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Travel Security Advice for Guyana

Guyana_National_Flag

guyana_mapGuyana_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Guyana is a developing nation on the north coast of South America. Tourist facilities are generally not developed, except for a few hotels in the capital city of Georgetown and a limited number of eco-resorts. The vast majority of Guyanese nationals live along the coast, leaving the interior largely unpopulated and undeveloped. Travel in the interior of Guyana can be difficult; many interior regions can only be reached by plane or boat and the limited roads are often impassable in the rainy seasons. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Guyana for additional information.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Guyana are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy 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 directly with the U.S. Embassy.Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

American Embassy in Georgetown


100 Young & Duke Streets
Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana
Telephone: 011-592-225-4900
Emergency after-hours telephone: 011-592-623-1992
Facsimile: 011-592- 227-0221

ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A valid U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens to enter and depart Guyana. On arrival, Guyanese Immigration normally grants U.S. visitors a stay of thirty days. U.S. citizens traveling to Guyana should ensure that their passports have at least six months of remaining validity. Extensions of stay may be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs at 60 Brickdam Street, Georgetown. The Central Office of Immigration, located on Camp Street, Georgetown, must also note the extension in the visitor's passport. Travelers for purposes other than tourism should check with the Ministry of Home Affairs for information about requirements for work permits and extended stays. U.S.-Guyanese dual nationals departing Guyana for the United States using a Guyanese passport must present to Guyanese authorities a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or other document establishing that they may legally enter the United States. For further information about entry, exit and customs requirements, travelers may consult the Embassy of Guyana at 2490 Tracy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 265-6900, the Consulate General in New York, or honorary consuls in California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas. Visit the Embassy of Guyana website for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

HIV/AIDS restrictions.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, Guyana.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

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.

Demonstrations and protests are rare in Georgetown. Past demonstrations have not been directed at U.S. citizens and violence against Americans in general is not common. Visitors should nevertheless remain alert and take prudent personal security measures to deal with the unexpected while in Guyana. It is advisable to avoid areas where crowds have congregated and to maintain a low profile when moving about Georgetown and other Guyanese locales.

Most major eco-tourist resorts and hotels in Guyana do not have written emergency plans in place, and many of them have safety deficiencies, including a lack of easily identifiable lifeguards or no lifeguards at all. Many of these resorts also do not have adequately stocked first aid supplies.

CRIME:

Serious crime, including murder and armed robbery, continues to be a major problem. The murder rate in Guyana is three times higher than the murder rate in the United States.

In 2008, an attack in the Georgetown suburb of Lusignan and in the Essequibo River town of Bartica by heavily armed gangs resulted in the deaths of more than 20 persons, mostly innocent Guyanese civilians. There were also several instances of random shootings at night at police headquarters or police stations in Georgetown. Guyana Security Forces shot and killed the leader of the gang thought to be responsible for these incidents; however, there is still concern that remnants of these criminal gangs and others exist and continue to operate. U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, consider security issues when planning activities throughout Guyana, and avoid traveling at night, when possible.

Armed takeover robberies continue to occur intermittently, especially in major business and shopping districts. Hotel room strong-arm break-ins also occur, so travelers should use caution when opening their hotel room doors and should safeguard valuables left in hotel rooms. Criminals may act brazenly, and police officers themselves have been the victims of assaults and shootings. Vehicle occupants should keep their doors locked and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Due to safety concerns, U.S. citizens should avoid stopping in or traveling to the village of Buxton, which lies along the road between Georgetown and New Amsterdam, and Agricola, which is located on the East Bank highway. The Department of State recommends that Embassy staff using the public golf course at Lusignan, next to Buxton, do so in groups and only during daylight hours. Americans should also avoid frequenting the Palm Court Bar Restaurant and Night Club located on Main Street. The Palm Court has been the scene of several shootings and is off limits for official Americans.

Pick pocketing, purse snatching, assault, and robbery can occur in all areas of Georgetown. The sea wall from east of the Pegasus Hotel extending to Sherriff Street and adjacent areas have been the site of several crimes and should be avoided after dark. As cars parked in Georgetown have been subject to theft, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid leaving any valuables in vehicles left unattended and are encouraged to lock their vehicles at all times (when in or out of the vehicle). The National Park in Georgetown and the seawall from Sherriff Road to UG Road are frequented by joggers, dog walkers, and families and are generally considered safe during daylight hours but are NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL AFTER DUSK.

Petty crimes also occur in the general area of Stabroek Market and to a lesser extent in the area behind Bourda Market. Care should be taken to safeguard personal property when shopping in these markets. The area around St. George's cathedral is known for having pickpockets and should be avoided after dark. Guyana's commercial downtown between Main Street and Water Street from Lamaha Road to Stabroek Market, including "Tiger Bay," is largely deserted outside of business hours and should be avoided after dark. U.S. passports and permanent residency cards are prized by thieves as they may be used for smuggling and identity theft.

There have been numerous incidents of piracy in recent months in and around the waters of Guyana. Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Travelers should avoid walking around Georgetown alone, even in the main areas and especially after dark. Although bandits have been known to attack taxis, they are generally safe and remain the safest means of getting around town and to and from the airport for visitors. Only taxis from reputable companies should be used. Exercise constant vigilance. Do not dress ostentatiously, as there have also been reports of gold chains or other jewelry being snatched off of pedestrians.

Local law-enforcement authorities are generally cooperative but lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Nevertheless, Americans who are victims of crime are encouraged to contact the police as well as the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, taking them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (See end of this sheet or see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates). This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred. 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.

The local equivalent to the "911" emergency line in Guyana is 911.

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

CRIMANAL 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. Persons violating Guyanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals convicted of possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guyana can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The consular section reports an increase of Americans held in detention for drug-related crimes. Possession of unlicensed guns can also result in fines and imprisonment. 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:

Air Travel: Flights on all airlines can be delayed, rerouted, or canceled without notice. Air travel within Guyana generally depends on demand. Flights that are not full may be canceled or passengers may be expected to pay for the empty seats.

Travelers to the United States from Guyana have found narcotics planted in their luggage, both in bags registered under their names and in items they were carrying for others. Travelers should not carry any items they did not purchase and pack themselves and should take care that no additional bags are registered in their names. Every year several U.S. citizens are arrested at the airport attempting to carry drugs to the U.S. Persons arrested usually end up serving lengthy prison sentences in Guyana, as drug laws are strict and pre-trial detention can last for years. In addition, due to the risks of checked baggage being lost, delayed, or rifled through, travelers should hand carry medications, valuables, and perishable items and make sure to carry a prescription for any medications that they are required to take.

Travel in the interior: The interior of the country is largely un-policed and emergency services are generally not available. There is no cellular phone reception in much of the interior.

Flooding: There are two main rainy seasons in Guyana (December - January and May - July). However, even at other times of the year, heavy rains are possible and flash flooding can occur. The coastal plain floods occasionally and there was significant flooding in Greater Georgetown and along the East Coast in January 2005 and in the Mahaica-Mahaicony Abrary area, Canals 1 and 2, on the West Coast Demerara and the Pomeroon River catchment area in January 2006. There was also isolated flooding on the East Coast in early 2009. The incidence of waterborne diseases increases during periods of flooding.

Drinking Water: The water supply system throughout the country should be considered contaminated and travelers should treat or boil water before consumption, or purchase bottled water.

Changing Currency and Credit Card Use: Travelers should have enough cash or travelers checks to meet their expenses. Although credit cards are accepted at certain institutions in Georgetown, travelers should consider the risk of using credit cards and ATM cards to withdraw cash from an overseas account, due to a high risk of stolen PIN data.

American citizens are advised to exchange currency only with banks, hotels, and licensed money exchange houses ("cambios"). Many foreigners who opt to exchange money on the streets, lured by promises of higher exchange rates, become victims of fraud or receive counterfeit currency. Foreigners have been mugged after completing bank transactions. There is no legal recourse unless the police are successful in apprehending the perpetrator; even then there is no guarantee that the money will be recovered.

Firearms: Guyanese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guyana of items such as firearms. If you plan to take your firearms or ammunition to or through Guyana, you should contact officials at the Embassy of Guyana to learn about its regulations and fully comply with those regulations before traveling. You may consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site for information on importing firearms into the United States.

Wildlife: Many plants and animals common in Guyana are globally threatened or endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) may be found at the CITES web site. The Guyanese Ministry of Agriculture will grant an export permit for taking an exotic bird out of the country only to those persons who have been legally residing in Guyana for more than one year. There have been several U.S. citizens arrested for attempting to leave Guyana carrying birds without having obtained an export permit. Americans who have legally resided in Guyana for more than a year and who would like to take back to the United States any birds or animals, including pets, that are listed in CITES Appendices I, II, and III, must also have an appropriate U.S. import permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This is a U.S. regulation that applies regardless of distinctions among the three CITES Appendices. Individuals can obtain fact sheets and permit applications from the USFWS Office of Management Authority, Branch of Permits, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203, telephone (703) 358-2104, fax (703) 358-2281.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical care in Guyana does not meet U.S. standards. Care is available for minor medical conditions, although quality is very inconsistent. Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or surgery are very limited, due to a lack of appropriately trained specialists, below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. There are very few ambulances in Guyana. Ambulance service is limited to transportation without any medical care and is frequently not available for emergencies. An MRI (linked to the United States for interpretation) has been installed and is operational, but results may take up to 4 days.

In the event of an emergency, the number for an ambulance is 913, but this number is not always operational and an ambulance may not be available. Visitors are advised to bring prescription medicine sufficient for their length of stay and should be aware that Guyana's humid climate may affect some medicines. Some prescription medicines (mainly generic rather than name-brand) are available.

Special attention should be paid to HIV/AIDS in Guyana. In addition to elevated infection rates among high-risk populations such as commercial sex workers and mobile populations such as miners or loggers, data from the World Health Organization estimate that Guyana has among the highest prevalence rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Guyana too. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine 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. The information below concerning Guyana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Guyana is significantly different than in the U.S. and is potentially very hazardous. The rate of traffic accident fatalities in Guyana is higher than in the United States. Cars, large commercial vehicles, horse drawn carts, bicyclists, motorcycles, free range livestock, stray dogs, pedestrians, aggressive "mini-buses" and sleeping animals all share narrow, poorly maintained roads. Very aggressive speeding drivers on the same roads with slow moving vehicles makes driving in Guyana especially dangerous. Driving at unsafe speeds, reckless driving, tailgating, quick stops without signaling, passing at intersections, and passing on crowded streets is commonplace. Driving at night poses additional concerns as many roads are not lit, drivers do not lower high beam lights, livestock sleeps on the road and many pedestrians congregate by the roadside. Visitors should exercise caution at all times while driving and avoid driving outside of Georgetown at night, when possible.

The Traffic Division of Guyana's National Police Force is responsible for road safety but is ill-trained and ill-equipped. The Department of State recommends that Embassy staff travel in groups of two or more vehicles when traveling outside Georgetown .

Travelers are advised to use caution traveling to and from Cheddi Jagan International Airport, especially at night. The Embassy requires its staff to use official vehicles when traveling this route between dusk and dawn due to a combination of most of the aforementioned characteristics of driving in Guyana.

Penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death are severe, including life imprisonment. If involved in an accident, call 911 for police and 913 for an ambulance. Please note that these numbers are not always operational and police may be slow to respond and an ambulance may not be available.

Drivers use the left side of the road in Guyana. Seatbelt use is required by law and is enforced; failure to use a seatbelt can result in a fine. There presently are no laws in Guyana concerning use of child car seats, but the use of age-appropriate seats is strongly recommended for child passengers. Both drivers of and passengers on motorcycles must wear protective helmets that meet certain specifications. Talking on cellular telephones while driving is illegal. However, it is legal if a driver uses a hands free set. Mini-buses (small 12- to 15-passenger vans) ply various routes both within and between cities. Mini-bus drivers have come under severe criticism from the government, press, and private citizens for speeding, aggressive and reckless driving, overloading of vehicles, poor vehicle maintenance and repair, and offensive remarks directed at passengers, but little change in their driving behavior has been noted. Mini-buses have been involved in the majority of fatal vehicular accidents in recent years and official Americans are barred from using them. Travelers should use taxis for transportation.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Guyana's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Guyana's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.

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 Guyana dated April 3rd, 2009 without substantive changes.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Guyana HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)...............

Guyana also has a Malaria Warning which you can check HERE......

Regards

The SW Team......

 

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