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Kuwait
Official Name:

State of Kuwait

Last Updated: May 10, 2017

Embassy Messages

Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Bayan, Block 13,
Masjed Al-Aqsa Street,
Kuwait City, Kuwait

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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6 months from date of arrival; emergency passports are not accepted

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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1 page per entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes; can be obtained on arrival at Kuwait International Airport or online

VACCINATIONS:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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None

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Bayan, Block 13,
Masjed Al-Aqsa Street,
Kuwait City, Kuwait

Telephone: +(965) 2259-1001

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(965) 2259-1001

Fax: +(965) 2259-1438

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kuwait for information on U.S.-Kuwaiti relations. 

Visit the Embassy of Kuwait’s website for visa information or the Kuwait Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) e-Visa website.

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival
  • Visa
  • Fee of three (3) Kuwaiti Dinars (KD) for visa on arrival or e-visa
  • Apply for a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport

Be sure to complete Kuwaiti exit procedures and leave before your visa expires; otherwise, you face heavy fines and/or imprisonment. This also applies to official travelers and contractors supporting regional U.S. military operations transiting between Kuwait and Iraq or Afghanistan.

Travel Bans

When placed under a travel ban, you cannot exit the country, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Travel bans are rigidly enforced and can take months to resolve. Only Kuwaiti authorities can remove travel bans.

The government may issue travel bans on people who are:

  • charged with criminal offenses
  • under investigation
  • involved in financial disputes/have unpaid debts
  • delinquent in paying traffic or parking fines

Private citizens can also initiate travel bans for various reasons. U.S. citizens resident in Kuwait can check their residency status, including if a travel ban exists, by entering their Civil ID through the MOI’s online portal.

Emergency (Limited Validity) Passports

U.S. citizens traveling on an emergency passport will not be admitted into the country.

Dual Nationality

Kuwait does not recognize dual nationality. At times, Kuwaiti authorities have confiscated U.S. passports of U.S.- Kuwaiti dual nationals applying for Kuwaiti citizenship. Should this happen, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship. 

To obtain Kuwaiti citizenship, Kuwaiti authorities only accept a Certificate of Loss of Nationality as evidence of renunciation of U.S. citizenship.

Residency Permits

If you are seeking residency in Kuwait, have all required legal documents authenticated before arriving. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait does not provide this service.

Have U.S. issued documents authenticated by the Department of State Office of Authentications, (202-485-8000) and attested by the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington or the Kuwait General Consulate in Los Angeles.

You have the right to retain your passport at all times. If you provide your passport to your employer, you should obtain a written, date stamped, and signed receipt. Otherwise, your employer may not be accountable for unlawfully retaining your passport.

Work Visas

If you plan on working in Kuwait, you must obtain a work visa before you arrive. If you work on a tourist visa, you risk deportation.

Department of Defense Contractors (DoD) working in Kuwait must hold a valid U.S. passport and a work visa.  DoD contractors must transit or enter the country at the Kuwait International Airport (KWI).

While DoD contractors may not enter Kuwait via Ali Al Salem (AAS) Air Base, they may depart from AAS Air Base after obtaining a passport exit stamp from Kuwaiti immigration officials. 

U.S. military personnel, DoD civilians, and military contractors must use the same form of ID when entering or exiting Kuwait. If not, your arrival and departure records may not match, and you could be subject to a travel ban and/or fines.

Arms Prohibition

Regardless of your status in Kuwait – official, diplomatic, military, contractor, or private citizen – you may not bring weapons, ammunition, or ammunition clips into the country when flying into KWI on commercial flights.

These items will be confiscated, and you may be arrested. Import/export of these items in Kuwait is illegal.

Iraq Travel

When traveling to or from Iraq, be prepared for delays at land crossings. Kuwaiti officials are extremely sensitive about such travel and  may detain you for questioning or deny entry into the country.

HIV Restrictions

Medical examinations are required for all individuals seeking residency in Kuwait. Any applicant testing positive for HIV/AIDS or hepatitis will have to leave the country immediately and be permanently barred from re-entry. Verify this information with the Embassy of Kuwait before traveling.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Potential for Terrorist Activity

Kuwait continues to face the threat of terrorism. Terrorists may target U.S. citizens and interests in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Please review the Worldwide Caution before traveling to Kuwait.

Terrorists may target public transportation, as well as residential areas, schools, places of worship, oil-related facilities, restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas.

Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage-taking, kidnappings, or assassinations.

Safety Precautions

  • Practice personal security measures.
  • Avoid large gatherings and areas frequented by Westerners.
  • Monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages.
  • Report suspicious activity to Kuwaiti police and the U.S. Embassy.
  • Be aware that desert areas and some beaches contain unexploded ordnance and war materials.
  • Be on the alert for police impersonators at check points or when you are using public transportation. Official police will be uniformed and have visible IDs.  

Avoid Jleeb Ash Shuyoukh, a high-crime area, especially at night.

U.S. diplomats may not to travel to the following areas without special permission:

  • Kuwait/Iraq border – north of Mutla’a Ridge
  • Jahra

Crime

Criminal activity is low, but on the rise, particular along the Gulf Road, at shopping malls, hotels, and residential neighborhoods. Incidents include petty theft, car break-ins, and harassment of or sexual assault on women traveling alone.

For more information, see the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s Crime and Safety Report for Kuwait.

Victims of Crime

Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 965-2259-1001.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

Filing Crime Reports

If you have been injured, seek medical treatment before filing a police report. Bring the medical report with you to the police station.

File crime reports at the police station in the area where the crime occurred. Have a local attorney or an Arabic speaker come with you.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Victims of Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault

Contact the U.S. Embassy  at 965-2259-1001 for assistance. The Embassy’s ability to assist, however, is extremely limited.

Victims often encounter difficulties reporting domestic violence or sexual assault crimes to the police  Female officers are rarely available to assist with these cases. 

There are no rape crisis centers or women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. The few social service agencies that exist are often limited to Kuwaiti citizens.

Consider hiring a private attorney. The Embassy maintains a List of Attorneys on the website.

Seek medical attention and collection of evidence as soon as possible. Victims of abuse or sexual assault must obtain a medical report from a Kuwaiti hospital.

Hospitals typically contact a criminal investigator to assist a victim of crime. The investigator may have you file a police report and obtain documents required for evidence collection before you can receive treatment.

For further information:

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Many medical services are below U.S. standards. Public health facilities provide services for foreigners at reasonable costs; private clinic costs generally are higher. Private physicians and private hospitals charge fees for services, and some do not accept local health insurance.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.  See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, please contact the Embassy of Kuwait, the Consulate General of Kuwait, or the Kuwait General Administration for Customs to ensure the medication is legal in Kuwait.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties

You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be deported, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Have your U.S. passport or civil I.D. with you at all times, or authorities may detain you for questioning.

Alcohol and Drugs

  • You risk immediate imprisonment for possession of alcohol or driving under the influence.
  • Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs, synthetics, and drug-making ingredients are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

The following actions may also lead to prosecution, imprisonment, and immediate deportation:

  • Humiliating or insulting a person, including a police officer or a public official
  • Unpaid debts
  • Driving without a Kuwait drivers license after obtaining a residence permit

It is illegal for non-Kuwaiti citizens to participate in any demonstration, even if the demonstration is licensed.

Arrest Notification 

If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

If arrested for criminal violations, you may be detained for weeks without formal charges being filed. Juvenile proceedings are closed to all but court officers.

Labor Disputes

Kuwait’s Public Authority of Manpower (PAM), assists all residents of Kuwait with employment and labor disputes. PAM offices assist residents according to the location of your employer and are open Sunday through Thursday, 08:00 a.m. to 01:00 p.m. We recommend going to the office with an Arabic speaker. PAM offices are located at:  

  • Capital Business Administration: Sharq, Mohammad Al-Haqan St. Tel: 22466830 & 22466831.
  • Hawalli Business Administration: Hawalli, Tunis St, opposite Ahli Bank of Kuwait. Tel: 22660229 & 22660228.
  • AlFarwaniya Business Administration: Dajeej Area, adjacent to General Department of Criminal Evidence. Tel: 2431-9555.
  • AlJahra Business Administration: Saad AlAbdulah Area (Amgarah), Block 10, near Co-op.
  • AlAhmadi Business Administration: Beside KOC, Block 1, St. 20. Tel: 23982059.
  • Mubarak AlKabeer Business Administration: Mubarak AlKabeer, Co-op # 4, beside NBK and KFH.  Tel: 25438595

PAM provides responses in English and Arabic via their Twitter handle, @manpower_KWT, or Instagram account, pr.manpower. They will usually answer within one business day.

Photography Restrictions

It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military installations, and oil-related infrastructure. Ask for permission before photographing people. Some women find being photographed offensive and may report the incident to local police.

Customs

Alcohol, pork products, and pornography are prohibited. Custom regulations are strict, particularly regarding firearms, and religious materials. Contact the Embassy of Kuwait, the Consulate General of Kuwait, or the Kuwait General Administration for Customs for specific information on customs regulations.

Faith-Based Travelers

Proselytizing is prohibited in Kuwait for all religions except Islam.

See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers

Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between males is illegal, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and fines. Cross-dressing is a crime, with a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment for imitating the appearance of the opposite sex in public. Societal discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is common. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Students

See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance

Public transportation is generally inaccessible for handicapped patrons. Handicapped parking spaces are common, but are often used by the general public. Kuwait traffic enforcement has made efforts to penalize unauthorized use, but this still remains a problem. Most medical facilities and public buildings in cities have wheelchair ramps and elevators. Outside of urban areas, access is greatly reduced.

Women Travelers

To deter sexual harassment:

  • Dress modestly.
  • Do not engage in “small talk” with taxi drivers (as that can be interpreted as interest).
  • Avoid sustained eye contact.
  • Be cautious when using public transportation.
  • Maintain a low profile in public.

For emergency assistance, call 112.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

Driving in Kuwait is extremely hazardous due to excessive speeding, road rage, lax enforcement of traffic regulations and a high volume of traffic.

With a valid visitor visa and U.S. driver’s license, you may drive a rental car. To drive vehicles other than rental cars, a Kuwait driver’s license and appropriate car registration is required.

Once you receive your Kuwait residence permit, you cannot drive with a foreign drivers license and must obtain a Kuwait drivers license. If you are stopped by police, and found driving as a resident but without a Kuwait drivers license, you will face imprisonment and immediate deportation and will not receive access to your personal effects at your residence or hotel.

See the Kuwait Ministry of Interior website for further information in Arabic.

Traffic Laws

  • You are required to have your driver’s license with you at all times when operating a vehicle. There are no exceptions.
  • Driving while intoxicated can result in fines, imprisonment, deportation, and/or revocation of your Kuwait driving license. 
  • You risk deportation for serious/repeat traffic violations.
  • It is against the law to use cell phones or text while driving. 
  • Use of seat belts is mandatory.
  • Do not turn right on a red light unless there is a yield sign and  special lane to do so.
  • Do not park where curbs are painted black and yellow.

Traffic Fines

  • Police at checkpoints may arbitrarily fine motorists.
  • Pay traffic fines as soon as possible. 
  • Nonpayment of traffic and parking fines can result in seizure of your vehicle and travel bans. This means you cannot leave Kuwait until all fines and penalties are paid.

Traffic Accidents

  • In case of emergency, call 112. Ambulance crews often do not include trained paramedics, nor do they respond as quickly as in the United States.
  • Involvement in an accident, whether or not you are at fault, can lead to arrest and detention. Immediately notify the police and remain at the scene until the police arrive.
  • At-fault accidents can result in arrests, demands for financial restitution, and/or travel bans preventing you from leaving Kuwait.

Public Transportation

  • Only use marked taxis with meters. Taxis are available at major hotels and may be telephoned to pick up passengers at other locations.
  • Avoid sitting in the front seat of a taxi, do not travel to unfamiliar areas, and do not enter taxis with unknown passengers.
  • Many taxi drivers do not speak English and do not know major landmarks. Mobile phone map applications work well in Kuwait.
  • For more information, please visit our Road Safety page.

Aviation Safety Oversight

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Kuwait’s air carrier operations.

Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel

Mariners planning travel to Kuwait should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”).

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