PakistanOfficial Name: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
6 Months beyond the date of arrival
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
Two blank pages are required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Polio vaccination up to 1 year before travel may be required. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Telephone: +(92)(51) 208-0000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 208-0000
Visa Infoline: +(92)(51) 208-2700
Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632
U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000
U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Provision of consular services at the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore have been suspended since August 2013. For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad or, for Balochistan and Sindh provinces, the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi.
U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.
For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
Pakistan is a parliamentary federal republic in South Asia, with a population of nearly 200 million people. Pakistan held elections in May 2013, and the government is led by the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N). Pakistan is a developing country with some tourist facilities in major cities but limited facilities in outlying areas. Many parts of the country are affected by militancy and violent extremism. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Pakistan for additional information on U.S.-Pakistani relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens must have a valid passport and valid Pakistani visa to enter and exit Pakistan for any purpose. U.S. citizens must obtain visas at a Pakistani Embassy or Consulate in the country of their usual residence prior to entering Pakistan. Those arriving without a valid passport and a valid visa are subject to fine, arrest, incarceration, and/or deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan are unable to assist with Pakistan visa issues or when U.S. citizens arrive without proper documentation.
Persons holding dual U.S. and Pakistani nationalities may have different visa requirements for Pakistan, and may not require a Pakistani visa. Requirements may also differ by age or parentage, and in some cases, Pakistan may require renunciation of foreign citizenship. For more information on these requirements, see the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s information regarding National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).
All people traveling to Pakistan, regardless of nationality, are subject to the laws of Pakistan. U.S. citizens that travel to Pakistan using NICOP or POC cards are subject to all the obligations of Pakistan citizenship while in Pakistan, and are considered citizens of Pakistan should they be arrested - which may limit the amount of assistance and communication the U.S. Embassy or Consulates can provide in case of arrest or emergency services. For more information on dual national immigration issues in Pakistan, review the available information from the Government of Pakistan Directorate General of Immigration and Passports.
There are no required vaccinations for entry into Pakistan from the United States. However, in June, 2014, the Government of Pakistan instituted a new polio vaccination exit requirement in response to a series of recommendations from the World Health Organization. Officially, in order to exit Pakistan, all travelers who have spent more than four weeks in the country must have received a dose of either the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) or Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to international travel, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. It is important to keep in mind that the Government of Pakistan may change their requirements for traveler polio vaccination at any time. For the most current information on this requirement, please contact the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, telephone: 0092-(0)51-9202566, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. citizens are urged to review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for recommended vaccinations and health tips for travel to Pakistan.
Effective July 1, 2014, the Government of Pakistan has increased the Federal Excise Duty and introduced a new Advance Withholding tax on international departures. The Advance Withholding tax is equal to 4% of the gross airfare (base fare plus all applicable taxes and surcharges) and appears to apply only to Business and First Class passengers. The Federal Excise Duty has been increased from 3,840 PKR to 5,000 PKR for Economy/Economy Plus passengers and from 6,840 PKR to 10,000 PKR for Business/First Class Passengers. If these taxes were not included in the original purchase price of the airline ticket, international travelers will be asked to pay them at the airport prior to departure. To avoid any difficulties departing Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy recommends that all travelers carry sufficient funds with them to cover these taxes. While most airlines will accept a credit card for payment, processing a credit card transaction can lead to a delay in check-in of up to 45 minutes.
U.S. citizens in Pakistan are responsible for monitoring their own visa status and for ensuring that they are in compliance with Pakistani immigration regulations. The U.S. Mission in Pakistan is unable to intervene with the Government of Pakistan in helping U.S. citizens extend or adjust their visas or immigration status in Pakistan. For more information regarding extensions of stay in Pakistan, please see the Ministry of Interior website or call +92-51-920-7290.
U.S. citizens can apply for extensions of stay with the Ministry of Interior in the following cities:
U.S. citizens who overstay their visa, or otherwise violate Pakistani visa regulations, might require a clearance from the Ministry of Interior to leave the country. Such travelers generally must pay a fine, and in some cases, might be jailed until their deportation can be arranged. If a traveler loses the U.S. passport on which he or she entered Pakistan, the traveler, in addition to obtaining a new U.S. passport, may have to obtain an exit visa from the Ministry of Interior to leave the country. Travelers are urged to keep copies of their passport photo page, visa page, and the page containing the entry stamp in a separate, safe place as it can facilitate the process of applying for an exit visa if necessary.
Additional information on visas can be obtained from the Embassy of Pakistan at 3517 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel. 202-243-6500. The Embassy of Pakistan can also be contacted via email.
Travelers may also contact one of the Consulates General of Pakistan in:
- Boston: 1032 Main St., Suite 5, Millis, MA 02054; telephone: (617) 267-9000; fax: (617) 266-6666; Email: email@example.com
- Chicago: 333 North Michigan Ave., Suite 728, Chicago, IL, 60601; telephone: (312) 781-1831; fax: (312) 781-1838 or (312) 781-1839; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Houston: 11850 Jones Road, Houston, TX, 77070; telephone: (281) 894-6606; fax: (281) 890-1433; Email: email@example.com
- Los Angeles: 10850 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1250, Los Angeles, CA 90024; telephone: (310) 441-5114; fax: (310) 441-9256; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- New York: 12 East 65th St., New York, NY 10021; telephone: (212) 879-5800; fax: (212) 517-6987; Email: email@example.com
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling to Pakistan.
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
We continue to discourage non-essential travel to Pakistan. A number of extremist groups within Pakistan continue to target U.S. citizens, other western interests, and Pakistani officials. Terrorists have demonstrated a willingness and capability to attack targets where U.S. citizens or other westerners are known to congregate or visit. Terrorist actions might include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings – including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices – assassinations, carjackings, assaults, and kidnappings.
The presence of al-Qaida (AQ), Taliban elements, and indigenous militant and sectarian groups pose a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan, especially in the western border regions of the country. As of early September, AQ also began the establishment of an affiliate that operates in Pakistan, known as AQ in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Although the Pakistani government has heightened its security measures, particularly in the major cities, terrorist groups continue to launch attacks against government targets and public locations, including shopping areas, markets, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, train stations, minority neighborhoods, and outdoor recreation areas.
Suicide bombing attacks and political violence continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government facilities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques and shopping areas. On September 6, AQIS insiders attacked a Pakistani Navy Ship at a Karachi dockyard intending to hijack the vessel. On August 14, violent extremists attacked two Pakistan Air Force bases in Quetta, one of which shares a runway with the civilian airport. On June 24, gunmen fired on an international flight during landing at Peshawar’s International Airport, killing one passenger and injuring two flight attendants. On June 8, a terrorist attack over the course of nearly two days on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport killed 19 people. On April 9, a bomb detonated at a fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad, killing 24 people and injuring 116. On March 3, a bomb and firearm attack on a courthouse in Islamabad killed 11 people.
In 2013, there were 355 distinct terror incidents throughout Pakistan. In Pakistan’s election period from March 17 to May 11, 2013, 149 incidents of election-related violence were recorded.
Threats of violent activity against U.S. citizens are reported to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates General daily. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Pakistan routinely advise U.S. citizens who are the subjects of threats and feel they are in danger to report the threats to local police authorities and consider immediately changing locations to minimize the possibility of violent activity. This may involve moving to another location within the country or departing Pakistan until the threat subsides. Please note, that in cases of threats against U.S. citizen minor children, these threats are not a guarantee of obtaining a non-immigrant visa for Pakistan citizen parents or relatives.
U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan have been kidnapped for ransom or for personal reasons, such as family disputes over property. The risk of kidnapping is growing. In December 2013, a U.S. citizen was released after being kidnapped for two months from his neighborhood outside of Peshawar. In May 2013, a U.S. citizen was rescued by local police after being kidnapped for ransom and in August 2012, a U.S. citizen in Karachi was kidnapped from a car outside of a friend’s residence. In all of these cases, the U.S. citizens were released after their families paid a ransom. In August 2011, a U.S. citizen in Lahore was kidnapped from his residence and has not yet been released. Al-Qaida later claimed responsibility and issued a list of demands in exchange for his release. The kidnapping of Pakistani citizens and other foreign nationals, usually for ransom, continues to increase nationwide.
Many U.S. citizens report that they do not have confidence in the local police or courts to help resolve their legal or criminal difficulties, citing concern over perceived corruption or the influence of outside parties. However, the U.S. Embassy may not act to circumvent local authorities or advocate for particular outcomes on the behalf of private individuals. All U.S. citizens are subject to the judicial systems of the countries in which they are residing. The U.S. Embassy cannot offer “safe-haven.”
U.S. government personnel and other official visitors in Pakistan adhere to strict operational and personal security policies that change frequently. Visits by U.S. government personnel to Peshawar are limited, and movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to Peshawar are severely restricted. In Karachi, visits by U.S. government personnel are often postponed or modified based on constantly evolving security considerations, and movements by U.S. government personnel to many areas and venues in the city are restricted or prohibited. Operations at the Consulate General in Lahore are currently suspended and visits to the city by U.S. government personnel are restricted. The security situation in many rural areas is extremely dangerous.
U.S. citizens, including officials, are required to obtain advance permission from local or federal authorities to travel to the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), as well as large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan Provinces. U.S. officials in all areas of Pakistan are instructed to restrict the frequency of movements and to minimize the duration of trips to public markets, shopping centers, restaurants, and other locations. Depending on ongoing security assessments, and as part of routine operational security measures, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates occasionally place areas such as hotels, markets, and/or restaurants off limits to official personnel. All U.S. Government and official travelers to Pakistan usually receive lodging on the Embassy and Consulate compounds. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures, and to maintain good situational awareness and operational security wherever they travel in Pakistan.
We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Government attempts to control crowds with shipping containers can lead to routes being blockaded with little or no warning. Rallies, demonstrations, and processions occur regularly throughout Pakistan on very short notice and have often taken on an anti-American or anti-Western character. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has occasionally disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for U.S. citizens to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates. Additionally, rolling electrical blackouts – known locally as "load-shedding" – are commonplace for many hours a day and have led to sporadic demonstrations and violence in many cities throughout Pakistan.
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. Because of the possibility of violence, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid all public places of worship and areas where westerners are known to congregate. U.S. citizens should follow media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Information regarding demonstrations in Pakistan can be found on the websites of U.S. Embassy-Islamabad and Consulates General Karachi and Lahore.
During the Islamic (Shia) religious observance of Muharram, hostilities targeting religious sects often increase. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where large crowds of religious observers gather in order to avoid this threat.
Avoid public transportation. For security reasons, U.S. Mission personnel are prohibited from using trains, taxis, and buses. (See the Traffic Safety and Road Conditions section below.)
Men and women are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to avoid walking alone. It is unwise for anyone to travel on the streets late at night.
The Embassy continues to receive reports of U.S. citizen women subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage. There have been numerous cases of U.S. citizen women having their and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses or other family members, and their freedom of movement severely restricted. Women who attempt to report these cases to local police may find their complaints not taken seriously. Nonetheless, U.S. citizen women who find themselves in a life-threatening situation are encouraged to call the police immediately. Some Pakistani NGOs are able to provide assistance to victimized women within the Pakistani community. Women victimized overseas may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocation back to the U.S. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Visitors to Pakistan should always maintain a low profile and be constantly aware of their surroundings and vulnerability.
Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly known as the Northern Areas): Northern Pakistan has the greatest concentration of the highest peaks in the world. This environment attracts trekkers and mountain climbers from all over the world. Trekking in Pakistan involves walking over rugged, steep terrain, where one is exposed to the elements, often at high altitudes. The Ministry of Tourism has defined trekking as walking below 6,000 m. It has designated three trekking zones: open, restricted, and closed. U.S. citizens can trek anywhere in the open zone without a permit or the services of a licensed mountain guide. For trekking in the restricted zone, U.S. citizens must pay a $20 per person fee (subject to change) to obtain a trekking permit from the Ministry of Tourism. In addition, U.S. citizens must also hire a licensed mountain guide, buy a personal accident insurance policy for the guide and the porters, and attend a mandatory briefing and de-briefing at the Ministry of Tourism. No trekking is allowed in closed zones, which are located near the Pakistan-Afghan border and near the Line of Control between Pakistan-administered and India-administered Kashmir.
U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution when trekking at high altitudes. Only experienced trekkers should go to the northern mountains of the Hindukush, the Karakoramsor, or the Himalayas.
In June 2013, gunmen dressed as paramilitary police attacked a Nanga Parbat mountain base camp and killed ten foreign nationals, including one U.S. citizen. In addition to these murders, there have been occasional non-lethal assaults on foreigners in this area. As a result of the attack, the U.S. Mission to Pakistan instructed its staff to suspend all personal travel to Gilgit-Baltistan until further notice. For trekkers who decide otherwise, the safest option is to join an organized group or use a reputable firm that provides experienced guides and porters. We also strongly encourage trekkers to obtain air ambulance insurance that covers air evacuation from remote areas. Make sure that the air ambulance firm you contract has a local agent in Pakistan who can ensure that local rescue teams provide the required emergency services. Advance payment of the total evacuation cost is required from the insurance company before the rescue teams will perform rescue operations. Over the past year, at least one local rescue subcontractor refused to perform air rescue operations because the U.S.-based air ambulance insurance company could not render timely payment, stranding the trekkers for days. In these situations, the Embassy is unable to intervene or provide rescue services.
Trekkers are also advised to sign-up with the Department of State’s traveler registration system (STEP) and to provide a detailed copy of their itinerary to family or friends in the United States.
Unrest and sectarian violence in Gilgit-Baltistan led to unsafe conditions along roadways and the cancellation of all flights into and out of the region in April 2012. U.S. citizens should be aware that adverse weather conditions often delay or cause flights to be cancelled without notice. Visit the Pakistan Tourism Development Cooperation website for the most current trekking and mountaineering information.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province (formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP)) and the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA): In light of the high security threat level, the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar no longer provides routine consular services. The U.S. government currently allows only mission-critical travel within the FATA and KP Province by U.S. officials. Security and logistical challenges also affect the Consulate’s ability to provide emergency consular services in this area. Pakistani security forces are currently conducting campaigns against extremist elements across many areas of the FATA and parts of KP Province. Access to many areas of Pakistan, including the FATA along the Afghan border, is highly restricted by local government authorities for non-Pakistanis. Travel to any restricted region requires official permission by the Government of Pakistan. Failure to obtain permission in advance can result in arrest and detention by Pakistani authorities. Even in the settled areas of KP Province, terrorist activity and sectarian violence are common. Terrorists and their sympathizers regularly attack civilian, government, and foreign targets. U.S. citizens are also frequently targeted.
There have been numerous bombings in Peshawar in the last few years. On June 24, 2014, gunmen attacked a passenger aircraft as it landed at Peshawar's Bacha Khan airport, killing a woman and injuring two flight attendants on board. On September 29, 2013, 42 people were killed and over 100 injured after a car bomb blast in the crowded Kissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar. On September 22, 2013 a suicide bomb attack in a Peshawar church killed 119 people. Members and supporters of the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other extremist groups prone to terrorism and violent activity are known to operate freely in the FATA, and in the settled areas.
Pakistan-administered Kashmir: While direct military hostilities between India and Pakistan across the Line of Control (LOC) are infrequent, militant groups engaged in a long-running insurgency on the Indian side of the LOC have bases and supporters operating from the Pakistani side. Most of these groups are anti-American, and some have attacked U.S. citizens and other Westerners. The Government of Pakistan restricts access to many parts of this region and requires that U.S. citizens obtain a permit from the Ministry of Interior before traveling.
Punjab Province: Operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore have been suspended since August 2013 after receiving information regarding a threat to the Consulate. Persons requiring consular assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. The security situation in Lahore and throughout Punjab province – Pakistan’s most populous and prosperous – remains unpredictable despite an overall decrease in acts of terrorism. In addition to the incidents cited in the sections above and below, acts of violence occur frequently, though most are not anti-American in nature. However, in September 2012, anti-U.S. demonstrations caused large-scale civil unrest and the deaths of several Pakistani citizens following the release of the film “The Innocence of Muslims.” Many of the protests in Lahore occurred near the U.S. Consulate General office building, blocking the main road, and leading to a temporary suspension of public services for U.S. citizens. Although the government took proactive measures in 2012 to protect the life and property of its citizens, anger over power outages, fuel shortages, and corruption all continue to contribute to civil unrest.
Sectarian violence and attacks against government officials and other organizations remain a cause for significant concern. In February 2013, a prominent Shia doctor and his son were shot to death by gunmen as he was driving his son to school in an upper-class neighborhood in Lahore. On August 1, 2012, two bombs exploded, injuring 20 people, at a fruit and vegetable stand in Lahore. On July 12, 2012, masked Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) gunmen attacked a Lahore police academy, killing nine unarmed police cadets. On February 19, 2012, two foreign nationals working for an NGO were kidnapped in Multan. The TTP claimed responsibility. Their whereabouts are unknown. As a precaution against these dangers, U.S. citizens are advised to maintain good situational awareness and personal security measures.
The Wagah border crossing into India near Lahore remains open daily (from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for travel to and from India if the passport holder has valid visas for both countries. U.S. citizens are advised to confirm with Pakistani authorities the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel. U.S. citizens traveling to Jhang, Attock, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Khushab Tehsils, as well as Jauharabad Tehsil in Muzaffargarh district, require permission from the Ministry of Interior.
Sindh Province: In Karachi there has been recurring violence characterized by bombings, violent demonstrations, and shootings. While most violence in Karachi stems from political, ethnic, and sectarian rivalries, some is anti-Western and anti-American, and there is a significant Taliban presence in the city. On June 8, a terrorist attack over the course of nearly two days on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport killed 19 people. On March 3, 2013, a bomb attack in a predominately Shiite area of Karachi destroyed several buildings and killed more than 50 people. The most notorious attack occurred in October 2007, when a suicide attack on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto killed more than 130 and injured about 375 people in Karachi. Armed groups, including some linked to political parties, routinely engage in the targeted killing of their opponents. In these targeted killings, it is not uncommon for bystanders to become victims. Kidnapping-for-ransom and violent threats are a common practice. The security situation in rural areas and other cities in Sindh province is dangerous, especially for those engaged in overland travel.
U.S. citizens and other westerners continue to be potential targets of hostility and anti-Western mob violence in Karachi and other parts of Sindh. The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi has been the target of terrorist attacks or plots in the past decade. Both Sindh and Balochistan are trans-shipment routes for U.S. military equipment en route to and from Afghanistan. Personnel, ports, vehicles, and storage areas believed to be or perceived to be supporting U.S. military shipments have been the subject of terrorist attacks and local political parties have coordinated temporary blockades of cross-border traffic.
Balochistan Province: The province of Balochistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, is home to an active separatist movement that clashes regularly with the military and law enforcement. Members of the Taliban, al-Qaida, and other extremist groups are also believed to be residing in the province. The U.S. government currently allows only mission-critical travel within Balochistan province by U.S. officials. Travelers wishing to visit the interior of Balochistan should consult with the province’s Home Secretary and should note that police presence is limited in many parts of the province. Advance permission from provincial authorities is required for travel into many areas and local authorities have detained travelers who lacked proper permission. Quetta, the provincial capital, has experienced bombings and targeted killings, although overall violence in Quetta appears to be down in 2014. Terrorist attacks against Pakistani government installations and infrastructure have been reported. On August 14, violent extremists attacked two Pakistan Air Force bases in Quetta, one of which shares a runway with the civilian 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 Pakistan 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 check for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime is a serious concern for foreigners throughout Pakistan. Carjacking, armed robberies, home invasions, and other violent crimes occur in many major urban areas. These crimes have also occurred infrequently in other areas. Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common. U.S. citizen travelers to Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid traveling by taxi and other forms of public transportation and to have members of their host organizations or families meet them at the airport. In the past, several U.S. citizen travelers arriving at the international airport in Lahore, who were met by their families, were robbed outside the airport of cash and jewelry after being stopped by a car with fake government license plates. Such schemes are common. Travel outside urban centers should only be undertaken during daylight hours. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates have seen a large increase in the number of U.S. citizens alleging the loss of property or financial investment due to the unfair business practices of their Pakistani partners. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan can offer only very limited assistance with business disputes and will usually refer inquirers to local legal representation resources.
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.
If your passport is stolen or taken from you against your will, we can help you replace it. Although the Embassy or Consulate is able to replace a stolen or lost passport, the Ministry of Interior is responsible for approving an exit visa. You should immediately report the theft or loss to the police in the location where your passport was stolen. The Pakistani government requires a police report, called a First Information Report (FIR), to obtain an exit visa to leave Pakistan in the event of a lost or stolen passport. This entire process can take three to four working days.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Pakistan is 15. In addition, local medical emergency responders in Punjab province can be reached by dialing 1122.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Pakistan, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. You might be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. If you break local laws in Pakistan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings or structures, particularly sensitive places like military installations, but the law on this subject is vague and applied indiscriminately. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail, and result in very severe penalties.
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 under U.S. law if you purchase or obtain pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or possessing or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. It’s very important to know what is and is not legal wherever you are going.
Persons violating Pakistani laws, even unknowingly, might be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Pakistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that does not happen in Pakistan. To ensure that the United States government 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. Please note that a consular officer might not be able to visit you for 15 working days or longer after your arrest in Pakistan due to Pakistan’s regulations governing the travel of foreign diplomats and the procedures for gaining access to arrested individuals. In some cases, a Consular officer may not be able to visit due to security-related travel restrictions.
Forced Marriage: The U.S. government considers forced marriage to be a violation of basic human rights and, in the case of minors, a form of child abuse. Forced marriage is defined as one in which one or both parties have not consented to the marriage; it differs from arranged marriage. Often, victims of forced marriage are subjected to non-consensual sex, physical and emotional abuse, isolation, and threats of violence. International law and conventions also support an individual's right to self-determination, minimum marriage ages, and the rejection of abuse of women and honor-based violence. Both Sharia and Pakistani civil law require the consent of both parties for a legitimate marriage. The U.S. Embassy continues to receive numerous cases of U.S. Citizen women who report being tricked into travelling to Pakistan by relatives in order to facilitate a forced marriage. Those who refuse are sometimes threatened with violence and excommunication from their families, who often also confiscate their belongings (including passports). The U.S. Embassy can help U.S. citizens in such a situation by replacing stolen passports and helping to identify resources for return travel to the U.S. All U.S. citizens who fear for their safety or freedom to travel should ensure personal possession of important documents such as passports. Additionally, making photocopies of items like Pakistan visas and entry stamps can often speed the process to replace such documents.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Pakistan is largely a cash economy. Personal checks are not commonly accepted. Most Pakistanis do not use checking accounts for routine transactions. Outside major cities, credit cards and travelers’ checks are generally not accepted, and there have been numerous reports of credit card fraud. There are bank branches as well as registered currency exchangers in all international airports. ATMs can also be found in major airports. English is widely spoken by professional-level airport staff.
The U.S. and Pakistani educational systems are very different. U.S. citizen medical students, in particular, should carefully review the fee and coursework structure prior to enrolling in a course of study.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense in Pakistan; however, the government rarely prosecutes such cases. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation. No laws protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Discrimination against LGBT persons is widely acknowledged privately, but insufficient data exists for accurate reporting on these forms of discrimination, due in part to severe societal stigma and fear of recrimination for those who have come forward. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Pakistan, 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 Pakistan, individuals with disabilities can find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The law provides for equality of the rights of persons with disabilities, but the legal provisions are not always implemented in practice. Families typically care for most individuals with physical and mental disabilities.
Access for individuals with physical disabilities to public facilities is very limited in major cities and almost non-existent outside major population centers.
Adequate basic non-emergency medical care is available in major Pakistani cities but is limited in rural areas. Facilities in the cities vary in level and range of services, resources, and cleanliness, and U.S. citizens may find them below U.S. standards; facilities in rural areas are consistently below U.S. standards. Medical facilities require prepayment in cash as most do not accept credit cards.
Effective emergency response to personal injury and illness is virtually non-existent in most of Pakistan. Ambulances are few, lack medical equipment, and are not necessarily staffed by medical personnel. Any emergency case should be transported immediately to a recommended hospital emergency department. Many U.S.-brand medications are not widely available, but generic brands from well-known pharmaceutical companies usually can be found. The quality of the locally-produced medications is uneven. There is a significant presence of fake pharmaceuticals in Pakistan, so travelers should ensure they bring sufficient supplies, and when needed, obtain required medications from certified and reliable sources such as major respected medical institutions.
Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio is endemic and the only country where the number of polio cases increased from 2012 to 2013. Pakistan has been unable to sustain an effective polio immunization program. As a consequence, North Waziristan has been reported by the WHO to have the largest number of children being paralyzed by poliovirus in the world. Similarly, a polio virus outbreak which originated in Peshawar in 2013 left 65 children paralyzed. The Polio Global Eradication Initiative website reports that “in Pakistan, persistent wild poliovirus transmission is restricted to three groups of districts: (1) Karachi city, (2) a group of districts in Balochistan Province, and (3) districts in FATA and the KP. In addition, Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan repeatedly re-infect one another with polio, due to the substantial population movements within and between the countries.
Water is not potable anywhere in Pakistan, and sanitation in many restaurants is inadequate. Stomach illnesses are common. 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. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Pakistan. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Despite Pakistan being a generally conservative country, there is a risk of transmission of STDs and other communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Travelers are urged to use the same cautionary and protective health measures they would in their own country.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Pakistan, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below about Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and might not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the opposite of U.S. traffic. In addition to this source of potential confusion, overland travel in Pakistan has a variety of other risks. Roads are crowded, drivers are often aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained. Local drivers are willing to drive head-on in your lane of traffic if they believe it helps them get to their destination more rapidly. Donkeys, cattle, horse carts, and even the occasional camel can pose roadside hazards in some areas. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, since many vehicles do not have working headlights or dimmers, nor are most roads properly illuminated or signed. Driving without experienced local drivers or guides is not recommended.
Avoid all public transportation. For security reasons, U.S. Mission personnel are prohibited from using taxis, buses, or trains. (See Safety and Security section above.)
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Pakistan’s national tourist office and Pakistan’s national authority responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Pakistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.