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December 3, 2021

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October 29, 2021

Update on U.S. Passport Operations

International Travel

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Country Information

Eritrea

Eritrea
State of Eritrea
Do not travel to Eritrea due to COVID-19, travel restrictions, limited consular assistance, and landmines.

Do not travel to Eritrea due to COVID-19, travel restrictions, limited consular assistance, and landmines. 

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not issued a Travel Health Notice for Eritrea, indicating an unknown level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. 

Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Eritrea.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Eritrea, as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside of Asmara.

Eritrean law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy therefore may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained or arrested.

There are landmines in many remote areas in Eritrea, particularly in Nakfa, AdiKeih, Arezza, the 25-mile-wide region (40 km) between the Setit and Mereb Rivers, and in areas north and west of Keren, areas near Massawa, Ghinda, Agordat, Barentu, Dekemhare, and south of Tessenae.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Eritrea:

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

... [READ MORE]

Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


2 pages

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


Declare amounts over $10,000 USD

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Declare amounts over $10,000 USD, Maximum allowed 1000 Nakfa.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Asmara
179 Alaa Street
P.O. Box 211
Asmara, Eritrea
Telephone:
(291) 1-120-004
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(291)1-120-004
Fax:  +(291) 1-124-255 and +(291) 1-127-584
Email: ConsularAsmara@state.gov

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Eritrea.

Requirements for Entry:

Electronic items: Strict restrictions are in place for the type and quantity of electronics allowed into the country. Check with the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Washington, D.C. for the most current regulations. All electronics (e.g. laptops, mobile phones, cameras) must be declared upon arrival. Customs officials may confiscate previously undeclared items when you depart. Non-residents may need to show that they are leaving Eritrea with the declared electronics in their possession.

Receipts: Visitors must save all receipts for purchases and foreign exchanges and present these upon departure. Failure to report foreign currency or electronics, or meet customs requirements can result in confiscation of possessions, fines, and imprisonment.

Exit Visas: U.S.-Eritrean dual nationals who enter the country on an Eritrean passport or national ID card must obtain an exit visa prior to departure. All long-term residents must also obtain an exit visa.

  • The exit visa application process can significantly delay travel plans.
  • Exit visas, for any traveler, may be denied.
  • U.S.-Eritrean dual nationals who left the country after 1993 may not be allowed to depart Eritrea after visiting.
  • The Eritrean government may impose entry and/or exit restrictions on dual-nationals resident outside Eritrea who do not comply with tax regulations on overseas earnings.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian Border: The land border between Eritrea and Ethiopia is currently closed. Bearers of U.S. passports are advised not to attempt land travel between the two countries.

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

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

Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Advisory for Eritrea.

Eritrea experiences frequent water shortages and not all hotels have running water. Fuel shortages occur as well.

Travel Permits: All foreign nationals, including U.S. Embassy officials, are required to obtain permits for travel more than 25 km outside of Asmara. Applications for travel permits are available at the two Ministry of Tourism offices located on Harnet Avenue and Airport Road. If you encounter difficulties while outside of the Asmara area, the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services may be limited.

Use caution when traveling near the Eritrea-Ethiopia border area. Remain on major roads in the border region due to unmarked minefields. The Eritrea-Ethiopia border is closed; there is no legal means to travel between Ethiopia and Eritrea by land.

Foreign nationals generally are not permitted to approach or cross the Djibouti-Eritrea land border.

There are landmines, particularly in Nakfa, AdiKeih, Arezza, the 25-mile-wide region (40 km) between the Setit and Mereb Rivers, and in areas north and west of Keren, areas near Massawa, Ghinda, Agordat, Barentu, Dekemhare, and south of Tessenae.

Certain remote Eritrean islands have military facilities and are not accessible to tourists.

Crime: The Embassy is unable to quantify actual rates of crime as Eritrea does not publicly provide crime statistics, but crimes do occur and police have limited capacity to investigate. While most reported criminal incidents in Asmara involve crimes of opportunity, car and home burglaries and sexual assaults are also reported. U.S. citizens are encouraged to implement personal security practices such as:

  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night.
  • Do not display cash and valuable personal property.
  • Maintain a low profile. Avoid doing anything that draws attention to you or your family.
  • Remain alert to what is going on around you.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of crime should contact the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible. Report crimes to the local police at + (291)-1-127-799 and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (291) 1-120-004.

In Asmara and throughout Eritrea, in an emergency, dial

  • + (291) 1-127-799 for the police
  • + (291) 1-202-099 for the fire department
  • + (291) 1-202-914 / 201-917 / 201-606 (Orotta Hospital) for medical emergencies
  • + (291) 1 – 185-400 (Halibet Hospital) for medical emergencies

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

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 information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in case of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a lost or stolen passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: Tourism industry infrastructure is minimal. Tourists participate in activities at their own risk. Emergency response capabilities are limited, and subsequent appropriate medical treatment may not be available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: Visitors are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business. 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.

U.S.-Eritrean Dual Nationals: Eritrea does not recognize dual nationality. Dual U.S.-Eritrean citizens are considered Eritrean nationals by the Eritrean authorities. This limits our ability to provide consular services for dual nationals.

Dual nationals may be subject to certain obligations, including taxes and conscription into national service. Proof of payment of the two-percent income tax is required to obtain any civil documents (e.g., birth certificates, educational transcripts, property ownership records, court records). Ask about your status at an Eritrean embassy or consulate regarding before you travel.

Military Service for Dual U.S.–Eritrean Nationals: The National Service Proclamation of October 1995 states that any national between the age of 18 and 50 must participate in National Service.

Photography: Exercise caution when taking photographs in Eritrea. Individuals taking photos of military or government installations may face a warning, harassment, confiscation of the phone/camera, arrest, detention, or interrogation. Do not take photos of Eritreans without their permission.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Eritrean law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained. You may ask your family members to contact the Embassy on your behalf. See our webpage for further information.

Phone Service: Cellular phones are common. Landlines are available in most homes and are more reliable than cellular service. It is very difficult for a tourist to obtain a SIM card for cellular service. There is no data service or roaming available.

Currency: The Eritrean Nakfa (ERN) is the official currency. The economy is cash-based and there are no ATMs. Credit cards are not accepted anywhere in Eritrea. It is illegal to use foreign currency to make purchases except at a few official hotels and stores where foreigners are required to pay in U.S. dollars or Euros. For businesses that will accept U.S. dollars, they require bills printed from 2003 or later.

It is illegal to exchange money anywhere other than at a state foreign currency exchange Himbol branch. You must declare all foreign currency brought into Eritrea in excess of $10,000 (or the equivalent) and on departure you must prove that any missing foreign currency was exchanged at a branch of the Himbol or provide receipts for the items you purchased.

The Eritrean government prohibits travelers from taking more than 1,000 Nakfa out of Eritrea. Violators may have the money confiscated and/or be detained.

If you are transiting from Addis Ababa, be aware there is a limit of $3,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) that may be carried out of Ethiopia. See the Ethiopia country information page for more information.

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

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is punishable by incarceration of ten days to three years. Antidiscrimination laws relating to LGBTQI+ persons do not exist. There are no known LGBTQI+ organizations in the country. Hotels do not allow two females or two males to share one room unless it has separate beds.

See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, public buildings, hotels, and communication accommodations. Within Asmara, sidewalks are plentiful, although most are in bad condition and do not have cutouts. Few buildings have elevators. Due to frequent power outages, these elevators may not be functioning.

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

Women Travelers: Domestic violence, punishable as assault and battery, is commonplace but rarely reported and perpetrators are not prosecuted. No information is available on the prevalence of rape.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): While FGM/C is a traditional practice in many parts of the country, the government has prioritized the elimination of the practice. While it is still practiced in some areas, many regions have completely eliminated the practice.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Eritrea.

Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for Eritrea prior to travel.

Medical facilities and physicians are limited. Medicines are in short supply. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Bring preventative and over-the counter medicines with you.

For emergency services in Eritrea, dial + (291) 1-202-914 / 201-917 / 201-606.

Ambulance services are:

  • Not widely available. Ambulances have minimal equipment; training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance. 

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. 

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. Visit the CDC for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas. 

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. 

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the closest Embassy of the State of Eritrea to ensure the medication is legal in Eritrea. 

Vaccinations: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the CDC.

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. embassies and consulates.

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Dengue
  • Diarrheal Diseases
  • Malaria (in the lowlands only, outside Asmara): Use the CDC recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays. 

Visit the CDC website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Eritrea.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Stay on main roads. Rural roads and off-road driving can be dangerous. Traveling by road is also hazardous due to slow motorized carts, pedestrians, bicycles, livestock, fog, poor road maintenance, and poor lighting. There are minefields in certain areas of the country. The roads between Asmara, Massawa, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Barentu, and Keren are paved, but roads to small villages are not. Mountain roads, which are narrow and winding with crumbling edges, generally do not have guardrails or signs, and sometimes have poor visibility of oncoming traffic around hairpin turns. Road debris is common during the rainy seasons, which differ depending on which part of the country you are in. The Filfil Road from Asmara to Massawa has a large amount of mountain debris and has washed away in parts. Wild baboons may be sighted on mountain roads. They are not safe to approach; keep vehicle windows closed and doors closed.

Traffic Laws: If you wish to drive in Eritrea, you must obtain an Eritrea driver’s license. You may not use your U.S. or international driver’s license. The police may stop drivers randomly to inspect driver’s licenses.

Accidents: If you are involved in an automobile accident, you should contact the local police immediately. Leave your car in place until the local police arrive to take a report. Local garages will be unable to make repairs without a police certificate, even for single vehicle accidents. If a crowd forms and becomes hostile, contact the U.S. Embassy.

Public Transportation: Buses and taxis, both of which run on pre-established routes, are inexpensive.

  • Buses: Extreme over-crowding makes them unsafe, and pickpocketing is common.
  • Taxis: Requests for any deviation from the route can result in significantly higher fares. You may ask a driver in advance not to take other passengers if you pay a higher fare.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Aviation Safety and Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Eritrea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Eritrea’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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Eritrea should first contact the Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Washington, D.C., to ensure they have permission to enter Eritrean waters. Mariners should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the  U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency broadcast warnings

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: July 8, 2021

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Asmara
179 Alaa Street
P.O. Box 211
Asmara, Eritrea
Telephone
+(291) 1-120-004
Emergency
+(291) 1-120-004
Fax
+(291) 1-124-255

Eritrea Map