KuwaitOfficial Name: State of Kuwait
Must have at least 6 months of validity. Limited validity (emergency) passports will not be accepted.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
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
Kuwait is a small, oil-rich constitutional emirate. Foreign workers constitute approximately 70 percent of the labor force. Kuwaiti citizens number 1.2 million of the country's population of 4 million, and enjoy the benefits of a generous social welfare system that guarantees employment, housing, education, and medical care. Facilities for travelers are widely available. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kuwait for additional information on U.S.-Kuwaiti relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Kuwait. U.S. citizens can obtain visitor visas at the port of entry in Kuwait, and at this time, U.S. citizens are not charged a fee. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Kuwait, otherwise travelers risk being denied entry. The Government of Kuwait has advised that they will not accept limited-validity (emergency) passports and bearers of such passports will not be granted visas at the airport. U.S. citizens with residency in Kuwait must obtain prior approval from Kuwaiti immigration authorities to enter on a temporary passport. Travelers who overstay their visas may be required to pay large fines and/or may be subject to imprisonment before being permitted to depart Kuwait. Travelers who leave Kuwait without completing Kuwaiti exit procedures may also be required to pay large fines and/or be imprisoned upon their return. This includes official travelers and contractors supporting regional U.S. military operations proceeding via Kuwait to and from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please note that employment in Kuwait requires the issuance of a work visa prior to arriving in country. We are aware of situations where U.S. citizens were offered employment in Kuwait under a tourist visa. Working without the proper authorization is illegal in Kuwait and may result in immigration penalties, including deportation or denial of admission to Kuwait. U.S. citizens are urged to remain aware of their visa status while in Kuwait and to strictly follow Kuwaiti immigration laws and regulations
Visit the Embassy of the State of Kuwait website for the most current visa information. The Embassy of the State of Kuwait is located at 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 966-0702, and the Kuwaiti Consulate in New York City can be reached at telephone (212) 973-4318.
Effective November 21, 2013, Department of Defense (DoD) contractors terminating in Kuwait or traveling through Kuwait to other final destinations will need to enter Kuwait through the Kuwait City International Airport (KCIA) or, if traveling from within the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility via military airlift, should enter Kuwait through the military side of KCIA. DoD contractors arriving for employment contracts in Kuwait must be in possession of a valid U.S. passport and employment visa. Other travelers may obtain an appropriate visa prior to entering Kuwait or upon arriving at KCIA. For departures from Kuwait, DoD contractors may utilize Ali Al Salem (AAS) Air Base once their passport has received an exit stamp from Government of Kuwait immigration officials. However, DoD contractors may not enter Kuwait via AAS Air Base because of the lack of appropriate Kuwaiti government immigration facilities at the Base.
Kuwaiti officials are extremely sensitive about travel to Iraq. There have been instances in which U.S. citizens, especially dual nationals, have been detained for questioning at ports of entry/exit. U.S. citizens seeking to travel to Iraq through Kuwait or enter Kuwait from Iraq have also on occasion been turned around and/or detained.
Travelers entering via land borders should be prepared for delays that may occur at the port of entry.
Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, including U.S. citizens, who have been charged with criminal offenses, placed under investigation, involved in unresolved financial disputes, or have unpaid debts, are subject to Kuwaiti government travel bans. The U.S. Embassy can provide U.S. citizens with a list of attorneys. However, only Kuwaiti authorities can remove travel bans. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving Kuwait for any reason until the matter is resolved. Travel bans can also be initiated by private citizens for almost any reason and may remain in place for a substantial period of time while the case is being investigated.
U.S. citizens seeking residency in Kuwait should obtain the necessary documents prior to arriving in Kuwait and follow the proper procedures to have the documents authenticated by the Department of State and attested by the Embassy of the State of Kuwait or Kuwaiti Consulate. This includes U.S.-issued vital records, academic credentials, and police clearances. Government of Kuwait regulations require the verification of the informational content of such documents; the U.S. Embassy cannot provide this service.
Some HIV/AIDS restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Kuwait. The Government of Kuwait has strict regulations regarding certain diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. Medical examinations are required for all individuals seeking residency in Kuwait; any applicants who tests positive for these diseases will be asked to leave the country immediately and will be permanently barred from re-entry. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Kuwait before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
U.S. citizens in Kuwait should exercise a high level of security awareness and are advised to monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of further terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests abroad, specifically in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. U.S. citizens considering travel to Kuwait should review the Worldwide Caution.
Kuwait is located in a region that continues to face the threat of terrorism. Extremist groups in the region have transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. U.S. citizens residing in, or traveling to, Kuwait should therefore exercise caution at all times. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.
Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnappings, and assassinations. Increased security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas and apartment complexes, schools and places of worship, oil-related facilities and personnel, and public areas where people congregate including restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas. U.S. citizens are advised to immediately report any unusual or suspicious activity in Kuwait to the Kuwaiti police or to the U.S. Embassy.
Kuwaiti law permits freedom of assembly, although groups larger than 20 individuals must obtain prior approval from the Ministry of the Interior. Still, spontaneous demonstrations take place in Kuwait in response to world events or local developments. At times, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid areas of large gatherings and demonstrations. Exercise caution if within the vicinity of any large gatherings and demonstrations and monitor media coverage of local and regional events. It is illegal for non-Kuwaiti citizens to participate in any demonstration, even if the demonstration is licensed.
U.S. citizens in Kuwait should also maintain a low profile, practice personal security measures, and avoid areas where Westerners are known to congregate. As in many other countries, soft targets such as shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants can be considered vulnerable to terrorist attack. Heightened security awareness should be exercised at areas perceived as Western or residential complexes where Westerners largely reside. U.S. military personnel, as well as civilians and contractors related to military interests, are also potential targets.
U.S. citizens are also reminded that desert areas and certain beaches contain unexploded ordnance and war materials left over from the 1990-1991 war. Unexploded ordnance results in deaths each year throughout the country.
The following areas are considered off-limits for U.S. diplomats and require U.S. diplomats to seek special permission to travel in these areas in order to conduct official duties: Kuwait/Iraq border – north of Mutla’a Ridge, the tank graveyard (near Ali Al Salem base), and the city of Jahra. U.S. diplomats are also recommended to avoid the following areas, especially during nighttime hours, as they have been identified as high-crime areas: Jleeb Ash Shuyoukh, Hasawi, and Abbasiya, located on the outskirts of Kuwait City International Airport.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait on Twitter and visit the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: The crime threat in Kuwait is assessed as low; however, Kuwait is not crime-free. Although there has not been a rise in crime incidents targeting U.S. citizens, crime overall in Kuwait is steadily increasing according to local media reports. Reports from Westerners of petty theft and vehicle break-ins are crimes of opportunity and usually a result of practicing poor personal security, e.g., not locking vehicle or hotel room doors, exposing money and jewelry, or leaving valuables in plain sight and unattended. However, there have also been reports of harassment and sexual assault, especially of women when traveling out alone. Incidents have occurred in various areas and times to include the Gulf Road, shopping malls, hotels, and in residential neighborhoods.
U.S. citizens should be mindful of cultural and social norms when traveling in Kuwait. To reduce your chances of becoming a victim, practice personal security measures, and share guidance with your family and household members. Female travelers should keep in mind the cultural differences in Kuwait and should be aware that some actions may invite unwanted attention. Modest dress, not engaging in small talk, not making constant eye contact, and maintaining a low profile may deter harassment. As always, call 112 for emergency assistance.
For more information, please read the 2013 Overseas Security Advisory Council’s Crime and Safety Report for Kuwait.
Laws in Kuwait regarding domestic violence are distinctly different than the laws and protections afforded to victims in the United States. Assaults with minor injuries may not be considered criminal acts. Victims of domestic violence often report that they encountered difficulty with making the reports to the police. It is recommended to obtain the services of a private attorney. The Embassy’s List of Attorneys is available on the Embassy website. Social service agencies are few, if any; when they exist it is often only for the benefit of Kuwait citizens.
Travelers should exercise caution with public transportation and check points as police impersonators have been known to use that ruse to lure their victims. Police stations generally do not have female officers or investigators to assist with these cases. While most hospitals will contact a criminal investigator to assist a victim of crime, victims with minor injuries may need to make the initial police report and obtain the required documents for the collection of evidence prior to receiving treatment. The Government of Kuwait does not provide victim’s assistance and there is no rape crisis center or similar service in-country.
The Kuwaiti police accept crime reports at the police station with jurisdiction over the area where the crime occurred. If filing a crime report, it is advisable that the U.S. citizen be accompanied by a person who speaks Arabic or by a local attorney. The Embassy’s List of Attorneys is available on the Embassy website. Filing a crime report can take several hours as a police investigator will take the victim’s statement orally while composing his investigative report. In all cases of abuse, the victim must obtain a medical report from a Kuwaiti hospital.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent of the “911” emergency line in Kuwait is “112” and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The quality and range of services provided by the emergency line are not equivalent to those provided in the United States. U.S. citizens are advised to carry a mobile phone at all times in Kuwait.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Kuwait, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In Kuwait, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Persons violating Kuwaiti laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Alcohol is illegal; possession of it or driving under the influence will result in your immediate imprisonment. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Kuwait are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. If you break local laws in Kuwait, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Individuals arrested for criminal violations in Kuwait are generally taken to the public prosecutor within two business days to determine if there is sufficient evidence for an investigation and may be detained for up to thirty days without a formal filing of charges. Juvenile proceedings are closed to all but court officers.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The workweek in Kuwait is Sunday through Thursday for most businesses, government offices, and commercial banks.
The Government of Kuwait does not recognize dual nationality. Kuwaiti authorities have confiscated the U.S. passports of U.S. citizens and U.S.-Kuwaiti dual nationals when they have applied for Kuwaiti citizenship documents such as passports. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. Additional information about dual nationality is available on our website.
Kuwaiti customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Kuwait of such items as firearms, religious materials, pornography, and alcohol. Alcohol, pork products, and pornography are illegal in Kuwait. Travelers with prescription medications should carry them in their original packaging or bottle, as dispensed, and carry a copy of their prescription in case customs authorities question their importation into Kuwait. Kuwaiti customs authorities screen the baggage of all travelers entering Kuwait. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, D.C. or Kuwait's Consulates in Los Angeles or New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.
We are not aware of any special currency or customs circumstances for this country.
Photographing government and public buildings, military installations, and economic infrastructure, particularly that related to the oil industry, is against the law and can result in arrest, investigation, and prosecution. Also, some traditionally dressed women find being photographed to be offensive and may complain to the local police. If photographing public scenes or persons, visitors should take care to ask permission beforehand so as to not cause offense that could lead to an official complaint to the authorities.
Humiliating or insulting a person, including a police officer or a public official, is a crime in Kuwait similar to disorderly conduct or harassment in the United States. A person charged with humiliating or insulting another is subject to police investigation and possible prosecution and imprisonment. Persons under investigation can be prevented from departing Kuwait.
Proselytizing is prohibited in Kuwait for all religions except Islam.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between males is illegal in Kuwait. The law punishes consensual same-sex sexual activity between men with up to 10 years in prison and a fine. Cross-dressing is also a crime with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment for imitating the appearance of the opposite sex in public. Societal discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is common. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Kuwait, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Kuwait, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Kuwaiti law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. The government generally enforces these provisions. The Kuwaiti government also supervises and contributes to schools and job and training programs that cater to persons with special needs.
The health care system in Kuwait continues to develop, with many government and private medical facilities available, though many hospital and clinic services are below U.S. standards. In government clinics and hospitals, costs for foreign visitors and residents are not prohibitive; private clinic costs generally are higher. Private physicians and private hospitals charge fees for services, and some do not accept local health insurance.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. 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.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Kuwait, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Kuwait is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Kuwait is extremely hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive and modern system of well-lit roads, excessive speed on both primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high density of vehicles (almost one vehicle for every 2 residents), leads to frequent and often fatal accidents. Incidents of road rage, distraction on the part of drivers, poor driving skills, and highway brinksmanship are common in Kuwait, and can be unsettling to Western drivers in Kuwait who are accustomed to more rigid adherence to traffic laws.
The government-owned Kuwait Public Transportation Company and the City Bus Company operate bus services throughout the Kuwait City metropolitan area, on 50 different routes, which are widely used by the low-income expatriate labor force. Taxis are available at major hotels and may be telephoned to pick up passengers at other locations. It is sometimes possible to hail taxis on streets; taxis have meters, but fares are more commonly negotiated. U.S. citizens are advised to use only marked taxis with meters. U.S. citizens, especially those traveling alone and/or in darkness hours, should avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxi, do not travel to unfamiliar areas, do not enter taxis with unknown passengers, and not engage in “small talk” that can be misinterpreted as interest in the taxi driver. Visitors can use international driving permits issued by their respective countries within the time limit of their visas; however, the visitor must also have liability insurance. It is illegal to drive in Kuwait without a license and car registration documents. If an individual is stopped and cannot produce these documents, the individual may be taken to a police station and held until the documents are presented on his/her behalf.
The Government of Kuwait may provide U.S. citizens with a Kuwaiti driver’s license. Visitors and residents should consult the Ministry of Interior website for the most up-to-date information on obtaining a driver’s license.
If an individual is involved in an accident, Kuwaiti law mandates that he/she must immediately notify the police and remain at the scene until the police arrive. Involvement in an accident, even if not at fault, can lead to arrest and temporary incarceration. At-fault accidents can result in arrests, demands for financial restitution, and/or travel bans preventing individuals from departing Kuwait.
The use of front seat belts is mandatory in Kuwait. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. Making a right turn on a red light is not permitted unless there is a special lane to do so with a yield sign. When a driver flashes his/her high beams in Kuwait, it is meant as a request to move the car into a slower lane to allow the driver with the flashing beams to proceed ahead. Parking is not allowed where the curb is painted black and yellow. Digital cameras for registering traffic violations, including speeding, are in use on Kuwaiti roads. Non-payment of traffic and parking fines may result in travel bans which remain in place until the fines are paid, often with penalties.
Possession or consumption of alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense, which may result in fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation. Repeat traffic violations or violations of a serious nature may also result in the deportation of an expatriate offender.
Kuwait has one of the highest per capita rates of cellular telephone ownership in the world; using a cellular telephone for phone calls or text messaging while driving remains illegal, although it is widely practiced. Local emergency service organizations may be contacted by dialing 112. Ambulance crews do not respond as quickly as in the United States and do not often include trained paramedics. Visit the website of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior for information and statistics in Arabic about traffic safety and road conditions in Kuwait.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
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.