questions to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. or Venezuelan Consulates in Boston, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, San Francisco, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Visit the Embassy of Venezuela website for the most current visa information.
An exit tax and airport fee must be paid when departing Venezuela by airline. Most airlines now include the exit tax and airport fee in the airline ticket price. In the event that the fee has not been paid, authorities usually require that payment be made in local currency. Both the departure tax and the airport fee are subject to change with little notice. Travelers should always confirm with their airlines the latest information prior to travel.
Travelers to Margarita Island should be aware that the Government of Venezuela uses biometric equipment to register photos and fingerprints of all those entering Margarita Island. The equipment is intended to help authorities detect criminals or wanted criminal suspects, but U.S. citizen travelers to Margarita Island have on occasion not been allowed to enter the island without their physical passport in hand.
U.S. citizens residing in Venezuela should be careful to obtain legitimate Venezuelan documentation appropriate to their status. There have been numerous cases of U.S. citizens who, having employed intermediaries, received what they believed to be valid Venezuelan resident visas and work permits. They were subsequently arrested and charged with possessing fraudulent Venezuelan documentation. The Venezuelan government agency responsible for immigration documents, Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería or SAIME, has informed the Embassy that the only valid resident visas are those for which the bearer has personally signed at SAIME headquarters in Caracas.
For the most current information concerning visa, tax, and customs requirements for Venezuela, travelers may contact the Embassy of Venezuela at 1099 30th Street, NW, Washington DC 20007, tel.: (202) 342-2214, or visit the Embassy of Venezuela web site. Travelers may also contact the Venezuelan Consulates in Boston, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, or San Juan. Although only in Spanish, the website for the Maiquetía International Airport, the main airport that provides service to Caracas, also has helpful information for travelers.
Dual Nationality: Venezuelan law requires Venezuelan citizens to enter and depart Venezuela using Venezuelan passports, and Venezuelan immigration authorities are increasingly enforcing this requirement. In order to comply with U.S. and Venezuelan law, persons who hold dual U.S.-Venezuelan nationality must plan to travel between Venezuela and the United States with valid U.S. and Venezuelan passports. Please see our information on dual nationality for entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationals.
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. This authorization must reflect the precise date and time of the travel, including flight and/or other pertinent information. Without this authorization, immigration authorities will prevent the child's departure from Venezuela. The Venezuelan government no longer recognizes blanket or non-specific travel authorizations. When a parent is deceased, a notarized copy of the death certificate is required in lieu of the written authorization. If documents are prepared in the United States, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Embassy of Venezuela or a Venezuelan Consulate in the United States. If documents are prepared in Venezuela, only notarization by a Venezuelan notary is required. A permission letter prepared outside Venezuela is valid for 90 days. A permission letter prepared in Venezuela is valid for 60 days.
Travelers entering Venezuela from certain countries are required to have a current yellow fever vaccination certificate. The Venezuelan Ministry of Health recommends the yellow fever vaccine for those travelers departing Venezuela, whose final destination is a country that requires that vaccine. This vaccine needs to be given at least 10 days prior to travel. The yellow fever vaccine is effective for 10 years, so travelers should check their shot records to be sure their vaccines are updated as needed. In addition, per the Venezuelan Ministry of Health, travelers should carry their International Certificate of Vaccination (or yellow card) with them, as they may be asked to present it upon arrival or departure. Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever are common in some areas and travelers should take precautions to prevent infection.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Venezuela.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. The country’s overall per capita murder rate is cited as the second highest in the world. Armed robberies take place throughout the country, including in areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Street crime can occur anywhere and at any time of the day or night. Even upscale residential areas are not immune from street crime and home invasion robberies.
While visiting Venezuela, U.S. citizens are encouraged maintain a low profile and carry as little U.S. currency as possible. Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry, and avoid having cell phones or other electronic devises visible to avoid becoming a target of crime.
U.S. citizens should be extremely alert to their surroundings at all times and take personal security precautions to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of crime.
Please see the section Crime below for more information on the significant crime threat environment in Venezuela.
Demonstrations: Political marches and demonstrations are frequent in Caracas and elsewhere in Venezuela. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn violent with little warning and include exchanges of gunfire and use of tear gas. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Venezuela are advised to take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, no matter where or for what reason they occur.
Demonstrations tend to occur at or near university campuses, business centers, and gathering places such as public squares and plazas. Marches generally occur on busy thoroughfares, significantly affecting traffic. In the past, most major tourist destinations, including coastal beach resorts and Margarita Island, have not in the past been generally affected by protest actions. The city of Merida, however, a major tourist destination in the Andes Mountains, has been the scene of demonstrations, some of them violent.
U.S. citizens should stay informed of local developments by following the local press, radio and television. Visitors should also consult their local hosts, including U.S. and Venezuelan business contacts, hotels, tour guides, and travel organizers in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates from the U.S. Embassy, including alerts about upcoming demonstrations (see below).
Harassment of U.S. citizens by government officials or pro-government groups is uncommon, despite the fact that Venezuela’s most senior leaders regularly express strong anti-U.S. government sentiment.
Transportation: Travelers in Venezuela should be wary of taxis and avoid “libre” taxis or any taxis hailed on the street. The fact that a taxi driver presents a credential or drives an automobile with official taxi license plates is not an indication of reliability or safety. Incidents of taxi drivers in Caracas overcharging, robbing, injuring or even kidnapping passengers are common. Instead, U.S. citizens should use radio-dispatched taxis or taxis from reputable hotels. Travelers can call a 24-hour radio-dispatched taxi service from a public phone or ask hotel, restaurant, or airline staff to contact a licensed cab company.
Travel to and from Maiquetía International Airport near Caracas is particularly dangerous. All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their family members assigned to the U.S. Embassy are required to take an armored vehicle when traveling to and from Maiquetía airport. Visitors traveling this route at night have been kidnapped and held captive for ransom in roadside huts that line the highway. Because of the frequency of robberies at gunpoint, travelers are encouraged to arrive and depart only during daylight hours. The Embassy strongly advises 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. Travelers should be aware of chokepoints inside tunnels and avoid obstacles in the road.
When traveling by bus, visitors should travel only during daylight hours and only by first-class conveyance. There have been several reports of bus hijackings & armed robberies of entire busloads of passengers.
The U.S. Embassy recommends avoiding the use of public transportation such as city busses and the metro (subway) in Caracas. Metro robberies are frequent, especially during crowded rush hours. If riding the metro or the city bus system, travelers should take extreme care with valuables and belongings.
Money: The U.S. Embassy does not recommend changing money at the international airport. Visitors are encouraged to use a major credit card, but should be aware that there is a widespread pilfering of credit card data to make unauthorized transactions. Travelers’ checks are not recommended. It is possible to exchange U.S. currency at approved exchange offices near major hotel chains in Caracas. Due to currency regulations, hotels cannot provide currency exchange.
There are ATMs throughout Venezuela. Malfunctions are common, however, and travelers should be careful to use only those in well-lit public places. ATM data has also been hacked and used to make unauthorized withdrawals from user’s accounts. ATMs are also targeted by criminals to rob people making withdrawals.
Please see the section Local Laws & Special Circumstances below for more information on currency and credit card use.
Colombian Border: Cross-border violence, kidnapping, drug trafficking and smuggling, occur frequently in areas along the 1,000-mile long border between Venezuela and Colombia. Some kidnap victims have been released after ransom payments, while others have been murdered. Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are active in kidnapping for ransom and have been known to operate with near impunity inside Venezuela. The State Department warns U.S. citizens not to travel within a 50-mile area along the entire Venezuela/Colombia border. U.S. citizens who elect to visit areas along the border region with Colombia despite this warning could encounter Venezuelan military-controlled areas and may be subject to search and arrest in addition to the criminal threats mentioned above.
On August 19, 2015 the Government of Venezuela closed the border crossing between Venezuela and Colombia in Tachira state and three days later declared a State of Emergency in six municipalities. On September 7, 2015 the border crossing between Venezuela and Colombia in Zulia state was closed and a State of Emergency was declared there as well. U.S. citizens are advised not to visit those areas in the State of Emergency because of the increased Venezuelan military and police presence. Land crossing border points are effectively closed to all travelers and U.S. citizens are advised not to attempt to use them.
Seismic Activity: Venezuela is an earthquake-prone country and is occasionally subject to torrential rains, which can cause landslides. Travelers who intend to rent or purchase long-term housing in Venezuela should choose structures designed for earthquake resistance, and may wish to seek professional assistance from an architect or civil/structural engineer when renting or purchasing a house or apartment in Venezuela. U.S. citizens already in Venezuela are encouraged to seek a professional structural assessment of their housing.
For further information on seismic activity, you may wish to visit:
- The Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program web site
- The Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project web site
- Fundación Venezolana de Investigaciones Sismológicas (Funvisis)
Stay up to date by:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
- 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.
· Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
Crime Environment: As stated above, violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior.
According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 24,980 homicides in Venezuela in 2014, amounting to a rate of 82 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world. In Caracas, the homicide rate is even higher at 116 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most murders are never solved.
Police responsiveness and effectiveness in Venezuela vary drastically but generally does not meet U.S. expectations. U.S. citizens have reported robberies and other crimes committed against them by individuals wearing uniforms and purporting to be police officers or National Guard members. Police investigations into kidnappings have revealed that police officers have been involved, and corruption within police forces is a concern. U.S. citizens are encouraged to stay away from police activity, as they may be handling an investigation of a crime.
Criminal gangs operate openly and with little repercussion, often setting up fake police checkpoints. Armed robberies take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas generally presumed safe and frequented by tourists. Upscale residential areas where many U.S. citizens live are not immune from street crime and home invasion robberies. 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 results in trials and convictions.
Popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park in Caracas, are increasingly associated with violent crime. U.S. citizens planning to participate in outdoor activities in potentially isolated areas are strongly urged to travel in groups of five or more and to provide family or friends with their itineraries prior to departure.
The Embassy is aware of several instances where women lured U.S. men to Venezuela after establishing “relationships” with them over the Internet. Some of these men were robbed shortly after they arrived in Venezuela. Others were recruited to act as narcotics couriers or “drug mules.”
Kidnapping: Kidnappings are a serious problem. The number of kidnappings reported has climbed annually since 2006. Kidnappings of U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals from homes, hotels, unauthorized taxis and the airport terminal are more frequently being reported to the Embassy. In addition, “express kidnappings,” in which individuals are kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to make purchases or to withdraw as much money as possible from ATMs, are a serious problem. One common practice is for kidnappers to follow potential victims into building garages and kidnap them at gunpoint, although the majority of kidnappings occur while the victims are traveling in vehicles.
In Venezuela there have also been reports of “virtual kidnappings,” in which criminals collect information on minors and then use the data to call parents for ransoms without the children being taken, and “inside kidnappings,” in which domestic employees are being paid large sums of money for keys and information in order to kidnap children for ransom.
Maiquetía International Airport: As stated above, travel to and from Maiquetía International Airport is particularly dangerous. The Embassy has received frequent reports of armed robberies and “express kidnappings” in taxicabs going to and from the airport. Travelers have been victims of personal property theft and muggings in the airport itself. There are multiple reports of individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms and displaying airport or police credentials involved in crimes inside the airport, include extortion, express kidnappings, or forcing travelers to sign documents in Spanish they do not understand. For this reason, U.S. citizen travelers should be wary of all strangers, even those in official uniform or carrying official identification, and should not pack valuable items or documents in checked luggage.
There is an active narcotics trade in Venezuela. Travelers should not accept packages from anyone and should keep their luggage with them at all times. Other U.S. citizens were actively recruited to act as narcotics couriers or “drug mules.” In three instances, the U.S. citizens were arrested at the airport with narcotics in their possession and can expect to serve extended jail terms in Venezuela.
Maritime and Aviation: Incidents of piracy off the coast of Venezuela remain a concern. Yachters should note that anchoring off shore is not considered safe. While the majority of reports involve local fisherman, foreigners have been targeted. Some of these attacks have been especially violent and resulted in the deaths of the passengers onboard the ships.
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. The Department of State maintains additional information on international maritime piracy. Public safety announcements, directives and specific information concerning piracy can be found at the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport website. The Venezuelan non-government organization web site Organización Nacional de Salvamento y Seguridad Marítima de los espacios Acuáticos de Venezuela (ONSA) has additional country specific maritime security information (in Spanish) for mariners.
In addition to security concerns, yachters should be aware of registration and other required permits in order to anchor in Venezuelan marinas. U.S. citizens docking in Venezuela are strongly encouraged to check with local authorities regarding the proper documentation for their vessels and themselves.
Rules governing the sale of fuel to foreign sailors in Venezuela vary by state. U.S. citizen yachters should inquire about specific state procedures prior to attempting to purchase fuel in any given location.
Private aircraft companies and operators are strongly encouraged to consult with the Venezuelan Civil Aeronautical National Institute regarding current Venezuelan laws and regulations, such as those pertaining to tail markings, registrations, and other required authorizations. Failure to comply with national or local requirements can result in arrest and criminal charges, as well as property seizures.
U.S. Embassy Movement Policy: All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy travel policy for their safety and well-being. The policy divides Caracas into three zones: yellow, orange, and red.
When traveling to and from the Yellow Zone, U.S. personnel are strongly encouraged to notify the Embassy. They are not to leave the main streets when traveling to and from El Hatillo after 10:00 p.m.
The Yellow Zone includes the Baruta neighborhood (Las Mercedes, Santa Rosa de Lima, San Roman, Prados del Este, Valle Arriva, Cumbres de Curumo, La Trinidad, Cafetal, Santa Paula, San Luis, Caurimare, Cerro Verde and El Penon), El Hatillo (Las Marias, Oripoto, La Boyera, Los Pinos, Los Geranjos, Los Naranjos, La Lagunita and El Hatillo), Chacao (El Bosque, La Castellana, El Rosal, Country Club, Chacao, Altamira, Los Palos Grandes and Campo Alegre).
Travel to areas within the Orange Zone is discouraged between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and prohibited from midnight until 6:00 a.m. without first notifying the Embassy Regional Security Officer.
The Orange Zone includes the following neighborhoods: Certain areas of Chacao (Chacaito and Bello Campo) Eastern Libertador (Montalban, El Paraiso, Vista Alegre, San Bernardino, Los Chaguaramos, Valle Abajo, Santa Monica, Bello Monte, Sabana Grande, Ciudad Universitaria and La Florida), and Western Sucre (Sebucan, Los Chorros, Montecristo, Los Dos Caminos, El Marquez, Horizonte, La Urbina, Macaracuay, Santa Cecilia, La Carlota, Terrazas del Avila, Urbanizacion Miranda, Boleita and Los Ruices). Catedral, La Candelaria, Teatro Teresa Carreño, Universidad Simon Bolivar, and El Poliedro have been placed in a category called “Orange Zone with Restrictions.” Embassy employees traveling to Catedral, La Candelaria, Teatro Teresa Carreño, or Universidad Simon Bolivar must use an approved driver. Embassy employees traveling to an event at El Poliedro may use their personal vehicle, but must go directly there via the Autopista Francisco Fajardo, and may not stop in any of the surrounding Red Zone neighborhoods. When the event ends, employees must leave immediately, again utilizing the Autopista Francisco Fajardo. The Embassy strongly discourages transit along the Avenida Boyaca, as well as along the roads that connect to Avenida Boyaca.
Unofficial travel into the Red Zone is prohibited. U.S. personnel are only authorized to transit through the Red Zone on official business during daylight hours provided they remain on one of the city’s highways. The Red Zone includes the following areas: Western Libertador (Coche, El Valle, El Retiro, 23 de Enero, Blandin, La Vega, La Rinconada, Las Mayas, Tazon, Oropeza Castillo, Lomas de Urdaneta, Propatria, Casalta, Lomas De Propatria, Carapita, Antimano, Tacagua, Ruiz Pineda, Caricuao, La Quebradita, El Altantico, Sarria, San Martin and La Yaguara), Eastern Sucre (Barrio Piritu, Barrio La Rubia, Barrio Altavista, Petare, Caucaguita, La Dolorita, Paulo Sexto, El Llanito) and specific neighborhoods in Baruta (Las Minas, Santa Cruz del Este, Ojo de Agua, La Naya, Las Minitas).
Lastly, U.S. personnel are required to leave public establishments in all of the zones by 3:00 a.m. They are prohibited from traveling within 50 miles of the Venezuela/Colombia border without both prior approval from the Chief of Mission and coordination with the Regional Security Officer; inter-city travel by car during hours of darkness (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) is strongly discouraged and in some cases may be prohibited. U.S. government personnel must also request approval to travel more than 50 miles away from Caracas and/or overnight stays outside of Caracas.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport,
- For violent crimes such as assault or rape, help you find appropriate medical care,
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities and, if you want us to, we can contact family members or friends,
- Although the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and can direct you to local attorneys.
- In Venezuela, the telephone line for emergency services is 911 like in the United States. These calls will not be answered by English speakers, but the service is staffed by members of local police forces, who may attempt to find someone who speaks basic English.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Venezuela, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. For example, in Venezuela it is illegal to take pictures of sensitive installations to include the presidential palace, military bases, government buildings, and airports. Just as in the United States, driving under the influence can land you immediately in jail.
There are also acts that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. Drug trafficking is a serious problem in Venezuela and treated as such by Venezuelan authorities. Convicted traffickers receive lengthy prison sentences, usually eight to ten years. If you do something illegal in Venezuela, your U.S. passport won’t help. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Security within Venezuela’s prisons is lax to nonexistent. Prison populations are largely under the control of prison gangs with little or no interference from prison authorities. Drugs and weapons are freely available, and prison authorities generally do not provide even basic protections and amenities, including food, so individual prisoners must deal with gang leaders through payments or other mechanisms just to survive. U.S. citizens incarcerated in Venezuelan prisons claim to have been beaten and had their medication withheld.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Venezuela, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy of your arrest and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy.
Consular Access: Although Venezuela is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Venezuelan government sometimes fails to notify the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens are arrested, and/or delays or denies consular access to arrestees. Therefore, U.S. citizens cannot assume a consular officer will visit them within 24-72 hours of an arrest.
Currency and Exchange: The Venezuelan government maintains a strict regime of currency exchange controls. There are three different official rates to exchange U.S. Dollars (USD) into Venezuelan Bolivares (BsF). The first rate, CENCOEX, specifies exchange of 6.3 BsF per USD only for priority sectors of the economy like food, medicine, and other goods deemed essential. The second fixed exchange rate, SICAD II, is fixed at 12.8 BsF per USD and is for goods considered important but not essential. The third rate, SIMADI, fluctuates – currently around 200 BsF per USD and is intended for all other goods – like travel services. In Venezuela there also exists an illegal “black market” exchange of BsF for USD at a floating exchange rate that changes daily.
Authorized exchange houses (Casas de Cambio) can buy U.S. dollars, or dollar-denominated traveler’s checks and exchange them for bolivars at the CENOCEX rate ( 6.3 BsF/USD) rate, but cannot buy bolivars and exchange them for U.S. dollars at any rate. Authorized exchange houses are located in the international airports and near most major hotels. Some hotels are also authorized to offer exchange services. It may be difficult to find exchange houses outside major cities, so a good supply of Venezuelan currency would be essential for such travel. Most major cities have ATMs with 24-hour service where users may withdraw local currency, at the SIMADI rate (currently around 200 BsF/USD), but many of these ATMs will not accept U.S.-issued debit cards. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide any currency exchange services.
Most major U.S. credit cards are accepted for purchases in Venezuelan shops, restaurants, and other businesses, but the exchange rate that the merchants use can vary widely. Usually major hotels will charge rooms and other services at the SIMADI rate (approx 200 BsF/USD). Travel agencies, restaurants, shops, and hospitals will also usually charge purchases at the SIMADI rate if the purchase is made using an international debit or credit card.
Travelers should check ahead of time at which rate purchases will be charged to avoid any unexpected surprises. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express have representatives in Venezuela. Credit card fraud is a significant risk and travelers should exercise caution in using their credit cards and should check statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made.
Travelers will likely encounter individuals in Venezuela who are willing to exchange bolivares for U.S. dollars at a rate significantly higher than the official rate of exchange. These "black market" currency exchanges are prohibited under Venezuelan foreign exchange controls. Persons charged with violating foreign exchange controls can face criminal penalties. Travelers charged in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities. Additionally, any person who exchanges more than USD 10,000 in the course of a year through unofficial means is subject to a fine of double the amount exchanged. If the amount exceeds USD 20,000 the penalty is three to seven years imprisonment. Any person who transports more than USD 10,000 into or out of Venezuela by any means must declare this amount to customs officials.
Many U.S. citizens residing in Venezuela have experienced difficulties and delays in renewing their residency visas. U.S. citizens are advised to plan accordingly in advance. Venezuelan authorities can and do ask foreigners for proof of their identification and legal status in the country.
Venezuelan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Venezuela of items such as plant and animal products, firearms, medications, archaeological or "cultural heritage" items, and pirated copies of copyrighted articles. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington or one of Venezuela's Consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in Venezuela. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Venezuela you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Venezuela, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Venezuela does not have any national standard for accessibility, thus most buildings lack accommodations for those with disabilities to enter, exit, or go between floors. Sidewalks are often unmaintained in Venezuela and could make travel by foot or wheelchair very difficult.
Medical care at private hospitals and clinics in Caracas and other major cities is generally adequate. Public, government-funded hospitals and clinics generally provide a lower level of care and basic supplies at public facilities may be in short supply or unavailable. Cash payment is usually required in advance of the provision of medical services at private facilities, although some facilities will accept credit cards. Patients who cannot provide advance payment may be referred to a public hospital for treatment. Private companies that require the patient to be a subscriber to the service or provide cash payment in advance generally provide the most effective ambulance services. Public ambulance service is unreliable. U.S. citizens should be aware that, due to the currency restrictions in effect in Venezuela, they might find it difficult to receive wire transfers from abroad, whether through a bank or Western Union. Wire transfers cannot be used reliably as a source of emergency funds. U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela may also find it difficult to obtain certain prescription drugs as well as certain over the counter medications such as analgesics, particularly name brands, and should ensure that they have sufficient quantities of all medications for the duration of their stay.
Dengue fever is common in Venezuela, as it is in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral illness. There is no vaccine available for prevention, and there is no specific treatment available. Typical symptoms are fever, pain behind the eyes, rash and body aches. More serious cases involving bleeding and shock do occur; the fatality rate is one or two per ten thousand cases. Seek medical care if you believe you exhibit flu-like symptoms after exposure to mosquito bites. Avoiding mosquito bites by using insect repellant or clothing to cover skin is the best prevention.
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Among other effects, there have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website.
Chagas disease also occurs in Venezuela and in other parts of South America. Chagas is a parasitic disease carried by the triatomine insect or "kissing bug" or "chipo," as it is called in Venezuela. It is difficult to treat and can cause permanent heart damage and lead to death. The Pan American Health Organization estimates that 1,500 new cases of the illness are recorded in Venezuela each year and that 789 people die from the disease every year. It is uncommon for travelers to contract Chagas disease, but those staying in older adobe and thatch buildings or sleeping out in the open are at risk. In Venezuela, Chagas disease occurs mostly in the rural states of Trujillo, Lara, Portuguesa, and Barinas, but cases have been reported throughout the entire country and sporadic outbreaks occur in Caracas. It can be transmitted either through the bite of the "chipo" or through ingestion of food contaminated with the insect's feces. Outbreaks in Caracas have been traced to non-commercially prepared fruit juices. Symptoms vary and are often undetectable, but when symptoms occur they often include fever, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. Those experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Avoiding insect bites by using insect repellant or clothing to cover skin is the best prevention.
Malaria is present throughout the states of Amazonas, Bolivar, and Delta Amacuro, and rural areas of certain municipalities within the states of Sucre and Monagas. Chemoprophylaxis with atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine is recommended in addition to insect precautions.
Chikungunya, another mosquito borne viral illness, is also prevalent in Venezuela. There is no vaccine for this condition and treatment is supportive care. Symptoms typically last from three to five days and include joint pain, rash, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Lab abnormalities may be identified in cases of severe disease. The mosquito that transmits this virus is active both during the day and in the evening. It is therefore important to take precautions with the use of insect repellants and long sleeves and pants.
Leishmaniasis, another insect-borne parasitic disease, is present in some areas. Insect precautions are recommended.
Schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasite that penetrates intact skin, is present in some areas. Avoiding contact with fresh water in pools, streams, and lakes is recommended.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC web site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) web site. The WHO web site also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Adventure Tourism: Venezuela has many natural attractions, including the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls. Travelers should note, however, that many of these attractions are in remote areas of the country. Medical services may be very limited, and transportation to larger cities may be difficult to arrange or time-consuming in the event of an emergency. Travelers should be aware of the increased risks due to the remoteness of some areas and precarious medical and transportation conditions.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Venezuela, U.S. citizens will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Driving regulations in Venezuela are similar to those in the United States, although many drivers do not obey them. Defensive driving is a necessity. Motorcyclists often weave in and out of lanes and cars. 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.
Outside the major cities, night driving can be dangerous because of unmarked road damage or repairs in progress, unlighted vehicles, and livestock. Even in urban areas, road damage is often marked by a pile of rocks or sticks left by passersby near or in the pothole or crevice, without flares or other devices to highlight the danger. Severe flooding, construction projects, traffic accidents, and other such disruptive occurrences can shut down primary and secondary roads for long periods of time, and detours are often not well-marked or easy to follow. Traffic jams are common within Caracas during most of the day and are frequently exploited by criminals.
Armed motorcycle gangs often operate in traffic jams and tend to escape easily. Cases of armed robbery by motorcyclists and theft of other motorcycles have increased and may result in death if the victim does not comply. Stops at National Guard and local police checkpoints are mandatory. Drivers should follow all National Guard instructions and be prepared to show vehicle and insurance papers and passports. Vehicles may be searched. Inexpensive bus service is available to most destinations throughout the country, but the high incidence of criminal activity on public transportation makes bus travel inadvisable. Peak holiday travel occurs during summer and winter school breaks and major civil and religious holidays, including Carnival, Easter, Christmas, and New Year's holidays. Lengthy delays due to road congestion are common during these peak periods.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has 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. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.