March 5, 2004
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Yemen was established in 1990 following unification of the former Yemen Arab Republic (North) and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South).
Islamic and traditional ideals, beliefs and practices provide the foundation of the country's customs and laws. Yemen is a developing country and modern tourist facilities are widely available only in major cities.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required for travel to Yemen. All travelers to Yemen should have an affiliation with and arrange their travel through a Yemen-based individual or organization. Tourists must arrange their travel through a travel agency. Business travelers should have their Yemeni contacts arrange their travel. Americans who plan to study in Yemen should have their school or institution in Yemen arrange their travel. All travelers should then go to their nearest Yemeni consular official in the U.S. and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel.
For more details, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen, Suite 705, 2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone 202-965-4760; or the Yemen Mission to the U.N., 866 United Nations Plaza, Room 435, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 355-1730. The Yemeni Embassy in Washington maintains a homepage at http://www.yemenembassy.org.
Some American Muslims who have come to Yemen for tourism or Islamic studies at Yemeni schools and had appropriate visas, nevertheless have been detained by Yemeni security officials who seized their passports. In such instances, the U.S. citizens were told their passports would be returned when they departed the country. Some Americans studying in Yemen without official permission have been arrested and/or deported.
Upon arrival in Yemen, travelers should register within the first month at the Immigration Authority in Sanaa or at any police station in the district where they are residing. Long-term residents should re-register when they change their residence.
In an effort to prevent international parental child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of the relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: The Government of Yemen may not recognize the U.S. citizenship of persons who are citizens of both Yemen and the United States. This may hinder the ability of U.S. consular officials to assist persons who do not enter Yemen on a U.S. passport. Dual nationals may also be subject to national obligations, such as taxes or military service. For further information, travelers can contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Yemen. Additionally, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Department of State has received credible reports that terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization have planned attacks against U.S. interests in Yemen, and the Department anticipates that threats against U.S. citizens in Yemen remain possible.
U.S. citizens are urged to exercise particular caution at locations associated with foreigners, such as the Sanaa Trade Center, American-affiliated franchises, restaurants and shops in the Hadda area in Sanaa, and in Aden and elsewhere, at restaurants and hotels frequented by expatriates. From time to time, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa may temporarily close or suspend public services as necessary to review its security posture and ensure its adequacy. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found.
In addition, U.S.citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of such objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended and should be kept locked at all times. U.S.Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions. Americans in Yemen are urged to register and remain in contact with the American Embassy in Sanaa for updated security information (see section on Registration/Embassy location).
In November 2002, there was an attack on an American company helicopter, in which there were a few injuries. On December 30, 2002, three Americans were killed and another was injured in an attack on a hospital near the city of Ibb. The perpetrators of both attacks were apprehended and prosecuted. Nevertheless, these incidents indicate a continuing level of risk for foreigners in Yemen.
RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS: Yemeni government security organizations have arrested and expelled foreign Muslims, including Americans, who have associated with local Muslim organizations considered to be extremist by security organs of the Yemeni government. The situations mentioned in the above paragraph on Safety and Security have served to make Yemeni authorities, if anything, more suspicious of foreign Muslims. Americans risk arrest if they engage in either political or other activities that violate the terms of their admission to Yemen.
AREAS OF INSTABILITY: Travel on roads between cities throughout Yemen can be dangerous. Yemeni security officials advise against casual travel to rural areas. Travel is particularly dangerous in the tribal areas north and east of Sanaa, in Shabwa and Abyan provinces, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, and sailing near the Socotra Islands in the Gulf of Aden. If travel to these areas is necessary, travelers may reduce the risk to personal security if such travel is undertaken by air. If travel through these areas is necessary, risk may be reduced if travel is undertaken with an armed escort provided by a local tour company. Armed carjacking, especially of four-wheel drive vehicles, occurs in many parts of the country, including the capital.
Americans should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. In the past, increases in the price of diesel fuel and other commodities have resulted in civil disturbances in urban areas. Other potential hazards to travelers include land mines and unexploded ordnance from the 1994 civil war. This is of particular concern in areas where fighting took place in the six southern provinces. However, most minefields have been identified and cordoned off.
CRIME: The most serious problems affecting travelers to Yemen is carjacking. Travelers have rarely been victims of petty street crime. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to the local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explains how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crimes is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find and attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travel to the Middle East and North Africa for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. These 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: Lack of modern medical facilities outside of Sanaa and Aden and an absence of emergency ambulance services throughout the country may cause concern to some visitors. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. An adequate supply of prescription medications for the duration of the trip is important. While many prescription drugs are available in Yemen, a particular drug needed by a visitor may not be available.
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. 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 page.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: It is strongly recommended that you visit a travel medicine clinic before you travel to Yemen. The altitude of Sanaa (7200 feet) may cause problems for visitors who have respiratory or cardiac disease. Malaria is a serious problem in locations outside Sanaa, at altitudes below 4800 feet, and especially along the coasts. Because chloroquine-resistant malaria exists in areas outside the city of Sanaa, the drugs of choice for malaria prophylaxis are either mefloquine or doxycycline; if you intend to enter a malaria prone area you should have a G6PD test to assure that you can safely take primaquine for exit prophylaxis. Yellow fever vaccination is required if you are traveling from an infected area, including some countries in South America and Africa, and are older than one year. The cholera vaccine has low effectiveness and is marginally recommended. However, typhoid vaccine, hepatitis A and B, rabies (pre-exposure), polio (one-time adult booster), tetanus, meningococcous, and influenza vaccines are recommended prior to entering Yemen.
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: U.S. citizens will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Yemen is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None
Travel by road in Yemen should be considered risky. Within cities, minivans and small buses ply somewhat regular routes, picking up and dropping off passengers with little notice or regard for other vehicles. Despite the presence of traffic lights and traffic policemen, each intersection requires an act of negotiation. While traffic laws exist, they are often not enforced. Drivers sometimes drive on the wrong side of the road, although right-hand driving is specified by Yemeni law. No laws mandate the use of seat belts or car seats for children. The maximum speed for private cars is 100 kilometers per hour (62.5 miles per hour), but speed limits are rarely enforced. A large number of under-age drivers are on the roads. Many vehicles are in poor repair and lack things such as functional turn signals, headlights and taillights. Pedestrians, especially children, and animals on the roads constitute a hazard in both rural and urban areas. Beyond the main inter-city roads, which are usually paved and in fair condition, the rural roads in general require four-wheel drive vehicles or vehicles with high clearance.
Take precaution to avoid minefields left over from Yemen 's civil wars. Traveling off well-used tracks without an experienced guide could be extremely hazardous, particularly in parts of the south and the central highlands.
Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and reckless driving which causes an accident resulting in injury, are a fine and/or prison sentence. If the accident results in death, the driver is subject to a maximum of three years in prison and/or a fine. Under traditional practice, victims' families negotiate a monetary compensation from the driver proportionate to the extent of the injuries, higher if it is a fatality.
For additional general 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. For specific information concerning Yemen, contact the Yemen Tourism Promotion Board, P.O.Box: 5607, Sana'a, Yemen, Telephone: +967 1 209265 Fax: +967 1 209266 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http://yementourism.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by U.S. carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Yemen, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Yemen '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 telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.intl.faa.gov.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Yemeni customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Yemen of items such as alcohol, firearms, pornography and antiquities. Certain American magazines and videos may be deemed pornographic. All baggage, including that of diplomats, is subject to x-ray and hand search upon arrival. Please contact the Embassy of Yemen in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.
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. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. The use of the mild stimulant "qat" is legal and common in Yemen, but it is considered an illegal substance in many other countries, including the United States.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Photography of military installations, including airports, equipment or troops, is forbidden. In the past, such photography has led to the arrest of U.S. citizens. Military sites are not always obvious. If in doubt, it is wise to ask specific permission from Yemeni authorities.
Travelers should be aware that automatic teller machines (ATMs) are not widely available in Yemen. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 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 the Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard 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.
FAMILY MATTERS: Yemen is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between Yemen and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, Yemeni authorities are under no obligation to return a parentally kidnapped child to his or her country of ordinary residence. American citizens who travel to Yemen are subject to the jurisdiction of Yemeni courts, as well as to the country's laws, customs and regulations. This holds true for all legal matters including child custody. Women in custody disputes in Yemen may not enjoy the same rights that they do in the U.S., as Yemeni law often does not work in favor of the mother. Parents planning to travel to Yemen with their children should bear this in mind. Parents should also note that American custody orders might not be enforced in Yemen.
American women who also hold Yemeni nationality, and/or are married to Yemeni or Yemeni-American men, should also be advised that if they bring their children to Yemen they will not enjoy freedom of travel should they decide they want to leave Yemen. Such women often must obtain permission from their husbands for exit visas. They also may not take their children out of Yemen without the permission of the father, regardless of who has custody.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Yemen are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and obtain updated information on travel and security conditions within Yemen. The U.S. Embassy is open for American citizen services between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, PO Box 22347. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967) (1) 303 155. The fax number is (967) (1) 303 175.