July 8, 2004
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Officially known as the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Libya has a developing economy. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws, and practices. Tourist facilities are not widely available.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required. The restrictions on the use of U.S. passport for travel to, in, or through Libya were lifted in February 2004. Pleasesee paragraphs below on U.S. TreasurySanctions, Department of Commerce Controls, and Special Circumstances. Visa applications and inquiries may be made through the Libyan Mission to the United Nations in New York City. The land borders with Egypt and Tunisia are subject to periodic closures even to travelers having valid Libyan visas. Short-term closures of other land borders occur with little notice. Within three days of arrival, visitors must register at the police station closest to where they are residing or they may encounter problems during their stay or upon departure.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure. Foreign women will be asked by Libyan authorities to present a letter of consent signed by their Libyan husband if they apply foran exit visa for themselves and their children.
DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Libyan laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who also possess the nationality of Libya may be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Libyan citizens, including use of a Libyan passport to enter and depart Libya. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities.
While Libya has taken steps to cooperate in the global war on terrorism, the Libyan Government remains on the U.S. Governments State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Although Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism, it may maintain residual contacts with some of its former terrorist clients.
Recent worldwide terrorist alerts have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the region. Therefore, any American citizen that decides to travel to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel. In light of these security concerns, U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Departments Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Libya, and Public Announcements can be found.
Up to date information on security conditions can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll- free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-free line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
CRIME: Crime is a growing problem in Libya. The most common types of crime are auto theft and theft of items left in vehicles, as well as burglaries. Increasing availability of drugs has led to an increase of crime in the past few years. Libya 's beaches are the frequent sites of muggings and purse-snatchings. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police, the U.S. consular representative at the Belgian Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Libya. The consular representative/Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines may not be available in Libya. The hospital with the best reputation in Libya is the "Oil Clinique-N.O.C." There is also a new Swiss clinic and a facility withFrench doctors known as Medelink, but both are very small. Most Libyan citizens prefer to be treated outside of Libya for ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. However, please note the section on U.S. Treasury Sanctions, which may impact on the ability of insurers to provide paymentand air ambulance services to provide assistance in Libya. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Libya is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service: Poor.
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
The major streets in most cities are maintained properly as a matter of necessity since they are heavily trafficked. Many smaller side streets in urban areas, however, are in poor conditions and are seldom maintained.
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
The paved roads in rural areas are satisfactory, however, many rural roads are unpaved (i.e. dirt roads). Also, major highways along the seacoast and leading south merge into single-lane highways once they are outside the cities. These roads are heavily trafficked and precarious to navigate, especially at night and during the winter rainy season. The presence of sand deposits and domestic and wild animals that frequently cross these highways and rural roads make them even more hazardous.
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Availability of roadside assistance is extremely limited and offered only in Arabic. Inside urban areas and near the outskirts of major cities there is a greater possibility of assistance by police and emergency ambulance services although they are usually ill equipped to deal with serious injuries or accidents.
Driving in Libya may be hazardous, and there is a high accident rate. Police enforcement of traffic signs and laws is rare. As a result, it is often difficult to anticipate the actions of other drivers on Libyan streets and highways. Wind-blown sand can make roads impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles. Road conditions are poor, and public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service, is poor. Taxis, which are available, are usually on a shared-basis. Rental cars are often old and poorly maintained, and they are not recommended for long-distance driving. The sidewalks in urban areas are often in bad condition, but pedestrians are able to use them.
For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. Please see also road safety information on Libya at http://www.arab.net/libya/transport/la_roads.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Directcommercial air service between the United States and Libya is prohibited. However, regular connecting service is provided bymajor European carriers. As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers to the United States at present, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Libya 's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.
U.S. TREASURY SANCTIONS: United Nations sanctions on Libya were lifted on September 12, 2003. U.S. sanctions have been substantially eased. Effective April 29, 2004, a general license issued by the U.S. Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control authorizes U.S. persons to engage in most transactions previously prohibited by the Libyan Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 550 (the LSR), including financial and trade-related transactions. Transactions relating to travel to, from and within Libya, and residence and maintenance within Libya, by U.S. persons had been authorized by general license since February 26, 2004, subject to restrictions on payment methods that were eliminated as of April 29, 2004. Exports of goods, software or technology (including technical data or other information) to Libya must be licensed or otherwise authorized by the U.S. Department of Commerce (see description of new Commerce rules below). All property and interests in property that were blocked by the LSR as of April 29, 2004, remain blocked. In addition, certain transportation-related transactions remain prohibited, including direct flights between the U.S. and Libya, flights to or from Libya by U.S. air carriers, code-sharing by US or Libyan airlines involving flights to or from Libya, and flights to or from the United States by Libyan air carriers.
Questions about the general licenses should be directed to the Office of Foreign Assets Control at:
Office of Foreign Assets Control
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE CONTROLS: On April 23, 2004, the President terminated the application of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act with respect to Libya and the Treasury Department modified sanctions imposed on U.S. firms to allow the resumption of most commercial activities including most exports and reexports. Those actions were taken in recognition of the positive steps Libya has taken to voluntarily dismantle its WMD and longer range missile programs, as well as renounce terrorism. As a result of these actions, responsibility for the licensing of exports and reexports of goods, software and technology to Libya has been transferred from the Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to the Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
On April 29, 2004, BIS published an interim regulation delineating the new U.S. export control policy for exports and reexports to Libya. Interested persons may find the implementing regulations at the following link: ( http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/pdf/04-9717.pdf). Additional information about the regulation, including some frequently asked questions, may be found on the BIS home page at the following link under the heading Libya on 4/27/04 ( http://www.bxa.doc.gov/pagetwo.html).
As a result of changes to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), items subject to the EAR but not specifically listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL) (i.e., EAR99 items), will generally not require a license unless destined for unacceptable end-uses or end-users (i.e., WMD and missile related activities).
Additional details relating to exports of dual use items may be found at ( http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/pdf/04-9717.pdf) and (http://www.bxa.doc.gov/pagetwo.html).
OFAC licenses issued prior to transfer of licensing jurisdiction to Commerce will be considered valid until the date specified on the license or May 1, 2005, if the Department of the Treasury specified no expiration date.
If you have specific inquiries regarding reexports to Libya, please contact the BIS Export Counseling Division at 202-482-4811, or submit a query from the BIS webpage, http://www.bis.doc.gov.
U.S. Department of Commerce
Bureau of Industry and Security
Office of Exporter Services
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC. 20230
UN SANCTIONS: United Nations sanctions against Libya were lifted on September 12, 2003 after Libya addressed all the requirements contained in UN Security Council resolutions related to the Lockerbie bombing. Libyas actions included arrangements for the payment of compensation to the victims families and acceptance of responsibility for the actions of its officials in the bombing of Pan Am 103 on December 21, 1988. Despite the lifting of UN sanctions, some restrictions to U.S.-Libya trade remain in place, see above.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Libyan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the introduction into Libya or removal from Libya of firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, and currency. Importation of alcohol is forbidden. Any passenger arriving in Tripoli is required to bring into Libya a minimum of $500. This requirement is subject to a border check, and the passenger faces possible deportation if this requirement is not met. It is advisable to contact any Embassy of Libya abroad for specific information regarding customs requirements.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at www.ustr.gov/reports/2003/special301.htm.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Libya's economy operates on a cash-only" basis for most transactions, even though the use in Libya of credit cards and checks drawn on U.S. banks is now permitted. The Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel is the only business known to accept a credit card (Visa). ATM machines are non-existent. Foreign visitors should be aware that the penalties for use of unauthorized currency dealers are severe. Foreign visitors should also be aware that their passports might be confiscated in business disputes. There is a Sunday-Thursday workweek.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Libya's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Libya, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, heavy fines, and/or flogging or other physical punishment.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad.
Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.
FAMILY AND CHILDRENS ISSUES: Children under 18 whose fathers are Libyan must have the father's permission to depart Libya, even if the mother has been granted full custody by a Libyan court. Women and children are often subjected to strict family controls; on occasion, families of Libyan-American women visiting Libya have attempted to prevent them from leaving the country. Young, single women are most likely to encounter opposition from their families when trying to leave. Finally, a Libyan husband is permitted to take legal action to prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality.
For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
REGISTRATION/U.S LIAISON OFFICE/CONSULAR REPRESENTATIVES LOCATION:
On June 28, 2004, a U.S. Liaison Office opened in Tripoli. There is no consular officer included among the staff. Thus, due to limited staffing and interim facilities, it can provide only limited services to U.S. citizens. The U.S. consular representatives office is located in the Belgian Embassy at Dhat al Emad Towers Complex, Tower Number Four, Fifth Floor, Tripoli; [mailing address is the same as the physical address] Telephone: 00218/21/3350115 or 116, or 00218/21/3350936. Fax: 00218/21/3350118. Email: Tripoli@diplobel.org.