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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 work permits must submit to a laboratory exam to prove that they are 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. Additionally, Lebanon is currently undergoing a period of increased political and economic instability that could lead to violence, major disruptions and/or safety risks. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should carefully consider the risks of remaining in the country.
Economic Instability: The current economic crisis has featured a nationwide shortage of U.S. dollars and restricted bank depositors’ ability to withdraw their deposits. The deteriorating situation has caused inflated prices for food and sporadic shortages of fuel, which are expected to worsen if the economic crisis continues. Rolling electricity blackouts have become common. Similarly, some Lebanese health care providers have experienced difficulties importing medicines and medical equipment and paying medical staff. There are increased incidents of many categories of crime. In addition, some businesses, such as shops, restaurants, and hotels, have closed due to the economic situation.
Political Unrest: Beginning in October 2019, Lebanon has witnessed frequent demonstrations by protesters dissatisfied with government policies. While these protests, which were largely peaceful, have decreased in size and frequency, the country is still seeing some street protests, and some of them became violent. U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests. During the current period of civil unrest, protesters have blocked major roads, including the primary road to the U.S. Embassy and the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to target crowds. Frequently, they select unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
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. ISIS and Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon. U.S. citizens have been the targets of terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity persists, as does the risk of death or injury to non-targeted bystanders. 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 Assad regime in Syria.
Security Risks: 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 U.S. Embassy officials from traveling to assist U.S. citizens in certain areas including parts of metropolitan Beirut, the city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, refugee settlements, and southern Lebanon.
U.S. citizens are responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon, including in a worsening security climate. The Embassy does not offer protection services to U.S. citizens who feel unsafe but directs citizens to plan for unexpected situations and exercise safety and security precaution. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should remain aware of surroundings and know how to access emergency police assistance. In particular, U.S. citizens with medical or other special requirements should be aware of the corresponding risks of remaining in country and be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon, if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country.
U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon despite guidance offered in the Travel Advisory should be aware that consular officers at the U.S. Embassy may not be able to travel to assist them. Also, the Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens 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 also can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence. Celebratory gunfire has also led to injury or death.
Evacuations: U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist, and they cannot be guaranteed even when commercial travel options are limited or absent. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means travelers must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. U.S. citizens should maintain valid U.S. passports, as lack of valid documentation could hinder their ability to depart the country. Additional information on the Department’s role during emergencies can be found at Emergencies.
Kidnapping: Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, does occur in Lebanon. Kidnapping perpetrators are sometimes linked to terrorist or criminal organizations. The U.S. government has limited ability to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage. 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, including terrorist organizations as U.S. law prohibits providing material support to terrorist organizations.
Avoid the Lebanon-Syria border region: The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region because of past clashes, extremist activity, and the potential for these to recur at any time.
Avoid the Lebanon-Israel border region: Hostilities between Israel and Hizballah flared in August and September 2019, and again in July 2020, resulting in apparent rocket and drone attacks, and the potential for wider conflict remains. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanon-Israel border area due to ongoing tensions between the two countries. 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 marked areas.
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: Reported crime rates in Lebanon are moderate but rising. Violent crime and sexual assault are rare, but do happen. Petty theft -- such as pickpocketing and purse snatching -- occurs in crowded public areas. More recently, the dire economic situation is engendering a significant increase in economically-motivated crimes, including home invasions and car thefts. Police are responsive but often unable to effect a positive outcome.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes by visiting the nearest police or by calling the ISF hotline 1745 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(961) 4-542600 or +(961) 4-543600. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information. Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Lebanon. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help.
Common scams include:
Tourism: Ongoing civil unrest that began in October 2019 has disrupted the travel and presence of tourists in Lebanon. The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities to provide urgent medical treatment. Although the government has sought to help medical service providers obtain required medical supplies and equipment, the current economic situation and lack of dollar liquidity has affected hospitals’ ability to import goods and maintain equipment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
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 arrest or prosecution. 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 lacking passport or identification documents at government checkpoints are subject to questioning by Lebanese authorities. In certain areas, taking photos of buildings or other infrastructure has led to questioning and detention. In Lebanon, persons driving under the influence can immediately jailed.
Furthermore, some infractions are also subject to prosecution in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
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.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Dual Citizenship: In addition to being subject to all Lebanese laws, U.S. citizens with Lebanese nationality may also be subject to other laws. 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 citizens arriving at a Lebanese point of entry with an Israeli stamp in their passports may be detained, arrested, or denied entry. Penalties can be especially harsh if the traveler is of Arab origin or a dual national. Travelers with a family name deemed to be of Israeli or Jewish origin also have been detained.
Travelers who have previously entered Lebanon illegally under Lebanese law, whether as refugees or for transit to a third country, may be denied entry, 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 in Lebanon are sometimes denied permission to depart 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 even before the family arrives in Lebanon. Easily initiated, travel holds remain in place for prolonged periods. While the U.S. Embassy can provide U.S. citizens 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 enter Syria only via legal border crossings and obtain a Syrian visa outside the United States in a third country. U.S. citizens who also hold Syrian nationality and enter Lebanon by land border on a Syrian identification card should obtain an exit visa from the Lebanese authorities before they attempt to depart Lebanon through the airport. It is recommended that U.S. citizens with Syrian nationality obtain a Lebanese entry visa in their U.S. passports at the Lebanese border upon entry from Syria.
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 sexual relations “contradicting the laws of nature,” an offense punishable by up to one year in prison. Although some Lebanese courts interpret this provision in different ways and prosecutions are rare, judicial decisions can vary case-to-case and LGBTI adults have been charged, tried, and convicted for engaging in consensual same-sex relations. Authorities have arrested LGBTI individuals for minor offenses, then charged them with violation of Article 534 when evidence of their LGBTI identity is uncovered, through searches of cell phones or other personal material. While prosecution is uncommon, short-term detentions 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 to better accommodate those with disabilities, but the laws are not uniformly enforced. Most public transportation, including taxis, is not accessible. Roads are often in disrepair, and there are few sidewalks or cross walks. Uneven ground and the lack of elevators and ramps at buildings and tourist sites can impede access for persons with physical disabilities.
Women Travelers: Please see Travel Holds above and review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Working in Lebanon: U.S. citizens who come to work in Lebanon should ensure that their employers obtain proper visas for them to remain in the country. Travelers coming to Lebanon as professional athletes should secure written contracts before traveling.
Marrying in Lebanon: More than 18 separate and distinct religious sects solemnize marriages between U.S. citizens and Lebanese nationals in Lebanon. Civil marriage is not available. Couples should familiarize themselves with the rights and responsibilities of marriage as defined by the religion sanctifying their marriage. They should be aware that religious clerics and religious courts dictate all personal status matters related to marriage, divorce and child custody. Civil marriages performed outside of Lebanon and registered with Lebanon’s Ministry of the Interior fall under civil court jurisdiction with regard to divorce and child custody.
Military Service Obligation: Mandatory military service in Lebanon was abolished in 2007. However, travelers with questions about prior military service, desertion, or failure to register in the past should contact the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., 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., for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.
For emergency services in Lebanon dial 112.
Adequate health facilities are most readily available in Metropolitan Beirut and large cities. Psychological and psychiatric servces are extremely limited.
Travelers should note that the standard of care could be compromised by the country’s current economic situation, which has impeded the import of some medications and medical supplies. The economic environment has also resulted in the layoff or nonpayment of some health care professionals. A list of doctors who speak English and a list of hospitals are available from the U.S. Embassy's website. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Ambulance services are:
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 doctors and hospitals in Lebanon expect immediate cash payment for services, and without such payment, they may deny service, even in emergency cases. Credit card payment is not widely available. Cash in U.S. dollars is no longer widely available in Lebanon, as the financial situation has caused banks to limit withdrawals, and ATMs are not consistently stocked. Cash in Lebanese pounds can be obtained more easily but is also subject to bank limitations on withdrawal amounts. With overseas medical coverage you will be able to seek reimbursement after paying for care up front. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
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:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
Water Quality: In all areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe.
Road Conditions and Safety: While in Lebanon, road conditions differ significantly from those in the United States. In certain areas, pedestrians have minimal access to sidewalks and are forced to walk along the sides of busy roadways. There are very few bicycle lanes designated for cyclists and drivers are unaccustomed to sharing the road with cyclists. Beirut streets and highway lanes are known for their heavy traffic congestion and aggressive driving. Lanes are generally unmarked, and roads outside the capital may be poorly lighted.
Drivers generally will find inter-city directional signs and street markers, but side roads often bear no signposts.
Lebanon prohibits both drunk driving and cell phone use while driving, but enforcement is limited
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 air carriers 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.
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.