- General Info
- Health Risks
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Syria was administered by the French until independence in 1946. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. Since 1976, Syrian troops have been stationed in Lebanon, ostensibly in a peacekeeping capacity. In recent years, Syria and Israel have held occasional peace talks over the return of the Golan Heights.
Source: CIA World Factbook
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in the Middle East depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Israel, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Travelers diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.
Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of the Middle East, should take an antimalarial drug. Travelers to some areas of Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, and Yemen may be at risk for malaria. There is no risk of malaria in Bahrain, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Chloroquine is the recommended antimalarial drug for Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Travelers to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).
In Oman, the risk of malaria is in the Musandam Province only; because the risk is very limited, no antimalarial drug is needed in this area.
Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
There is no risk for yellow fever in the Middle East. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at least 46 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- Meningococcal vaccine is required for pilgrims to Mecca for the annual Hajj. However, CDC currently recommends the vaccine for all travelers to Mecca, including those traveling for the Umra.
- Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 1112 years who have not completed the series.
All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Dont eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Dont share needles with anyone.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an absolute 1-micron or less filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. Absolute 1-micron filters are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
- If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
- Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
- Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
- Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
- DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Syria is included on the Department of State's list of state sponsors of terrorism. A number of terrorist groups present in Syria oppose U.S. policies in the Middle East. A 1997 bombing of a public bus in downtown Damascus, which killed 22 people, and the 1998 and 2000 mob attacks against the U.S. Embassy serve as reminders that Syria is not immune from political violence. Americans traveling through the area should remain aware that U.S. interests and citizens might be targeted.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found.
Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities.
CRIME INFORMATION: Crime is generally not a serious problem for travelers in Syria. 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 U.S. Embassy for assistance. The Embassy 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.
U.S. citizens may refer
to the Department of State pamphlets A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East
and North Africa for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets
are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at travel.state.gov.
Source: U.S. Department of State
mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus
Source: CIA World Factbook
Syria's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in this country provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required. Americans may enter Syria for up to 15 days without a visa if they have a pre-arranged program with a Syrian travel agent and a representative of the agent meets the traveler at the port of entry. Otherwise, visas must be obtained prior to arrival in Syria. Similar restrictions apply to persons born in the Gaza region or who are of Gazan descent. The government of Syria does not allow persons with passports bearing an Israeli visa or entry/exit stamps to enter the country. Entry into Syria via the land border with Israel is not possible. Foreigners who wish to stay 15 days or more in Syria must register with Syrian immigration authorities by their 15th day there. American men who are of Syrian birth or recent descent may be subject to the Syrian compulsory military service requirement unless they receive a temporary or permanent exemption from the Syrian Embassy in the United States prior to their entry into Syria. (Please see the section on "Compulsory Military Service" below.) AIDS tests are mandatory for foreigners age 15 to 60 who wish to reside in Syria. The AIDS test must be conducted in Syria at a facility approved by the Syrian Ministry of Health. A residence permit will not be issued until the absence of the HIV virus has been determined. Foreigners wishing to marry Syrian nationals in Syria must also be tested for HIV. For further entry information, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic, 2215 Wyoming Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 232-6313 or check the Syrian Embassy's home page on the Internet at http://www.syrianembassy.us.
The Syrian government rigidly enforces restrictions on prior travel to Israel. Syrian immigration authorities will not admit travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports, Jordanian entry cachets, or cachets from other countries that suggest prior travel to Israel. Likewise, the absence of entry stamps from a country adjacent to Israel, which the traveler has just visited, will cause the Syrian immigration officials to refuse admittance. American citizen travelers suspected of having traveled to Israel have been detained for questioning.
Syrian security officials are also sensitive about travel to Iraq. There have been instances in which Iraqi-Americans or Americans believed to have traveled to Iraq were detained for questioning at ports of entry/exit.
Children under the age of eighteen whose fathers are Syrian must have the father's permission to leave Syria, even if the parents are separated or divorced and the mother has been granted full custody by a Syrian court. Women in Syria are often subject to strict family controls. On occasion, families of Syrian-American women visiting Syria have attempted to prevent them from leaving the country. This can be a particular problem for young single women of marriageable age. A Syrian husband may take legal action to prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality. Once such legal orders are in place, the U.S. Embassy cannot assist American citizens to leave Syria.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.
The Overseas Citizens
Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety
and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers
who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas,
may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Syria is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Syria would be 7:00 pm
The unit of currency in Syria is the Syrian pound (SYP).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
Traveled to Syria?
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