Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a modern economy. Day-to-day life has returned to normal after the 1991 Gulf War, and facilities for travelers are widely available. The workweek in Kuwait is Saturday through Wednesday.
Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Kuwait. For more information concerning entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Kuwait at 2940 Tilden St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 966-0702, or the Kuwaiti Consulate in New York City, telephone (212) 973-4318.
Travel to and near the Iraq-Kuwait border is very hazardous. U.S. citizens having legitimate work-related business near the border may receive updated information from the U.S. Embassy, and may also wish to consult with their employer's security personnel. Unexploded bombs, mines, booby traps, and other items remain in open areas and beaches throughout Kuwait. U.S. Embassy personnel are forbidden to travel off paved surfaces outside Kuwait City.
The crime rate in Kuwait is moderate. However, weapons left over from the 1991 Gulf War remain in the hands of the populace, and shooting incidents have occurred. Both physical and verbal harassment of women is a continuing problem. 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. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. They are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 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.
The health care delivery system continues to rebuild, with many medical facilities, both government and private, available in Kuwait. Medical care at government-run clinics and hospitals is generally provided free of charge or at low cost to residents of Kuwait, while private physicians and hospitals charge a fee for services.
Driving in Kuwait can be hazardous. Although Kuwait has an extensive and modern system of well-lighted roads, excessive speeding on both primary and secondary roads, coupled with lax enforcement of traffic regulations, lead to frequent and often fatal accidents.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers checks and credit cards are widely accepted. Kuwaiti currency is readily convertible to U.S. dollars.
LOCAL LAW AND PROHIBITED PRACTICES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Alcohol, pork products, and pornography are illegal in Kuwait. Penalties for importation, possession, use, manufacture or sale of illegal drugs, alcohol, or pornography are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Religious proselytizing is not permitted. Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, including Americans, charged with criminal offenses or placed under investigation, or involved in financial disputes with local business partners, are subject to travel bans. These bans, which are rigidly enforced, prevent the individual from leaving Kuwait for any reason until the matter is resolved. In purely financial disputes, it may be possible to depart the country if a local sponsor authorizes funds equal to the amount in dispute.
TERRORIST ACTIVITIES: The U.S. Embassy reminds Americans in Kuwait to be alert to their surroundings and take prudent security precautions. Americans should keep a low profile, vary routines and schedules, be wary of unexpected visitors or mail, and pay particular attention to suspicious vehicles. Any suspicious activity or vehicles should be reported to the Embassy’s regional security office. U.S. citizens may wish to consult the Department of State or the Embassy for updated information.
In Kuwait, child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for an American woman, even a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through a Kuwaiti court decision. Regardless of their parents' marital status, minor children of a Kuwaiti father may not leave Kuwait without the father's permission. For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy, and enroll in the Embassy's emergency alert network, and obtain updated information on travel and security in Kuwait. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait is located at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa Street, Plot 14, Block 14, Bayan, Kuwait. The mailing address is P.O. Box 77, Safat 13001, Kuwait; telephone (965) 539-5307 or 539-5308. The after-hours number is (965)538-2097. Additional information may also be obtained through the Embassy’s Internet web site at http://www.usembassy.gov.kw.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Kuwait’s civil aviation authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Kuwait'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’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm. 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 618-229-4801.
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