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Travel Security Advice for Armenia

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Armenia is a constitutional republic with a developing economy.  Tourist facilities, especially outside Yerevan, the capital, are not highly developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may be difficult to obtain.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Armenia for additional information.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Armenia are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.

U.S. citizens without Internet access may register with the U.S. embassy using internet access terminals provided to the general public, free of charge, through the American Corners program or at the U.S. Embassy's Information Resource Center.  American Corners are located in Yerevan (4 Nalbandanyan Street, tel. +374-10-58-13-83), Gyumri (68 Shirakatsi Street, tel. +374-312-22153), Vanadzor (25, Vardanants Street, tel. +374-322-21672), and Kapan (6, Shahumyan Street, tel. +374-285-22151).  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION:

Embassy Yerevan

 

1 American Avenue
+374-10-46-47-00
Emergency after-hours telephone: +374-10-49-44-44
Facsimile: +374-46-47-37

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport and visa are required.  U.S. citizens may purchase visas in advance for a stay of up to 120 days at the Armenian Foreign Ministry website for a fee of USD 50.  At this time a visa valid for 120 days may also be obtained upon arrival at the port of entry for the fee of 15,000 Armenian Drams (approx. USD 50).  All travelers with official or diplomatic passports must have a valid visa upon arrival at the port of entry.  Visas for up to 120 days may be purchased at the Armenian Embassy in Washington, DC or the Armenian Consulate General in Los Angeles for the fee of USD 50.  For further information on entry requirements, contact the Armenian Embassy at 2225 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 319-1976 and (202) 319-2983; the Armenian Consulate General in Los Angeles at 50 N. La Cienega Blvd., Suite 210, Beverly Hills, CA 90211, tel. (310) 657-7320.  Visit the Embassy of Armenia’s website for the most current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Armenia.  Travelers are encouraged to verify this information with the Embassy of Armenia 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:

A cease-fire has been in effect since 1994 around the self-proclaimed “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh,” an unrecognized ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.  However, intermittent gunfire along the cease-fire line and along the border with Azerbaijan continues. Because of the existing state of hostilities, consular services are not available to Americans in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Travelers should exercise caution near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and consult the Country Specific Information for Azerbaijan if considering travel to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian territory.  Armenia's land borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan remain closed and continue to be patrolled by armed troops who stop all people attempting to cross.  There are still land mines in numerous areas in and near the conflict zones.

Political rallies in the aftermath of the February 2008 presidential elections turned violent.  Clashes between government security forces and opposition demonstrators resulted in dozens of casualties, including 10 fatalities, in early March 2008.  While the opposition continued to hold periodic protests over the summer and early fall, there have been no violent confrontations since the March events.  Americans should be mindful that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful could turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.  American citizens are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

Armenia is an earthquake and landslide-prone country.  In addition to these natural disasters, there exists the possibility of chlorine gas spills and radiation poisoning due to industrial accidents.  The Soviet-era Armenia Nuclear Power plant is located in Metsamor, approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Yerevan.  Armenia is currently under international pressure to close the plant permanently, due to safety concerns.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's
Bureau of Consular Affairs' website, which contains current the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.


INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

Crime against foreigners is relatively rare in Armenia.  Break-ins, particularly of vehicles, and theft are the most common crimes, but there have been instances of violent crime as well.  While the incidence of violent crime remains lower than in most U.S. cities, American citizens are urged to exercise caution and to avoid traveling alone after dark in Yerevan.  Several American investors have also reported being involved in disputes over property ownership, and have had to seek legal recourse through a long, and in the majority of cases, unsuccessful court proceeding.

If you are the victims of crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. embassy (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.   Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is 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.

The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Armenia are 101 for fire, 102 for police, 103 for medical, and 104 for gas leaks.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.


SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Armenia remains largely a cash-only economy.  Credit cards are accepted at some businesses, including major hotels and restaurants in Yerevan, but rarely outside of the capital.  Limited facilities exist for cashing traveler's checks and wiring money into the country.  There are a number of ATMs in the center of Yerevan.  Dollars are readily exchanged at market rates.  Travelers may experience problems with local officials seeking bribes to perform basic duties.

Armenian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Armenia of items such as firearms, pornographic materials, medication, and communications equipment.  For export of antiquities and other items that could have historical value, such as paintings, carpets, old books, or other artisan goods, a special authorization is required in advance from the Armenian Ministry of Culture.  It is advisable to contact the
Embassy of Armenia in Washington, DC or Consulate General in Los Angeles for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Dual Nationals:

Changes to Armenian legislation now permit Armenian citizens to hold dual citizenship.  This means that U.S. citizens who emigrated from Armenia to the U.S. and subsequently acquired U.S. citizenship without explicitly giving up their Armenian citizenship may be able to (re)acquire Armenian citizenship along with all the associated rights and duties, e.g. the right to vote in Armenian elections and/or the duty for certain males to perform military service.  The new law also means that dual citizens need to enter and leave Armenia on their Armenian passport, i.e. they would no longer need an Armenian visa.  U.S. citizens interested in obtaining Armenian citizenship must register their dual citizenship with Passport and Visa Department of the Police of the Republic of Armenia (formerly OVIR) by simply presenting proof of their other citizenship (e.g. passport).  For more information, please consult with Passport and Visa Department of the Police (tel. +37410-501439).


Compulsory Military Service:

In addition to being subject to all Armenian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals are also subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Armenian citizens.  Male U.S. citizens over the age of 18 who are also considered to be Armenian citizens may be subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and to other aspects of Armenian law while in Armenia.  Armenian authorities have regularly detained U.S. citizens on these grounds upon their arrival in or departure from Armenia.  In most cases, ethnic Armenian travelers who are accused of evading Armenian military service obligations are immediately detained and later found guilty of draft evasion.  Penalties for those convicted are stiff and include jail time or a substantial fine.  Those who may be affected are strongly advised to consult with Armenian officials and inquire at an Armenian embassy or consulate to their status before traveling.


MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Though there are many competent physicians in Armenia, medical care facilities are limited, especially outside the major cities.  The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English-speaking physicians in the area. Most prescription medications are available, but the quality varies.  Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities.

The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.


TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Travel in Armenia requires caution.  Public transportation, while very inexpensive, may be unreliable and uncomfortable.  Travel at night is not recommended, and winter travel can be extremely hazardous in mountain areas and higher elevations.

Travelers should avoid the old highway between the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberyan in the Tavush region, as well as the main highway between the towns of Kirants and Baghanis/Voskevan.  The U.S. Embassy has designated this portion of the road off-limits to all U.S. Government personnel because of its proximity to the cease-fire line between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, a line which has seen numerous cease-fire violations over the years.

On weekends, there are an increased number of intoxicated drivers on Armenian roads.  American citizens are urged to exercise particular vigilance while traveling on the main highway from Yerevan to the resort areas of Tsaghkadzor and Sevan.  Traffic police will attempt to stop individuals driving erratically and dangerously, but police presence outside of Yerevan is limited.

Armenia does have emergency police and medical services, but they may take time to reach remote regions.  With the exception of a few major arteries, primary roads are frequently in poor repair, with sporadic stretches of missing pavement and large potholes.  Some roads shown as primary roads on maps are unpaved and can narrow to one lane in width, while some newer road connections have not yet been marked on recently produced maps.  Secondary roads are normally in poor condition and are often unpaved and washed out in certain areas.  Street and road signs are poor to nonexistent.  Truck traffic is not heavy except on the main roads linking Yerevan to Iran and Georgia, i.e. the roads virtually all travelers need to use when traveling overland to those countries.  Minibuses are considered more dangerous than other forms of public transportation.  Travelers who choose to ride minibuses should exercise caution because these vehicles are often overcrowded and poorly maintained, commonly lack safety measures including seatbelts, and are frequently involved in accidents.

People driving in Armenia should be aware that “road rage” is becoming a serious and dangerous problem on Armenian streets and highways.  For safety reasons drivers are encouraged to yield to aggressive drivers.  Incidents of physical aggression against drivers and pedestrians have occurred.

Though crime along roadways is rare, the police sometimes seek bribes during traffic stops and harrass drivers using U.S. or international driver’s licenses,  Drivers in Armenia frequently ignore traffic laws, making roadways unsafe for unsuspecting travelers.  Pedestrians often fail to take safety precautions and those driving in towns at night should be especially cautious.  In cities, a pedestrian dressed in black crossing an unlit street in the middle of the block is a common occurrence.

The quality of gasoline in Armenia ranges from good at some of the more reliable stations in cities to very poor.  The gasoline and other fuels sold out of jars, barrels, and trucks by independent roadside merchants should be considered very unreliable.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, please visit the website of the Armenia’s National Tourist Office.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Armenia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Armenia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/iasa/.

Travelers on Armavia International Airways may experience prolonged delays and sudden cancellations of flights.  Air travel to Armenia via European carriers is typically more reliable.  Ticketed passengers on flights leaving Yerevan should reconfirm their reservations 24 hours prior to departure.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Armenia dated January 5, 2009, to update sections on Registration, Entry/Exit Requirements and Travel Safety and Road Conditions.

 


The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has additional information for Armenia HERE.......

Information on Malaria can be found on the Interactive Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Malaria Map HERE....

Need and Embassy ?, You can check out our Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

Regards

The SW Team......

 

 

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