COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: French Guiana is an overseas department of France. It is a sparsely populated tropical area located on the northeast coast of South America. French is the predominant language; English is not widely spoken. Tourist facilities are available, especially in the larger cities such as Cayenne and Kourou, but in some instances are not highly developed, and in the interior are almost non-existent. Read the Department of State's Background Notes on France for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname, has primary consular jurisdiction over French Guiana. If you are going to live or visit French Guiana, please take the time to tell our Embassy or Consulate 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
U.S. Embassy/Consular Section in Paris
4 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris (Place de La Concorde, metro stop
Emergency after-hours telephone: (42)-61-61-40
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Passports are required for U.S. citizens entering French Guiana, and should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. Visas are generally not required for visitors planning to remain for 90 days or less. Anyone intending to stay more than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa issued by the French Embassy or one of the French Consulates in the U.S., prior to departure for French Guiana. Visit the Embassy of France website for the most current visa information.
If you are traveling for reasons OTHER than business and tourism - employment, study, internship, etc. - you may require a French visa for that purpose, which you should obtain before you leave the United States.
Vaccination: U.S. Citizens travelling, or transiting through French Guiana must have proof of yellow fever vaccination.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of France.
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 Government of France maintains a threat rating system known locally as "Vigipirate." This system is similar to the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory System. Under this plan, in times of heightened security concerns, the Government of France augments police with armed forces and increases visibility at airports, train and metro stations, and other high-profile locations such as schools, major tourist attractions, and government installations. Over the last year in France, there have been numerous arrests of suspected Islamic militants involved in various terrorist plots. France maintains open borders with its European neighbors, allowing the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity, including via air travel to French Guiana. Although Americans have not been specifically targeted in terrorist attacks in France within the past few years, travelers should maintain vigilance. They should immediately report unattended packages observed in public places or any other suspicious activities. French law enforcement authorities are proactive and will respond appropriately. If there is a security incident or suspicious package, do not linger in the area to observe.
Although violent civil disorder is rare in France, in the past, student demonstrations, labor protests, and other demonstrations have developed into violent confrontations between demonstrators and police. Although the distance of French Guiana from "la Métropole," the part of France located on the European continent, keeps it relatively isolated from civil disturbances and domestic issues, Americans are advised to avoid street demonstrations, particularly if riot police are on the scene.
Stay up to date:
CRIME: An increase in criminal activity, such as assault, armed robbery, and theft, and in rare instances a stabbing or shooting, has been reported by Americans traveling in French Guiana, particularly in its major cities. Petty street crime occurs throughout the major cities. Individuals should make sure to keep valuables out of sight, especially if left unattended in an automobile. There have been occasional reports that the local police have not been responsive to U.S. citizen victims of crime.
Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. It is important to know that not only are 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 (see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates). If your passport is stolen the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services section can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services section can help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and help you get money from them if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Under French law, compensation is available to victims of a crime committed on French soil under certain circumstances.
The local equivalent to the "911" emergency line in French Guiana is 112, but you are unlikely to find an English language speaker answering your call.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in French Guiana, 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. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, one can be prosecuted under U.S. law for buying 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 arrested in French Guiana, U.S. citizens have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. Embassy, located in Paramaribo, Suriname, of your arrest. U.S. citizens arrested in French Guiana also may request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities forward communications from you to the nearest U.S. embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: French customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from France of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples, and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., or one of France's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, or visit USCIB website.
Accessibility: While in French Guiana, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. However, as a member of the European Union, French Guiana has obligations to provide proper handicap access and parking for the disabled. In French Guiana's main cities there are access ramps and parking spaces, but no accommodations exist for the blind. Outside the main cities, there are no facilities or infrastructure to support accessibility for the disabled.
If you are a women 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 French Guiana. For more detailed information about LGBT rights around the world, you may review the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care within French Guiana is limited, and hospital facilities are available only in major urban areas. Patients' rooms in hospitals are primarily open-air facilities; instead of glass panes, hospital windows are fitted with wooden slats. The Centre Hospitalier de Cayenne Andrée Rosemon is the only full-service hospital in French Guyana. It has the only intensive care and trauma units in the country. Prescription and over the counter medicines can be purchased from pharmacies in the larger cities, however U.S. brands or names may not be available. Portions of French Guiana periodically experience outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. Appropriate precautions, including mosquito nets, are recommended outside of the major cities.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions can be found via 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.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in French Guiana, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning French Guiana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Primary roads in French Guiana are well paved and well maintained. Emergency call boxes are available at regular intervals on the main highways. Usually, lane markings and sign placements are not as clear as in the United States. Roads in rural areas are less developed. Roads leading to more remote regions in the interior are often improved dirt roads. French Guiana has a relatively moderate to high volume of traffic and police enforce traffic safety. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the remote interior regions or on less-developed rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis and vans is relatively safe.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of France's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for French Guiana dated January 2013 without other substantive changes
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