International Travel

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Eritrea

Eritrea
State of Eritrea
Exercise increased caution in Eritrea due to travel restrictions and limited consular assistance.

Exercise increased caution in Eritrea due to travel restrictions and limited consular assistance. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Reconsider travel to:

  • The Eritrean-Ethiopian border due to potential armed conflict.
  • Remote areas or off main roads due to minefields.

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.

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.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Eritrea:

  • Use caution when walking and hiking in remote areas or off main roads.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Eritrea.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Eritrean-Ethiopian Border

Reconsider travel to the Eritrean-Ethiopian border area due to potential armed conflict, and unmarked minefields.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Remote Areas and Areas Off Main Roads Due to Landmines

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.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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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

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 our Fact Sheet on Eritrea for additional information on U.S.-Eritrea relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport: valid for 6 months, 2 blank pages
  • Visa: Obtain your visa before traveling. Visit the Embassy of Eritrea website for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Eritrean Embassy or Consulate.
  • Vaccination certificate: For travelers 9 months and older coming from countries with risk of Yellow Fever.

Electronic items: All electronic items (laptops, mobile phones, cameras, etc.) should be declared upon arrival. Failure to do so may result in their confiscation by customs officials when you depart. Strict restrictions are in place for the type and quantity of electronics allowed into the country. Check with the Eritrean Ministry of Finance on the most current regulations. Non-residents may need to show that they are taking their electronics back out with them.

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 usually results in confiscation, fine, 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.

  • 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 exit visa application process can significantly delay travel plans.

Departure Tax: There is a $20 airport departure tax normally included in airline ticket prices.

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

Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Advisory for Eritrea.

Eritrea experiences persistent food, water, and fuel shortages.

Travel Permits: All foreign nationals, including U.S. Embassy officials, are required to obtain permits for travel 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.

Reconsider travel to the Eritrean-Ethiopian border area due to potential armed conflict and unmarked minefields. Borders may close without notice.

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.

Safety Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings.
  • Monitor local and international news from reliable sources and consular messages.

Crime: Crime in Eritrea is increasing. While most reported criminal incidents in Asmara involve crimes of opportunity, car and home burglaries and sexual assaults are on the rise.

  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night.
  • Do not display cash and valuable personal property.
  • Dress conservatively.

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 for medical emergencies

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 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 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.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You 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. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Do not attempt to take advantage of street or black market exchange in foreign currency.

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.

You may be subject to certain obligations, including taxes and conscription into national service. You need proof of payment of the 2 percent income tax to obtain any civil documents (e.g. birth certificates, educational transcripts, property ownership records, court records). Inquire at an Eritrean embassy or consulate regarding your status before you travel.

Military Service for Dual U.S. – Eritrean citizens: The National Service Proclamation of October 1995 states that any national between the age of 18 and 50 shall have a duty to participate in National Service.

Photography: Visitors are advised to exercise caution when taking photographs in Eritrea. Often there are no signs/posts stating “no photography,” but individuals found taking photos of military or government installations can face a warning, harassment, confiscation, 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 therefore 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 the norm, yet 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, except by a few airline offices. It is illegal to use foreign currency to make purchases except at a few official hotels where foreigners are required to pay in U.S. dollars or Euros. Many businesses will accept U.S. bills printed only 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 of 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.

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

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is punishable by 10 days to three years incarceration. Antidiscrimination laws relating to LGBTI persons do not exist, and those complicit in abuses are not investigated nor punished. There are no known LGBTI organizations in the country. Hotels do not allow two females or two males to share one room unless it has separate beds.

See our LGBTI 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 such cases rarely are reported or brought to trial. No information is available on the prevalence of rape.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Consult the 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.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas.

U.S. citizens who entered Eritrea on an Eritrean visa (those that do not hold an Eritrean national ID) must pay for medical services in U.S. dollars. If you will be an inpatient, a down payment is required.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: See the CDC website for recommended vaccinations.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Stay on main roads away from border areas. Rural roads and off-road driving can be dangerous. There are minefields in certain areas of the country. Explosions have occurred on relatively well-traveled roads in and near the Gash Barka region of western Eritrea. 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. Road debris is common during the rainy season from October to May. The Filfil Road from Asmara to Massawa has a large amount of mountain debris and has washed away in parts. Traffic safety is also hazardous due to excessive speed, slow motorized carts, pedestrians, bicycles, livestock, fog, and poor lighting.

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. 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.

Last Updated: March 13, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

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