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Country Information

Kuwait

Kuwait
State of Kuwait
Exercise normal precautions in Kuwait. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise normal precautions in Kuwait. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to:

  • The desert region near the border with Iraq due to the prevalence of unexploded bombs and landmines.
  • The City of Al Jahra in northwest of Kuwait City due to crime.
  • The Jeleeb Al-Shuyoukh area in Kuwait City due to crime.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page

If you decide to travel to Kuwait:

Desert Region Near the Border with Iraq

Desert areas and certain beaches near north of the Mutla’a Ridge continue to contain unexploded bombs and landmines left over from the 1990-1991 Gulf War.  Travelers should avoid areas that are “off the beaten path” and avoid touching objects that are potentially unexploded bombs or landmines.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Al Jahra

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has identified the City of Al Jahra northwest of Kuwait City on the 6th Ring Road as a high-crime area.  Violent crime, such as assault, armed robbery, and sexual assault, in Al Jahra is common.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Jeleeb Al-Shuyoukh

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has identified the neighborhood of Jeleeb Al-Shuyoukh on the outskirts of Kuwait International Airport as a high-crime area.  Violent crime, such as assault, armed robbery, and sexual assault, in Jeleeb Al-Shuyoukh is common.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:
Six months from date of arrival; emergency passports accepted with conditions as of May 1, 2018 (see further instructions below).
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yes; can be obtained on arrival at Kuwait International Airport or online. Visa validity is usually 90 days, subject to Kuwait’s discretion.
VACCINATIONS:
None for temporary visitors. Please refer to Kuwait’s Ministry of Health website for a schedule of vaccinations required for residents of Kuwait.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

Embassies and Consulates

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

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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
  • Failing to work according to the terms of a contract (absconding)

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

Kuwait accepts U.S. emergency passports for entry and exit as of May 1, 2018.  The following conditions apply to U.S. citizens intending to enter or exit Kuwait with a limited-validity emergency passport:

  • The bearer of a U.S. emergency passport will be admitted only as a visitor.
  • The bearer of a U.S. emergency passport is eligible to receive a temporary residency (Article 14) or exit permit (Article 1) only.
  • The bearer of a U.S. emergency passport shall not receive residency or transfer of residency upon arrival in the country.

If you are a full-time resident of Kuwait and enter Kuwait on the emergency passport, you must apply as soon as possible for a full-validity passport at the U.S. Embassy. You will have 30 days from your date of entry to obtain a new regular U.S. passport and apply for a No Objection Certification from the Ministry of Interior’s Criminal Investigation Division for Residency Affairs to receive a new residency permit in your new full-validity passport.

Though Kuwait accepts emergency passports under these limited conditions, the Department of State strongly recommends all U.S. citizen travelers to be in possession of a regular full-validity passport before they travel.

 

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 in Kuwait. 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. The U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens in Kuwait not to work on a visitor visa to avoid potential adverse legal consequences or 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.  Kuwaiti authorities have delayed, temporarily detained, or refused entry to U.S. citizens of Iraqi descent. The U.S. Embassy recommends all travelers to Kuwait who were born in Iraq apply for an e-VISA as far in advance of travel.

 

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.

Safety and Security

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. The U.S. Embassy recommends all visitors to Kuwait to dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.

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 are injured, seek medical treatment before filing a police report. Bring the medical report with you to the police station. Please note, while the U.S. Embassy does not recommend any particular medical course of action or provider, only medical reports from Kuwait public hospitals will be accepted as the basis of a legal claim for injuries in Kuwait.

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:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties

You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be deported, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government does not have legal jurisdiction over private U.S. citizens or military contractors in Kuwait.

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 ID with you at all times, or authorities may detain you for questioning.

Alcohol and Drugs

  • Possession of alcohol and/or narcotics is illegal in Kuwait.
  • 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 sentencesand 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.

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.

 

Health

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 (CDC) and the Kuwait Ministry of Health. Please note that Kuwait’s vaccination requirements for residents are different and may require more inoculations than recommended by the CDC.

Air quality in Kuwait can be monitored with the U.S. Embassy’s public air quality monitor at the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/kuwait/kuwait-city/us-embassy/

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

Driving in Kuwait is extremely hazardous due to excessive speeding, distracted driving, 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. You will not receive access to your personal effects at your residence or hotel.

See the Kuwait Ministry of Interior website for further information.

 

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.
  • If you are injured in an accident that may result in a legal claim against you or that you wish to file against another party, you must seek medical attention at a public hospital. At the public hospital, an investigator will document your injuries. Failure to do this will limit your ability to seek legal remedy for any injuries you have suffered.
  • 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 or called via a mobile phone application.
  • 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”).

Last Updated: May 11, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kuwait
Bayan, Block 13,
Masjed Al-Aqsa Street,
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Telephone
+(965) 2259-1001
Emergency
+(965) 2259-1001
Fax
+(965) 2259-1438

Kuwait Map