North KoreaOfficial Name: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
Two pages are required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Telephone: +(850)(2) 3817-485 (reception)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 24/7: From within the U.S. 1-888-407-4747 / From outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444
Fax: +(850)(2) 3817-663
The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea.There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in North Korea. In the case of a detention, arrest, or death of a U.S. citizen in North Korea, the United States can provide only limited consular services through our Protecting Power, the Embassy of Sweden. If you have received official permission and will visit North Korea by transiting China, please take the time to notify the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China about your trip. Please also notify the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang by email.
Emergency Contact at the Department of State: 24/7 From within the United States 1-888-407-4747 / From outside the United States 1-202-501-4444
Emergency Contact at the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang: Telephone: (850-2) 3817-904, (850-2) 3817 907 (Deputy); Telephone: (850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000
Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or the DPRK) is a highly regimented, repressive Communist state located on the Korean Peninsula between northeast China and the Republic of Korea (South Korea or the ROK), sharing land borders with China, Russia, and South Korea. The border between North and South Korea is closed. The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. The Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang acts as the United States’ protecting power and provides basic consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea. For additional information, please refer to the section on “Special Circumstances” below. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on North Korea for additional information on North Korea.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK). Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens visiting North Korea have been subject to arrest and possibly lengthy detention due to the DPRK’s inconsistent application of its criminal laws (see our Travel Warning ). North Korean authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who entered the DPRK legally on valid DPRK visas, as well as U.S. citizens who accidentally or intentionally crossed into DPRK territory without valid visas.
Should you choose to travel to North Korea despite the warnings, you must have a valid passport and a valid DPRK visa to enter. The U.S. government does not issue letters to private U.S. citizens who wish to apply for DPRK visas. If you plan to enter and depart North Korea through China, you must obtain a multiple-entry visa for China, because a valid Chinese visa is required to enter China after leaving North Korea at the conclusion of your visit. Routine travel from South Korea to North Korea is prohibited. Travel across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) is allowed only infrequently for official and government-authorized cultural and economic exchanges or aid shipments. Commercial airlines do not operate regular flights between South and North Korea.
If you arrive in North Korea without both a valid passport and a valid DPRK visa, you may be denied entry, fined, detained, arrested, or imprisoned. North Korea has imposed heavy fines and long prison sentences with hard labor on persons who entered the country without the proper documentation. Even with proper documentation, visitors may be subject to arrest and imprisonment for actions that would not be cause for arrest in the United States or other countries and may not receive appropriate legal protection against inhumane treatment. See also the section below on Special Circumstances for information on the detention of U.S. citizens in tour groups.
Internet access is limited or non-existent, and many hotels do not offer international telephone calls. The DPRK cellular phone network is not open for foreign cell phones. If you use any phone in the DPRK, please keep in mind that mobile telephone networks are operated as a joint venture with the North Korean government. You have no right to privacy in North Korea and should therefore assume your communications are monitored. If you bring written materials or electronic media, including e-book readers, USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or laptops, into North Korea, you must assume that North Korean authorities will review the information those materials and devices contain. Please be sure that the information you bring with you in any form does not violate North Korea’s laws or regulations, which are among the most restrictive in the world. If you violate North Korea’s laws, knowingly or unknowingly, you can be harshly punished, even for acts that would not be illegal in the United States. Proselytizing (including handing out Bibles and crosses) is illegal in North Korea.
Where to Obtain a DPRK Visa: North Korea does not have an embassy in the United States. U.S. citizens and residents planning to travel to North Korea may apply for DPRK visas at the DPRK Embassy in Beijing, China, which will issue visas only upon authorization from the DPRK Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang. Before departing for China, you may wish to contact the DPRK Embassy in Beijing to confirm it has received authorization from Pyongyang to issue you a visa.
The Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Beijing:
No. 11, Ritan Bei Lu,
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 6532-6639 (Visa Office)
Telephone: (86-10) 65312-1186
Facsimile: (86-10) 6532-6056
If you wish to ask the DPRK whether your application for a visa would be approved, you may address your inquiry to the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations in New York.
The Permanent Representative of the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 972-3105
Facsimile: (212) 972-3154
If you are abroad in a country with diplomatic relations with the DPRK, you can ask the DPRK embassy in that country for visa advice.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of North Korea.
Information on 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 Sheet. Please see those sections below under “Special Circumstances.”
Safety and Security
Please see the sections on “Local Laws and Special Circumstances” and “Criminal Penalties.”
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
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- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: North Korea does not release crime statistics. Petty thefts have been reported at the airport in Pyongyang.
Do not buy counterfeit and/or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. The purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods is illegal in the United States and may be illegal in North Korea.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime while in North Korea, you should report the crime to your local host/liaison and contact the Embassy of Sweden for assistance. Your local host/liaison should contact the local authorities on your behalf.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Emergency Services: If you require emergency medical services, you should inform your North Korean escorts and the Embassy of Sweden. Please see the section above on " Victims of Crime." You are encouraged to carry photocopies of your passport data and photo pages with you at all times so that you have evidence of your U.S. citizenship readily available.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea. The North Korean system punishes even seemingly-minor transgressions severely, and foreigners may not receive due process when they knowingly or unknowingly violating DPRK laws. The Department of State has received reports of DPRK authorities detaining U.S. citizens without charges and not allowing them to depart the country. Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside North Korea, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and/or political activities (whether those activities took place inside or outside North Korea), unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population.
If you do something considered illegal in North Korea, you may be subject to the North Korean judicial system, which is an instrument of state power and not an independent branch of government. The DPRK has held U.S. citizens accountable for the costs associated with incarceration in DPRK detention facilities and medical assistance during detention. Protections guaranteed under the U.S. legal system do not apply, and possession of a U.S. passport does not confer special status. Your local host/liaison may be able to provide useful guidance, but do not assume your host or tour operator will be able or willing to provide assistance to you if you are arrested or detained by North Korean authorities, or that any information you share with them will not be turned over to North Korean authorities.
North Korean security personnel may regard as espionage unauthorized or unescorted travel inside North Korea and unauthorized attempts to speak directly with North Korean citizens. North Korean authorities may fine or arrest you for exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor, for taking unauthorized photographs, or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners. It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's current and former leaders – Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Il Sung. A near-religious cult surrounds treatment of these individuals, and acts that would be deemed unexceptional elsewhere in the world – e.g., placing in the garbage newspapers bearing their photographs – may be deemed disrespectful.
Although North Korea has granted press visas for cultural or sporting events or visits of foreign leaders, officials watch closely to prevent journalists from unauthorized conversations with North Koreans or questioning the policies, actions, or public statements of North Korea’s leadership. North Korea has confiscated objectionable material from foreign journalists. Journalists who engaged in activities that challenged the regime have been deported, arrested, or detained to face criminal charges. For additional information on the lack of freedom of information in North Korea, see the Department of State’s Human Rights Report for North Korea.
North Korean government security personnel closely monitor the activities and conversations of foreigners in North Korea. Never bring or handle any material, printed or digital (including popular literature on e-book readers), that could be interpreted as critical of, or hostile to, the country or its leadership. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Do not take pictures without explicit authorization. North Korean government authorities may view taking unauthorized pictures as espionage, confiscate cameras and film, and/or detain the photographer.
Engaging in sexual conduct with minors or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States and may be prosecutable in North Korea. Please see additional information on Criminal Penalties.
Arrest notifications in host country: Please see “Consular Access” below under “Local Laws and Special Circumstances.”
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: North Korea is one of the world’s most reclusive countries. North Korea limits trade and transportation links with other countries and tightly restricts the circumstances under which foreigners may enter the country and interact with local citizens. Telephone, facsimile, and Internet access are unavailable in many areas of the country, and foreigners can expect North Korean officials will monitor their communications.
North Korea has experienced famine, flooding, fuel and electricity shortages, and outbreaks of disease. Many countries, including the United States, have contributed to international relief efforts to assist the people of North Korea. North Korea is subject to multilateral restrictions and sanctions, including those contained in United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094. In addition, the United States and other countries have adopted national sanctions or other measures designed to curb North Korea’s provocative and destabilizing actions and policies, including its nuclear weapons and missile programs and proliferation activities.
Tourism: In the past, North Korea has detained U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release. Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities.
As employees of North Korea, DPRK tour guides operate under tight discipline and are closely monitored. Tour guides are subject to debriefings after contact with each group of foreigners and are held responsible for any “misbehavior” of foreign tourists assigned to them.
Foreign tourism provides a source of foreign currency to the DPRK regime. North Korean efforts to expand tourism have focused primarily on group tours from China. The South Korean government suspended tours originating from South Korea to the Mount Kumgang tourist area after a North Korean soldier shot and killed a South Korean tourist near Mount Kumgang in July 2008. North Korean authorities suspended tours to the city of Kaesong in December 2008.
Consular Access: The United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. The U.S. government therefore has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea. On September 20, 1995, the U.S. government signed a consular protecting power agreement with the Government of Sweden. This agreement allows the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang to provide basic consular protective services to U.S. citizens who are ill, injured, arrested, or who die while in North Korea.
If you require emergency services, you should inform your North Korean escorts and the Embassy of Sweden. Please see the section above on "Information for Victims of Crime." You are encouraged to carry photocopies of your passport data and photo pages with you at all times so that you have evidence of your U.S. citizenship readily available. The U.S.-DPRK Interim Consular Agreement provides that North Korea will notify the Embassy of Sweden within four days of an arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen and will allow consular visits by the Swedish Embassy within two days after a request is made. In reality, however, the DPRK government routinely delays or denies consular access. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the Embassy of Sweden as soon as you are arrested or detained in North Korea.
Customs Regulations: North Korean authorities may seize documents, literature, audio and video files, computer equipment, DVDs, USB drives and other digital media, and letters deemed by North Korean officials to be intended for religious proselytizing or subversive activities. If you carry religious materials into North Korea, you can be detained, fined, imprisoned, or expelled. It is advisable to contact the DPRK Mission to the United Nations or a DPRK embassy or consulate in a third country for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.
Dual Nationality: North Korea does not recognize dual nationality. If you are of Korean heritage – even if you are a U.S. citizen – you may be subject to military obligations and taxes on foreign source income. Please see our information on dual nationality.
U.S. Government Economic Sanctions Against North Korea: Goods of North Korean origin may not be imported into the United States either directly or indirectly without prior notification to and approval of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Most exports to North Korea are subject to licensing by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security. U.S. travel service providers are allowed to organize group travel to North Korea. Commercial U.S. ships and aircraft carrying U.S. goods are allowed to call at North Korean ports with prior clearance, but U.S. persons are prohibited from “owning, leasing, operating, or insuring any vessel flagged by North Korea.
The United States maintains various additional sanctions on North Korea due to its human rights record, nuclear weapons programs, weapons proliferation activities, and other provocative actions. Exports of military and sensitive dual-use items are prohibited, as are most types of U.S. economic assistance. The United States also abides by multilateral restrictions and sanctions with respect to North Korea, including those contained in United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2094, which were adopted in response to North Korea’s nuclear tests and rocket launches. For additional information, see the websites of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea. If you have medical problems, you should not travel to North Korea. For decades, medical facilities in the DPRK have suffered from a lack of resources and electricity. Medical personnel often have inadequate or outdated skills. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. If possible, avoid surgery. If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance. According to DPRK Customs, most prescription medication may be brought into the country with no restrictions. If you require regular medication, you should bring a sufficient amount for your personal use along with the doctor’s prescription, since most drugs are unavailable locally. Hospitals will expect immediate U.S. dollar cash payment for medical treatment. You cannot use credit cards or checks in the DPRK. Local DPRK hosts are often not aware of options available for medical evacuations and might claim that no such options exist. It is important to insist on immediate contact with the Embassy of Sweden if you have serious medical problems.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in North Korea. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Medical Evacuations: In the case of a critical illness or accident, immediately contact the Embassy of Sweden, which will attempt to arrange flight clearances for air ambulances performing emergency medical evacuations. Costs for medical air evacuation vary, but according to SOS International, an evacuation from Pyongyang to Beijing averages approximately USD 40,000 including medical personnel (1 doctor and 1 nurse), the aircraft, and clearance costs. The General Bureau of the Koryo Civil Aviation of the DPRK says that it provides around-the-clock service and that requests for air clearance will be granted within 24 hours. If a U.S. citizen with a medical emergency is in Pyongyang, the Embassy of Sweden can usually arrange a medical evacuation to Beijing in one day. If the patient is located outside Pyongyang, it will take longer. Medical evacuation by regularly scheduled airlines can be arranged, but very few flights operate from Pyongyang to Beijing (Air Koryo and Air China), Shenyang (Air Koryo), or Vladivostok (Air Koryo). Air Koryo flights go to Shanghai only on a charter basis in the tourist season (April-October). In order to transit China, Chinese visas for injured foreigners and any escorts must be obtained prior to the evacuation from North Korea. Even in the case of a medical emergency, transit visas may take several days to arrange. Evacuation across the DMZ to South Korea is not allowed.
Vaccinations: Should you decide to travel to North Korea in spite of Department of State recommendations, you should get all necessary vaccinations prior to traveling. You can find information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC Internet site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website. If you have special dietary requirements, you are advised to bring food with you to North Korea, as the restaurants available to foreigners have limited menus that may not meet your dietary needs.
Companies that may be able to arrange evacuation services include, but are not limited to, those listed below. You may wish to contact these or other emergency medical assistance providers for information about their ability to provide medical evacuation insurance and/or assistance for travelers to North Korea.
Telephone: (U.S.) (1-800) 468-5232
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 6462-9100, 6462-9112
Medex Assistance Corporation
Telephone: (U.S.) (410) 453-6300 / 6301
Telephone: (Toll free within China) 10-8888-800-527-0218
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 6595-8510)
Telephone: (China) (86-10) 8315-1914.
Telephone: (Shenyang, Liaoning Province) (86-24) 24330678
You can find useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Also, see our extensive tips and advice on Traveling Safely Abroad.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Road conditions and driving habits in a foreign country can differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning North Korea is provided for general reference only. You are not allowed to drive in North Korea unless you hold a valid DPRK driver’s license. Bicycles are unavailable for rental or purchase. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Foreigners are not allowed to use public buses or the subway. North Korea has a functioning rail transport system; however, delays occur often, sometimes for days. On occasion, service may cease altogether before a traveler has reached his/her final destination.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and North Korea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed North Korea’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.
Assistance for U.S. Citizens
Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protecting Power)
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in North Korea. In the case of a detention, arrest, or death of a U.S. citizen in North Korea, the United States can provide only limited consular services through our Protecting Power, the Embassy of Sweden.
- Telephone +(850) (2) 3817 485 (reception)
- Emergency After-Hours Telephone 24/7: From within the U.S. 1-888-407-4747 / From outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444
- Fax +(850) (2) 3817 663
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Swedish Embassy (U.S. Protecting Power)