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Syria 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 Syria Traveler Information guide.

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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.

Syria Map

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must be valid at time of entry.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One page required for entry stamp.





Embassies and Consulates

The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately. More information can be found in the U.S. Department of State’s Syria Travel Advisory. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended operations in February 2012 and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens who choose to travel to or remain in Syria despite the Travel Advisory.

The Government of the Czech Republic, acting through its Embassy in Damascus, serves as Protecting Power for U.S. interests in Syria. The range of consular services the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited. U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular services should contact the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus at USIS_damascus@embassy.mzv.cz.

U.S. citizens in Syria who are in need of emergency assistance, and are unable to reach the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic or must make contact outside business hours, should contact the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan:

Telephone: 962 (6) 590-6950 (Daily 2-3:30 local time)
Emergencies: 962 (6) 590-6500
E-mail: Amman-ACS@state.gov

Information about U.S. citizens’ services in Syria is also available from the Office of Overseas Citizens’ Services in Washington. Please e-mail: SyriaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Syria for information on U.S.-Syria relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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. The Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in Washington, DC, however, suspended all operations, including consular services on March 18, 2014 and has not appointed a protecting power.

Foreigners who wish to stay 15 days or more in Syria must register with Syrian immigration authorities by the 15th day of their stay.

Syria charges a departure tax at its land and sea borders for all visitors except those on diplomatic passports and children under the age of 11.

Israel Travel: 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. 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. Overland entry into Syria directly from Israel is not possible. U.S. citizen travelers suspected of having traveled to Israel have been detained for questioning.

Dual Nationality: U.S. males holding dual Syrian citizenship or non-dual U.S. citizen 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. Syria usually will not issue visas or residency permits to students wishing to study religion or Arabic in private religious institutions.

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. On occasion, the families of U.S.-Syrian women visiting Syria have attempted to prevent them from leaving the country, generally in order to compel the woman to marry. Although under Syrian law 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. government cannot help U.S. citizens to leave Syria.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors or foreign residents of Syria. AIDS tests are mandatory for foreigners from 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 applicant is determined HIV negative. Foreigners wishing to marry Syrian nationals in Syria must also be tested for HIV. Please verify this information with the Syrian government before you travel

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction, and Customs Information on our websites.

Safety and Security

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately, if they are able to depart safely, per the U.S. Department of State’s Syria Travel Advisory. The Syrian regime has used deadly force to quell anti-government protests and is engaged in a full-scale civil war with armed groups. Violent conflict between government and anti-government groups continues throughout the country.

Syrian regime military operations have involved the use of ballistic missiles, aerial attacks, heavy artillery, and chemical weapons targeting civilian centers. Attacks from the regime or other groups could happen with little or no warning, no part of Syria should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for unpredictable and hostile acts, including kidnappings, sniper assaults, terrorist attacks, small arms fire, improvised explosives, artillery shelling, airstrikes, the use of chemical weapons, large- and small-scale bombings, as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture.

Chemical and Biological Weapons: The U.S. intelligence community assesses with high confidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin and chlorine gas against the Syrian people in multiple instances. ISIS is also likely responsible for several small-scale sulfur mustard attacks in Syria. The continuing violence, deteriorating security situation, and Syria’s continuing chemical and biological weapons program creates a particularly volatile situation.

Kidnapping: There is an ongoing and increased risk of kidnapping of U.S. citizens and Westerners throughout the country. U.S. citizens remain a specific target, with several high profile abductions having occurred since mid-2012. U.S. citizen victims have had diverse professional backgrounds, including journalism and humanitarian work. U.S. citizens held captive by ISIS have been murdered by the group, which released videos of killings and publicly took responsibility for their deaths. U.S. citizens have been abducted by other individuals and groups in Syria, and from various locations, including Damascus and Aleppo. Other U.S. citizens have gone missing and are believed to have been kidnapped since the outbreak of hostilities. The risk for kidnapping in all areas of Syria is high and persists for U.S. citizens of all backgrounds.

Syrian Government Information: Syria has been a State Sponsor of Terrorism since 1979 and has given support to a variety of terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, affecting the stability of the region. Terrorists often do not distinguish between U.S. government personnel and private U.S. citizens. Terrorists may target areas frequented by Westerners, such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other frequently visited areas. U.S. citizens still in Syria are strongly encouraged to depart Syria immediately. U.S. citizens who choose to remain despite this warning should maintain a high level of vigilance and be aware of their surroundings. It is especially important for travelers to be unpredictable in their movements by varying times and routes and maintaining a low profile. 

While many Syrians appear genuinely friendly towards foreigners, underlying tensions can lead to a quick escalation in the potential for violence. Elements within both the regime, as well as non-state actor groups, maintain anti-U.S. or anti-Western sentiment, which may intensify following significant events in the region, particularly those related to U.S.-Syria relations, international intervention in the ongoing conflict, Israeli-Palestinian issues, the status of Jerusalem, and clashes in Lebanon. 

The Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors. Any encounter with a Syrian citizen could be subject to scrutiny by the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) or other security services. Sustained interactions with average Syrians – especially if deemed to be of a political nature – may subject that Syrian to harassment and/or detention, and other forms of repressive actions by state security elements. Hotel rooms, internet connections, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Loitering or taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in questioning, confiscation of the images, or detention by security services. Additionally, U.S. citizens should be aware that conversations on the topics of politics, religion, and other social issues could lead to arrest. It is also illegal in Syria to possess specific-use electronic devices including GPS, short-wave or handheld radio equipment, or similar devices.

The combination of terrorist organizations, a porous border with Iraq and long-standing border issues with all of its neighbors (Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Israel) have made Syria a destabilizing factor in the region and a potential target for reprisal. Read the Department of State’s Human Rights ReportTrafficking in Persons ReportInternational Religious Freedom ReportFact Sheet on U.S. Relations with Syria, and Department of State's Syria page for additional information.

CRIME: The rate of crime in major Syrian cities is difficult to determine because of the ongoing civil war. The current unrest and significant deterioration of the Syrian economy have led to a perceived increase in criminal activity. Since the suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus in February of 2012, the U.S. government has not been able to provide accurate information about crime to U.S. citizens visiting or living in Syria. The Department of State strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Czech Government, through the U.S. Interests Section of the Czech Embassy in Damascus, currently serves as the Protecting Power for U.S. interests in Syria; however, their ability to provide services is extremely limited

U.S. embassies and consulates can:

  • 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 our 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

The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Syria are 110 for ambulance, 113 for fire, and 112 for the police. Syrian operators, however, do not usually speak English, and contact with security services has the potential to result in arbitrary arrest, detention, or disappearance.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Interests Section or U.S. Embassy Amman for assistance.

If you decide to travel to Syria:

  • Visit our website on Travel to High Risk Areas.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.,) funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs, if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify who you would contact first, and how they should share information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from 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 Worldwide Caution, and Travel Advisories.
  • Follow the Department of State on Twitter and Facebook
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Syria.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler's Checklist.

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in-country. 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 expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

For example, under the Narcotics Act, article 39, Syria imposes the death penalty for drug trafficking or cultivation.

Women who are arrested under suspicion of immoral behavior (e.g. being alone in a room with a man who is not the woman’s husband, or being in a residence where drugs or alcohol are being consumed) may be subjected to a virginity test. In addition, the Syrian government monitors the activities of all groups, including religious groups, and discourages proselytizing, which it deems a threat to relations among religious groups.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Interests Section of the Czech Embassy in Damascus immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Although Syria is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Syrian authorities generally do not notify the U.S. Interests Section of the arrest of a U.S. citizen until weeks after the arrest, if at all. Moreover, in previous cases security officials have not responded to U.S. requests for consular access, especially in cases of persons detained for “security” reasons.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Syria is currently in the midst of a violent civil war. The Department of State strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria despite the U.S. Department of State’s Syria Travel Advisory depart immediately. .

The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has increased hardships in Syria. Communications in Syria are difficult as phone and internet connections are unreliable.

Customs Requirements: Syrian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Syria of items such as weapons, narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, cheese, fruit, pharmaceuticals, modems, cosmetics, and some electrical appliances. Please refer to our Customs Information page for additional information. 

Banking and Commerce:

  • Foreign currencies can be exchanged for Syrian pounds only by licensed money changers, the Commercial Bank of Syria (CBS), the Real Estate Bank, and at private banks, some of which maintain offices inside four and five star hotels.
  • Four and five star hotels and high-end stores in Syria generally accept credit cards, although most restaurants, stores and shops operate exclusively in cash.
  • Foreigners visiting Syria are required to pay hotel bills in U.S. dollars, Euros or other non-Syrian hard currency.
  • Traveler’s checks are not accepted 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 fourteen 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 CBS, therefore U.S. banks will not process ATM transactions from CBS branches.
  • Funds may be transferred into Syria through Western Union.
  • Under the comprehensive U.S. sanctions program for Syria, many types of activities or transactions by U.S. persons are prohibited. There are, however, specific activities or transactions excepted from these sanctions or authorized by general licenses. Please consult the Department of Treasury’s and Department of Commerce’s websites for more details.
  • 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 because of U.S. sanctions. Restrictions on wire transfers from Syria to locations abroad and restrictions on withdrawing U.S. dollars have changed several times in 2011 because of the fluctuating political situation; private citizens seeking to transfer funds outside of Syria or to withdraw U.S. dollars from a bank in Syria should check with the relevant financial institution for the most up-to-date regulations.

Military Service: U.S.-Syrian and U.S.-Palestinian men who have never served in the Syrian military and who are planning to visit Syria despite the U.S. Department of State’s Syria Travel Advisory should contact the Syrian government prior to traveling concerning compulsory military service. 

Effective June 1, 2011, the period of mandatory military service for men who have completed the fifth grade is 18 months. The period of mandatory military service for men who have not completed the fifth grade is 21 months.

U.S. citizen 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 the exemption fee. U.S. citizen men in Syria could face detention and compulsory service if they have not yet completed military service or paid exemption fees. Possession of a U.S. passport does not absolve the bearer of this obligation. The amount of the exemption fee depends upon a combination of factors:

  • For Syrians (including U.S. citizens of either Syrian or Palestinian origin) born outside of Syria and residing abroad until the age of 18, the fee for exemption from military service is $500;
  • For Syrians born in Syria, but who left Syria before reaching the age of 11 and who have resided outside Syria for more than 15 years, the fee for exemption from military service is $5,000;
  • For persons who do not meet the above criteria, but who reside abroad, the fee for exemption from military service is $6,500.

Consult Syrian government authorities if you seek additional information.

Trade and Sanctions:

The United States maintains a robust sanctions regime on Syria. Syria sanctions cover a range of topics, including trade, finance, non-proliferation, foreign assistance, and others. The United States adopted economic sanctions in response to the Government of Syria’s policies of supporting terrorism, actions to destabilize Lebanon, human rights abuses, public corruption, response to internal violence, and other actions and policies. These sanctions are set forth in legislation, Executive orders, and Treasury and Commerce regulations. Please consult the Department of Treasury’s and Department of Commerce’s websites for more details.

Requests for specific licenses to authorize transactions that are neither exempt nor covered by a general license may be submitted to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Terrorism List Government Sanctions Regulations prohibit U.S. persons from receiving unlicensed donations from the Syrian government. You can review the Department of Treasury's Syria Sanctions page for more information.

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 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.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI RIGHTS: Syrian law criminalizes consensual same sex conduct under penal code article 520, which states that each sexual act "contrary to nature" is punishable by as long as three years imprisonment. There are public reports indicating that LGBTI individuals could be murdered for engaging in homosexual acts in ISIS and HTS-controlled areas. Seeour LGBTI Travel Informationpage and section 6 of our Human Rights report for additional information.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Syria, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Syrian law protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in education, access to health, or provision of other state services; but the government has not enforced these provisions. Sidewalks are generally unevenly paved and often blocked by parked cars. Stairs must be used to access many public buildings, restaurants, cafes, and other tourist spots.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.


Basic medical care and medicines are available in Damascus and some coastal areas, but not necessarily in other areas. Serious illnesses and emergencies may require evacuation to a neighboring country or Western medical facility.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. You might also wish to ask whether your insurance will cover emergencies like a trip to a foreign hospital or a medical evacuation within country, to the United States or a third country. In addition, you might wish to check whether your insurance will cover injuries sustained in a conflict zone.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Syria to ensure that the medication is legal in Syria. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks of measles, chickenpox, pertussis and mumps are common in Syria and children and adults traveling should ensure that they have adequate immunization. In recent years, there have been multiple reports of polio and measles outbreaks in Syria. The ongoing conflict has reduced the ability to contain and control the spread of such infectious diseases. Vaccine-derived polio outbreaks are occurring. Polio immunization should be up to date for children, and adults should have a documented adult dose of polio vaccine. Meningococcal vaccination is also recommended for children over 6 years of age who will be staying in Syria.

Other Health Concerns: Diarrheal disease risk is high throughout Syria, especially in degraded urban areas, but is also common in deluxe accommodations. Consider bringing azithromycin and loperamide for treatment if needed.

Further health information:

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information, including information for the Syrian Arab Republic.

Travel and Transportation

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Syria, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Because of the ongoing conflict, there is increased likelihood that visitors will encounter hostile activity, harassment, and abduction at both official and unofficial security checkpoints on roads throughout the country. You should exercise caution if driving in Syria because conditions are hazardous, in addition to the threat posed by the active conflict.

Although drivers generally follow traffic signs and signals in urban centers, they maneuver aggressively and show little regard for vehicles traveling near them. Lane markings are usually ignored. Different from the United States, vehicles within Syrian traffic circles must give way to entering traffic. At night, it is very difficult to see pedestrians, who often walk into traffic with little warning. Outside major cities, it is common to find pedestrians, animals and vehicles on unlighted roads at night.

Pedestrians should 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. Drivers and passengers are subject to demands for money, harassment and abduction throughout the country. Rule of law, including traffic laws, and law enforcement is absent in many areas of the country.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on airlines that fly over Syria. Commercial aircraft are at risk when flying over regions in conflict. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens considering air travel overseas evaluate the route that their proposed commercial flight may take and avoid any flights that pass through Syrian airspace. 

Because of the risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Syria, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR).

For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration's Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

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 the government of Syria’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.

Fact Sheet

Please see Fact Sheet for this country/area. 

For additional travel information

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction 

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Syria. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

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