Greece is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy.
A passport is required, but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. An AIDS test is required for performing artists and students on Greek government scholarships; U.S. test results are not accepted. For other entry questions, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or the Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at http://www.greekembassy.org/.
Civil disorder is rare. However several active terrorist groups, including the "17 November" organization, have at times targeted U.S. and Western government and commercial interests, as, for example, in 1999 when terrorists bombed a major international chain hotel perceived to have American ties. Prominent Greek businessmen, journalists, and politicians have also been targeted. In a June 8, 2000 terrorist attack, the British Defense Attache was murdered. The potential for terrorist activities against U.S. and commercial interests remains high. There have been no specific threats against private American citizens traveling in Greece. Nevertheless, travelers should review their security practices and be alert to their surroundings. The Consular Affairs home page provides updated information whenever there is a need to alert Americans to a specific situation.
Americans traveling on ships in Greece should verify the location of life jackets and emergency evacuation procedures with crew. Nighttime travel is best avoided. Caution is urged in planning travel by older vessels. Two ship disasters in September 2000 revealed these problems of which American citizens should be aware.
Crime against tourists (purse-snatchings, pickpocketing) appears to be on the rise at popular tourist sites and on crowded public transportation, particularly in Athens. The usual safety precautions practiced in any urban area ought to be practiced during a visit to Greece. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.
Medical facilities are adequate, and some in Athens and Thessaloniki are quite good, though nursing care, particularly in public hospitals, may be less than adequate.
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 Greece is provided for general reference only and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Visitors to Greece must be prepared to drive defensively. Heavy traffic and poor highways pose hazards, especially at night. Extreme care is warranted in operating a motorbike. The majority of U.S. citizen traffic casualties in Greece have involved motorbikes. Drivers must carry a valid U.S. license as well as an international driver's permit. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses: AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Vehicles may be rented without the permit, but the driver will be penalized for failure to have one in the event of an accident. Fines are high. Small motorbike rental firms frequently do not insure their vehicles; the customer is responsible for damages. Please review your coverage before renting.
Greek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export from Greece of antiquities, including rocks from archaeological sites. Penalties range from large fines to prison terms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Greece in Washington or one of Greece's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Customs Authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, an/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call 212-354-4480, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, tel. (30)(1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel. (30)(31) 242-905. The Embassy's web site is http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the Consular Section is email@example.com. The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet completed its assessment of Greece's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.