The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea. The Government of Eritrea restricts the travel of all foreign nationals in the country, including U.S. diplomats. These restrictions make it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens outside the city of Asmara. This replaces the Travel Warning dated February 22, 2017.
U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea Region because of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the contested border area, and because of the military tensions between the two countries. In June 2016, fighting in this region resulted in numerous deaths. U.S. citizens should also avoid travel to the contested Eritrea-Djibouti border region, where military troops patrol and tensions are high.
For further information:
See our Fact Sheet on Eritrea for additional information on U.S.-Eritrea relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Electronic items: All electronic items (laptops, mobile phones, cameras etc) should be declared upon arrival. Failure to do so may result in their confiscation by customs officials when you depart.
Receipts: Visitors must save all receipts for purchases and foreign exchange and present these upon departure. Failure to report foreign currency or electronics, or meet customs requirements usually results in confiscation, fine and imprisonment.
Exit Visas: U.S.-Eritrean dual nationals who enter the country on an Eritrean passport or national ID card must obtain an exit visa prior to departure. All long-term residents must also obtain an exit visa.
Departure Tax: There is a $20 airport departure tax normally included in airline ticket prices.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Eritrea.
Eritrea experiences persistent food, water, and fuel shortages.
Travel Permits: All foreign nationals, including U.S. Embassy officials, are required to obtain permits to travel outside of Asmara. Applications for travel permits are available at the two Ministry of Tourism offices located on Harnet Avenue and Airport Road. If you encounter difficulties while outside of the Asmara area, the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services may be limited.
Avoid travel to all border regions due to ongoing instability, crime, kidnapping, and unmarked minefields throughout the country. Borders may close without notice.
Avoid remote Eritrean islands, some of which may have military facilities.
Landmines: Landmines continue to occasionally cause death and injury. Exercise caution in remote areas or off main roads. Avoid walking and hiking in the countryside. Use caution particularly around:
Crime: Crime in Eritrea is increasing. While most reported criminal incidents in Asmara involve crimes of opportunity, car and home burglaries and sexual assaults are on the rise.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of crime should contact the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible. Report crimes to the local police at (291)-1-127-799 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (291)1-120-004.
In Asmara and throughout Eritrea, in an emergency, dial
(291)1-127-799 for the police
(291)1-202-099 for the fire department
(291)1-202-914 / 201-917 / 201-606 for medical emergencies
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs, result in long prison sentences and heavy fines. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Do not attempt to take advantage of street or black market exchange in foreign currency.
U.S.-Eritrean Dual Nationals: Eritrea does not recognize dual nationality. Dual U.S. - Eritrean citizens are considered Eritrean nationals by the Eritrean authorities. This limits our ability to provide consular services.
You may be subject to certain obligations, including taxes and conscription into national service. You need proof of payment of the 2 percent income tax to obtain any civil documents (e.g. birth certificates, educational transcripts, property ownership records, court records). Inquire at an Eritrean embassy or consulate regarding your status before you travel.
Military Service for Dual U.S. – Eritrean citizens: The National Service Proclamation of October 1995 states that any national between the age of 18 and 50 shall have a duty to participate in National Service.
Photography: Visitors are advised to exercise caution when taking photographs in Eritrea. Often there are no signs/posts stating “no photography,” but individuals found taking photos of military or government installations can face a warning, harassment, confiscation, arrest, detention, or interrogation. Do not take photos of Eritreans without permission.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Eritrean law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy therefore may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained. See our webpage for further information.
Phone Service: Cellular phones are the norm, yet landlines are available in most homes and are more reliable than cellular service. It is very difficult for a tourist to obtain a SIM card for cellular service. There is no data service or roaming available.
Currency: The Eritrean Nakfa (ERN) is the official currency. The economy is cash-based and there are no ATMs. Credit cards are not accepted, except by a few airline offices. It is illegal to use foreign currency to make purchases except at a few official hotels where foreigners are required to pay in U.S. dollars or Euros. Most will accept U.S. bills printed only from 2003 or later.
It is illegal to exchange money anywhere other than at a state foreign currency exchange Himbol branch. You must declare all foreign currency brought into Eritrea in excess of $10,000 (or the equivalent) and on departure, you must prove that any missing foreign currency was exchanged at a branch of the Himbol or provide receipts of the items you purchased.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is punishable by 10 days to three years incarceration. Antidiscrimination laws relating to LGBTI persons do not exist, and those complicit in abuses are not investigated and punished. There are no known LGBTI organizations in the country. Hotels do not allow two females or two males to share one room unless it has separate beds.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, public buildings, hotels, and communication accommodations. Within Asmara, sidewalks are plentiful, although most are in bad condition and do not have cutouts. Few buildings have elevators. Due to frequent power outages, these elevators may not be functioning.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.
Women Travelers: Domestic violence, punishable as assault and battery, is commonplace but such cases rarely are reported or brought to trial. No information is available on the prevalence of rape.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Consult the CDC website for Eritrea prior to travel.
Medical facilities and physicians are limited. Medicines are in short supply. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Bring preventative and over-the counter medicines with you.
You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas.American citizens who entered Eritrea on an Eritrean visa (those that do not hold an Eritrean national ID) must pay for medical services in U.S. dollars. If you will be an inpatient, a down payment is required.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: See the CDC website for recommended vaccinations.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Stay on main roads away from border areas. Rural roads and off-road driving can be dangerous. There are minefields in certain areas of the country. Detonations have occurred on relatively well-traveled roads in and near the Gash Barka region of western Eritrea. The roads between Asmara, Massawa, Mendefera, Dekemhare, Barentu, and Keren are paved but roads to small villages are not. Mountain roads, which are narrow and winding with crumbling edges, do not generally have guardrails or signs. Road debris is common during the rainy season from October to May. The Filfil Road from Asmara to Massawa has a large amount of mountain debris and has washed away in parts. Traffic safety is also hazardous due to excessive speed, slow motorized carts, pedestrians, bicycles, livestock, fog, and poor lighting.
Traffic Laws: If you wish to drive in Eritrea, you must obtain an Eritrea driver’s license; you may not use your U.S. or international driver’s license. The police may stop drivers randomly to inspect driver’s licenses.
Accidents: If you are involved in an automobile accident, you should contact the local police immediately. Leave your car in place until the local police arrive to take a report. If a crowd forms and becomes hostile, contact the U.S. Embassy.
Public Transportation: Buses and taxis, both of which run on pre-established routes, are inexpensive.
Buses: Extreme over-crowding makes them unsafe and pickpocketing is common.
Taxis: Requests for any deviation from the route can result in significantly higher fares. You may ask a driver in advance not to take other passengers if you pay a higher fare.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety and Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Eritrea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Eritrea’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.
Maritime Travel: Pirates operate on the Red Sea, and recreational vessels should avoid the region. Commercial vessels without explicit agreements with Eritrean authorities should avoid Eritrean territorial waters. The Eritrean government has seized ships which do not hold such agreements. These seizures have resulted in lengthy detentions of international crew members. Commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at some Eritrean ports, even to refuel. Consult the International Maritime Bureau's Live Piracy Report for information on maritime advisories.
Further information can be found on the following websites:
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
Please check back for update.
Official birth certificates are available from Asmara and other Eritrean municipalities. Most municipalities issue documents that are computerized, assigned identification numbers, and authenticated by local authorities; however documents from remote municipalities may be hand written. There are two types of birth certificates: 1. without a photo, and 2. with a photo, but does not list the mother’s name. It is very common, especially for older individuals and those living in rural areas, to not have a birth certificate. However, it is relatively easy to obtain one. It is common for birth certificates to be issued long after the individual’s birth.
Persons applying for birth certificates should contact the appropriate municipal authorities and present hospital birth records, baptismal certificate, and/or notarized statement by witnesses familiar with the birth. Requests can be made in person or through a third party with a power of attorney.Death/Burial
Requests for copies of previously issued birth certificates should be addressed to the Office of Civil Status, Municipality of Asmara or to the equivalent office of any other municipality offices in which the birth was registered. Requests can be made in person or through a third party with a power of attorney
Possible inconsistencies: When applying for a national ID, the Immigration department may ask for a newly re-issued, computerized birth certificate. Some people may have birth certificates issued very recently. Since many older individuals were never issued a birth certificate, there may be issues with Dates of Birth. The Eritrean National ID only lists a year of birth, and it is easy for a person to go to the municipality with three witnesses and obtain a birth certificate with any date of birth they state.
Local Eritrean hospitals will issue a Death Certificate Form for individuals who died in the hospital. This From lists a specific cause of death and may be hand written. A hospital may issue a Dead Body Certificate for individuals who arrived at the hospital already deceased. An official Certificate of Death is issued by the local municipality, however the cause of the death listed may be very general (i.e. sickness). The Certificates of Death are computerized, assigned registration numbers, and authenticated by local authorities.
Officially-issued marriage certificates are available from Asmara and other Eritrean municipalities. These documents are now computerized, assigned registration numbers, and authenticated by local authorities.
Persons applying for marriage certificates should contact the appropriate municipal authorities and present church documents and/or notarized statements by witnesses. Requests can be made in person or through a third party with a power of attorney. Requests should be addressed to the municipality office where the marriage was registered.
Requests for copies of previously issued marriage certificates should be addressed to the Office of Civil Status, Municipality of Asmara or to the equivalent office of any other municipality offices in which the birth was registered. Requests can be made in person or through a third party with a power of attorney.
Obtaining a divorce is a rather lengthy process in Eritrea. Each party must have two appointed family arbitrators, acceptable to the court. The first priority of these family arbitrators is reconciling the marriage. If not possible, they have to work out the details of the property settlements and child custody. After presenting a signed, stamped and approved (by all parties: spouse, family, arbitrators) copy of these agreements by the court, the municipality will issue a divorce certificate in Tigrigna and/or English.
Persons applying for divorce documents should contact the appropriate municipal authorities and present the necessary documentation. Requests can be made in person or through a third party with a power of attorney.
In late 2015, the Eritrean government began issuing new national identity cards, for individuals over age 18. These cards are plastic with holographic security features and the individual’s fingerprint on the back. They are in Tigrinya, Arabic, and English. However, very few new identity cards are in circulation. Most people still have the old cards which were issued many years ago, are hand-written (only in Tigrinya and Arabic), very poorly laminated, and easily altered. Many individuals have applied for new ID cards with the Immigration and Nationality Department and their old ID cards have been hole-punched, though most have not received the new ID card yet. There is a very long backlog of applications for the new IDs.
Persons applying for Identity card should contact Immigration and Nationality department.
Very few Eritreans are able to obtain a police certificate.
Most court records can be obtained through the courts.
Persons released from prison are rarely given an official release or any documentation to show that they were incarcerated by local authorities.
Eritrean passports issued prior to 2010 do not show the applicant's nationality as prescribed under the provisions of INA 101(A) (30). Posts may issue visas in the Eritrean passports, but should insist that another document indicating nationality (e.g., an ID card showing date, place of birth and citizenship, a birth certificate, etc.) is also presented with the passport when possible. Eritrean National ID cards are only issued in Tigrinya and Arabic to those over 18 years of age and are easily alterable, making proof of Eritrean citizenship difficult to determine. Embassy Asmara realizes the extra burden this places on DHS and other issuing posts. In addition, these passports have no identifiable security features. Bio data is hand-written, physical photographs are used, and lamination is of poor quality.
Eritrean passports issued during and after 2010 show the applicant's nationality and the Bio data and photographs are printed and machine readable. Laminations is of a better quality and numerous security features, both holographic and ultraviolet, are utilized.
Children under the age of 16 can travel on the Eritrean passport of a parent. Each accompanying child must be issued a separate visa, which is affixed to the traveling parent's passport.
Passports are issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for a five year period. The Ministry or an Eritrean Embassy or Consulate may renew a passport multiple times for additional five year periods.
Education Documents for all levels of study are available through the institution. Matriculation results are available through the Testing center.
To be considered equivalent to a United States high school education, a student must take and pass matriculation exams after completing High School courses. A GPA of 0.6 for males and 0.4 for female is necessary on the matriculation exams to apply for post-secondary education in Eritrea (see chart below).
2.00 for males
1.80 for females
2.00 for males
1.80 for females
2.4 and above for all
1.2 -1.80 for males
1.0 – 1.60 for female
1.00 - 1.8 for males
0.8 – 1.6 for females
2.2 for all
0.6 – 1.0 for males
0.4 – 0.8 for females
1.6 and 1.8 for all
Documents Post would accept to be satisfied that the education requirement is met:
Post Asmara is able to send education documents for verification with the Eritrean authorities if there are any specific concerns with documents.
From 1991-2002, high school completion was at grade 11. The person only received one transcript through grade 11 from the secondary school s/he attended. These individuals also must take matriculation exams.
After 2003, HS completion is grade 12, however grade 12 is finished during military service. The person would receive 2 transcripts, one from the secondary school where s/he attended through grade 11, and another certificate from “Sawa” for grade 12. Matriculation exams are mandatory when a student attends Sawa and s/he should have these results as well. A student who completed grade 10 in a secondary school, then went for two years to a vocational school, can take the matriculation exams and as long as they receive the minimum GPA, they can apply for Post Secondary education. This procedure will soon change and a student will receive a compiled transcript from their former high school as they would have completed 75% of their high school there, though we are not sure when.
After taking matriculation exams and passing with the required GPA, students are eligible to apply for a degree, diploma, certificate.
NIV: Embassy Asmara ceased processing B1, B2, and B1/B2 visas to all Eritrean citizens, nationals and residents on September 13, 2017. All other visa categories are issued.
IV: Embassy Asmara does not process Immigrant Visas. All Immigrant Visas and Visas 92/93 for nationals of Eritrea are being processed by the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.