Armenia Risk Report
Security travel advice for Armenia
Threat level: Low-Medium
Individuals travelling to Armenia should do so with caution. It is advised to be aware of general petty crime and more importantly the current conflict with Azerbaijan. Armenia is a former nation of the Soviet Republic. Crime rates are relatively low, as is the terror threat in Armenia. However, there have been recent reports by foreign tourists of pick pocketing, bag snatching and other petty crimes in built up tourist areas such as Yerevan. Don’t carry your passport, credit card, travel tickets and money together, leave spare cash, passports and valuables in a safe place. Take particular care if using an ATM after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
There have been some recent shootings in the country, these are not terror related shootings and are the result of gang wars that have escalated from organised crime syndicates. Foreign tourists are not usually the targets in these gang wars, however, there are isolated accounts of travellers being caught up with them in previous years. It is therefore advised that when visiting Armenia, take some precaution during your travel and try to avoid known gang territories.
Recent security risk events
On July 17th 2016 a group of armed men stormed into a police station, took hostages and demanded that 'political prisoners' were released. It is thought that at least 7 police officers were held hostage and 2 were killed in a revolt against the government's decision to imprison opposition leader Jirair Sefilian after he criticised the government's handling of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabkh area. Violent clashes between protesters supporting the men and police continued until all 20 armed hostage takers surrendered and were arrested immediately. It is believed that around half of those injured are police officers. Visitors should remain on high alert at all times.
A high degree of caution should be exercised in Nagorno-Karabkh and surrounding areas. This is due to the current political situation that has seen several shootings over the past few years. The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is currently closed. Since 1994, ceasefire between the two borders has been on and off but in the past year of 2016, it has been frequently violated which has often led to military intervention. It is therefore advised that any travel to this area should be prohibited except for essential travel as the zone is currently dangerous and unsafe.
With the increased tension along the border in the Tavush and Gegharkunik region that border Azerbaijan, it is highly advised that that these areas are avoided.
With the increased violence against civic and political activists, visitors should be aware that even demonstrations that may seem peaceful could turn aggressive and lead to violent behaviour.
The authorities in Armenia have recently uncovered an internet based crime syndicate located in Armenia that has been targeting foreign tourists through fake online dating websites, and it is believed there could be multiple groups using the same strategy. This threat is very real and can lead to theft and even kidnappings; please be cautious about meeting someone you do not know in Armenia and avoid giving out your personal details.
In general women can wear normal Western style clothing but be aware that outside major cities, locals are much more conservative and any inappropriate clothing may attract attention.
Although homosexuality is legalised, it is still frowned upon by many Armenians and some local LGBT groups are subject to verbal and physical abuse. It is not recommended to take photographs of military bases or government buildings as you may be fined. Make sure to seek permission from local authorities before taking such photographs.
Armenia continues to support the ethnic Armenians who reside in the Nagorno Karabakh region in the ongoing and very brutal armed conflict against the Azerbaijani armed forces, hence poor relations between the two countries. Armenia has diplomatic relations with 151 nations including many African countries, France, and the United Kingdom.
It is advised against all travel on the M16/H26 road due to the recent armed conflict. The main alternative route to the M16/H26 between Armenia and Georgia (Yerevan-Vanadzor-Alaverdi-Bagratashen) will be closed for maintenance work for 2 to 3 years from September 2016. If you’re travelling by road between Yerevan and Tbilisi you should use the M3 route from Yerevan through Tashir on the Georgian border. The land border with Turkey is also closed.
The standard of driving is poor in Armenia and drivers often do not consider the safety of other users of the road, they can often violate traffic laws without consequences. Road conditions are also particularly bad which can make road travel quite dangerous.
If using public transportation, be aware that they are poorly managed and often overcrowded. This could cause an increase in pick-pocketing as you are surrounded by many people and unable to take care of your possessions.
Religion: Christianity (Armenian Apostolic Church)
Currency: Dram (AMD)
Time now in Yerevan:
Visas are not required if visits are less than 90 days for British and EU passport holders. If the stay is longer than 90 days, you must register with the OVIR (Administration Department for Passports and Visas). American citizens must have a visa to enter Armenia. It is possible to obtain a visa upon arrival at the Yerevan airport or on-line at http://www.mfa.am/eVisa/index.htm
It is advised that visitors to Armenia are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get a Hepatitis A vaccination. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Tetanus. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Medical facilities outside of the Capital city of Yerevan are quite poor and the standard of treatment is not particularly high. As such, you should only seek medical treatment for minor illnesses or injury, anything more serious may require medical evacuation to a more medically advanced country. It is always advisable to have Travel and Medical Insurance.
Travellers are advised to be as self sufficient as possible.
U.S. Embassy Yerevan
1 American Avenue,
Telephone: +374 10 464700
Telephone: +374 10 494444 (Out of hours)
Email: ConsYerevan@state.gov (General inquiries)
Email: IVYerevan@state.gov (Immigrant visa)
Email: ACSYerevan@state.gov (American Citizen Services)
British Embassy Yerevan
34 Baghramyan Avenue,
Telephone: +3374 10 264301
Other useful info
Police emergency: 102
Fire emergency: 101
Medical emergency: 103