See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Lebanon for information on U.S.-Lebanese relations.
For Additional Information:
The U.S. Department of State is not aware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or residents of Lebanon, although individuals applying for a work permit to Lebanon must submit to a laboratory exam in order to prove that s/he is free of HIV/AIDS. For further information, please see the website of General Security (in Arabic).
The current Department of State Travel Advisory urges U.S. citizens to reconsider or avoid travel to certain areas in Lebanon because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence, particularly near Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks. There is potential for death or injury in Lebanon because of terrorist attacks. Violent extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including U.S. government-designated terrorist organizations Hizballah, ISIS (Da’esh), Al-Nusrah Front (ANF), Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). ISIS and ANF have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon. U.S. citizens have been the targets of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity persists, as does the risk of death or injury as a non-targeted bystander. Clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements continue to occur in areas of the Bekaa Valley and border regions. Hizballah maintains a strong presence in the Bekaa Valley, in addition to areas in southern Lebanon and south Beirut. Hizballah has been the target of attacks by other extremist groups for their support of the Asad regime in Syria.
The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice. Security restrictions may prevent access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country, especially in parts of metropolitan Beirut, the city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, refugee settlements, and southern Lebanon.
In the event that the security climate in the country worsens further, U.S. citizens are responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. The Embassy does not offer protection services to U.S. citizens who feel unsafe but directs U.S. citizens to plan for unexpected situations and to take extra precaution in ensuring their safety. We advise you to be aware of your surroundings and to know how to access police assistance in case of emergency. U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their condition, and they should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist, and they are not guaranteed even when commercial travel options are limited or non-existent. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should ensure that they have valid U.S. passports, as lack of documentation could hinder U.S. citizens' ability to depart the country. Additional information on the Department’s role during emergencies is provided on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, is a problem in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations. The U.S. government’s ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is limited. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to hostage takers. U.S. law makes it illegal to provide material support to terrorist organizations.
Public demonstrations occur with little warning and may become violent. You should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests. Protesters have blocked major roads to gain publicity for their causes, including the primary road to the U.S. Embassy and the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Access to the airport may be cut off if the security situation deteriorates.
U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon in spite of the Travel Advisory should be aware that consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them. Also, the Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens in the country against sudden outbreaks of violence. Armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders and in Beirut. Armed clashes have also occurred in the Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence. Also, celebratory gunfire in Lebanon has resulted in accidental injuries and deaths.
Avoid the Lebanon-Syria border region: The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region. There have been incidents of cross-border shelling and air strikes of Lebanese villages from Syria, resulting in deaths and injuries. There have been episodic clashes between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Syrian-based extremists along the border with Syria. There have also been reports of armed groups from Syria kidnapping or attacking Lebanese citizens living in border areas.
Avoid the Lebanon-Israel border region: There are border tensions to the south with Israel, and the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid this area. A few years ago, hostilities between Israel and Hizballah flared in the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms area, and the potential for wider conflict remains. There have been sporadic rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel. These attacks, normally consisting of rockets fired at northern Israel, often provoke a prompt Israeli military response against attackers at the point of origin of the attack. The rocket attacks and responses can occur without warning. Landmines and unexploded ordnance pose significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon, particularly south of the Litani River. Travelers should watch for posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.
Avoid travel to refugee settlements: Violence within refugee settlements has resulted in shootings and explosions. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to refugee settlements. Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the United States operate autonomously in formal and informal refugee settlements in different areas of the country.
Crime: While reported crime rates in Lebanon are moderate, both car theft and burglaries occur. Violent crime and sexual assault are rare, but do happen. For instance, a diplomat from the United Kingdom was sexually assaulted and murdered in December 2017 by a driver for a ride sharing service. Criminal groups have abducted U.S. citizens for ransom and other motives, on at least one occasion using the lure of a business meeting. The embassy receives regular reports of domestic abuse. Petty theft -- such as pickpocketing and purse snatching -- is common in crowded public areas. Police are responsive but often unable to affect a positive outcome.
There have been incidents involving a theft ring that appear to target foreigners using service cars. Service cars are privately owned vehicles bearing red license plates that act as public transportation for multiple passengers at once. Because of the risks inherent in using any unknown transportation, U.S. citizens should be wary of these service cars, use only those service cars that vet their drivers, and carry the number of a reputable taxi company in case of emergencies.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but you may also be breaking local law.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. Embassy Beirut can:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to local laws while in Lebanon. A U.S. passport does not exempt U.S. citizens from local laws. Anyone who breaks the law in Lebanon, regardless of citizenship, can be subject to penalties such as arrest or prosecution. Those who violate local laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Persons violating Lebanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested without bail for extended periods, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lebanon can be significant, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Visitors who cannot provide a passport or identification documents at government checkpoints could be subjected to questioning by Lebanese authorities. In certain areas, taking photos of buildings or other infrastructure has drawn negative attention, occasionally resulting in detention and questioning. In Lebanon, driving under the influence can result in immediate jailing.
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.
Dual Citizenship: In addition to being subject to all Lebanese laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Lebanese nationality may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on them as Lebanese citizens. Lebanese citizens who are discovered to have associated with Israeli citizens or officials, or to have traveled through Israel, are subject to arrest, detention, and prosecution. Any citizen arriving at a Lebanese point of entry with an Israeli stamp in their passport may be detained, arrested, or denied entry. Penalties are often especially harsh if the traveler is of Arab origin or a dual national. Travelers have also been detained if they have a family name that may be considered of Israeli or Jewish origin.
Travelers who have previously entered Lebanon illegally, whether as refugees or for transit to a third country, may be denied entry into the country, even if they are or have since become U.S. citizens.
Middle Eastern Heritage: U.S. citizens with names reflecting Middle Eastern heritage may face additional scrutiny at Lebanese ports of entry and may be required to show documentary evidence of their parentage; specifically, official proof of their father’s name such as a copy of their birth certificate.
Travel Holds: U.S. citizens living in or traveling to Lebanon have occasionally been denied permission to leave the country because a criminal, civil, or family court has imposed a travel hold. For example, a head of household can place a travel hold against a spouse and children in family court even before the family arrives in Lebanon. Travel holds can be easily initiated and may remain in place for a substantial period of time. While the U.S. Embassy can direct U.S. citizens to options for legal representation, it cannot have travel holds removed, even in times of crisis.
The Syria Travel Advisory and Travel Between Lebanon and Syria: The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately. You can review the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Syria for additional information. U.S. citizens planning to travel to Syria from Lebanon despite the Travel Advisory should travel only via legal border crossings and obtain a Syrian visa outside the United States in a third country, as they may have difficulty securing one in Lebanon. U.S. citizens who also hold Syrian nationality and enter Lebanon by land border on a Syrian identification card should be aware that they need to obtain an exit visa in their passport from the Lebanese authorities before they can depart Lebanon through the airport. To ensure the ability to transit Lebanon and depart via the airport, U.S. citizens holding Syrian dual nationality should apply for a Lebanese entry visa in their U.S. passport at the Lebanese border.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: LGBTI status and/or conduct is criminalized in Lebanon, and LGBTI persons can face significant social stigma. Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits “unnatural sexual intercourse,” an offense punishable by up to one year in prison. Although this provision has been interpreted in different ways by some Lebanese courts and prosecutions are rare, LGBTI adults have been charged, tried, and sentenced for engaging in consensual same-sex relations. Authorities have typically arrested LGBTI individuals for other minor offenses, and then subsequently charged them with violation of Article 534 when evidence of their LGBTI identity is found, often uncovered through searches of cell phones or other personal material. While prosecution is uncommon, short-term detentions do occur, which can expose individuals to discrimination and abuse. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Lebanon, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. Lebanon has passed laws that make it illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities but the laws are not uniformly enforced. These laws include sections on building accessibility, but building codes have yet to be updated accordingly. Most public transportation, including taxis, is not accessible. Roads are often in disrepair, and there are few sidewalks or road crossings. Buildings and tourist sites are also often difficult to access for those with physical disabilities because of uneven ground and the lack of elevators and ramps.
Women Travelers: Please see information above under “Local Laws & Special Circumstances” heading about travel holds.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Working in Lebanon: U.S. citizens who come to work in Lebanon should ensure that their Lebanese employer arranges for proper documentation for them to remain in the country. This includes professional athletes, who should make certain that their sponsoring club/team arranges for them to receive the correct visas valid for the duration of their stay. Travelers coming to Lebanon as professional athletes should ensure that a written contract is in place before traveling, as many athletes have experienced problems with scams and false offers of employment.
Marrying in Lebanon: U.S. citizens who marry Lebanese nationals in Lebanon should note that the performance of a civil marriage ceremony is not available in Lebanon. Generally speaking, all personal status matters in Lebanon such as marriage, divorce and child custody fall under the jurisdiction of religious clerics and religious courts. There are more than 18 separate and distinct religious sects in Lebanon. U.S. citizens should familiarize themselves with the rights and responsibilities of marriage as defined by the authorities of the religion sanctifying their marriage. Civil marriages performed outside of Lebanon may be registered in Lebanon with the Ministry of the Interior and will thereby fall under the jurisdiction of the civil courts in the event of divorce and child custody questions.
Military Service Obligation: Mandatory military service in Lebanon was abolished on February 4, 2007. However, travelers with questions about prior military service, desertion, or failure to register in the past should contact the Military Office of the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, or call (202) 265-2335 or fax (202) 667-0063 for details prior to traveling to Lebanon. Information about military service can also be found at the Lebanese government website.
Customs: Lebanese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of items, such as firearms, military paraphernalia, professional camera equipment, other communications equipment, or antiquities. You should contact the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., or one of Lebanon's consulates in the United States, for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.
In Beirut and the surrounding areas, modern medical care and medication are widely available. Modern facilities are not always available in outlying areas. Without road congestion, no location in the country is more than three hours from the capital. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services, and without such payment, they may deny service, even in emergency cases. A list of doctors who speak English and a list of hospitals are available from the U.S. Embassy's website.
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. Many hospitals will not release you until final payment arrangements have been made. The U.S. Embassy does not assume responsibility for unpaid medical bills. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Prescription Medication: If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Lebanon to ensure that the medication is legal in Lebanon. 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.
For further health information, go to:
Road Conditions and Safety: While in Lebanon, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. In certain areas of the country, pedestrians have minimal access to sidewalks and are often forced to walk along the sides of the road, which can be dangerous. There are few to no lanes on the roads for cyclists. Beirut and highway lanes are known for their heavy traffic congestion.
An international driver’s license is required for visitors to Lebanon. Drivers in Lebanon often maneuver aggressively and pay little regard to traffic lights and stop signs. Lanes are generally unmarked, and roads outside the capital may be poorly lighted. Pedestrians should exercise particular caution. Inter-city directional signs and street markers are slowly improving throughout the country, but side roads are often not signposted at all.
While there is limited enforcement, the laws of Lebanon prohibit both drunk driving as well as cell phone usage when driving.
Emergency services in Lebanon are adequate. In case of a road accident, emergency numbers are “140” for the Red Cross and “125” for the emergency civil police.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Lebanon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Lebanon’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.
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on flights that fly over Syria, which include some flights to Beirut. Commercial aircraft are at risk when flying over regions in conflict. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens considering air travel overseas evaluate the route that their proposed commercial flight may take and avoid any flights that pass through Syrian airspace. .
MARITIME TRAVEL: Mariners planning travel to Lebanon should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts within the MARAD website. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website. Select “broadcast warnings” from within the NGA site.