Kuwait Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Kuwait Traveler Information guide.
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PASSPORT VALIDITY: Six months from date of arrival; emergency passports accepted with conditions as of May 1, 2018 (see further instructions below).
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: 1 page per entry stamp.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes; can be obtained on arrival at Kuwait International Airport or online. Visa validity is usually 90 days, subject to Kuwait’s discretion.
VACCINATIONS: None for temporary visitors. Please refer to Kuwait’s Ministry of Health website for a schedule of vaccinations required for residents of Kuwait.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
Bayan, Block 13,
Masjed Al-Aqsa Street,
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Telephone: +(965) 2259-1001
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(965) 2259-1001
Fax: +(965) 2259-1438
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kuwait for information on U.S.-Kuwaiti relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
Emergency (Limited Validity) Passports: Kuwait accepts U.S. emergency passports for entry and exit. The following conditions apply to U.S. citizens intending to enter or exit Kuwait with a limited-validity emergency passport. The bearer of a U.S. emergency passport:
- will be admitted only as a visitor;
- is eligible to receive a temporary residency (Article 14) or exit permit (Article 1) only; and
- shall not receive residency or transfer of residency upon arrival in the country.
If you are a full-time resident of Kuwait and enter Kuwait on an emergency passport, you must apply as soon as possible for a full-validity passport at the U.S. Embassy. You will have 30 days from your date of entry to obtain a new regular U.S. passport and obtain a No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigation Division for Residency Affairs. The Kuwait Civil ID is now linked to your passport; losing your prior U.S. passport invalidates your Civil ID. The No Objection Certificate authorizes the Public Authority for Civil Identification to issue you a new Civil ID linked to your new full-validity passport. Note that it typically takes two weeks from your application to receive a new U.S. passport.
Though Kuwait accepts emergency passports under these limited conditions, the Department of State strongly recommends all U.S. citizen travelers possess a regular full-validity passport before they travel. Airlines may decline boarding if a traveler has less than six months validity on his or her passport.
Residence Permits/Civil IDs: If you are seeking residency in Kuwait, you should have all required legal documents authenticated before arriving. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait does not provide this service.
Have U.S. issued-documents authenticated by the Department of State Office of Authentications, (202-485-8000) and attested by the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, the Kuwait General Consulate in Los Angeles, or the Kuwait Consulate in New York.
If you are a resident and lose your new Civil ID and/or U.S. passport while outside of Kuwait, you must obtain a No Objection Certificate from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kuwait to enter as a resident. The Kuwait Civil ID is linked to your passport; losing your U.S. passport invalidates your Kuwait Civil ID. You may enter Kuwait as a visitor using a U.S. emergency passport per the advice above.
You have the right to retain your passport at all times in Kuwait. If you provide your passport to your employer, you should obtain a written, dated, and signed receipt. Otherwise, your employer may not be held accountable for unlawfully retaining your passport.
Safety and Security
Potential for Terrorist Activity: Kuwait continues to face the threat of terrorism. Terrorists may target U.S. citizens and interests in the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Please review the Worldwide Caution before traveling to Kuwait.
Terrorists may target public transportation, as well as residential areas, schools, places of worship, oil-related facilities, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas.
Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage-taking, kidnappings, or assassinations.
- Practice personal security measures.
- Avoid large gatherings and areas frequented by Westerners.
- Monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages.
- Report suspicious activity to Kuwaiti police and the U.S. Embassy.
- Be aware that desert areas and some beaches contain unexploded ordnance and war materials left over from the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
Exercise Increased Caution:
- The Embassy recommends that U.S. government personnel avoid the J’leeb Ash Shuyoukh area (near the airport) especially during nighttime hours, as it has been identified as a high-crime area.
- The most recent Embassy guidance to U.S. government personnel regarding visiting the city of Jahra urges caution and reminds employees that Jahra is a more conservative area than most of Kuwait whose residents, if they perceive that a foreigner is not observing conservative standards of conduct or dress, may react negatively.
- Embassy policy places the Kuwait/Iraq border demarcation area north of Mutla’a Ridge, defined as the berm fortification area located approximately five kilometers south of the actual border, as off-limits for official U.S. government personnel without special permission.
Desert Areas and Unexploded Ordnance: Unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the 1991 Gulf War remains primarily a problem in the desert areas. However, mines have washed up on the beaches of Kuwait City, including on resort beaches, and have emerged at construction sites in the city. The Embassy urges caution if traveling off paved surfaces outside of Kuwait City.
Crime: Criminal activity is low. Nonetheless, reported incidents include petty theft, car break-ins, and harassment or sexual assault of women traveling alone. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all visitors to Kuwait dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.
For more information, see the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s Crime and Safety Report for Kuwait.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 965-2259-1001.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. The U.S. Embassy does not have legal jurisdiction over private U.S. citizens, including military contractors, in Kuwait.
Filing Crime Reports: If you are injured during the commission of a crime, seek medical treatment at a public hospital before filing a police report. Bring the medical report with you to the police station. While the U.S. Embassy does not recommend any particular medical course of action or provider, local police investigators are only on duty at Kuwait’s public hospitals. You can only obtain the required medical report at a at a public hospital.
File crime reports at the police station in the area where the crime occurred. Have a local attorney or an Arabic speaker come with you.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault:
- Report crimes to the local police at 112, and contact the U.S. Embassy at 965-2259-1001 for assistance. The Embassy’s ability to assist, however, is extremely limited.
- Victims often encounter difficulties reporting domestic violence or sexual assault crimes to the police. Female officers are rarely available to assist with these cases.
- There are no rape crisis centers or women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. The few social service agencies that exist are often limited to Kuwaiti citizens.
- Consider hiring a private attorney. The Embassy maintains a List of Attorneys on the website.
- Victims of abuse or sexual assault must first file a case with the police, then they will be referred to the Criminal Evidence Department to obtain a medical report.
- Hospitals typically contact a criminal investigator to assist a victim of crime. The investigator may have you file a police report and obtain documents required for evidence collection before you can receive treatment.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, adequate medical treatment is available throughout the country. Outside Kuwait City, however, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be deported, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government does not have legal jurisdiction over private U.S. citizens, including military contractors, in Kuwait.
Have your U.S. passport or civil ID with you at all times, or authorities may detain you for questioning.
Alcohol and Drugs
- Possession of alcohol and/or narcotics is illegal in Kuwait.
- You risk immediate imprisonment for possession of alcohol or driving under the influence.
- Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs, synthetics, and drug-making ingredients are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- Convictions for drug trafficking may include a death penalty sentence.
The following actions are illegal and may also lead to prosecution, imprisonment, and immediate deportation:
- Humiliating or insulting any person verbally or through obscene gestures in a public place, including a police officer, public official, or private citizen.
- Taking pictures or video clips without the subject’s knowledge or consent.
- Having unpaid debts.
- Driving without a Kuwait driver’s license after obtaining a residence permit.
- Prostitution and pornography.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
If arrested for criminal violations, you may be detained for weeks without formal charges being filed. Juvenile proceedings are closed to all but court officers.
Children Born Out of Wedlock: Sexual relations outside of marriage are a criminal offense. Parents may not be able to obtain a Kuwait birth certificate or residence permit for a child born out of wedlock. A child born less than 9 months after the date on the marriage certificate may also be considered born out of wedlock. While the embassy will document the U.S. citizenship of children born out of wedlock, parents may be subject to prosecution, court proceedings, and/or fines to document the birth of the child.
Labor Disputes: Kuwait’s Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) assists all residents of Kuwait with employment and labor disputes. PAM offices assist residents according to the location of your employer and are open Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We recommend going to the office with an Arabic speaker. PAM offices are located at:
- Capital Business Administration: Sharq, Mohammad Al-Haqan St. Tel: 2246-6830 & 2246-6831.
- Hawalli Business Administration: Hawalli, Tunis St, opposite Ahli Bank of Kuwait. Tel: 2266-0229 & 2266-0228.
- AlFarwaniya Business Administration: Dajeej Area, adjacent to General Department of Criminal Evidence. Tel: 2431-9555.
- AlJahra Business Administration: Saad AlAbdulah Area (Amgarah), Block 10, near Co-op.
- AlAhmadi Business Administration: Beside KOC, Block 1, St. 20. Tel: 2398-2059.
- Mubarak AlKabeer Business Administration: Mubarak AlKabeer, Co-op # 4, beside NBK and KFH. Tel: 2543-8595
PAM provides responses in English and Arabic via their Twitter handle, @manpower_KWT, or Instagram account, pr.manpower.
Photography Restrictions: It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military installations, and oil-related infrastructure. Ask for permission before photographing people. Some women find being photographed offensive and may report the incident to local police.
Customs: Alcohol, pork products, and pornography are prohibited. Customs regulations are strict, particularly regarding firearms and religious materials. Contact the Embassy of Kuwait, the Consulate General of Kuwait, the Kuwait Consulate in New York, or the Kuwait General Administration for Customs (Email : firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: (+965) 24955000, Fax: (+965) 24838056) for specific information on customs regulations.
Faith-Based Travelers: Proselytizing is prohibited in Kuwait for all religions except Islam.
See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men is illegal. Crossdressing is also illegal. The law punishes consensual same-sex sexual activity between men older than 21 with imprisonment of up of to seven years; those engaging in consensual same-sex sexual activity with men younger than 21 may be imprisoned for as long as 10 years. No laws criminalize sexual behavior between women. The law imposes a fine of 1,059 dinars ($3,495) and imprisonment for one to three years for persons imitating the appearance of the opposite sex in public. Transgender persons reported harassment, detention, and abuse by security forces. Societal discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is common. Seeour LGBTI Travel Informationpage and section 6 of our Human Rights report on Kuwait for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Public transportation is generally inaccessible for patrons with disabilities. Accessible parking spaces are common, but are often used by the general public. Kuwait traffic enforcement has made efforts to penalize unauthorized use, but this remains a problem. Most medical facilities and public buildings in cities have wheelchair ramps and elevators.
Women Travelers: To deter sexual harassment:
- Dress modestly, cover shoulders and knees.
- Do not engage in “small talk” with taxi drivers (as that can be interpreted as interest).
- Avoid sustained eye contact.
- Be cautious when using public transportation.
- Maintain a low profile in public.
For emergency assistance, call 112.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Healthcare in Kuwait is accessible both in the government-run system and many private institutions. The government facilities provide services for foreigners at reasonable costs, and payment for all services is expected in advance. Government facilities offer more specialty care services, though wait times are often long and difficult to access for non-nationals. No private facility is completely comprehensive, but private facilities will have a variety of basic services available. Private clinic costs generally are higher than the government sector, but are generally considerably less than the U.S. private physicians. Private hospitals charge fees in advance for services, and some do not accept local health insurance. Some medical services are below U.S. standards.
The Embassy does not pay the medical bills of private U.S. citizens. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Government of Kuwait medical providers only accept cash payments, whereas private clinics will accept credit cards. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, please contact the Embassy of Kuwait, the Consulate General of Kuwait, the Kuwait Consulate in New York, or the Kuwait General Administration for Customs (Email : email@example.com. Telephone: (+965) 24955000, Fax: (+965) 24838056) to ensure the medication is legal in Kuwait.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kuwait Ministry of Health. Please note that Kuwait’s vaccination requirements for residents are different and may require more inoculations than recommended by the CDC.
Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in Kuwait. You should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on your health.
People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
- Infants, children, and teens
- People over 65 years of age
- People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
- People with heart disease or diabetes
- People who work or are active outdoors
Current air quality data with regard to PM 2.5 particulates can be found on the Embassy’s Air Quality page. Besides PM 2.5 particulate, a number of other pollutants can reach serious levels in Kuwait and we recommend monitoring information available on the internet to keep abreast of the air quality.
Everyone should take precautions when air quality reaches an unhealthy level. These precautions include:
- minimize time outside
- take more breaks
- do less intense activities
- exercise indoors instead of outdoors and make sure your gym has the air conditioning running without open windows
- roll up the windows when in a car and run the A/C to re-circulate air
- replace car air filter regularly
For further information please see https://www.cdc.gov/air/default.htm.
Further health information:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Kuwait Ministry of Health
Travel and Transportation
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Driving in Kuwait is extremely hazardous due to excessive speeding, distracted driving, road rage, lax enforcement of traffic regulations, and a high volume of traffic.
With a valid visitor visa and U.S. driver’s license, you may drive a rental car. To drive vehicles other than rental cars, a Kuwait driver’s license and appropriate car registration is required.
Once you receive your Kuwait residence permit, you cannot drive with a foreign driver’s license and must obtain a Kuwait driver’s license. If you are stopped by police and found driving as a resident but without a Kuwait driver’s license, you will face imprisonment and immediate deportation. You will not receive access to your personal effects at your residence or hotel.
See the Kuwait Ministry of Interior website for further information.
Flooding: Road flooding occurs in Kuwait during and after heavy rainstorms. Drivers should avoid driving after heavy rainstorms or through standing water, be alert for flooded areas, and monitor local media for road closures and weather updates.
- You are required to have your driver’s license with you at all times when operating a vehicle. There are no exceptions.
- Driving while intoxicated can result in fines, imprisonment, deportation, and/or revocation of your Kuwait driving license.
- You risk deportation for serious/repeat traffic violations.
- It is against the law to use cell phones or text while driving.
- Use of seat belts is mandatory.
- Do not turn right on a red light unless there is a yield sign and special lane to do so.
- Do not park where curbs are painted black and yellow.
- Police at checkpoints may fine motorists arbitrarily.
- Traffic cameras capture stop light and speeding violations.
- Pay traffic fines as soon as possible. You can pay traffic fines online through the MOI’s online portal.
- Nonpayment of traffic and parking fines can result in seizure of your vehicle and travel bans. This means you cannot leave Kuwait until all fines and penalties are paid.
- In case of emergency, call 112. Ambulance crews often do not include trained paramedics, nor do they respond as quickly as in the United States.
- Involvement in an accident, whether or not you are at fault, can lead to arrest and detention. Immediately notify the police and remain at the scene until the police arrive.
- If you are injured in an accident that may result in a legal claim against you or that you wish to file against another party, you must seek medical attention at a public hospital. At the public hospital, an investigator will document your injuries. Failure to do this will limit your ability to seek legal remedy for any injuries you have suffered.
- At-fault accidents can result in arrests, demands for financial restitution, and/or travel bans preventing you from leaving Kuwait.
- Use only marked and licensed taxis. Taxis are available at major hotels and by telephone.
- Do not sit in the front seat of taxis with the driver.
- Do not allow the driver to pick up unknown passengers or enter a taxi occupied by someone in addition to the driver.
- Be aware of the route driven by the taxi driver and ensure that the driver does not take you to an unfamiliar area.
- As with driving personal vehicles, remember to vary routes and times when utilizing taxis.
For more information, please visit our Road Safety page.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Kuwait’s air carrier operations.
Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Kuwait should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Kuwait. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.