COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Suriname is a developing country located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are available
in the capital city of Paramaribo, but are less developed and in some cases non-existent in the country's rugged jungle interior.
Dutch is the national language, but most Surinamese in Paramaribo speak English; accordingly most tourist arrangements can
be made in English. Tourist arrangements for the interior should be made ahead of time. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Suriname for additional information.
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SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Suriname, 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.
U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Drs. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo, Suriname
Emergency after-hours telephone: (597)-0710-1112
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: On November 25, 2011, the Government of Suriname introduced a “Tourist Card” in addition to the existing visa types. The “Tourist Card” allows U.S. passport holders one entry to the Republic of Suriname for tourist purposes. The “Tourist Card” costs $25.00 (U.S.) and can be purchased at the port of entry in Suriname (Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport). The traveler must present a passport valid for at least six months and a return ticket. The validity of the “Tourist Card” is 90 days starting from the date of entry.
For purposes other than tourism, a U.S. citizen must have a valid U.S. passport, valid Surinamese visa and, if traveling by air, a return ticket. Visas must be obtained prior to arrival in Suriname. A business visa requires a letter from the sponsoring company detailing the reason for the visit. An airport departure charge and a terminal fee are normally included in the price of airfare. Travelers arriving from Guyana, French Guiana, and Brazil are required to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. For further information, you may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Suriname, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-7488/7592, or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami, 6303 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 325, Miami, Fl 33126, telephone (305) 265-4655/4918. Visit the Embassy of Suriname website for the most current visa information.
Important information for travelers who have the intention of staying longer than three months: As of October 1, 2008, persons who intend to stay longer than three months must apply for an Authorization for Temporary Stay (MVK) before traveling to Suriname. The above implies that travelers (with the exception of those of Surinamese origin) who have traveled to Suriname on a tourist or business visa will not be able to apply for residence during their stay in Suriname. For more information on applying for a temporary stay in Suriname, please visit the Embassy of Suriname website.
HIV/AIDS restriction: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Suriname.
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: Demonstrations are not common in Suriname. If they occur, they will take place primarily in the capital or secondary cities, and are usually peaceful, but U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Suriname should take common-sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or other events where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Travelers proceeding to the interior may encounter difficulties due to limited infrastructure and limited presence of government authority. Limited transportation and communications may hamper the ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist in an emergency situation.
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CRIME: Criminal activity throughout the country has shown a slight increase since September 2010 and travelers, including U.S. citizens, may be viewed as targets of opportunity. Burglary, armed robbery, and violent crime occur with some frequency in Paramaribo and in outlying areas. Pick-pocketing and robbery are common in the major business and shopping districts of the capital. Visitors should avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry and should not display large amounts of money in public.
There have been several reports of criminal incidents in the vicinity of the major tourist hotels. Night walks, outside the immediate vicinity of the hotels, are not recommended, especially if you are alone. Visitors should specifically avoid the Palm Garden area (“Palmentuin” in Dutch) after dark, as there is no police presence and it is commonly the site of criminal activity.
Theft from vehicles is infrequent, but does occur, especially in areas near the business district. Drivers are cautioned not to leave packages and other belongings in plain view in their vehicles. There have been a few reports of carjackings within Paramaribo, mainly in residential areas. When driving, car windows should be closed and doors locked. The use of public minibuses is discouraged, due to widespread unsafe driving and poor maintenance. Taxis in Suriname are not clearly identified; they do not display the “Taxi” sign. As there are no meters in the taxis, you should verify the price before entering the taxi. The Embassy recommends that you use hotel concierge taxis.
Travel to the interior is usually trouble-free, but there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Police presence outside Paramaribo is minimal, and banditry and lawlessness are occasionally of concern in the cities of Albina and Moengo, and the district of Brokopondo, as well as along the East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina, and the Afobakka Highway in the district of Para. There have been reports of attempted and actual carjackings committed by gangs along the East-West Highway. If you plan on traveling to the interior, you are advised to make use of well-established tour companies for a safer experience.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may 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:
Victims of crime in the Republic of Suriname can also contact the “Bureau Slachtofferzorg” (Victim’s Assistance Office), Ministry of Justice and Police, Keizerstraat 155, Phone/Fax # (597)-424016, hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Suriname is 115, but it is unlikely your call will be answered in English.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Suriname, 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 Suriname you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, particularly government buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If suspected of driving under the influence and caught in an accident, the Surinamese Police may not be able to measure the alcohol level on the scene; they will take you to the nearest medical center to measure blood alcohol content. You will be held by the police for up to six hours until the results of your blood alcohol content are determined.
There are also some things 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 Suriname is a crime, which is also prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Suriname, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Suriname, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. Embassy, which for Suriname is located in the capital city, Paramaribo.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels and upscale restaurants. You should contact your intended hotel or tour company to confirm that credit cards are accepted. Currently, only one bank, the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), has Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) that accept foreign ATM cards. In order to withdraw money from the ATM machines of other banks, you must have a local Surinamese bank account and ATM card. You can legally exchange currency at banks, hotels, and official exchange houses, which are called “cambios.” Exchanging money outside of these locations is illegal and can be dangerous. Telephone and internet service within Suriname can be problematic, especially during periods of heavy rains.
Travel in the interior: The interior of the country is largely unpoliced, and emergency services are generally not available. Although Suriname has three cellular networks, Telesur, Digicel, and Uniqa, there is no reliable cellular phone reception in much of the interior. There may be areas where only one network has reception, while other areas are covered by other networks.
Accessibility: While in Suriname, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that in the United States. Currently, there are no laws or programs to insure that persons with disabilities have access to buildings. The sidewalks are not adequately built to accommodate persons with disabilities, and similarly, taxis and other public transportation do not provide proper assistance to individuals with disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care, including emergency medical care, is limited in many areas and does not meet U.S. standards. There is one public emergency room in Paramaribo, and only a small ambulance fleet providing emergency transport with limited first response capabilities. The emergency room has no neurosurgeon, and other medical specialists may not always be available. In general, hospital facilities are not air conditioned, although private rooms with individual air conditioning are available at extra cost and on a space-available basis. Emergency medical care outside Paramaribo is limited, and is virtually non-existent in the interior of the country.
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for all travelers over 9 months of age. Rabies risk is present; all dog and bat bites or scratches should be taken seriously and post-exposure prophylaxis sought. Insect precautions are recommended. Due to the presence of Schistosomiasis in some of the freshwater bodies, avoidance of freshwater exposure is recommended.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 should not assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It is 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.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Suriname, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Traffic moves on the left in Suriname; left-hand-drive (U.S. style) vehicles also are allowed on the road. Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits by both vehicles and motorcyclists/bicycles, unusual right of way patterns, poorly maintained roads, and a lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Surinamese roads. Seatbelts have been required for all automobile passengers since January 2007, and drivers must use a hands-freedevice if using a mobile phone while driving; driving while talking on cell phones is illegal in Suriname. Visitors are encouraged to use automobiles equipped with seatbelts and to avoid the use of motorcycles or scooters. An international driver's license is necessary to rent a car. Visitors renting a car in Suriname should be aware that child seats are required by law.
The major roads in Paramaribo are usually paved, but are not always well maintained. Large potholes are common on city streets, especially during the rainy season, which lasts from approximately mid-November to January, and from April to July (rainy seasons can differ from year to year by as much as six weeks). Roads often are not marked with traffic lines. Many main thoroughfares do not have sidewalks, forcing pedestrians, motorcycles and bicycle traffic to share the same space.
The East-West Highway, a paved road that stretches from Nieuw Nickerie in the west to Albina in the east, runs through extensive agricultural areas; it is not uncommon to encounter slow-moving farm traffic or animals on the road. Travelers should exercise caution when driving to and from Nieuw Nickerie at night due to poor lighting and sharp road turns without adequate warning signs. There are few service stations along the road, and western-style rest stops are non-existent. The road is not always well maintained, and during the rainy season, large and sometimes impassable sinkholes develop along the road. Police recommend that you check with the police station in Albina for the latest safety information regarding travel between Paramaribo and Albina.
Roads in the interior are sporadically maintained dirt roads that pass through rugged, sparsely populated rain forest. Some roads are passable for sedans in the dry season, but deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season. Interior roads are not lit and there are no service stations or emergency call boxes. Bridges in the interior are in various states of repair. You are advised to consult with local sources, including The Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname, or STINASU, at telephone (597) 421-683 or 476-579, or with their hotels regarding interior road conditions before proceeding.
For specific information concerning Surinamese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Embassy of Suriname in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate of Suriname in Miami.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Suriname, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Suriname’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for oversight of Suriname’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
There is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Suriname. There are several airlines currently operating in Suriname, however, one of them, Blue Wing Airlines, is under investigation for a plane crash on May 15, 2010. The Blue Wing flight crashed shortly after its departure from Godo Holo Airstrip, in the interior, killing all eight people aboard. There have been three Blue Wing airline crashes since 2008. All three accidents involved Antonov 28 planes. Consequently, the Government of Suriname’s Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASAS) grounded all Antonov planes pending further investigation. Following up on the action taken by CASAS, the U.S. Embassy has prohibited its employees from using Blue Wing Airlines for official travel on domestic flights within Suriname due to safety concerns arising from the airline’s three crashes since 2008. You should use discretion regarding travel on Blue Wing international flights.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Suriname dated October 2011, with changes to the following sections: Entry/Exit Requirements, Threat to Safety and Security, Victims of Crime.