Faith-Based Travelers

Faith-based travel includes pilgrimages. It also includes service projects and mission work. It can even include faith-based tours. Every year, millions of U.S. citizens safely take part in religious travel. However, there are things U.S. faith-based travelers should know before going. In some countries, there are strict rules for religious activity. It can even be a crime to conduct them. Know the laws and conditions of the country you wish to visit.

Before You Go 

Visit our Traveler’s Checklist. Check our country information pages. They have information on visa rules and local laws. Enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You will get safety information while you are abroad.

Additional resources for faith-based travelers:

Traveling Under a Sponsoring Organization? 

Consider these questions:

  • Do they have emergency plans for crises? These include local security threats. They also include natural disasters. They may even include harm or deaths of U.S. citizen travelers.
  • Are they familiar with the local laws and customs? Do they know rules about religious expression?
  • Are they a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council
  • Are you volunteering with an orphanage? Will you be working with children? Check out the following information page. It has information on child institutionalization. It also has information on human trafficking.

While You’re There 

Remember, you are subject to the laws and justice system of the country you are in.

Countries have different laws. Many restrict religious expression. These may include restrictions on:

  • public or private prayer,
  • other religious practices,
  • wearing religious attire or symbols,
  • preaching in private or public,
  • speaking to others about your beliefs,
  • possessing religious material(s) or image(s),
  • criticizing/questioning others’ religious beliefs,
  • visiting certain religious sites if you are female or not a member of the religion,
  • distributing religious literature, and/or
  • participating in religious services or activities. 

These laws may be applied inconsistently to foreign visitors. Research the local laws and customs of your destination country.

You may run into problems while overseas. If you do, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Always carry the address and phone number of the U.S. embassy or consulate with you. Carry them in English and the local language. Consular Officers may be able to help if you run into problems. They will also work to safeguard your privacy under U.S. laws.  

Last Updated: March 7, 2024