Venezuela Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Venezuela
How safe is Venezuela?
Threat level: High
The current travel advice for Venezuela is to avoid going to this country unless deemed necessary and remain extra vigilant and cautious when visiting it, as it has one of the highest murder rates in the world. So, please take this into consideration when travelling.
There is an ongoing political unrest across the country amid presidency dispute that has caused many Venezuelan to flee the country. Visitors to Venezuela are advised to stay away from any large public gatherings and not get involved. Such gatherings have a tendency to escalate quickly and in some cases turn violent.
There are travel advisories in place and as such, parts of Venezuela are advised against travelling to. This includes areas within 40 km of the Brazilian border and within 80km of the Colombian border in the states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure, which is currently closed whilst there are ongoing efforts to prevent smuggling operations. The borders with neighbouring countries, Brazil and Colombia, are temporarily closed.
At present, there is not a specific terror threat in Venezuela, but the major concern is the high level of violent crime, gun crime and drug-related crime.
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Venezuela has a huge issue with violent crime; kidnapping is common place in many areas, as is car-jacking. General travel advice for visitors to Venezuela need to be aware that much of this is organised crime and criminal gangs work at, or have contacts in the airports, hotels and restaurants. You should avoid hailing down taxis when you have arrived at the airport as these are often unauthorised, illegitimate taxis and can put you in danger. Travellers need to be wary of their surroundings and take care what they are saying and doing in public.
Travellers should not visit the “barrios”, the heavily populated slum towns that are in and around every city. These “barrios” are very dangerous places and visits can often result in kidnap and death. It is not recommended that you stay in the Sabana Grande area of Caracas, or on Margarita Island, as there is an ongoing issue with crime in these areas. Alternatively, Chacao is regarded as a safer place to reside during your stay.
Upon arrival in the country, keep a low profile and restrain from showing affluence such as electronic items. Doing so will alert you to thieves and can make you a target for robbery, some of which can be violent. If you are attacked, do not resist as most resistance is met with violent assault or shooting, which can prove fatal.
Venezuela can be subject to shortages of food, water and electricity with frequent powercuts that can affect the whole country and often comes with little warning. You should take precautionary measures and ensure that you are adequately prepared for powercuts at any time.
Venezuela's International Relations
There have been previous maritime territory disputes with neighbouring Colombia, and Guyana with regards to the Orinoco basin. This has somewhat been resolved diplomatically, however there is long running angst with regards to immigration with countries in the area. It has strong ties to Cuba and the United States of America, Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda.
Travelling around Venezuela
Great care need to be taken when travelling in rural areas of Venezuela. Not only is there an ever-present risk of robbery or kidnapping, but also the state of the roads is generally very poor, as is the standard of driving across Venezuela as a whole.
Intermittent shortages of fuel happen in the country, so make sure that you have enough fuel when travelling to remote areas.
It is advised that visitors use only licensed “official” taxis. These can be organised by your hotel or inside the arrivals hall at the airport. There have also been armed robberies in and around the Avila National Park area.
The use of public transport is problematic in many areas. Armed gangs have been known to pull-over buses and the number of pick-pocketing and bag-snatching incidents is also high on public transport.
Venezuela has National Guard checkpoints, when at these please stop if asked to do so, be advised that there have been known cases of bribery.
Emergency services in Venezuela:
Police emergency: 171 or 169
Fire emergency: 171 or 166
Medical emergency: 171
Medical emergency: +58 212 571 2055 (Red Cross)
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Currency: Venezuelan bolívar
Time now in Caracas:
Consular information for Venezuela
U.S. Embassy Caracas
Calle F con Calle Suapure,
Urb. Colinas de Valle Arriba,
Telephone: +58 212 975 6411
Telephone: +58 212 907 8400 (Out of Hours)
British Embassy Caracas
Torre La Castellana Piso 11,
Calle José Ángel Lamas,
Telephone: +58 212 2638 411
Visa requirements for Venezuela
Visa requirements for Venezuela vary depending on nationality. Many foreign nationals are able to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa or through the issue of a tourist card upon arrival. This includes British and Canadian citizens.
U.S. citizens require a visa to enter the country and this must be applied for prior to departure. Airlines have the right to refuse entry on-board the plane if you are unable to provide proof of your visa. Passports should have at least 6 months remaining on them. You should check with your local Venezuelan Embassy if you are unsure.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Venezuela are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Yellow Fever, as there is a risk of infection in some areas of the country. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Visitors to Venezuela are recommended to take precautions against Malaria, including the use of Malaria mosquito nets and anti-Malaria medications.
Schistosomiasis (parasitic infection also known as bilharzia) is also an issue, so contact with fresh water including activities such as swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams is advised against.
The viral illness Dengue Fever that is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes is an issue in Venezuela. There is no vaccine and prevention is through the avoidance of mosquito bites by following precautions such as wearing appropriate clothing and using a mosquito net whilst sleeping. For more information on Dengue Fever, see: Dengue Fever facts
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.
There is very high inflation and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods in Venezuela. Many hospitals are overcrowded and often lack supplies, this is worse in rural areas. You should keep this in mind when visiting the country, particularly if you are planning to travel to rural areas.