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Travel Security Advice for Sudan

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sudan_mapSudan_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Sudan is a diverse, developing country in northeastern Africa.  The capital city is Khartoum.  The civil war between the northern and southern regions, which began in 1983, ended in 2005.  A multi-party conflict continues in the west in Darfur, and the armed Ugandan group known as The Lord’s Resistance Army is present in the south.  Security conditions are adverse in these and some other regions.  Transportation networks and other forms of infrastructure are poor and do not meet western standards.  Even where available, water and electric services suffer frequent outages.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Sudan for additional information.



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

The Government of Sudan requires all travelers to present a passport and an entry visa.  Most travelers must obtain the entry visa before arrival; only American citizens who also possess a Sudanese national identification document (such as a Sudanese passport or national identification card) may apply for an entry visa at Khartoum International Airport.  The Government of Sudan routinely denies visas to travelers whose passports contain visas issued by the Government of Israel or other evidence of travel to Israel such as exit or entry stamps. 

Travelers must obtain an exit visa before departure from Sudan as well as pay any airport departure tax not included in the traveler’s airline ticket.  Travelers with expired entry visas or residence permits are regularly refused exit visas absent a written request from the Sudanese sponsor of the visa.  Spouses and children of Sudanese citizens are generally required by the Sudanese authorities to demonstrate permission of the Sudanese spouse/parent when applying for exit visas to depart Sudan.  Visitors may obtain the latest information and further details from the Embassy of Sudan, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel.: 202-338-8565.

Travel permits issued by the semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) or by the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) are not adequate for entry to the country, although travelers may find these documents useful to present to local authorities while in the south.  Personal baggage, including computers, is routinely searched upon arrival in and departure from Sudan.  The authorities will seize material deemed objectionable, such as alcohol or pornography, and may detain or arrest the traveler.  Travelers intending to bring electronic items should inquire about entry requirements when they apply for a visa; restrictions apply to many devices, including video cameras, satellite phones, facsimile machines, televisions, and telephones.  Travelers are not allowed to depart Sudan with ivory, certain other animal products, or large quantities of gold. 
All visitors must register at the Ministry of Interior within three days of arrival in Sudan.  All foreigners traveling more than 25 kilometers outside of Khartoum must obtain a travel permit from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Khartoum.  Travelers without such a permit risk detention by Sudanese authorities.  This applies to all travel, including private, commercial, and humanitarian activities.  Travelers must register again with the police within 24 hours of arrival at their destination outside of Khartoum.  The government requires a separate travel permit for travel to Darfur.  These regulations are strictly enforced and even travelers with proper documentation may expect delay or temporary detention from the security forces, especially outside the capital.  Authorities expect travelers to strictly respect roadblocks and other checkpoints. 

Travelers who wish to take any photographs must obtain a photography permit from the Government of Sudan, Ministry of Interior, Department of Aliens. 

On April 30, the Government of Sudan’s (GOS) Ministry of Animal Resources issued a decree prohibiting the importation of all animals, including domestic pets, or animal products into Sudan until further notice. The Government of Sudan maintains that this new ban is necessary to protect its citizens from 2009-H1N1 Influenza, sometimes referred to as swine flu, that it believes could be transmitted by animals. Airport authorities are strictly enforcing the ban.   Travelers are advised not to seek to enter Sudan with animals of any kind while the current policy, which the edict says is indefinite, remains in effect.

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.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:   

On January 1, 2008, unknown assailants shot and killed two U.S. Embassy employees - an American USAID officer and a Sudanese national driver.  Terrorists are known to operate in Sudan and continue to seek opportunities to carry out attacks against U.S. interests.  Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings.  U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, which include tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, and commercial operations associated with U.S. or Western interests.  Terrorists are known to have targeted both official facilities and residential compounds.  Anti-American sentiment is prevalent and Americans should exercise utmost caution at all times.

The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in Sudan, including emergency assistance, is severely limited.  Many areas outside the capital of Khartoum are extremely difficult to access.  Travel in many parts of Sudan is hazardous.  Outside the major cities infrastructure is extremely poor, medical care is limited, and very few facilities for tourists exist.

Conflict among various armed groups and government forces continues in western Sudan, in the states of North Darfur, South Darfur, and West Darfur.  Banditry and lawlessness are also common in the west.  Many local residents are in camps for internally-displaced persons, and receive humanitarian assistance for basic needs such as food, water, and shelter.  Expatriate humanitarian workers have been the targets of carjackings and burglaries. 

Land mines remain a major hazard in southern Sudan, especially south of the city of Juba.  Visitors should travel only on main roads unless a competent de-mining authority such as the UN has marked an area as clear of mines.  The armed Ugandan group known as The Lord’s Resistance Army is present along the southern border and reportedly has announced it will target Americans.

Occasional clashes between armed groups representing communal interests continue to occur in the centrally-located states of Upper Nile, Blue Nile, and Bahr al Ghazal.  Banditry also occurs.  Sudan shares porous land borders with nine other countries, including Chad, the Central African Republic, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.  Conflict in these countries occasionally spills over into Sudan.

Americans considering sea travel in Sudan's coastal waters should exercise caution as there have been incidents of armed attacks and robberies by unknown groups in recent years, including one involving two American vessels.  Exercise extreme caution, as these groups are considered armed and dangerous.  When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or in the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels convoy in groups and maintain good communications contact at all times.  Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels, and are commonly monitored by ships at sea.  2182 Mhz is the HF international call-up and emergency channel.  Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes.  Avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas.  In case of emergency, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  In the event of an attack, consider activating Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons. 

Please see the State Department's Fact Sheet on Maritime Piracy

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 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 A Safe Trip Abroad.



CRIME: 

Crime is on the increase throughout Sudan.  Additional security measures should be taken at places of residence to protect life and property.  Anti-American sentiments can be found throughout the country.  Americans should exercise caution by avoiding crowded public areas and public gatherings.  Americans should avoid traveling alone.  Report all instances of anti-American acts and crime targeting westerners to the American Embassy, and report incidents of crime to the Sudanese Police.

Americans should guard their backpacks or hand luggage.  When traveling by air, travelers should maintain constant contact with their baggage and assure that they do not contain illicit items, such as alcohol or military ordinance.  Americans have been removed from international airlines and detained when suspect items have been detected in checked baggage.

Carjacking and armed robbery occur in western and southern Sudan.  Sexual assault is more prevalent in the areas of armed conflict.  Travelers who do not use the services of reputable travel firms or knowledgeable guides or drivers are especially at risk.  Travel outside of Khartoum should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency.  Solo camping is always risky.

The Sudanese mail system can be unreliable.  International couriers provide the safest means of shipping envelopes and packages, although anything of value should be insured.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Khartoum, Sudan is 999.



INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.  The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to 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. 

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 Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sudan 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.

Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:   

In November 1997, the U.S. imposed comprehensive financial and commercial sanctions against Sudan, prohibiting U.S. transactions with Sudan.  Travelers intending to visit Sudan despite the Travel Warning should contact the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Office of Compliance, telephone 1-800-540-6322 or 202-622-2490, regarding the effect of these sanctions. 

Travelers must be prepared to pay cash for all purchases, including hotel bills, airfares purchased locally, and all other travel expenses.  Major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, cannot be used in Sudan due to U.S. sanctions.  Sudan has no international ATMs.  Local ATMs draw on local banks only.

U.S. currency issued prior to 2004 is generally not accepted anywhere in Sudan. Travelers often experience difficulty transferring cash into the country. Western Union operates in Khartoum, but currently does not operate in South Sudan.

Travelers, including journalists, must obtain a photography permit before taking any photographs.  Even with a photography permit, photographing military areas, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas, and beggars is prohibited.

Sudan is a conservative society, particularly in the capital and other areas where the Muslim population is the majority.  Alcohol is prohibited by law and modest dress is expected.  Loose, long-sleeved shirts and full-length skirts or slacks are recommended attire for women visitors.  Women who are not Muslim are not expected or required to cover their heads.  Men may wear short-sleeved shirts but short pants are not acceptable in public.

The American Embassy often does not receive timely notification of the detainment of American citizens.

Please see our information on Customs Information.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

Individuals with medical conditions which may require treatment are strongly discouraged from traveling to Sudan.  Medical facilities in Khartoum fall short of U.S. standards; outside the capital, very few facilities exist and hospitals and clinics are poorly equipped.  Travelers must pay cash in advance for any medical treatment.  Ambulance services are not available.  Medicines are available only intermittently; travelers should bring sufficient supplies of needed medicines in clearly-marked containers.
 
Malaria is prevalent in all areas of 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.  Travelers who become ill with a fever or a flu-like illness while in Sudan, or within a year after departure, should promptly seek medical care and inform their physician of their 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.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Sudan.  A negative HIV test result must be presented at a Sudanese embassy or at Khartoum airport in order to obtain a visa.  However, anecdotal reports indicate this requirement is not enforced in practice. Please confirm this requirement with the Embassy of Sudan.

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 hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s website For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web siteFurther health information for travelers is available from the WHO.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

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.



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

Road conditions throughout Sudan are hazardous due to erratic driver behavior, pedestrians and animals in the roadways, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles.  Only major highways and some streets in the cities are paved; many roads are narrow, rutted, and poorly maintained.  Local drivers do not observe conventions for the right-of-way, stop in 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.

In the north and west, dust storms and sand storms, known locally as haboobs, greatly reduce visibility when they occur.  Roads in these areas can be quickly covered with shifting sand at any season of the year.  Roads in southern Sudan often are impassable during the rainy season, from March to October.

U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling, including traffic laws.  In Sudan vehicles have the steering wheel on the left side and drivers use the right side of the road. 

Traffic from side streets on the right has the right-of-way when entering a cross street, including fast-moving main streets.  Traffic on the right has the right-of-way at stops.  Right turns on a red light are prohibited.  Speed limits are not posted, but the legal speed limit for passenger cars on inter-city highways is 120 kph (about 70 mph), while in most urban areas the limit is 60 kph (about 35 mph.)  The speed limit in congested areas and school zones is 40 kph (about 25 mph).

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.
 
Americans may use their U.S. driver's licenses for up to 90 days after arrival in Sudan, and then must carry either an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Sudanese driver's license.  There are no restrictions on vehicle types, including motorcycles and motorized tricycles.

Public transportation is limited to within and between major urban areas.  Passenger facilities are basic and crowded, especially during rush hours and periods of seasonal travel.  Schedules are unpublished and subject to change without notice.  Vehicle maintenance does not meet U.S. standards.  There is routine passenger train service on the route from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa (on the border with Egypt) and to Port Sudan (on the Red Sea.) Bus service between major cities is regular and inexpensive. Intra-city bus service in the major urban areas is regular, but most buses and bus stops are privately-operated and unmarked.  Taxis are available in the major cities at hotels, tourist sites, and government offices.  The motorized rickshaws in common use in Khartoum are unsafe.  Travelers are encouraged to hire cars and drivers from reputable sources with qualified drivers and safe vehicles. Irregularly-scheduled mini-buses provide some public transit to rural communities; many areas lack any public transportation.
 
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 Sudan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed 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 website.

Enforcement of aviation safety standards in Sudan is uneven; civil aviation in Sudan continues to experience air incidents and accidents, including 5 crashes with at least 64 fatalities between November 8, 2007, and June 30, 2008.  Incidents included engine failures, collapsed landing gear, and planes veering off the runway.  Whenever possible, Americans traveling to Sudan despite the ongoing travel warning are advised to travel directly to their destinations on international carriers from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards for the oversight of their air carrier operations under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.  Adverse seasonal weather conditions, such as dust or sand storms in the north between April and June and severe rain storms in the south between March and October, cause frequent flight cancellations.

Two hijackings originated in Sudan in 2007; no passengers were harmed.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

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



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:   

Americans living or traveling in Sudan are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Sudan.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The U.S. Embassy is located at Sharia Ali Abdul Latif, Khartoum; tel. 249-187-016000 (outside Sudan) and 0187-016000 (inside Sudan).  U.S. citizens may schedule an appointment to apply for American Citizen Services through the Embassy’s website: http://sudan.usembassy.gov/. For emergencies, please call the Embassy and ask to be connected to the duty officer.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Sudan dated February 20, 2009, to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Special Circumstances, and Registration/Embassy Location.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to the Sudan 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 Sudan provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HERE.....

Be advised as to a Travel Warning for the Sudan HERE.......

Regards

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

 

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