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Pakistan
Official Name:

 Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Last Updated: November 18, 2016
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 Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Six months beyond the date of arrival

 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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Two blank pages are required for entry and exit stamps

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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Polio vaccination within one year before travel may be required to exit Pakistan.  See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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Maximum $5,000

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U.S. Embassy Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000

Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Fax: +(92)(21) 3561-2420

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Lahore, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(42) 3603-4000

Fax: +(92)(42) 3603-4212

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20

Telephone: +(92)(91) 526-8800

Fax: +(92)(91) 527-6712

For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

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

Requirements for entry and exit:

  • valid passport
  • valid Pakistani visa

Obtain your visa at a Pakistani Embassy or Consulate prior to initiating travel to Pakistan. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan cannot assist you with Pakistan visa issues. Visit the Embassy of Pakistan website for the most current visa information.

All U.S. government employees and immediate family members must follow appropriate procedures for official and personal travel to Pakistan. All official U.S. government travel requests must be submitted via the normal country clearance process and will be limited to mission critical travel only. U.S. government employees wishing to conduct unofficial travel to Pakistan must contact the appropriate office in their home agency to determine if there are any limitations or restrictions.

Dual Nationals: Be aware that different visa requirements may apply if you hold U.S. and Pakistani citizenship. For more information see the Embassy of Pakistan’s information regarding National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).

When you travel to Pakistan, you are subject to the laws of Pakistan. If you travel to Pakistan on NICOP or POC cards, you are considered citizens of Pakistan, which may limit the amount of assistance and communication we can provide should you be arrested.  For more information see Government of Pakistan Directorate General of Immigration and Passports.

You must obtain advance permission from local or federal authorities to travel in:

  • Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
  • Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)
  • Province of Azad Jammu Kashmir
  • Province of Balochistan

Operational and personal security policies for official U.S. Government personnel change frequently.

Stay in compliance with Pakistani immigration regulations. If you overstay your visa or violate the terms,  you may be detained, arrested, fined, and/or imprisoned. For further details see the Ministry of Interior website or call +92-51-920-7290.

Keep copies of your U.S. passport data page, Pakistani visa or ID card, and Pakistan immigration entry stamp with you at all times.  Consider downloading these documents to your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Vaccinations: None are required when entering Pakistan from the United States, but proof of Polio vaccination within one year may be required to exit Pakistan. See U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recommended vaccinations and health tips for travel to Pakistan. For further updates, contact the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, telephone: +92-(0)51-9202566, or email: contact@dra.gov.pk.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Pakistan.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

See the Travel Warning for Pakistan.

Terrorist attacks are frequent in Pakistan. Extremist groups within Pakistan continue  to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, including government facilities and public locations, such as schools, shopping malls, markets, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs/stations, minority neighborhoods, and outdoor recreation areas. Terrorists also target Pakistani officials, government facilities, and religious minorities, and regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. Other actions include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings (including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices), assassinations, carjackings, and assaults. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, and these measures can vary from day to day.

Demonstrations, political rallies or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

We recommend you limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other public locations. We advise against the use of public transportation in Pakistan. You are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures. Official visitors are not authorized to stay overnight in local hotels anywhere in the country. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as tourist attractions, hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants off-limits to official personnel. 

Threats to civil aviation in Pakistan are not limited to attacks where militants target airports. The U.S. government is aware of narcotics smuggled onto flights from Pakistan, which may indicate broader security vulnerabilities at Pakistani airports.

We recommend you follow media coverage of local events, and maintain good situational awareness and operational security wherever you travel in Pakistan. If you feel that your life is in danger in Pakistan, we advise you to report the threat to local police authorities and consider immediately changing locations or departing Pakistan.

CRIME:

Men and women are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to avoid walking alone. We recommend against travel on the streets late at night.  Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic, conducted by individuals or groups, and can include fraud, theft, robbery, carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary. Incidents of crime and levels of violence are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas, but are seen in wealthier areas as well. Pick-pocketing, theft and larceny are common on buses and trains at all hours of the day.

Take precautions to avoid crime, including:

  • locking home and vehicle doors
  • hiring a 24-hour guard
  • varying routes and schedules
  • keeping bags or valuables under your legs away from passing vehicle traffic, and ensuring that bag straps are not visible
  • traveling in groups
  • being accompanied by a native Urdu speaker if you travel outside urban areas
  • carrying your mobile phone

If you are assaulted, do not fight with your attacker. Flee to a safe area and report the situation to the local authorities by going directly to a police station or dialing 15.

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

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of crime should first report the offense to local police by dialing 15, and then contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Police responsiveness varies widely and crimes often go unsolved or unprosecuted. Dual U.S-Pakistani nationals may not be recognized as U.S. citizens by the local authorities.

We often receive reports of U.S. citizens subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage in Pakistan.  There are also cases of individuals having their own and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses, parents, or other family members, and their freedom of movement severely restricted. Local police are not consistently responsive to reports of such cases. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, you are encouraged to call the police immediately, and follow up with a call to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can sometimes connect you with a Pakistani non-governmental organization that may be able to provide assistance. If you are victimized overseas, you may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocation back to the U.S. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime committed in Pakistan.

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 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 lost, stolen, or confiscated passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulates in Karachi or Lahore for assistance.

For further information:

Basic medical care is available in major Pakistani cities but is limited in rural areas. Facilities in cities vary in quality and range of services, and may be below U.S. standards; facilities in rural areas are consistently below U.S. standards.  Medical facilities require prepayment for services and most do not accept credit cards.

Effective emergency response to personal injury and illness is virtually non-existent in most of Pakistan. Ambulances are few, lack medical equipment, and are not necessarily staffed by medical personnel. Bring sufficient supplies of prescription and commonly used over-the-counter medications. Many U.S. -brand medications are not available, there is a high incidence of fake pharmaceuticals, and the quality of locally-produced medications is uneven. 

See the CDC website detailing recommended vaccinations and other health precautions for traveling to Pakistan. 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.

Water is not potable anywhere in Pakistan, and sanitation in most restaurants is inadequate. Stomach illnesses are common.

Despite Pakistan being a generally conservative country, there is a risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Travelers are urged to use the same cautionary and protective health measures they would in their own country.

We do not pay medical bills for U.S. citizens in Pakistan. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not cover services or medication provided overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides overseas coverage. 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 you plan to engage in high-risk outdoor activities while in Pakistan, it is essential that you engage the services of a travel risk and crisis management provider.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Pakistan to ensure the medication is legal in Pakistan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging 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 expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government may not act to circumvent local authorities or advocate for particular outcomes on the behalf of private individuals. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot offer “safe haven.”

Furthermore, 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.

It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings or structures, particularly sensitive places like military installations and nuclear sites, but the law on this subject is vague and applied inconsistently.  

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail, and result in severe penalties.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Pakistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons and heavy fines.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately to ensure we are aware of your circumstances and can provide assistance. See our webpage for further information. Pakistani law enforcement authorities will typically not notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if a foreign citizen is arrested or detained, unless you request they do so. Pakistan’s regulations governing the travel of foreign diplomats and the procedures for gaining access to arrested individuals have delayed consular access in the past. In some cases, a Consular officer may not be able to visit due to security-related travel restrictions.

Currency:

  • Pakistan is largely a cash economy. Neither personal checks or travelers’ checks are commonly accepted in Pakistan.
  • Outside major cities, credit cards are generally not accepted, and there have been numerous reports of credit card fraud.
  • There are bank branches as well as registered currency exchangers and ATMs in all international airports. 

Forced Marriage: There are reports of U.S. citizen women of Pakistani heritage being tricked into traveling to Pakistan by their families and being forced into marriage. The U.S. government considers forced marriage to be a violation of basic human rights and in the case of minors, a form of child abuse. Forced marriage is defined as one in which one or both parties have not consented to the marriage (or are incapable of providing meaningful consent), and differs from arranged marriage. International laws and conventions support minimum ages for marriage and the individual’s right to choice in marriage. Pakistani civil law – as well as Sharia law - requires the consent of both parties for a legitimate marriage. Often, victims of forced marriage are subjected to non-consensual sex, physical and emotional abuse, isolation, and threats of violence. Persons who refuse a forced marriage are sometimes threatened with violence and being disowned from their families, who also often confiscate their belongings (including passports). In such situations, we may be able to replace stolen or wrongfully retained passports and identify resources for return travel to the United States. All U.S. citizens who fear for their safety or freedom to travel should ensure personal possession of important documents such as passports. Additionally, taking photos of items like Pakistani visas and entry stamps can often speed the process to replace such documents.

Property Disputes: Some U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, assaulted, or threatened by family members in response to family disputes over property.  Land disputes are common in Pakistan and are often difficult to resolve through legal channels. The U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property and cannot take sides in a legal dispute. U.S. citizens wishing to purchase property should be aware of the risks, including not being physically present to oversee property. Those involved in a court dispute run the risk of having cases filed against them, and they may be arrested and jailed.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense in Pakistan. While the government rarely prosecutes cases, society generally shuns LGBTI persons, and violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons occurs frequently.

The penalty for same-sex relations is a fine, imprisonment (sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment), or both. No laws protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information and section 6 of the Department of State’s Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. While in Pakistan, individuals with disabilities can find accessibility and accommodation difficult. The law provides for equality of the rights of persons with disabilities, but the legal provisions are not always implemented in practice. Families typically care for most individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Access for individuals with physical disabilities to public facilities is very limited in major cities and almost non-existent outside major population centers.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Adventure Travel: Pakistan’s mountains and glaciers make it a tempting destination for adventure enthusiasts. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting visitors lost or injured in such remote areas can be difficult. In recent years, several U.S. citizens, including expert climbers, have lost their lives while climbing in the Karakoram mountain range, where rescue missions are often difficult or impossible to execute. Costs for emergency rescues start at $15,000 and payment is required prior to commencement of a search operation.  

 

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Pakistan, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below about Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and it might vary in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic Laws: Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the opposite of U.S. traffic. Roads are crowded, drivers are often aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained  Local drivers are willing to drive head-on in your lane of traffic if they believe it helps them get to their destination more rapidly. Animals, horse carts, bicyclists, and pedestrians can pose roadside hazards in some areas. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, since many vehicles do not have working headlights or dimmers, and many  roads are not illuminated or signed. We recommend against driving without experienced local drivers or guides.

Public Transportation: Avoid all trains, taxis, and other forms of public transportation. For security reasons, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from using all forms of public transportation. See the Safety and Security section above.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Pakistan’s national tourist office and Pakistan’s national highway authority.

The U. S. Embassy has restricted U. S. Government personnel from travel on certain Pakistani military aircraft due to issues with safety and maintenance histories. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens planning to travel within Pakistan on such official aircraft to exercise caution, verify the airworthiness of aircraft in planned flights, or to avoid this means of conveyance until such verification can be provided.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Pakistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

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