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Travel Security Advice for Lebanon

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lebanon_mapLebanon_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

The Republic of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. Political power is divided among the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, each representing one of Lebanon's three largest religious sects (Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shi'a Muslims). While the most recent round of outright hostilities ended in 2006, Lebanon remains in a state of war with Israel. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Lebanon for additional information.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Lebanon 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.

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

The U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon is located in Awkar facing the municipality, near Antelias.
Telephone: (961) 4 542600 or 543600 (including for after-hours emergencies)
Fax: (961) 4 544209

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Passports and visas are required. American citizens coming to Lebanon for tourism can purchase a short-term visa at the border or airport. Travelers holding passports that contain visas or entry/exit stamps for Israel will likely be refused entry into Lebanon. Travelers whose passports contain Israeli stamps or visas and who also hold an "Arab nationality" may be subject to arrest and imprisonment. Travelers who have overstayed their entry visa validity in Lebanon must adjust their status with the Central Department of Surete General (Department of Passport and Immigration) prior to their departure.

Further information on entry/exit requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300.

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

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 Department of State Travel Warning urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon. U.S. citizens who are in Lebanon despite the Travel Warning should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. They should exercise particular caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley and areas south of the Litani River in South Lebanon. Hizballah maintains a strong presence in many of these areas, and there is the potential for action by other extremist groups, particularly in and around Palestinian refugee camps. The situation remains tense and a resumption of sporadic violence remains a possibility.

On May 7, 2008, Hizballah militants blocked the road to Rafiq Hariri International Airport. The action rendered the airport inaccessible and travelers were unable to enter or leave the country via commercial air carriers. Armed Hizballah and other opposition members proceeded to enter areas of Lebanon not traditionally under their control resulting in heavy fighting and a number of casualties. While there is currently full access to the airport and widespread hostilities have subsided, the United States remains concerned about Hizballah's willingness to use violence to achieve political ends with little or no warning. Since the May 2008 hostilities there have been violent outbreaks in Tripoli that left over twenty dead and dozens wounded. Access to the airport is considered vulnerable and could be cut off with little warning in the event of new hostilities.

Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past. The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present and retain the ability to act. On January 15, 2008, a U.S. Embassy vehicle was targeted in a bomb attack that killed three Lebanese bystanders. American citizens should keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members requires prior approval by the Department of State.

Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely autonomously in and around refugee camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions. Travel by U.S. citizens to Palestinian camps should be avoided. Fatah al-Islam, a terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda, has targeted Lebanese, U.S. and other foreign government interests. It has been outlawed by the Lebanese government but continues to maintain a presence in several of the refugee camps.

Americans traveling to Lebanon should also be aware that personnel from the U.S. Embassy are not able to travel to all areas of Lebanon. In the case of an emergency involving a U.S. citizen in areas where it is unsafe for Embassy personnel to travel, the Embassy may not be able to render assistance.

In addition, dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was intense.

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, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, 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 United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada, by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444. 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.

CRIME:

The crime rate in Lebanon is moderate, but both car theft and home break-ins occur. Violent crime and sexual assault are rare, although petty theft -- such as pickpocketing and purse snatching -- is common in crowded public areas. Police are responsive but often unable to affect a positive outcome. There are no special concerns with regard to targeted victimization of Americans or to scams or confidence schemes. There have, however, been recent kidnappings of Lebanese-American women by their Lebanese relatives in an effort to force these women into marriage.

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.

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 Lebanon is 112.

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. Persons violating Lebanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lebanon are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. 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:

In addition to being subject to all Lebanese laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Lebanese nationality may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on them as Lebanese citizens. Lebanese citizens who are discovered to have associated with or traveled through Israel, are subject to arrest and detention.

Any citizen arriving at a Lebanese point of entry with an Israeli stamp in their passport may be detained, arrested or denied entry. Penalties are especially harsh if the traveler is of Arab origin or a dual national.

Travelers who have previously entered Lebanon illegally as refugees will be denied entry into the country, even if they have since become U.S. citizens. In most cases travelers are returned to their point of origin on the first available flight.

Military Service: Mandatory military service in Lebanon was abolished on February 4, 2007. However, travelers with questions about prior military service, desertion, or failure to register in the past should contact the Military Office of the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, or call (202) 265-2335 or fax (202) 667-0063 for details prior to traveling to Lebanon. Information about military service can also be found at the Lebanese government web site.

Lebanese Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of such items as firearms or antiquities. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., or one of Lebanon's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

In Beirut and the surrounding areas, modern medical care and medicines are widely available. Such facilities are not always available in outlying areas, although no location in the country is more than three hours from the capital. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services, and without such payment, may deny service even in emergency cases. A list of doctors who speak English and a list of hospitals are available from the U.S. Embassy.

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.

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

Drivers in Lebanon often maneuver aggressively and pay little regard to traffic lights and stops signs. Lanes are generally unmarked and roads outside of the capital may be poorly lit. Pedestrians especially should exercise great caution. Intercity directional signs are improving throughout the country, but side roads are often not signposted at all. Public transportation is generally safe.

Emergency services in Lebanon are adequate. In case of a road accident, emergency numbers are “140” for the Red Cross and “125” for the emergency civil police.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit Lebanon's national tourist office web site and national authority responsible for road safety.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Lebanon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Lebanon’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.

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 Lebanon dated August 20, 2008, to update the sections on Country Description, Registration/Embassy Location, Threats to Safety and Security, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has information regarding travel to Lebanon 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).......

There is a Travel Warning for Lebanon HERE....

Regards

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

 

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