COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Algeria is the largest country in Africa, with over four-fifths of its territory covered by the Sahara desert. The country has a population of 37.1 million people mainly located near the northern coast. Algeria is a multi-party, constitutional republic. Facilities for travelers are available in populated areas but sometimes limited in quality and quantity. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Algeria for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Algeria, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here is the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you do not have internet access, you may enroll directly with the nearest embassy or consulate. Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy, Algiers, Algeria
5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir Ibrahimi, El-Biar 16030 Alger Algerie
Telephone:  770-08-20-00, which can also be reached after hours.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Algeria. The Algerian visa application must be typed in all capital letters. The Algerian Embassy no longer accepts handwritten visa applications. Algerian-American dual nationals can enter Algeria either with an Algerian visa in their U.S. passports or with their Algerian passports. We recommend that such dual nationals travel to Algeria using an Algerian visa in their U.S. passports. For the most current information on entry/exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria at 2137 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 265-2800.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Algeria.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Terrorism continues to pose a threat to the safety and security of U.S. citizens traveling to Algeria. Terrorist activities, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur often, particularly in the Kabylie region east of Algiers and in the southern part of the country. Terrorists continue to use vehicle-borne explosive devices like the ones used in the June 2012 attack of a military facility in Ouargla and the March 2012 attack of a military facility in Tamanrasset. On January 16, 2013 terrorists attacked the oil facility near In Amenas, 800 miles southeast of Algiers, killing numerous hostages, including three U.S. citizens, and more than two dozen other western workers. On January 19, 2013, the Department of State authorized the departure from Algiers of eligible family members following the attack on the In Amenas oil facility and subsequent, credible threats of the kidnapping of western nationals. On February 19, 2013, the authorized departure of U.S. citizen eligible family members was rescinded, but a heightened security posture remains in place.
Kidnapping by terrorist organizations is a real threat to U.S. citizens in Algeria, particularly outside major cities (see below). The same group that has claimed responsibility for these attacks, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), operates throughout most of Algeria, including its southern region, and has kidnapped foreigners in neighboring countries. This kidnapping threat is noted in the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution. The Travel Warning for Algeria contains the most current information concerning the threat from terrorism.
The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel in Algeria. U.S. citizens who reside or travel in Algeria should take prudent security measures while in the country, including making provisions for reliable support in the event of an emergency. Additionally, sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur. U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds and maintain security awareness at all times. Visitors to Algeria are advised to stay only in hotels where adequate security is provided. All visitors to Algeria should remain alert and adhere to prudent security practices, such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile.
While the Consular Section is open for public services, the Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens throughout Algeria is limited and the Embassy may not be able to provide full emergency consular services in certain areas of the country due to security restrictions. U.S. government employees traveling between cities must be accompanied by a security escort. Overland travel is not recommended. U.S. citizens should also carefully consider the security risks involved when using public transportation, such as buses and taxis.
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CRIME: The crime rate in Algeria is moderate. Serious crimes have been reported in which armed men posing as police officers have entered homes and robbed the occupants at gunpoint. Petty theft and home burglary occur frequently, and muggings are on the rise, especially after dark in the cities. Theft of contents and parts from parked cars, pick-pocketing, theft on trains and buses, theft of items left in hotel rooms, and purse snatching are common. Alarms, grills, and/or guards help to protect most foreigners' residences.
Kidnappings, orchestrated by both criminals and terrorists, are a common occurrence in Algeria. Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently in the Kabylie region, but also in other parts of southern Algeria. Kidnapping by terrorist organizations or armed criminal groups is an immediate threat in both the Kabylie region in northeastern Algeria and the trans-Sahara region in the south. An Italian tourist was kidnapped by AQIM in February 2011 and later released in April 2012. In January 2011, two Frenchmen were kidnapped by AQIM in Niamey, Niger, and were killed during a rescue attempt near the Malian border. In October 2011, two Spanish nationals and one Italian national were kidnapped from a refugee camp near the town of Tindouf, near the borders of Morocco, Western Sahara, and Mauritania by the newly formed Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). In April 2012, seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Kidal, northern Mali by MUJAO, and in September 2012, one diplomat was killed, and three were released. MUJAO still holds three Algerian diplomats.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law, too.
Social unrest has become commonplace in Algeria. The frequency and intensity of localized, sporadic, and usually spontaneous civil disturbances has risen dramatically since 2010. In 2012, there were similar spontaneous protests and demonstrations with some being well-organized in advance. These disturbances are overwhelmingly based in longstanding, deeply seated socio-economic grievances. Some people involved in these protests, demonstrations, and riots have ignited fireworks, thrown Molotov cocktails, brandished knives, and looted businesses, damaged property, and robbed passersby. Most victims displayed obvious signs of wealth and were targets of opportunity. Travelers should avoid crowds, protests, demonstrations, and riots.
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 (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates ). If your passport is stolen, we can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, we can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and help you receive money from them if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of any crimes are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Algeria is: 17 for the police and 14 in case of fire. These numbers may only be dialed from landline phones. From a mobile phone, dial 021-71-14-14 in case of fire; 021-23-63-81 for an ambulance; 021-73-53-50 for the police. Reliability and response time of emergency services varies but is not to U.S. standards. Emergency operators may or may not speak French and normally do not speak English.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. 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 some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. 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 buy pirated goods, for example. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating childpornography ina foreign country is a crime prosecutablein the United States . While you are overseas, U.S.laws don’t apply. If you do something illegal in your host country, your U.S. passport won’t help. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. Persons violating Algerian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Algeria are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
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 might not always be the case. 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: ALL foreign currency brought into Algeria should be disclosed when entering the country. While this requirement is not publicized when entering the country, upon arrival you should ask a customs official for a form to declare foreign currency. Each person leaving Algeria will be stopped and asked if he/she has any foreign money and will possibly be searched. If foreign currency was declared when entering the country, any disparity between the amounts arrived with, and the amounts held at departure, must be accounted for. If a traveler failed to declare any currency when entering Algeria, and is found to possess foreign currency while exiting the country, the penalties may be severe.
Foreign currency must be exchanged only at banks or authorized currency exchange locations,such as major hotels. Photography of military and government installations is prohibited. It is also illegal to import weapons, body armor, handcuffs, or binoculars.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Algeria. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers.
Proselytizing: Islam is the state religion of Algeria. The Algerian government allows non-Muslim religious worship only in structures exclusively intended and approved for that purpose. Activities such as proselytizing and encouraging conversion to another faith are prohibited. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment.
Accessibility: While in Algeria, individuals with disabilities, particularly physical ones limiting mobility, may find accessibility and accommodations lacking compared to the United States. The condition of sidewalks and streets is often poor, and there are almost no curb cuts or other modifications made for wheelchairs. Street curbs in Algeria stand much higher than those in the U.S., and a person in a wheelchair would require significant assistance in negotiating curbs. Hotels, restaurants, and most government buildings are not accessible to persons with physical disabilities. Restrooms and elevators rarely can accommodate wheelchairs. Very few vehicles, notably buses and taxis, are accessible for persons with serious physical disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Hospitals and clinics in Algeria are available and improving in the large urban centers but are still not up to Western standards. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services. Most medical practitioners speak French; English is not widely used.
Prescription medicines are not always readily available. Some pharmacies may at times be out-of-stock. In addition, the medicine may be sold under a different brand name and may contain a different dosage from that sold in the United States. Please be aware that some newer medications may not yet be available in Algeria. It is usually easy to obtain over-the-counter products.
Emergency services are satisfactory, but response time is often unpredictable. In all cases, response time is not as fast as in the United States.
Cases of tuberculosis are regularly reported but do not reach endemic levels. For further information on tuberculosis, please consult the CDC’s information on TB. Every summer, public health authorities report limited occurrences of water-borne diseases, such as typhoid. In addition, HIV/AIDS is a concern in the remote southern part of the country, especially in border towns.
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.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Algeria, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Algeria is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Algerian roads are overcrowded, and traffic-related accidents kill a large number of people every year. Drivers will encounter police and military checkpoints on major roads within, and on the periphery of, Algiers and other major cities. Security personnel at these checkpoints expect full cooperation. Motorists should be aware that terrorists and criminals employ false roadblocks as a tactic for ambushes and kidnappings, primarily in the central regions of Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou and some parts of eastern Algeria (see Crime section above).
Travel overland, particularly in the southern regions, may require a permit issued by the Algerian government. For specific information concerning Algerian driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Algerian embassy.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Algeria, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Algeria’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.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Algeria dated March 11, 2013, to update the section on Special Circumstances.