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Travel Security Advice for Syrian Arab Republic




Since March 1963, the Syrian Arab Republic has been ruled by an authoritarian regime dominated by the Socialist Ba'ath Party. While the ruling Ba'ath party espouses a largely secular ideology, Islamic traditions and beliefs provide a conservative foundation for the country's customs and practices. Syria has a developing, centrally-planned economy with large public (30%), agricultural (25%), and industrial (20%) sectors. Tourist facilities are available, but vary in quality depending on price and location. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Syria for additional information.


U.S. citizens living or traveling in Syria 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 directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.


A passport and a visa are required. Visas must be obtained prior to arrival in Syria from a Syrian diplomatic mission located in the traveler’s country of residence, although the Syrian visa policy with respect to American diplomats and citizens is currently under review. Foreigners who wish to stay 15 days or more in Syria must register with Syrian immigration authorities by their 15th day. Syrian-American men or American men of Syrian origin, even those born in the United States, may be subject to compulsory military service unless they receive a temporary or permanent exemption from a Syrian diplomatic mission abroad prior to their entry into Syria. (Please see the section on Special Circumstances below.) Syria charges a departure tax for all visitors except those on diplomatic passports. As of July 1, 2008, the tax is 1,500 Syrian Pounds (~$32) if departing from the airport or 500 Syrian Pounds (~$13) if departing via one of the land borders. 

The Syrian government rigidly enforces restrictions on prior travel to Israel, and does not allow persons with passports bearing Israeli visas or entry/exit stamps to enter the country. Syrian immigration authorities will not admit travelers with. Likewise, the absence of entry stamps from a country adjacent to Israel, which the traveler has just visited, will cause Syrian immigration officials to refuse admittance. Entry into Syria via the land border with Israel is not possible. American-citizen travelers suspected of having traveled to Israel have been detained for questioning. 

Syrian security officials are also sensitive about travel to Iraq. There have been instances in which Americans, especially those of Arab descent, believed to have traveled to Iraq were detained for questioning at ports of entry/exit. Americans seeking to travel to Iraq through Syria have also on occasion been turned around and/or detained. On a number of occasions the border between Iraq and Syria has been closed without notice, stranding Americans on either side of the border.

A child under the age of eighteen whose father is Syrian or of Syrian descent must have his/her father’s permission to leave Syria, even if the parents are separated or divorced and the mother has been granted full custody by a Syrian court. Women in Syria are often subject to strict family controls. On occasion, the families of Syrian-American women visiting Syria have attempted to prevent them from leaving the country. This can be a particular problem for young single women of marriageable age. Although a woman does not need her husband's explicit consent every time she wishes to leave Syria, a Syrian husband may take legal action to prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality. Once such legal orders are in place, the U.S. Embassy cannot help American citizens to leave Syria. Visit the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic, 2215 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-6313 or check the Syrian Embassy's home page at the Syrian Embassy's home page  for the most current visa information.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors or foreign residents of Syria. There are no special immunizations required for entry to Syria. AIDS tests are mandatory for foreigners of ages 15 to 60 who wish to reside in Syria. The AIDS test must be conducted in Syria at a facility approved by the Syrian Ministry of Health. A residence permit will not be issued until the absence of the HIV virus has been determined. Foreigners wishing to marry Syrian nationals in Syria must also be tested for HIV. Syria usually will not give visas or residency permits to students wishing to study religion or Arabic in private religious institutions. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Syria before you travel.

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.

Threats to Safety and Security: 

Since 1979, the United States has designated Syria a State Sponsor of Terrorism due to its support for organizations such as Hizbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In addition, other extremist groups are present in Syria. These groups have the potential to be either the targets of or perpetrators of acts of violence.
On multiple occasions throughout January 2009, thousands of Syrians protested in mostly government-orchestrated rallies against Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip. While these events were largely peaceful, in one instance a few hundred protestors challenged police lines outside the Egyptian Embassy downtown and were dispersed by means of non-lethal force. During 2009, at least seven smaller-scale and non-violent demonstrations have occurred in central Damascus and other urban centers.

On October 30, 2008, the Syrian Government allowed a large-scale demonstration in central Damascus to occur to protest an alleged U.S. military action at the Syrian/Iraqi border earlier that week. Security concerns prompted a temporary closure of the U.S. Embassy for one day. In response to the same alleged incident, the Syrian Government ordered the immediate closure of the Damascus Community School, the American Language Center and the American Cultural Center on November 4, 2008. They remain closed until further notice.

On October 9, 2008, Syrian authorities raided Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus and killed three terrorist suspects. On September 27, 2008, a car bomb exploded in a southern suburb of Damascus, in proximity to a Syrian intelligence installation, killing and wounding numerous civilians. On August 3, 2008, a Syrian general was assassinated near Tartous. On February 12, 2008, an explosion in the residential Kafer Soseh neighborhood of Damascus killed a senior Hizbollah military commander.

On September 12, 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was attacked by assailants using improvised explosives, gunfire, and two vehicles laden with explosives. On February 4, 2006, mobs protesting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed destroyed the Norwegian and Chilean embassies and severely damaged the Danish and Swedish diplomatic missions. On April 27, 2004, there was a violent clash in which three people died in an area of Damascus where many foreign citizens reside. It has never been clear whether the shootout with Syrian security forces involved common criminals or terrorists.

In 1998 and 2000, mobs attacked the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence and the U.S. Embassy, respectively. In 1997, twenty-two people were killed when a public bus was bombed in downtown Damascus. All of these attacks serve as reminders that Syria is not immune from political or purely criminal violence. Americans traveling through the area should remain aware that U.S. interests and citizens might be targeted.

Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. Additionally, Americans should be aware that conversations on the topics of political, religious and other freedoms are not seen as merely healthy debate in Syria and could lead to arrest. Note that it is illegal in Syria to possess specific-use electronic devices including GPS, short-wave or handheld radio equipment, or similar devices. 

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs' website .

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States 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 .


While a few cases of theft, burglary and assault have been reported to the Embassy, crime is generally not a serious problem for travelers in Syria. It is important to note, however, that Syria is not crime-free. Specifically, incidents of credit card and ATM fraud, and physical harassment of women, are on the rise.

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, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.


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 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 equivalents for the “911” emergency line in Syria are 110 for ambulance, 113 for fire, and 112 for the police. The Syrian operators are not likely to speak English, however.

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


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 .


Syrian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Syria of items such as weapons, narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, cheese, fruits, pharmaceuticals, modems, cosmetics, and some electrical appliances. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Syria in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.

Foreign currencies can be exchanged for Syrian pounds only by licensed moneychangers and at private banks, some of which maintain offices inside four- and five-star hotels. Syrian pounds cannot legally be changed back into foreign currency. Four- and five-star hotels and high-end stores in Syria generally accept credit cards, although restaurants and most stores operate strictly in cash. Foreigners visiting Syria are required to pay hotel bills in US dollars or Euros. Traveler’s checks are not accepted for payment in Syria, and banks will not cash them unless the traveler has an account at the bank in question. There are no U.S.-based banks operating in Syria. There are nine private banks operating in Syria, with branches and ATMs in most major cities. These ATMs usually honor major debit/credit systems. U.S. banks are restricted by law from transacting business with the largest public bank in Syria, the Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS), so U.S. banks will not process ATM transactions from CBS branches. Funds may be transferred into Syria through Western Union. Wiring of funds through private banks is possible only if the traveler already holds an account with the bank in Syria; transferring funds through the Commercial Bank of Syria is not possible due to U.S. sanctions.

Syrian-American and Palestinian-American men who have never served in the Syrian military and who are planning to visit Syria are strongly urged to check with the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. prior to traveling concerning compulsory military service. American men over the age of 18, even those who have never resided in or visited Syria, and whose fathers are of Syrian descent, are required to complete military service or pay to be exempted. Possession of a U.S. passport does not absolve the bearer of this obligation.

The fee for exemption from military service ranges from $5,000 to $15,000, depending upon the circumstances, for Syrian-American and Palestinian-American men who live abroad. In January 2005 the Syrian government reduced the mandatory military service from 30 months to 24 months. It also announced that Syrians born outside of Syria and residing abroad until the age of 18 have the option of being exempted from their service by paying $2,000. Those born in Syria who left the country before reaching the age of 11 and have resided abroad for more than 15 years can be exempted by paying $5,000. Contact the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC, for more information (See Entry/Exit Requirements section above).

Former President Bush signed an executive order on May 11, 2004, implementing sanctions in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act. These sanctions prohibit the export to Syria of products of the United States other than food or medicine, and prohibit any commercial aircraft owned or controlled by the Syrian government from taking off from or landing in the United States. Under the authority provided in Section 5(b) of the Act, the President has determined that it is in the national security interest of the United States to waive the application of these sanctions in certain cases and for certain products, as specified in the Department of Commerce's General Order No. 2. For additional information about implementation of the Syria Accountability Act, consult the Department of Commerce web site at the Department of Commerce web site .

The Terrorism List Government Sanctions Regulations prohibit U.S. persons from receiving unlicensed donations from the Syrian government. Additionally, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in financial transactions which a U.S. person knows or has reasonable cause to believe pose a risk of furthering terrorist acts in the United States. For additional information about the Terrorism List Government Sanctions Regulations, consult the terrorism brochure on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) home page or via OFAC's info-by-fax service at (202) 622-0077.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, they will have proof of identity and U.S. citizenship readily available. Although Syria is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Syrian officials generally do not notify the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens are arrested. When the Embassy learns of U.S. citizen arrests and requests consular access, individual police officials have, on their own initiative, responded promptly and allowed consular officers to visit the prisoners. However, security officials have also in the past denied Embassy requests for consular access, especially in the case of dual citizens.


Basic medical care and medicines are available in Syria's principal cities, but not necessarily in outlying areas. Serious illnesses and emergencies may require evacuation to a Western medical facility.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website. 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 .


The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.


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 Syria is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Syria may be hazardous and requires great caution. Although drivers generally follow traffic signs and signals, they often maneuver aggressively and show little regard for vehicles traveling behind or to the sides of them. Lane markings are usually ignored. Vehicles within Syrian traffic circles must give way to entering traffic, unlike in the United States. At night, it is very hard to see pedestrians, who often walk into traffic with little warning. Outside major cities it is common to find pedestrians, animals and vehicles without lights on the roads at night. Pedestrians must also exercise caution. Parked cars, deteriorating pavement, and guard posts obstruct sidewalks, often forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Vehicles often do not stop for pedestrians, and regularly run red lights or “jump” the green light well before it changes. 

Please refer to our Road Safety page  for more information.


Sanctions resulting from the passage of the Syria Accountability Act prohibit aircraft of any air carrier owned or controlled by the Syrian government to take off from or land in the United States. As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Syria, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Syria's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site .

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus has advised its employees to avoid travel on Syrian Arab Airlines (Syrian Air or SAA) whenever possible due to concerns regarding the airline's ability to maintain its airplanes. SAA has, on its own initiative, grounded individual aircraft with significant maintenance or service issues; however, concerns persist that some planes still being flown may lack certain safety equipment or may have undergone repairs that have not been reviewed by the manufacturer. 


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


Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates .

The U.S. Embassy is located at 2 Al-Mansour St., Abu Roumaneh, Damascus. The international mailing address is PO Box 29, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Mail may also be sent via the U.S. Postal Service to: American Embassy Damascus, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-6110. Telephone numbers are (963) (11) 3391-4444, fax number is (963) (11) 3391-3999. The Embassy may be  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The government workweek in Syria is Sunday through Thursday; the private sector generally works Saturday through Thursday. The U.S. Embassy is open Sunday through Thursday. Additional information may be found on the Embassy web site.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Syria dated August 13, 2008, to update the sections on Registration, Threats to Safety and Security, Victims of Crime and Special Circumstances.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to the Syrian Arab Republic HERE......

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

There is a Malaria Warning for Syria HERE.....

There is also a Travel Warning for Syria HERE.....


The SW Team............


Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts