COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The capital city is Juba. South Sudan’s independence came after many years of civil war between forces in the south and the Government of Sudan in Khartoum, and despite ongoing negotiations regarding oil transport, border security and the final status of disputed areas, the relationship between the two countries remains tense. South Sudan is one of the world’s least developed countries. Its economy relies largely on international assistance and revenues from oil exports, though oil production stopped in January 2012 following a dispute with Sudan over transit fees and has not resumed. Electricity, telephone and telecommunications, roads, and other forms of infrastructure are unreliable or non-existent in many areas. Civilian institutions, including the criminal justice system, are rudimentary and not presently functioning at a level consistent with international standards. There are no government services available in many parts of the country. South Sudan operates as a cash economy, and tourist facilities are limited throughout the country. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on South Sudan for additional information on U.S. – South Sudan relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit South Sudan, please take the time to tell the U.S. Embassy in Juba 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.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates:
U.S. Embassy Juba
Juba, South Sudan
Telephone: 211 912 105 188
The U.S. Embassy in Juba offers passport and notarial services to U.S. citizens once per week, including renewals and the provision of emergency passports. If visiting or living in South Sudan, you should ensure that your passport is current and secure.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba does not adjudicate consular reports of birth abroad. For this service, please visit a U.S. Embassy elsewhere in the region.
Routine consular services are available at the U.S. embassies in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya. See the following websites for information: http://kampala.usembassy.gov; http://nairobi.usembassy.gov.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter South Sudan. U.S. citizens are required to obtain a visa in advance of arrival. Further, you may be asked to state the purpose of your visit upon arrival. You should register with the Aliens department at the Ministry of Interior in Juba if you are staying in South Sudan for more than three days.
If you are traveling from South Sudan to Sudan, you will be required to obtain a Sudanese visa or an entry permit prior to arrival at a port of entry.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Sudan.
You can find Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs. For further information about customs regulations, please refer to the Bureau’s Customs Information sheet.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Extreme care should be exercised in all areas of South Sudan. In recent months, there have been skirmishes between forces loyal to the Government of Sudan and forces loyal to the Government of South Sudan in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan. In addition to the potential for violent conflict in that region, there are a number of rebel militia forces that frequently clash with Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces in various areas in South Sudan; these clashes can flare up with little warning. Clashes between ethnic groups are also common. A Ugandan militia group known as the “Lord’s Resistance Army” is present at times along the southern and western borders of South Sudan. The Government of South Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers, especially outside the capital city of Juba.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba has implemented measures to protect U.S. government personnel living and working in South Sudan. These include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles at all times at night, and to obtain advance permission for any travel outside of Juba. Due to security concerns, the spouses and family members of U.S. government personnel are not permitted to reside in South Sudan. Similar measures are followed by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations with operations in South Sudan.
Land mines remain a hazard in South Sudan, especially outside of Juba. Visitors should travel only on main roads, unless a competent de-mining authority such as the United Nations has marked an area as clear of mines.
The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of Juba, including emergency assistance, is severely limited. Many areas of South Sudan are extremely difficult to access, and travel in these areas is sometimes hazardous. The infrastructure is extremely poor, and medical care is rudimentary or non-existent.
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CRIME: High unemployment and severe economic downturn have encouraged criminal activity. Foreigners are often the targets of crime in South Sudan, as criminals assume that they carry cash. The risk of violent crime is high in Juba, the capital city. Because of an increase in security-related incidents, the U.S. Embassy in Juba has imposed a curfew from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM to better ensure the safety of its personnel. You should try to avoid crowded public areas and public gatherings, and avoid traveling alone if possible. Report all incidents of crime to the South Sudanese police.
Carjackings and banditry occur in South Sudan. Travel outside of Juba should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency.
When flying, you should maintain constant contact with your baggage and assure it does not contain illicit items, such as pornography or military ordnance. U.S. citizens have been removed from international airlines and detained when suspect items have been detected in checked baggage.
Do not 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 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:
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in South Sudan, you are subject to its laws, even if you are a U.S. citizen. You may be questioned or detained by police if you don’t have your passport with you.
South Sudan’s security services regularly commit arbitrary arrests and often detain foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. The country’s legal system is rudimentary and sometimes ineffective. U.S. citizens may have little recourse to justice should they be detained and legal proceedings can be lengthy and seemingly subjective. Contractual and other business disputes with local partners may not be resolved in a manner that is consistent with international practices and judicial fairness. Security forces often operate outside civilian control, and laws governing due process and treatment of detainees are often ignored.
If you break local laws in South Sudan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not while you’re in South Sudan. Penalties for breaking the law may be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating South Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
There are also some things 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 persons under the age of 18 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 international law, if you are arrested in South 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. That said, security officials rarely contact the U.S. embassy in Juba when U.S. citizens are detained.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: South Sudan is in a state of transition, as it recently became an independent nation and is recovering from many years of civil war with Sudan. Civil and governmental institutions are being developed with international assistance. If you are traveling or doing business in South Sudan, you may find it difficult to identify legal or administrative remedies if problems arise. We often do not get timely notification of the detainment of U.S. citizens in South Sudan.
South Sudan recently introduced its own official currency, which replaces the currency of the Government of Sudan. You must be prepared to pay cash for all purchases, including hotel bills, airfares purchased locally, and all other travel expenses. South Sudan has no international ATMs, and local ATMs draw on local banks only. U.S. currency issued prior to 2006 is not accepted in South Sudan. Photography in South Sudan is a very sensitive subject. It is strongly advised that you apply for a South Sudan Photo Permit through the Ministry of the Interior. In addition to filling out a form you will also need to submit: two passport size photo, a copy of the bio page from your passport and $50.00 USD.
Even with a permit one must be careful taking pictures in South Sudan, as people have been arrested and even physically assaulted by police for using a camera. Please follow these simple rules to reduce the risk of being harassed or arrested:
Be prepared for people to react negatively if you are taking pictures in public or in crowds. If someone becomes hostile toward you, get out of that situation as soon as possible.
Please see our information on Customs Information.
Accessibility: While in South Sudan, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. South 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 South Sudan.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Persons with conditions which may require medical treatment are strongly discouraged from traveling to South Sudan. Medical facilities in Juba fall far short of western standards; outside the capital, few facilities exist and hospitals and clinics are poorly equipped. If you need medical treatment, you must pay cash in advance for it. Ambulance services are not available outside Juba. Medicines are available only intermittently; you should carry sufficient supplies of needed medicines in clearly-marked containers. Routine immunizations and vaccinations for diseases such as yellow fever, rabies, polio, meningitis, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B are recommended.
Malaria is prevalent in all areas of South Sudan. The strain is resistant to chloroquine and can be fatal. Consult a health practitioner before traveling, obtain suitable anti-malarial drugs, 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 South 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.
You can find good 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 cannot 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 South Sudan, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The following information is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road conditions throughout South Sudan are hazardous due to erratic driver behavior, pedestrians and animals in the roadways, and vehicles that are overloaded or lack basic safety equipment. There are very few paved roads in South Sudan; most roads are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained. 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.
Roads in South Sudan are often impassable during the rainy season, from March or April to October. Take spare tires, parts, and fuel with you 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 South Sudan, vehicles have the steering wheel on the left side and drivers use the right side of the road.
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 corporal punishment.
There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles.
Public transportation is by small buses, vans, or taxis, and is limited to within and between major towns. Many drivers of these vehicles have little training and are reckless, and the vehicles are often poorly maintained. Passenger facilities are basic and crowded. Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice. 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 South Sudan. Crosswalks do not exist, and incidents of cars striking pedestrians are common.
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 South 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 South Sudan dated September 11, 2012 to update the section on Country Description, STEP enrollment/Embassy location, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.