COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Sultanate of Oman, a land of great natural beauty on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has a long and proud heritage. Oman has seen rapid economic and social development in the past four decades. A monarchy governed by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the country has a bicameral representative body (the lower house of which is directly elected), which provides the government with advice and is empowered to draft and review legislation. While Oman is traditionally Islamic and Islam is the state religion, Omanis have for centuries lived with people of other faiths. Non-Muslims are free to worship at churches and temples built on land donated by the Sultan. The economy is largely dependent on the production and export of oil and natural gas, but is becoming increasingly diversified. Excellent tourist facilities are available in the major cities of Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, and Nizwa, and can increasingly be found elsewhere in the country. Travelers may visit the Sultanate's tourism web site or read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Oman for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Oman, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. 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.
U.S. Embassy Muscat
Jamiat A'Duwal Al Arabiya Street,
Al Khuwair Area (Shatti Al-Qurum), in the capital city of Muscat.
Mailing address: PO Box 202, Medinat Al Sultan Qaboos 115, Sultanate of Oman,
Telephone: (968) 24-643-400
Facsimile: (968) 24-643-53
The Embassy's Consular e-mail address is ConsularMuscat@state.gov and the website can be found here. Routine American Citizens Services are available by appointment every Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The U.S. Embassy is closed on Omani and U.S. holidays. In the event of an emergency outside of normal office hours, U.S. citizens may call the number above for assistance.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: A valid passport and visa are required for entry into Oman. Omani embassies and consulates issue multiple-entry tourist and/or business visas valid for up to two years. Omani immigration officials at the port of entry determine the length of stay in Oman, which varies according to the purpose of travel. Alternatively, U.S. citizens may obtain a 30-day visa by presenting their U.S. passports on arrival at all Oman land, sea, and air entry points. Note: The remaining validity period of the applicant's passport should not be less than six months. Adequate funds and proof of an onward/return ticket, though not required, are strongly recommended. The fee is Rials Omani 20.00 (approximately USD 52.00). This visa can be extended for an extra 30 days only; a completed extension application form and the fee of Rials Omani 20.00 should be submitted to the Directorate General of Passports and Residence or to its branches at regional Royal Omani Police offices. Other categories of short-term visit/business/work contract visas are available, but these must be arranged in advance through an Omani sponsor. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required if the traveler enters from an infected area. Visit the Embassy of Oman website for the most current visa information.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Oman. Oman requires persons seeking work or residence visas to take an HIV/AIDS test after arriving in the country; U.S. HIV/AIDS tests are not accepted. Please verify the information with the Embassy of Oman before you travel.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Oman prohibits pornographic materials and firearms. Local law limits each traveler to two bottles of alcohol. Items subject to confiscation at the airport due to content considered culturally inappropriate include, but are not limited to, compact discs, digital video discs, and video and audio cassettes.
The loss or theft of a passport can result in considerable delay to the traveler because Omani law requires the traveler to report the loss or theft to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) and try to recover the passport by placing an advertisement in local newspapers.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been no instances in which U.S. citizens or facilities in Oman have been subject to terrorist attacks; however, the Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the region. U.S. citizens in Oman are urged to maintain a high level of security awareness. The State Department suggests that all U.S. citizens in Oman maintain an unpredictable schedule and vary travel routes and times whenever possible. U.S. citizens are also urged to treat mail or packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. Unusual mail or packages should be left unopened and reported to local authorities. U.S. citizens with security concerns are encouraged to contact local authorities and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Muscat.
Spontaneous and/or planned public demonstrations take place throughout the country from time to time in response to world events or local developments. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should remain attuned to readily available English and/or Arabic-language media outlets and avoid public demonstrations.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events should also be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll-free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.
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CRIME: The incidence of street crime is low in Oman; violent crime is rare by U.S. standards, but can occur. Crimes of opportunity remain the most likely to affect visitors. Visitors to Oman should, therefore, take normal precautions, such as avoiding travel in deserted or unfamiliar areas and after dark. Visitors should also protect personal property from theft. In particular, valuables and currency should not be left unsecured in hotel rooms. Common sense and caution are always the best methods for crime prevention.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are 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:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Oman is 9999.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Oman, 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 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. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Oman, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Persons violating Oman's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Oman are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Oman prohibits pornographic materials and firearms. Local law limits each traveler to two bottles of alcohol. Items subject to confiscation at the airport due to content considered culturally inappropriate include, but are not limited to, compact discs, digital video discs, and video and audiocassettes. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that Omani police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: By Omani custom and law, expressing frustration either verbally or through otherwise innocuous hand gestures is considered insulting and abusive. Any individual, regardless of citizenship and residency status, may file a personal defamation charge, and accusation of wrongdoing is sufficient to initiate a legal process. While not commonplace, the incidence of U.S. citizens charged with personal defamation has been on the rise in recent years. These cases are normally resolved by a formal apology and a payment of damage to the aggrieved party, but one U.S. citizen's case went to trial in 2008. Omani law typically does not permit a foreigner accused of a crime, including defamation, to depart the country while legal proceedings are ongoing. Confrontations leading to defamation charges occur mostly on Oman's roads, and visitors should exercise caution when dealing with difficult drivers.
Dual Nationality: Oman does not recognize dual nationality. Children of Omani fathers automatically acquire Omani citizenship at birth and must enter and exit Oman on their Omani passports. Omani authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of Omani/U.S. dual nationals in the past. This act does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Muscat. In addition to being subject to all Omani laws, U.S. citizens who also hold Omani citizenship may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Oman.
Notarials: Oman and the United States are signatories to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. Under this convention, all foreign public documents (i.e. Birth, Marriage, Death, Divorce, academic records, etc.) from signatory states need to be apostilled for use in Oman. A list of designated authorities in the United States competent to issue an apostille is available at http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=authorities.details&aid=353. Similarly, Omani public documents must be apostilled for use in foreign countries signatory to the Hague Convention. The Attestation Office at the Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the designated authority to apostille Omani public documents.
Employment in Oman: Omani employers sometimes ask that expatriate employees deposit their passports with the company as a condition of employment. While to an extent still customary, this practice is contrary to Omani law. The U.S. Embassy in Muscat advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution on the issue of permitting an employer to hold their passports, since this can operate as a restraint on travel and could give undue leverage to the employer in a dispute. U.S. passports are the property of the U.S. government.
Contractual/labor disputes can be avoided by clearly establishing all terms and conditions of employment or sponsorship in the labor contract at the beginning of any employment. Employees who have any problems or disputes with their employing company are strongly advised to make an initial attempt to resolve their dispute privately between themselves and their employer. If this fails, the Consular Section can provide a list of lawyers, but cannot intervene in a labor dispute.
Immigration: Royal Oman Police Immigration strictly enforces the Sultanate’s immigration laws, and penalties for immigration violations can include fines and/or jail time. U.S. citizens are encouraged to ensure that their passports and visas are in order prior to entering Oman. In 2011 and 2012, at least six individuals or families were detained and later deported from Oman for immigration violations.
Codes of Behavior and Dress: Islamic ideals provide the conservative foundation of Oman's customs, laws, and practices. Foreign visitors are expected to be sensitive to Islamic culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative style, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter-tops, and shorts. Athletic clothing is worn in public only when the wearer is obviously engaged in athletic activity. Western bathing attire, however, is the norm at hotel pools and beaches. While alcohol consumption is permitted in hotels, bars, homes, and some restaurants, the Sultanate of Oman maintains a zero-tolerance policy for public intoxication and/or driving under the influence. The penalties are stiff. Public intoxication is punishable by imprisonment of 10 days to one year and/or a fine of up to OMR 200. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to OMR 500. If the DUI results in an injury or death, it is punishable by imprisonment of one year to five years. Manufacturing, importing, trading, or dealing in liquors without a license from a competent authority is punishable by imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine of not less than OMR 300. A U.S. citizen was recently imprisoned for one month for public intoxication.
Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is illegal in Oman and is subject to a potential jail term of six months to three years. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender persons should read the State Department’s LGBT Travel Information page.
Cultural Heritage: Like many countries, Oman prohibits the removal of what it considers cultural heritage items, including archaeological treasures, meteorites, rocks, and stones. Anyone suspected of engaging in such activity may be prosecuted under Omani law. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to check with Omani authorities before removing anything that may fall into this category. Two U.S. citizens were found guilty of removing stones and imprisoned in 2011.
Money: The exchange rate is fairly constant to the U.S. dollar. Money exchanges may be done at banks, or using ATM machines. There is no black market for dollars, and no prohibition against exchanging money informally. Please note that many Omani individuals and businesses may not accept U.S. bills printed before the year 2006.
Accessibility: While in Oman, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that in the United States. While Omani law mandates that public transportation, and public and private buildings be accessible for persons with disabilities, this law is not strictly enforced. Most public buildings in urban centers have wheelchair ramps and elevators. Outside of urban areas, however, access is greatly reduced. Public transportation has almost no amenities for disabled persons. There are also very few disabled parking facilities, and the government does not enforce those zones that do exist. Medical facilities have generally good access and a small cadre of professionals exists, again, almost entirely in urban centers, with expertise in working with disabled persons. Note, too, that Omanis are generally very hospitable and will try their utmost to accommodate any reasonable request for assistance.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: There are a number of modern medical facilities in Oman. Local medical treatment varies from quite good to inadequate, depending in large part on location. Many Western pharmaceuticals can be found in Oman. Hospital emergency treatment is available. Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services.
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 does not go with you when you travel, it is 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 foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Oman is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road Conditions and Hazards: Road conditions, lighting, and traffic safety in cities and on major highways are good. The condition of rural roads varies from good to poor. Travel between cities, especially at night, may be dangerous due to poor or no lighting, wandering livestock, and speeding drivers. The safety of public transportation is generally good. Taxis, mini vans, and small buses may swerve to the side of the road to pick up passengers with little notice or regard for other vehicles.
Local Laws and Practices: Traffic laws in Oman are strictly enforced and the consequences for violating them may be severe by U.S. standards. For example, running a red light results in a mandatory, non-bailable detention period of 48 hours, followed by confiscation of one's driver's license, vehicle registration, and car registration plate until the Omani judicial process is concluded, which may take as long as several months. Other common traffic violations that carry strict penalties, up to and including jail sentences, fines, and/or deportation, include: driving without a license, driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to wear a seat belt, talking on cellular telephones (other than using hands-free technology) while driving, speeding excessively, overtaking another vehicle, screeching a car's tires or failing to keep one's car clean. In the event of a traffic violation and fine, drivers should cooperate with police officers and should not attempt to pay or negotiate payment at the time of the traffic stop.
U.S. citizens considering driving in Oman are advised to familiarize themselves with the Royal Oman Police (ROP)'s procedures for road and traffic accidents (RTA) to reduce traffic jams, which are available on the ROP web site under “Minor Road Traffic Accidents.” Note: Minor RTA are accidents causing minor damage to one or more vehicles that do not result in injuries, deaths, or material damage to public/private properties. Parties involved in such accidents should immediately move their vehicles to the side of the road.
U.S. citizens involved in accidents outside the Muscat area are advised not to move their vehicles from the accident location until the ROP gives them permission; moving a vehicle may be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
The use of European-style traffic circles is prevalent in Oman. However, unlike European traffic practice, the driver on the inside lane always has priority. A driver flashing his/her high beams is generally asking for a chance to pass. Turning right on a red traffic signal is prohibited.
Visitors should not drive without a valid license. Short-term visitors in possession of a valid U.S. driver's license may drive rental vehicles, but residents must have an Omani driver's license. To obtain an Omani license, a U.S. citizen must have a U.S. license that has been valid for at least one year or must take a driving test. Visitors hiring rental cars should insure the vehicles adequately against death, injury and loss or damage. Residents may insure their vehicles outside the Sultanate; however, third party liability insurance must be purchased locally.
Emergency Services: A modern ambulance service using U.S. equipment and staff trained in the United States was instituted in 2004 and has been assessed as very good. It serves most of the country. For all traffic-related emergencies, the Royal Oman Police can be contacted by dialing "9999."
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Oman's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Oman's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Oman dated October 25, 2012 to update the section on Criminal Penalties.