Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Venezuela International Travel Information
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Venezuela. Travelers should review the latest Travel Advisory. See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Venezuela for information on U.S. – Venezuela Relations.
The political, economic and security situation in Venezuela is unstable. Country-wide shortages of food, water, medicine, electricity, and other basic goods have led to social unrest, including violence and looting. Government of Venezuela actions include the erosion of human rights guarantees, the persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, the use of violence and other human rights abuses in response to antigovernment protests, arbitrary arrests or detentions, postponements of elections, and wide-spread government corruption. Violent crime is pervasive throughout Venezuela. Homicides, kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country; no areas are safe.
The Government of Venezuela has defined itself in part through opposition to the United States, regularly criticizing the U.S. government, its policies, and its relations with Latin America. As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas can provide only limited services to U.S. citizens and warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Venezuela.
You must have:
Visas: Please check the website of the Embassy of Venezuela in the United States for the most current information about visa application requirements and procedures.
Immigration officials often require proof of accommodation while in Venezuela, adequate means to support yourself, and an onward departure itinerary. Only use official crossing points when entering Venezuela. You must obtain an entry stamp to prove you entered the country legally.
Journalists: Journalists must have the appropriate accreditation and working visa from the Venezuelan authorities before arriving in the country. There have been recent cases of international journalists being expelled and/or detained for not having proper permission to work in Venezuela. The process for acquiring the Venezuelan documents is lengthy, so journalists are advised to apply well in advance of their travel date.
Airport Security: You should arrive and depart during daylight hours due to the frequency of robberies at gunpoint along the roads leading to and from the airport. Embassy officials have received reports of harassment of travelers arriving at the Maiquetia airport by panhandlers soliciting U.S. Dollars. The Embassy strongly advises against tipping in U.S. Dollars and that all arriving passengers make advance plans for transportation from the airport to their place of lodging using a trusted party or dispatch taxi service. More information on taxis,currency, and tipping can be found in the SAFETY and LOCAL LAWS sections.
Margarita Island: The Government of Venezuela uses biometric equipment to register photos and fingerprints of all travelers to Margarita Island. Please take your U.S. passport with you to travel to the Island.
ABC Islands: As of January 2018 the Government of Venezuela instituted a complete maritime and aviation embargo for Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. This temporary suspension of trade and travel affects both passenger and cargo traffic between the two destinations. As of the time of publication, no announcement has been made for the end of this embargo.
Traveling with children: Venezuela's child protection law mandates that minors (under 18) of any nationality who are traveling alone, with only one parent, or with a third party, must present a copy of their birth certificate and written, notarized authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent, or with a third party. If documents are prepared in the United States, the authorization and the birth certificate must be translated into Spanish, notarized, and authenticated by the Embassy of Venezuela or a Venezuelan Consulate in the United States. Additional information on the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the travel.state.gov website.
Dual Nationality: Venezuelan law requires Venezuelan citizens to enter and depart Venezuela using Venezuelan passports. Therefore, if you hold dual U.S.-Venezuelan nationality, you must plan to travel between Venezuela and the United States with valid U.S. and Venezuelan passports. Please see our website for more information on entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationals.
Resident Visas: If you reside in Venezuela, you must plan to renew your residency visa well in advance of expiration. U. S citizens residing in Venezuela have experienced difficulties and delays renewing their residency visas. Venezuelan authorities ask foreigners for proof of their identification and legal status in the country.
If you live in Venezuela, be sure to obtain legitimate Venezuelan residency documentation. Do not employ intermediaries to purchase Venezuelan resident visas and/or work permits. You must sign the resident visa in person at the Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería (SAIME) at SAIME headquarters in Caracas.
Yellow Fever: Travelers entering Venezuela from certain countries are required to have a current yellow fever vaccination certificate. Carry your International Certificate of Vaccination (or yellow card) with you, as they may ask you to present it upon arrival or departure.
HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Venezuela.
Customs: For the most current information concerning visa, tax, and customs requirements for Venezuela, travelers may contact the Embassy of Venezuela at: 1099 30th Street, NW, Washington DC 20007 (tel: +1(202) 342-2214).
Travelers may also contact a Venezuelan Consulate in the U.S. Although only in Spanish, the website for the Maiquetía International Airport, the main airport in Caracas, has helpful information for travelers.
Stay up to date:
Demonstrations: Political marches and demonstrations are frequent in all areas of Venezuela, including major cities and tourist destinations. Avoid demonstrations as even peaceful demonstrations may turn violent or result in arrests. Follow local news media reports or contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates from the U.S. Embassy, including alerts about upcoming demonstrations (see above).
Crime: Violent crime is pervasive throughout Venezuela. Be alert to your surroundings at all times and take personal security precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Avoid police activity. Corruption within police forces is a concern. Individuals wearing uniforms and purporting to be police officers or National Guard members have committed robberies and other crimes.
Criminal gangs operate openly and with little repercussion, often setting up fake police checkpoints. Armed robberies take place throughout the country, including in tourist areas. Heavily armed criminals have used grenades and assault rifles to commit crimes at banks, shopping malls, public transportation stations, and universities. Only a very small percentage of crimes result in trials and convictions.
Popular tourist attractions, such as the Avila National Park in Caracas, are associated with violent crime. Travel in groups of five or more and provide family or friends with your itineraries prior to departure.
Homicides: According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 26,616 homicides in Venezuela in 2017, amounting to a rate of 89 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world.
Kidnapping: Kidnappings are a serious problem.
Drugs: There is an active narcotics trade in Venezuela. Do not accept packages from anyone, and keep your luggage with you at all times. U.S. citizens have been actively recruited to act as narcotics couriers or “drug mules.” U.S. citizens arrested at the airport with narcotics in their possession can expect to serve extended jail terms in Venezuela under extremely difficult prison conditions.
Taxis: Do not use “libre” taxis or any taxis hailed on the street. Taxi drivers in Caracas are known to overcharge, rob, injure and even kidnap passengers. Use only radio-dispatched taxis or taxis from reputable hotels. Call a 24-hour radio-dispatched taxi service from a public phone or ask hotel, restaurant, or airline staff to contact a licensed taxi company.
Public Transportation: Do not use public transportation such as city buses and the metro (subway) in Caracas. When traveling by bus, travel only during daylight hours and only by first-class conveyance.
Avoid Driving. If you do drive, be aware of attacks in tunnels and avoid obstacles in the road.
Maiquetia International Airport: Only travel to and from Maiquetía International Airport near Caracas in daylight hours. Kidnappings, robberies at gunpoint, thefts and muggings are common. Be wary of all strangers, even those in official uniform or carrying official identification. Do not pack valuable items or documents in checked luggage. Individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms and displaying airport or police credentials have been involved in crimes inside the airport, including extortion, express kidnappings or forcing travelers to sign documents in Spanish they do not understand.
Make advance plans for transportation from the airport to your hotel or destination using a trusted party or dispatch taxi service.
Money: Do not change money at the international airport. You are encouraged to use major credit cards, but be aware of the widespread theft of credit card data. Do not use travelers’ checks. It is possible to exchange U.S. currency at approved exchange offices near major hotel chains in Caracas. Hotels cannot provide currency exchange. (The use of U.S. currency in exchange for goods or services is illegal in Venezuela.) Obtaining local currency, the bolivar fuerte, is difficult as cash is scarce. Even if you have a Venezuelan bank account, daily cash withdraws are limited to a very miniscule amount, less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
ATMs: Most ATMs do not accept U.S.-issued debit or credit cards and malfunctions are common. Use only those located in well-lit, public places. ATM data is often hacked and used to make unauthorized withdrawals from users’ accounts. Criminals target ATMs to rob people making withdrawals. Many ATMs do not have cash. When cash is available, the lines are often very long with customers regularly waiting 15-60 minutes for their turn.
U.S. Embassy Movement Policy: All U.S. government direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to travel restrictions within the city for their safety and well-being. These security measures may restrict the services the Embassy can provide.
The policy divides Caracas into three zones: yellow, orange, and red.
When traveling to and from the Yellow Zone, U.S. personnel are strongly encouraged to notify the Embassy.
The Yellow Zone includes the Baruta neighborhood (Las Mercedes, Santa Rosa de Lima, San Román, Prados del Este, Valle Arriba, Cumbres de Curumo, La Trinidad, Cafetal, Santa Paula, San Luis, Caurimare, Cerro Verde and El Peñón), El Hatillo (Las Marias, Oripoto, La Boyera, Los Pinos, Los Geranjos, Los Naranjos, La Lagunita and El Hatillo), Chacao (El Bosque, La Castellana, El Rosal, Country Club, Chacao, Altamira, Los Palos Grandes and Campo Alegre).
Travel to areas within the Orange Zone is discouraged between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and midnight and prohibited from midnight until 6:00 a.m.
The Orange Zone includes the following neighborhoods: Certain areas of Chacao (Chacaito and Bello Campo) Eastern Libertador (Montalbán, El Paraíso, Vista Alegre, San Bernardino, Los Chaguaramos, Valle Abajo, Santa Monica, Bello Monte, Sabana Grande, Ciudad Universitaria and La Florida), and Western Sucre (Sebucán, Los Chorros, Montecristo, Los Dos Caminos, El Marquez, Horizonte, La Urbina, Macaracuay, Santa Cecilia, La Carlota, Terrazas del Avila, Urbanizacion Miranda, Boleita and Los Ruices). Catedral, La Candelaria, Teatro Teresa Carreño, Universidad Simon Bolivar, and El Poliedro have been placed in a category called “Orange Zone with Restrictions.” Embassy employees traveling to Catedral, La Candelaria, Teatro Teresa Carreño, or Universidad Simon Bolivar must use an approved driver. Embassy employees traveling to an event at El Poliedro may use their personal vehicle, but must go directly there via the Autopista Francisco Fajardo, and may not stop in any of the surrounding Red Zone neighborhoods. When the event ends, employees must leave immediately, again utilizing the Autopista Francisco Fajardo. The Embassy strongly discourages transit along the Avenida Boyacá, as well as along the roads that connect to Avenida Boyacá.
Unofficial travel into the Red Zone is prohibited for U.S. government personnel. U.S. personnel are only authorized to transit through the Red Zone on official business during daylight hours provided they remain on one of the city’s highways.
The Red Zone includes the following areas: Western Libertador (Coche, El Valle, El Retiro, 23 de Enero, Blandin, La Vega, La Rinconada, Las Mayas, Tazón, Oropeza Castillo, Lomas de Urdaneta, Propatria, Casalta, Lomas De Propatria, Carapita, Antímano, Tacagua, Ruíz Pineda, Caricuao, La Quebradita, El Atlántico, Sarría, San Martín and La Yaguara), Eastern Sucre (Barrio Píritu, Barrio La Rubia, Barrio Altavista, Petare, Caucaguita, La Dolorita, Paulo Sexto, El Llanito) and specific neighborhoods in Baruta (Las Minas, Santa Cruz del Este, Ojo de Agua, La Naya, Las Minitas).
For U.S. personnel, travel outside the Embassy’s housing area (Valle Arriba) between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. in a single, unarmored car is prohibited. Additionally, all U.S. diplomats are required to be out of public venues and physically located within the Embassy’s housing area from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. They are prohibited from traveling within 50 miles of the Venezuela/ Colombia border without prior approval. Inter-city travel by car during hours of darkness (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) is strongly discouraged and in some cases may be prohibited. U.S. government personnel must also request approval for travel more than 50 miles away from Caracas and/or overnight stays outside of Caracas.
Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, contact the local police and the U.S. embassy.
Colombian Border: The area within a 50-mile radius along the entire Venezuela/Colombia border is extremely dangerous. Cross-border violence, kidnapping, drug trafficking and smuggling occur frequently in these areas. Some kidnap victims are released after ransom payments, while others are murdered.
Do not attempt to cross the land border. The Government of Venezuela closes the border crossing between Venezuela and Colombia regularly.
Seismic Activity: Venezuela is an earthquake-prone country and is occasionally subject to torrential rains, which can cause landslides. If you live in Venezuela, you are encouraged to seek a professional structural assessment of your housing.
For further information on seismic activity, you may wish to visit:
Aviation: Private aircraft companies and operators are strongly encouraged to consult with the Venezuelan Civil Aeronautical National Institute regarding current Venezuelan laws and regulations.
Criminal Penalties: While in Venezuela, you are subject to local laws and will be detained or arrested for violating them.
In Venezuela, it is illegal to take pictures of sensitive buildings, including the presidential palace, military bases, government buildings, and airports.
Drug trafficking is a serious problem in Venezuela and treated as such by Venezuelan authorities. Convicted traffickers receive lengthy prison sentences, usually eight to ten years. If you do something illegal in Venezuela, your U.S. passport won’t help.
Some offenses committed overseas can be prosecuted in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see the Department of State website and the Department of Justice website on crimes against minors abroad.
Consular Access: There have been instances of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in recent months. The Embassy may not be informed of your arrest/detainment in a timely fashion. Detainees should not assume they will promptly be charged with a crime or brought before an independent judicial authority. If you are arrested, request that the U.S. Embassy be notified.
Currency and Exchange: The Venezuelan government maintains strict currency exchange controls. Authorized exchange houses are located in the international airports and near most major hotels. Some hotels are also authorized to offer exchange services. More information on the currency is available in Spanish on the Central Bank’s website: www.bcv.org.ve/
Avoid black market currency exchange. You will likely encounter individuals in Venezuela who are willing to exchange bolivars for U.S. dollars at a rate significantly more favorable than the official exchange rates. These "black market" currency exchanges are prohibited under Venezuelan foreign exchange controls. Travelers charged in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities and face criminal penalties. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide currency exchange services.
Credit Cards: Most major U.S. credit cards are accepted for purchases in Venezuelan shops, restaurants, and other businesses. However, credit card fraud is a significant risk. Check your statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made.
Wire transfers: Wire transfers cannot be used reliably as a source of emergency funds.
Women Traveler Information: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBTI Rights: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Venezuela. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in Venezuela, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.
Accessibility: Venezuela does not have national standard for accessibility, thus most buildings lack accommodations for those with disabilities. .
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. Serious medical conditions will require medical evacuation to the United States.
You should ensure that you have sufficient quantities of all medications for the duration of your stay. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Illnesses: Be up to date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The following mosquito-borne illnesses are present:
The following parasitic diseases are also present:
For more information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad:
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Drive defensively as most drivers do not obey rules. Child car seats and seatbelts are not required and are seldom available in rental cars and taxis. Some Caracas municipalities have outlawed the use of hand held cell phones while driving.
Do not drive at night outside the major cities. Road damage is not clearly marked. Traffic jams are common within Caracas during most of the day and are frequently exploited by criminals.
Armed motorcycle gangs operate in traffic jams. Armed robberies by motorcyclists have increased. Comply with demands as victims may be killed for not complying.
Stops at National Guard and local police checkpoints are mandatory. Follow all National Guard instructions and be prepared to show vehicle and insurance papers and passports. Vehicles may be searched.
Do not use buses, even though they are plentiful and inexpensive, due to the high levels of criminal activity.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Venezuela’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Venezuela’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Incidents of piracy off the coast of Venezuela remain a concern. Yachters should note that anchoring off shore is not considered safe. Marinas, including those in Puerto la Cruz and Margarita Island (Porlamar), provide only minimal security, and U.S. citizens should exercise a heightened level of caution in Venezuelan waters.
Mariners planning travel to Venezuela 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 NGA broadcast warnings website ; select “broadcast warnings”).