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Travel Security Advice for Uruguay

Uruguay_National_Flag

uruguay_mapUruguay_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

Uruguay is a constitutional democracy with a large, educated middle class and a robust developing economy.  The capital city is Montevideo.  Tourist facilities are generally good with many 5-star accommodations at resort destinations such as Punta del Este and Colonia de Sacramento.  The quality of tourist facilities varies according to price and location.  Travelers are encouraged to seek travel agency assistance in making plans to visit Uruguay.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Uruguay for additional information.



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

All United States citizens entering Uruguay for business or pleasure must have a valid passport.  U.S. citizens traveling on a regular passport do not need a visa for a visit of less than three months.  U.S. citizens traveling on diplomatic or official passports require a visa.  Air travelers are required to pay an airport tax upon departure.  This fee may be paid in U.S. dollars or in Uruguayan pesos.  Visit the Embassy of Uruguay 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.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:  

Regular protests, some with an anti-American flavor, take place outside Congress, City Hall and the Universidad de la Republica (University of the Republic).  U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Uruguay are advised to take common-sense precautions and avoid any large gatherings or any other event where crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest.  If travelers encounter a protest they should walk the other way or enter a commercial establishment until the protest passes.  Taking pictures of protesters is not a good idea.  During the past two years, the bridges between Uruguay and Argentina have been blocked by environmental protesters to protest an unpopular Uruguayan paper mill.  Tourists planning to travel by land to Argentina using the bridges in Paysandu and Salto should check to make sure the bridges are open.  The safety precautions indicated above also apply to protesters’ roadblocks on the bridges; travelers should turn back and avoid the protesters.

Although there have been no past instances of violence directed at U.S. citizens from cross-border extremist groups, U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the more remote areas of Uruguay near the borders with Argentina and Brazil are urged to exercise caution. 

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, 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 pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.



CRIME: 

Petty street crime is prevalent in Montevideo.  The criminals tend to be non-violent; however, criminals often resort to violence if the victims resist.  Travelers should exercise reasonable caution to minimize their exposure to crime.  Criminals prey on the unaware, particularly those carrying cameras, pocketbooks, laptops, or backpacks.  Travelers are advised to lock valuables in secure hotel safes and to empty their wallets of excess credit cards and cash.  If dining at an outdoor restaurant take extra care with pocketbooks or bags.  Parts of “Ciudad Vieja” are popular tourist attractions; however, the only sections of Ciudad Vieja with continual police patrols are Plaza Independencia, the pedestrian street Sarandi, and the Mercado del Puerto.  Muggings are common in other parts of Ciudad Vieja - particularly for travelers walking alone or couples walking at night.  A smart alternative is to call for a taxi for evening travel between restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Victims are usually foreign tourists, individuals openly carrying valuable items, and motorists in unlocked vehicles stopped at busy intersections, particularly on Montevideo's riverfront road known as the Rambla. Drivers should keep all car doors locked, the driver's window open no more than one inch, and purses, bags, briefcases and other valuables out of sight on the floor or in the trunk. Parked cars, particularly in the Carrasco neighborhood, are also increasingly targeted for break-ins. During the summer months (December-March), beach resort areas such as Punta del Este attract tourists, and therefore petty street crimes and residential burglaries--similar to those that occur in Montevideo--rise significantly. Visitors are advised to exercise common sense in the conduct of their activities around Montevideo and in Uruguayan resort areas. They should be very attentive to personal security and their surroundings in the aforementioned areas.

Those planning to live in Montevideo should note that burglaries and attempted burglaries seem to be on the rise in upscale neighborhoods.  The perpetrators are mostly non-confrontational but determined teenagers.  A combination of preventive measures including rigorous use of locks and alarms, strong grillwork on all windows, guard dogs, keeping a residence occupied as much as possible, and using a security service is highly recommended. 

Montevideo continues to experience armed robberies of patrons at crowded restaurants in the Pocitos neighborhood.  Most of these crimes have occurred very late at night.  Restaurant patrons should exercise extreme caution for late-night dining.

Uruguayan law enforcement authorities have increased the numbers of patrol cars in residential areas and uniformed policemen on foot in areas where criminal activity is concentrated.  Patrol cars are clearly marked and equipped with cellular phones, with the phone numbers conspicuously painted on the vehicles.



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 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.

The emergency line in Uruguay is 911.

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



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

Facilities for medical care are considered adequate. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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

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's web site.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site.  Further 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 Uruguay is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in particular location or circumstance.  

The Uruguayan Ministry of Transportation is responsible for maintaining safe road conditions countrywide. The Uruguayan Ministry of Interior highway police (tel. 1954) are responsible for traffic safety on highways and other roads beyond city limits. In urban and suburban areas, transit police and municipal employees share road safety responsibilities.

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road. Wearing seat belts and using headlights on highways and other inter-city roads 24 hours a day are mandatory. Children under 12 must ride in the back seat. Motorcyclists must wear helmets. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited. Right turns on red lights and left turns at most intersections marked with a stoplight are not permitted. Drivers approaching an intersection from the right or already in traffic circles have the right of way.  Flashing high beams indicate intent to pass or continue through unmarked intersections.  Many drivers ignore speed limits and traffic signs.  If you plan to drive, use extreme caution and drive defensively.

For driving under the influence, violators are fined and confiscated licenses may be retained for up to six months. In accidents causing injury or death, drivers are brought before a judge who decides if incarceration is warranted.
Inter-city travel is via bus, taxi, car service (remise), car, and motorcycle. Speed limits are posted on highways and some main roads. Most taxis have no seat belts in the back seat. Cycling outside the capital or small towns is hazardous due to a scarcity of bike paths, narrow road shoulders and unsafe driving practices.

Illumination, pavement markings, and road surfaces are sometimes poor. Route 1, which runs between Montevideo and Colonia or Punta del Este, and Route 2, between Rosario and Fray Bentos, are particularly accident-ridden because of heavy tourist traffic. Road accidents rise during the austral summer beach season (December to March), Carnaval (mid-to-late February), and Easter Week.

Within Montevideo, the emergency number to contact the police, fire department, rescue squad, or ambulance service is 911. In the rest of the country, dial 02-911 to connect with the Montevideo central emergency authority, which will then contact the local emergency service. The Automobile Club of Uruguay responds to emergency calls for roadside assistance at 1707, “Car Up” at 0800-1501 and the Automobile Center of Uruguay at     2-408-6131/2091. SEMM (tel. 159) and UCM (tel. 147), Montevideo-based ambulance services manned by doctors, have agreements with emergency medical units in other cities.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  You may also telephone Uruguay’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety in Miami at (305) 443-7431.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: 

 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Uruguay’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Uruguay’s air carrier operations.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:  

Uruguay's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Uruguay of items such as precious jewels, gold, firearms, pornography, subversive literature, inflammable articles, acids, prohibited drugs (medications), plants, seeds, and foodstuffs as well as some antiquities and business equipment. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Uruguay in Washington, DC, or one of Uruguay's consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements.  Note: Travelers entering Uruguay with precious jewels or gold worth more than $500.00 (U.S.) must declare them to customs officers at the port of entry or face possible detention or seizure of the goods and charges of contraband or evasion of customs controls. Visitors are expected to comply with local law and regulations by approaching a customs officer before routine inspection of all incoming baggage, conducted on standard security equipment.  Please see our Customs Information.



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

The Uruguayan Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing strictly enforces all regulations regarding hunting permits, as well as seasonal and numerical limits on game. Visitors who contravene local law have been detained by the authorities and had valuable personal property (weapons) seized. Under Uruguayan law, seized weapons can only be returned after payment of a sum equivalent to the value of the property seized. Hunters are also subject to stiff fines for practicing the sport without all appropriate permits.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

For information see our web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:  

Americans living or traveling in Uruguay are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Uruguay.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Lauro Muller 1776; telephone (598) (2) 418-7777; fax (598) (2) 418-4110 or -8611.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Consular Section hours for American Citizen Services are Monday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., except U.S. and Uruguayan holidays.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 1, 2008 to update Sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Information for Victims of Crime, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Aviation Safety Oversight.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Uruguay 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)..........

Regards

The SW Team........

 

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