COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Guyana is a developing nation on the north coast of South America. Tourist facilities are generally not developed, except for a few hotels in the capital city of Georgetown and a limited number of eco-resorts. The vast majority of Guyanese nationals live along the coast, leaving the interior largely unpopulated and undeveloped. Travel in the interior of Guyana can be difficult; many interior regions can only be reached by plane or boat, and the limited roads are often impassable in the rainy seasons. Read more about U.S. relations with Guyana.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live or visit Guyana, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, 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's the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The U.S. Embassy in Georgetown
100 Young & Duke Streets
Emergency after-hours telephone: 011-592-623-1992
Facsimile: 011-592- 227-0221
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You will need a valid U.S. passport to enter and depart Guyana. On arrival, Guyanese Immigration normally grants U.S. visitors a stay of thirty days. When traveling to Guyana you should ensure that your passport has at least six months of remaining validity. You may request an extension from the Ministry of Home Affairs at 60 Brickdam Street, Georgetown. The Central Office of Immigration, located on Camp Street, Georgetown, must also note the extension in your passport. If your purposes are other than tourism, you should check with the Ministry of Home Affairs for information about requirements for work permits and extended stays. If you are a U.S.-Guyanese dual national departing Guyana for the United States using a Guyanese passport, you must present to Guyanese authorities a U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or other document establishing that you may legally enter the United States. U.S. citizens with dual nationality are not eligible for U.S. visas and must use their U.S. passports to enter and depart the United States. For further information about entry, exit and customs requirements, you may consult the Embassy of Guyana at 2490 Tracy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 265-6900, the Consulate General in New York, or honorary consuls in California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas. Visit the Embassy of Guyana website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Guyana.
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: Demonstrations and protests are rare in Georgetown. Past demonstrations have not been directed at U.S. citizens, and violence against U.S. citizens in general is not common. You should nevertheless remain alert and take prudent personal security measures to deal with the unexpected while in Guyana. It is advisable to avoid areas where crowds have congregated and to maintain a low profile when moving about Georgetown and other Guyanese locales. As with any elections, demonstrations and protests can occur. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to be cautious and vigilant, particularly near any sites associated with political activity.
Most major eco-tourist resorts and hotels in Guyana do not have written emergency plans in place, and many of them have safety deficiencies, including a lack of easily identifiable lifeguards, or none at all. Many of these resorts also do not have adequately stocked first aid supplies.
Stay up to date on safety and security information:
CRIME: Serious crime, including murder and armed robbery, continues to be a major problem. The murder rate in Guyana is three times higher than the murder rate in the United States.
Armed robberies continue to occur intermittently, especially in major business and shopping districts. Hotel room strong-arm break-ins also occur; you should use caution when opening your hotel room doors and should safeguard any valuables left in hotel rooms. Criminals may act brazenly, and police officers themselves have been the victims of assaults and shootings. When traveling in a vehicle you should keep the doors locked and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Pick pocketing, purse snatching, assault, and robbery can occur in all areas of Georgetown. The sea wall, from east of the Pegasus Hotel extending to Sheriff Street and adjacent areas, has been the site of several crimes; you should avoid these areas after dark. As cars parked in Georgetown have been subject to theft, you are urged to avoid leaving any valuables in vehicles left unattended and are encouraged to lock your vehicles at all times (when in or out of the vehicle). The National Park in Georgetown and the seawall from Sheriff Road to UG Road are frequented by joggers, dog walkers, and families and are generally considered safe during daylight hours but are not recommended at all after dusk.
Petty crimes also occur in the general area of Stabroek Market and to a lesser extent in the area behind Bourda Market. Care should be taken to safeguard personal property when shopping in these markets. The area around St. George's cathedral is known for having pickpockets and should be avoided after dark. Guyana's commercial downtown between Main Street and Water Street from Lamaha Road to Stabroek Market, including "Tiger Bay," is largely deserted outside of business hours and should be avoided after dark. U.S. passports and permanent residency cards are prized by thieves, as they may be used for smuggling and identity theft.
You should avoid walking around Georgetown alone, even in the main areas and especially after dark. Although bandits have been known to attack taxis, they are generally safe and remain the safest means of getting around town and to and from the airport. Only use taxis that are connected to major hotels or are painted yellow. All yellow taxies are registered with the Government of Guyana's licensing office. Exercise constant vigilance, and prior to entering any taxi, make note of the vehicle's license plate. This can be used to track down the driver in the event of being overcharged or if luggage is lost. Do not dress ostentatiously, as there have also been reports of gold chains or other jewelry being snatched off of pedestrians.
Local law-enforcement authorities are generally cooperative but lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. Nevertheless, if you are a victim of crime you are encouraged to contact the police as well as the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section.
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 (see the Department of State's list of embassies and consulates). If your passport is stolen we can help you replace it; you will need to present a police report when you come to the Embassy for a new passport. For violent crimes, such as assault and rape, we can help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and help them send you money if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime 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 Guyana is 911.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Guyana, 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. In Guyana you may be taken in for questioning if you don't have your passport with you. It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, especially government buildings. Repercussions for driving under the influence result in a fine for the initial offense, a suspension of your license for the second offence and a jail term for succeeding offenses. It's very important to know what's legal and what's not where you are going.
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. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
If you break local laws in Guyana, your U.S. passport won't help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Persons violating Guyanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guyana are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Incarceration time prior to conviction and sentencing does not count toward time served.
If you are arrested in Guyana, Guyanese authorities are required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Notification to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request that police or prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Flights on all airlines can be delayed, rerouted, or canceled without notice. Air travel within Guyana generally depends on demand. On small domestic airlines, flights that are not full may be canceled or passengers may be expected to pay for the empty seats. Travelers to the United States from Guyana have found narcotics planted in their luggage, both in bags registered under their names and in items they were carrying for others. You should not carry any items you did not personally purchase and pack and should take care that no additional bags are registered in your name. Every year several U.S. citizens are arrested at the airport attempting to carry drugs to the United States. Persons arrested usually end up serving lengthy prison sentences in Guyana, as drug laws are strict and pre-trial detention can last for years. In addition, due to the risks of checked baggage being lost, delayed, or rifled through, you should hand carry medications, valuables, and perishable items and make sure to carry a prescription for any medications that you are required to take.
Travel in the interior The interior of the country is largely not policed and emergency services are generally not available. There is no cellular phone reception in much of the interior.
Flooding: There are two main rainy seasons in Guyana (December - January and May - July). However, even at other times of the year, heavy rains are possible and flash flooding can occur. The coastal plain floods occasionally, and there was significant flooding in Greater Georgetown and along the East Coast in January 2005 and in the Mahaica-Mahaicony Abrary area, Canals 1 and 2, on the West Coast Demerara and the Pomeroon River catchment area in January 2006. There was also isolated flooding on the East Coast in early 2009. The incidence of waterborne diseases increases during periods of flooding. Rains are expected to be heavier than normal during the 2011-2012 rainy seasons.
Drinking Water: The water supply system throughout the country should be considered contaminated, and travelers should treat or boil water before consumption, or purchase bottled water.
Changing Currency and Credit Card Use: You should have enough cash or travelers checks to meet your expenses. Although credit cards are accepted at certain institutions in Georgetown, travelers should consider the risk of using credit cards and ATM cards to withdraw cash from an overseas account, due to a high risk of stolen PIN data.
You are advised to exchange currency only with banks, hotels, and licensed money exchange houses ("cambios"). Many foreigners who opt to exchange money on the streets, lured by promises of higher exchange rates, become victims of fraud or receive counterfeit currency. Foreigners have been mugged after completing bank transactions. There is no legal recourse unless the police are successful in apprehending the perpetrator; even then there is no guarantee that the money will be recovered.
Firearms: Guyanese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guyana of items such as firearms. If you plan to take your firearms or ammunition to or through Guyana, you should contact officials at the Embassy of Guyana to learn about local regulations and fully comply with those regulations before traveling. Even innocuous items like jewelry that looks like ammunition could result in arrest. You may consult the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site for information on importing firearms into the United States.
Wildlife: Many plants and animals common in Guyana are globally threatened or endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). More information may be found at the CITES web site. The Guyanese Ministry of Agriculture will grant an export permit for taking an exotic bird out of the country only to those persons who have been legally residing in Guyana for more than one year. There have been several U.S. citizens arrested for attempting to leave Guyana carrying birds without having obtained an export permit. If you have legally resided in Guyana for more than a year and would like to take back to the United States any birds or animals, including pets that are listed in CITES Appendices I, II, and III, you must also have an appropriate U.S. import permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). This is a U.S. regulation that applies regardless of distinctions among the three CITES Appendices. You can obtain fact sheets and permit applications from the USFWS Office of Management Authority, Branch of Permits, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203, telephone (703) 358-2104, fax (703) 358-2281.
Accessibility: While in Guyana, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The constitution mandates the state to take measures to protect persons with disabilities but there is no law that mandates provision of access for such persons. There is also a lack of appropriate infrastructure that provides access to both public and private facilities.
Special Issues for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Travelers: The laws of Guyana define marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman; there is no explicit protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity under the Constitution of Guyana.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Guyana for men. A male who commits “any act of gross indecency with another male person,” if found to be guilty, can be imprisoned for up to a maximum of two years. Anal intercourse is punishable with a maximum sentence of life in prison. There are no laws concerning same-sex sexual activity between women. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. It is common for police to use the law to intimidate men who are gay or perceived to be gay. LGBT persons who are victims of crime in Guyana are sometimes afraid to file police reports because they are fearful that charges could be brought against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender travelers should read our LGBT Travel Information page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care in Guyana does not meet U.S. standards. Care is available for minor medical conditions, although quality is very inconsistent. Emergency care and hospitalization for major medical illnesses or surgery are very limited, due to a lack of appropriately trained specialists, below standard in-hospital care, and poor sanitation. There are very few ambulances in Guyana. Ambulance service is limited to transportation without any medical care and is frequently not available for emergencies. An MRI (linked to the United States for interpretation) has been installed and is operational, but results may take up to 4 days. It is located on the compound of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, immediately behind the Embassy on Parade Street.
In the event of an emergency, the number for an ambulance is 913, but this number is not always operational and an ambulance may not be available. You are advised to bring prescription medicine sufficient for your length of stay and should be aware that Guyana's humid climate may affect some medicines. Some prescription medicines (mainly generic rather than name-brand) are available.
Special attention should be paid to HIV/AIDS in Guyana. In addition to elevated infection rates among high-risk populations, such as commercial sex workers, and mobile populations such as miners or loggers, data from the World Health Organization estimate that Guyana has among the highest prevalence rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Insect borne illnesses are common and include malaria, dengue, Leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease. Insect precautions and anti-malarial chemoprophylaxis are encouraged. You can find good 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 Guyana. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
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 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 doctors' 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 a Guyana, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guyana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Guyana can be potentially very hazardous. The rate of traffic accident fatalities in Guyana is higher than in the United States. Cars, large commercial vehicles, horse drawn carts, bicyclists, motorcycles, free range livestock, stray dogs, pedestrians, aggressive "mini-buses" and sleeping animals all share narrow, poorly maintained roads. Aggressive, speeding vehicles on the same roads with slow-moving vehicles makes driving in Guyana especially dangerous. Driving at unsafe speeds, reckless driving, tail-gating, quick stops without signaling, passing at intersections, and passing on crowded streets is commonplace. Driving at night poses additional concerns as many roads are not lit, some drivers do not lower high beam lights, livestock sleep on the road and many pedestrians congregate by the roadside. You should exercise caution at all times while driving and avoid driving outside of Georgetown at night when possible.
The Traffic Division of Guyana's National Police Force is responsible for road safety but is ill-trained and ill-equipped. The Department of State recommends that Embassy staff travel in groups of two or more vehicles when traveling outside Georgetown.
You are advised to use caution traveling to and from Cheddi Jagan International Airport, especially at night. The Embassy requires its staff to use official vehicles when traveling this route between dusk and dawn due to a combination of most of the aforementioned characteristics of driving in Guyana.
Penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death are severe, including life imprisonment. If involved in an accident, call 911 for police and 913 for an ambulance. Please note that these numbers are not always operational, police may be slow to respond and an ambulance may not be available.
Drivers use the left side of the road in Guyana. Seatbelt use is required by law and is enforced; failure to use a seatbelt when riding in the front seat of any vehicle can result in a fine. There presently are no laws in Guyana concerning use of child car seats, but the use of age-appropriate seats is strongly recommended for child passengers. Both drivers of and passengers on motorcycles must wear protective helmets that meet certain specifications. Talking on cellular telephones while driving is illegal; however, it is legal if a driver uses a hands free set. Mini-buses (small 12- to 15-passenger vans) ply various routes both within and between cities. Mini-bus drivers have come under severe criticism from the government, press, and private citizens for speeding, aggressive and reckless driving, overloading of vehicles, poor vehicle maintenance and repair, and offensive remarks directed at passengers, but little change in their driving behavior has been noted. Mini-buses have been involved in the majority of fatal vehicular accidents in recent years, and official Americans are barred from using them. You should use taxis for transportation.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Guyana's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Guyana's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
The U.S. Embassy in Guyana wishes to draw attention to information released by the U.S. Embassy in Suriname in regard to Suriname-based airline, Blue Wing. While not based in Guyana, Blue Wing does have flights between Guyana and Suriname. The U.S. Embassy in Suriname has prohibited its employees from using Blue Wing Airlines for official travel on domestic flights within Suriname due to safety concerns arising from the airline's three crashes since 2008, the latest on May 15, 2010.
All three accidents involved Antonov 28 planes. Consequently, the Government of Suriname's Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASAS) has grounded all Antonov planes pending further investigation. Blue Wing uses the Antonovs only for domestic flights. Following up on the action taken by CASAS, the U.S. Embassy in Suriname has prohibited the use of Blue Wing Airlines for official domestic travel and advised against its use for personal travel until safety issues are resolved. You should use discretion regarding plans to travel on Blue Wing international flights.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Guyana dated 2 April 2013, to update the section on Special Circumstances concerning LGBT travelers.