COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Sudan is a diverse, developing country in northeastern Africa. The capital city is Khartoum. In July 2011, Sudan divided into two nations as a part of a peace agreement signed in 2005. The new nation of South Sudan was formed following a referendum on secession held in January 2011. A multi-party conflict continues in the Darfur region in western Sudan. Security conditions are adverse in Darfur and in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Transportation networks and other forms of infrastructure are poor and do not meet western standards. Even where available, water and electric services suffer frequent outages. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sudan for additional information on U.S.-Sudan relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Sudan, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: The Government of Sudan requires U.S. citizens to present a passport and an entry visa or entry permit upon arrival at any port of entry. Most U.S. citizen travelers must obtain an entry visa from a Sudanese embassy before arriving in Sudan. There are two exceptions to this requirement: U.S. citizens possessing a Sudanese national identification document (such as a Sudanese passport or national identification card), and travelers with a sponsor (a business or organization) that has obtained an entry permit for them in advance from the Sudanese Ministry of Interior may apply for an entry visa at Khartoum International Airport. The Government of Sudan routinely denies entry visas to travelers whose passports contain visas issued by the Government of Israel or other evidence of travel to Israel, such as exit or entry stamps.
You must obtain an exit visa before departing from Sudan and pay any airport departure tax not included in your airline ticket. Travelers with expired entry visas or residence permits are regularly refused exit visas, except for those with a written request from the Sudanese sponsor of the visa. Spouses and children of Sudanese citizens (including Sudanese-U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens of Sudanese origin) are generally required by authorities to provide evidence that the Sudanese spouse/parent has consented to their departure when applying for an exit visa. Sudanese (and Sudanese/U.S. dual national) children under 18 years of age cannot leave Sudan without written approval from their father, even when the child is traveling with his/her mother. Visit the Embassy of Sudan website for the most current visa information.
Personal baggage, including computers, is routinely searched upon arrival in and departure from Sudan. The authorities will seize material deemed objectionable, such as alcohol or pornography, and may detain or arrest a traveler who has such items. If you intend to bring electronic items you should inquire about entry requirements when you apply for a visa; restrictions apply to many devices including video cameras, satellite phones, facsimile machines, laptop/desktop computers, tablets, iPhone, iPads, televisions, and telephones. These items may be held for inspection for periods of days and/or weeks following arrival. You will not be allowed to depart Sudan with ivory, certain other animal products, or large quantities of gold.
Visitors must register at the Ministry of Interior within three days after arriving in Sudan. All foreigners traveling more than 25 kilometers outside of Khartoum must obtain a travel permit from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum. Travelers without these permits may be detained by Sudanese authorities. This requirement applies to travel for any purpose, including private, commercial, and humanitarian activities. You must register again with the police within 24 hours of arriving at a destination outside Khartoum. A separate travel permit is required for travel to Darfur. These regulations are strictly enforced, and even travelers with proper documentation may expect delays or temporary detention by security forces, especially outside the capital. Authorities expect travelers to strictly respect roadblocks and other checkpoints.
You must obtain a photography permit from the Sudanese Ministry of Interior, Department of Aliens before taking any photos. Cameras and other recording devices are subjectto seizure, even when the user holds a photography permit.
In April 2009, the Government of Sudan’s Ministry of Animal Resources issued a decree prohibiting importation of all animals (including domestic pets) or animal products into Sudan in order to protect its citizens from swine flu. Although the ban has been lifted, it could be imposed again with little warning. You should check with the Embassy of Sudan in Washington before traveling to Sudan with any animals.
Visit the Embassy of Sudan website for the most current visa information.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Sudan. Sudanese law requires a negative HIV test result in order to obtain a visa; however, that requirement is not currently being enforced. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Sudan before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Department of State has issued a Travel Warning for Sudan advising U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Sudan, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan States, and advising U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.
On January 1, 2008, a group of assailants shot and killed two U.S. Embassy employees – a USAID officer and a Sudanese national driver. The attack was found to be ideologically motivated, and the assailants were convicted and sentenced under Sudanese law in 2009. The four men have since escaped from prison and two are still at large.
Aid workers and government employees from Western countries have been the targets of kidnappings in the Darfur region. In May 2010, a U.S. citizen employed by a humanitarian relief organization was kidnapped in Darfur, and was held for several months before being released.
Since June 2012, there have been increased incidents of anti-government protests, resulting in the arrest of at least one U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and demonstrations as they can become confrontational and quickly escalate into violence. Demonstrations may also occur in other areas of the country, and we recommend U.S. citizens throughout Sudan exercise caution.
Terrorist groups are known to operate in Sudan, and these groups seek opportunities to carry out attacks against U.S. and European interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings. You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, and commercial operations associated with U.S. or Western interests. Terrorists are known to have targeted both official facilities and residential compounds. You should exercise utmost caution at all times.
The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of the Khartoum area, including emergency assistance, is severely limited.Many areas of Sudan are extremely difficult to access, and travel in these areas is hazardous. Outside the major cities infrastructure is extremely poor, medical care is limited, and there are few facilities for tourists.
Conflict among various armed groups and government forces continues throughout the entire Darfur region. Banditry and lawlessness are prevalent in all of Darfur. Over one and a half million Darfuris live in camps for internally displaced persons, and receive humanitarian assistance for basic needs such as food, water, and shelter. Expatriate humanitarian workers have been the targets of kidnappings, carjackings, and burglaries.
Occasional clashes between armed groups representing communal interests continue to occur in areas of central and eastern Sudan. Banditry also occurs. Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country in physical area, and shares porous land borders with Chad, the Central African Republic, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Conflict in these countries occasionally spills over into Sudan.
The secession of South Sudan in July 2011 has been accompanied by an increase in armed violence in states on the South Sudan border, particularly in Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile. In ongoing disputes in these regions, the Sudanese Armed Forces have conducted airstrikes throughout the region, and have engaged in ground clashes with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army - Northern Sector. Non-governmental organizations have been expelled from the areas, and the United Nations operates with minimal staffing in government-controlled areas only.
U.S. citizens considering sea travel in Sudan's coastal waters should exercise caution as there have been incidents of armed attacks and robberies by unknown groups in recent years, including one involving U.S. vessels. Exercise extreme caution, as these groups are considered armed and dangerous. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or in the Red Sea near Yemen, vessels should convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels, and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. 2182 MHz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes, and avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In case of emergency, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In the event of an attack, consider activating Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremist to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.
Please see the State Department's Fact Sheet on Maritime Piracy.
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CRIME: There is a high risk of crime in certain areas of Sudan, particularly in the Darfur and border regions. Crimes against persons or property are infrequent in Khartoum and the surrounding area, but you should follow common-sense security measures, such as keeping an eye on backpacks or hand luggage.
You should try to avoid crowded public areas and public gatherings, and avoid traveling alone outside of Khartoum if possible. Report instances of anti-U.S. acts or crimes targeting westerners to the U.S. Embassy, and report all incidents of crime to the Sudanese police.
When flying, you should maintain constant contact with your baggage and ensure it does not contain illicit items, such as alcohol, pornography, or military ordinance. U.S. citizens have been removed from international airlines and detained when suspect items have been detected in checked baggage.
Carjackings and armed robberies occur in western Sudan. Sexual assault is more prevalent in areas of armed conflict. Travelers who do not use the services of reputable travel firms or knowledgeable guides or drivers are especially at risk. Travel outside of Khartoum should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency. Solo camping is always risky.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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 or Consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Khartoum, Sudan is 999. Service is in Arabic and may not match western standards.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Sudan 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. The possession or consumption of alcohol is prohibited by law in Sudan. Sudan has strict laws concerning matters of morality; for example, men and women cannot cohabitate (including staying in a hotel together) unless they are married to each other.
All travelers, including journalists, must obtain a photography permit before taking any photographs. Even with a photography permit, photographing military facilities, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas, and beggars is prohibited.
If you break local laws in Sudan, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Authorities have been known to hold a foreigner’s passports during investigations, which can take weeks or months to conclude. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not while you’re in Sudan. Persons violating Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sudan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Attempting to convert Muslims to another religion is illegal in Sudan, and it is a crime punishable by imprisonment and even death.
There are also some acts that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and 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.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Sudan, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. However, it is not unusual that the U.S. Embassy is not notified by the Government of Sudan of the arrest of a U.S. citizen. Even if notified, the U.S. Embassy is often not allowed access to arrested/detained U.S. citizens.
Dual-nationals must be aware that the Sudanese government may not recognize your U.S. citizenship, and if detained/arrested, you may be considered a Sudanese citizen only.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In November 1997, the United States imposed comprehensive financial and commercial sanctions on Sudan. Travelers intending to visit Sudan should contact the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Office of Compliance, telephone 1-800-540-6322 or 202-622-2490, regarding the effect of these sanctions.
You must be prepared to pay cash for all purchases, including hotel bills, airfares purchased locally, and all other travel expenses. Major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, cannot be used in Sudan due to U.S. sanctions. Sudan has no international ATMs. Local ATMs draw on local banks only.
Exchanging money on the black market is illegal. U.S. currency issued prior to 1996 is generally not accepted anywhere in Sudan, and $100 bills must be issued after 2006. Travelers often experience difficulty transferring cash into the country, and travelers carrying large amounts of U.S. currency have been detained. Western Union operates in Khartoum.
Sudan is a conservative society, particularly in the capital and other areas where the Muslim population is the majority. Modest dress and behavior is expected for both men and women. Loose, long-sleeved shirts and full-length skirts or slacks are recommended attire for female visitors. Women who are not Muslim are not expected or required to cover their heads. Men may wear short-sleeved shirts, but short pants are not acceptable in public.
Accessibility: While in Sudan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Sudan does not mandate access to transportation, communications, or public buildings for persons with disabilities. It is very difficult for persons with physical disabilities of any kind to travel in Sudan.
LGBT Issues: Thelaw prohibits sodomy, which is punishable by death; however, there are no reports of antisodomy laws being applied. A few LGBT organizations operate in Khartoum but cannot openly identify as LGBT entities, and the LGBT community is subject to harassment and unable to seek legal protection. Antidiscrimination laws do not apply to LGBT persons. Official discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity occurs. Societal discrimination against LGBT persons is widespread. Vigilantes target suspected gay men and lesbians for violent abuse, and there are public demonstrations against homosexuality. There are no reports of official action to investigate or punish those complicit in LGBT-related abuses. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Persons with conditions which may require medical treatment are strongly discouraged from traveling to Sudan. Medical facilities in Khartoum fall short of U.S. standards; outside the capital, few facilities exist and hospitals and clinics are poorly equipped. Emergency medical treatment is provided without cost for the first 24 hours, but after that, payment will be required. For all other non-emergent medical treatment, payment in cash must be made in advance. Ambulance services are not available outside Khartoum. Medicines are available only intermittently; you should bring sufficient supplies of needed medicines in clearly marked containers.
Malaria is prevalent in all areas of Sudan. The strain is resistant to chloroquine and can be fatal. In 2012, there was a large outbreak of Yellow Fever in Darfur, which resulted in 171 deaths. Consult a health practitioner before traveling, obtain suitable anti-malarial drugs, ensure that all your vaccines are up to date, and use protective measures, such as insect repellent, protective clothing, and mosquito nets. If you become ill with a fever or a flu-like illness while in Sudan, or within a year after departure, you should promptly seek medical care and inform your physician of your travel history and the kind of anti-malarial drugs used. For additional information about malaria and anti-malarial drugs, please see the Center for Disease Control information on malaria (CDC).
You can find more information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
Please be advised that Medicare/Medicaid does not cover patients outside of the United States.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Sudan, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Road conditions throughout Sudan are hazardous due to erratic driver behavior, pedestrians, and animals in the roadways, and vehicles that are overloaded or lack basic safety equipment. Only major highways and some streets in the cities are paved; many roads are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained. While there are functioning traffic signals on major streets in Khartoum, there are virtually none in other parts of the country. Local drivers often do not observe conventions for the right-of-way, stop on the road without warning, and frequently exceed safe speeds for road, traffic, and weather conditions. Driving at night is dangerous and should be avoided if possible; many vehicles operate without lights.
In northern and western Sudan, dust and sand storms, known as haboobs, greatly reduce visibility when they occur. Roads in these areas can be quickly covered with shifting sand at any season of the year. Roads in southern Sudan are often impassable during the rainy season which usually lasts from March to October. Spare tires, parts, and fuel should be taken when traveling in remote areas, as service stations are separated by long distances.
U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling, including traffic laws. In Sudan, vehicles have the steering wheel on the left side and drivers use the right side of the road.
Traffic from side streets on the right has the right-of-way when entering a cross street, including fast-moving main streets. Traffic on the right has the right-of-way at stops. Right turns on a red light are prohibited. Speed limits are not posted, but the legal speed limit for passenger cars on inter-city highways is 120 kph (about 75 mph), while in most urban areas, the limit is 60 kph (about 35 mph). The speed limit in congested areas and school zones is 40 kph (about 25 mph).
Many local drivers carry no insurance despite the legal requirement that all motor vehicle operators purchase third-party liability insurance from the government. Persons involved in an accident resulting in death or injury must report the incident to the nearest police station or police officer as soon as possible. Persons found at fault can expect fines, revocation of driving privileges, and jail sentences, depending on the nature and extent of the accident. Persons convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face fines, jail sentences, and flogging.
U.S. citizens may use their U.S. driver's license for up to 90 days after arrival in Sudan, and then must carry either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Sudanese driver's license. There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles.
Public transportation exists in cities and between major urban areas. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded, especially during rush hours and periods of seasonal travel. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. There is routine passenger trainservice on the route from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa (on the border with Egypt) and to Port Sudan (on the Red Sea). Bus service between major cities is regular and inexpensive. Intra-city bus service in the major urban areas is by small and large buses, and vans. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training and are reckless, and the vehicles are often poorly maintained. Most buses and bus stops are privately operated and unmarked. Taxis are available in the major cities at hotels, tourist sites, and government offices. Motorized rickshaws, in common use in Khartoum, are unsafe. Travelers are encouraged to hire cars and drivers from reputable sources with qualified drivers and safe vehicles. While there is some public transit to rural communities by irregularly scheduled mini-buses, many areas lack any public transportation.
You should be extremely careful in crossing roads in Sudan. Crosswalks do not exist, and incidents of cars striking pedestrians do occur.
Please refer to 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 Sudan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of 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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Sudan dated January 30, 2012, to update the sections Threats to Safety and Security, Special Circumstances, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.