January 20, 2022

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Syria Travel Advisory

10 min read

Do not travel to Syria due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Syria due to COVID-19.

No part of Syria is safe from violence. Kidnappings by armed groups, arbitrary arrests, the use of chemical warfare, shelling, and aerial bombardment pose significant risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended its operations in February 2012. The Czech Republic serves as the protecting power for the United States in Syria. The range of consular services that the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited (to include accepting applications for U.S. passports and U.S. Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, as well as providing notarial services), and the U.S. government is unable to provide any emergency services to U.S. citizens in Syria. U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular services should try to quickly and safely leave the country and contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in a neighboring country, if possible.

Long standing conflict with neighboring states and porous borders have contributed to a complex and unpredictable security environment. Syria has experienced active armed conflict since 2011.

The U.S. government particularly warns private U.S. citizens against traveling to Syria to engage in armed conflict. U.S. citizens who undertake such activity face extreme personal risks, including kidnapping by armed groups, arbitrary arrests, injury, or death. The U.S. government does not support this activity. Our ability to provide consular assistance to individuals who are injured or kidnapped, or to the families of individuals who die in the conflict, is extremely limited.

Fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a crime under U.S. law that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.

There is an ongoing risk of kidnapping and detentions of U.S. citizens and Westerners throughout the country. U.S. citizens remain a target, with many abductions having occurred since mid-2012 and as recently as early 2019. U.S. citizens are also targets of arbitrary abduction and detention by the Syrian government and while in detention do not have access to due process or medical attention. Government detention centers are known to be unsanitary facilities where cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of detainees has been documented, as well as torture and extrajudicial killings. Note: Only the Syrian government can issue a valid entry visa to Syria. Failure to obtain a legitimate entry visa directly from the Syrian government could result in detention.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Syria, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR), which says that heightened military activity associated with the Syrian conflict may result in the risk of GPS interference, communications jamming, and errant long-range surface to air missiles straying into adjacent airspace within 200 nautical miles of the Damascus Flight Information Region. These activities may inadvertently pose hazards to U.S. civil aviation transiting the region. It also has the potential to spill over into the adjacent airspace managed by neighboring states and eastern portions of the Mediterranean Sea.

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Syria, the FAA has not assessed the Government of Syria’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page. For more information U.S. citizens should consult the FAA’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Syria: 

  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.   
  • Visit our website on Travel to High Risk Areas.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs, if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them. 
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify who you would contact first, and how they should share the information.
  • Enroll your trip in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

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