Travel Consideration: Macau

Contributed By RealAdventures

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the Peopleís Republic of China on December 20, 1999, with a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense and foreign policy. Macau retains its own currency, laws, and border controls. Facilities for tourism are well developed. Gambling, tourism, and textile manufacturing are the major factors in Macau's economy. Macau, population 439,000, is a six-square-mile area on the mainland of China bordering the South China Sea and the small, adjacent islands of Taipa and Coloane.

Passports are required. A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 20 days. Information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Peopleís Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, Tel: (202) 328-2500 through 2502, or the Consulates General of the PRC in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Houston. For more information regarding PRC visas, travelers to Macau may contact the visa section of the Embassy of the Peopleís Republic of China at (202) 265-9809 or (202) 338-6688. Travelers may also consult the American Consulate General in Hong Kong, telephone (852) 2523-9011 or fax (852) 2845-4845, or the Macau Government Tourist Office, 5757 West Century Blvd., Suite 660, Los Angeles, CA, 90045-6407, tel: (310) 670-2234 or (877) MACAU-00. See also the Macau Government home page at

The pataca (US$1.00 to approximately 7.78 patacas) is the official currency in Macau. Included in the cost of ferry tickets from Macau to Hong Kong is a departure tax of 25 patacas. The airport departure tax for flights from Macau to China is 80 patacas, and 130 patacas for flights to other destinations.

Violence relating to organized crime has increased in Macau and poses potential security concerns for the general public. Police say the violence is linked to gang wars over gambling profits that have been shrinking because of the regional economic downturn. According to press accounts, there were 37 cases of murder in Macau from January 1 to December 20, 1999. Most of the violence has been aimed at police and public officials or gang members and has generally occurred near casinos during early morning hours. While these incidents were not aimed specifically at Americans or at tourists more broadly, the potential exists for being accidentally caught up in the violence. Because of this violence, the U.S. Navy allows its service members visiting Hong Kong during port calls to enter Macau for private travel only in groups and only during daylight and early evening hours. Americans should exercise prudence and caution in visiting Macau and be aware of the possibility of violence.

Petty street crime occasionally occurs in tourist areas in Macau, including in and around casinos. Recently there have been a number of incidents of gang-related violence, including bombings and shootings, usually near casinos. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal safety can be found in the Department of State pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad. It can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or via the Internet at

Several major hospitals in Macau have adequate medical facilities and are able to provide emergency medical care. Highly developed medical facilities and trained personnel are available in Hong Kong, which is about an hour by jetfoil and ten minutes by helicopter from Macau. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services and may not accept checks or credit cards. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The U.S. Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage including provision for medical evacuation may prove useful. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, and whether it includes a provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses 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, overseas insurance programs, air ambulance services providers, and travel assistance is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairsí brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Internet at and through the Bureauís autofax service at (202) 647-3000.

Visitors to Macau should be aware that the importation into the United States of counterfeit brand-name items such as watches, compact discs, computer software and clothing is prohibited by U.S. law.

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 do 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 the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

U.S. CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS: Visitors to Macau should be aware that the importation into the United States of counterfeit brand-name items such as watches, compact discs, computer software and clothing is prohibited by U.S. law.

For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

There is no U.S. diplomatic presence in Macau. Consular assistance for U.S. citizens is provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and obtain updated information on travel and security conditions in Macau. The address is 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. The telephone number in Hong Kong is (852) 2523-9011 or (852) 2841-2211; fax (852) 2845-4845; the e-mail address of the American Citizen Services Section of the Consulate General is: The mailing address of the Consulate General is PSC 464, Box 30, FPO AP 96522-0002; the Internet home page is

As there is no direct commercial air service by Macau carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Macau, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Macauís Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Macauís 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 home page at 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 the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

See also the Macau International Airport home page at

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