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U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

Consular Information Sheet

 


Please click on this link to read important information you should see before you travel abroad

This information is current as of today,

Lebanon

Americans planning travel to Lebanon should read Travel Warning for Lebanon Lebanon Situation Update and Worldwide Caution  Public Announcement available on the Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov

January 20, 2006

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic.  Political power is concentrated in the office of the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, each representing one of Lebanon's three largest religious sects (Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shi'a Muslims).  Since 1973, Lebanon has been in a state of war with Israel.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Lebanon .

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required.  American citizens coming to Lebanon for tourism can purchase a short-term visa at the border.  Travelers holding passports that contain visas or entry/exit stamps for Israel will likely be refused entry into Lebanon.  Travelers whose passports contain Israeli stamps or visas and who also hold an "Arab nationality" may be subject to arrest and imprisonment.  Travelers who have overstayed their entry visa validity in Lebanon have to adjust their status with the Central Department of Surete General (Department of Passport and Immigration) prior to their departure.

Further information on entry/exit requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300.  Travelers may also contact one of the following Consulates General of Lebanon:

1959 E. Jefferson, Suite 4A
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 567-0233
2400 Augusta, Suite 308
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 268-1640

7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-1253
6600 S.W. 57th Avenue, Suite 200
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 665-3004

(Honorary Consul, for Florida residents only)
9 E. 76th Street
New York, NY 10021
(212) 744-7905

Find more information about Entry and Exit Requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction.  Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:  Recent events in Lebanon underscore the need for caution and sound personal security precautions.  Former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated on February 14, 2005 in a car bomb attack in which 22 people were killed and many others seriously wounded; the potential for violence remains.  Since February 2005, there have been 15 separate bombings in Lebanon, resulting in ten dead and 121 wounded.

Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past.  The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present and retain the ability to act.  American citizens should thus keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel.  Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.  Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members requires prior approval by the Department of State.

U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should exercise heightened caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon, and the cities of Sidon and Tripoli.  Hizballah has not been disarmed.  It maintains a strong presence in many of these areas, and there is potential for action by other extremist groups in the city of Tripoli.  Tensions remain in Lebanon's southern border with the possibility of Hizballah and Palestinian militant activity at any time.

Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country.  Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions.  Travel by U.S. citizens to Palestinian camps should be avoided.  Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist group with apparent links to Al-Qaida, has targeted Lebanese, U.S. and other foreign government interests.  It has been outlawed by the Lebanese government but continues to maintain a presence in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

In addition, dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was intense.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, and the Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security 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-line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad .

CRIME: The crime rate in Lebanon is moderate, and both car thefts and house break-ins occur.  Violent crime and sexual assault are rare, although petty theft -- such as pick pocketing and purse snatching -- is common in crowded public areas.  Police are responsive but often unable to affect a positive outcome.  There are no special concerns with regard to targeted victimization of Americans or to scams or confidence schemes.  There have, however, been recent kidnappings of Lebanese-American women by their Lebanese relatives in an effort to force these women into marriage. 

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the 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 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 explain how funds could 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.

See our information on Victims of Crime .

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: In Beirut and the surrounding areas, modern medical care and medicines are widely available.  Such facilities are not always available in outlying areas, although no location in the country is more than three hours from the capital.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services, and without such payment may deny service even in emergency cases.  A list of doctors who speak English and a list of hospitals are available from the U.S. Embassy and at the Embassy's website: http://lebanon.usembassy.gov/
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 (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.  Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

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 whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas .

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 Lebanon is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers in Lebanon often maneuver aggressively and pay little regard to traffic lights and stops signs.  Lanes are generally unmarked and roads outside of the capital may be poorly lit.  Pedestrians, especially, should exercise great caution.  Inter-city directional signs are improving throughout the country, but side roads are often not signposted at all.  Public transportation is generally safe.

Emergency services in Lebanon are adequate.  In case of a road accident, emergency numbers are 140 for the Red Cross and 125 for the emergency civil police.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Lebanon's national tourist office at www.Lebanon-tourism.gov.lb.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Lebanon, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lebanon's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa. Official U.S. government travelers take special security measures when using Beirut International Airport.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In addition to being subject to all Lebanese laws, U.S. citizens who also possess Lebanese nationality may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Lebanese citizens.  Lebanese citizens who have been associated with or traveled through Israel are subject to arrest and detention.  Until February 4, 2007, Lebanese males 18 to 30 years old who reside in Lebanon are subject to mandatory military service and can be arrested for failing to comply.  (Note: Under a new law published February 4, 2005, all existing charges for desertion have been dropped and an exemption has been established for anyone residing outside Lebanon.)  Dual nationals can contact the Military Office of the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, or call (202) 265-2335 or fax (202) 667-0063 for details prior to traveling to Lebanon.

Lebanese Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of such items as firearms or antiquities.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Lebanon in Washington, D.C., or one of Lebanon's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.  Please see our information on customs regulations.

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 Lebanese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lebanon are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  For more information please see our information on Criminal Penalties

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website .

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Lebanon are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lebanon.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  The U.S. Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon.  Public access hours for American citizens are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 am for regular consular services.  Consular Report of Births Abroad (birth certificates for newborns) are handled Wednesdays only from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.  The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209, and American citizens who require emergency services outside of these hours may contact the Embassy by telephone at any time.  American citizens registering at the embassy can receive updated information and warden messages via e-mail by subscribing to join-wardenmessagebeirut@mh.databack.com.  Information on consular services and registration can be found at http://lebanon.usembassy.gov or by phone at the above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday local time.

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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 15, 2004 to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security and Special Circumstances.