Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Natural disasters and climate
- Additional information
We advise you to avoid non-essential travel.
Latest travel alerts
Due to high levels of crime and extremely high homicide rates, increasing political and social unrest, shortages of food and basic medicines and lack of access to medical treatment, we advise you to avoid non-essential travel to Venezuela.
It is not advised to travel within 80km of the border with Colombia, particularly the states of Zulia, Tachira, Barinas, Apure and Bolívar. Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups operate in these areas and there is a risk of kidnapping.
Since April 2017 there have been regular large political demonstrations and protests in Caracas and other cities, which have led to arrests, injuries and deaths. Following nationwide protests on 29/30 July and elections on 30 July, there have been reports of widespread disruption and violence. Avoid all political demonstrations, which can turn violent with little warning. Travel disruption due to road closures is common before and during demonstrations. It is advisable to maintain a supply of several days' worth of food and water. If you are currently in Venezuela and your presence is not essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means.
There have been recent outbreaks of diphtheria and of the Zika virus and adequate medical treatment is unlikely to be available to travellers in Venezuela.
In respect of the Zika virus, Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.
There is an extremely high level of crime, homicide and kidnappings in Venezuela, please read our safety and security section for more information.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency series in Venezuela by dialling (911).
There is no Irish Embassy in Venezuela and no Honorary Consulate. We are extremely limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Mexico.
If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:
- Your name
- The nature of your problem
- Where you are now
- Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you're staying)
We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Crime and political unrest
There are extremely high levels of serious crime in Venezuela. The risk of armed robbery and muggings, homicide, kidnapping and carjacking is high in all major cities in Venezuela, as well as in rural areas. Violent incidents occur regularly on public transport. In Caracas, the central area and the Sabana Grande areas are particularly dangerous, as are the barrios in western and eastern Caracas. If you're the victim of a crime, don't resist – victims are often killed or injured for failing to cooperate. Police response times are reported to be poor or non-existent.
Political demonstrations have increased in recent months and there is significant political and social unrest in Caracas and throughout Venezuela. Demonstrations occur regularly and some have resulted in violence. There have been regular large political demonstrations and protests in Caracas and other cities during April 2017, which have led to arrests, injuries, and deaths. Avoid all political demonstrations, which can turn violent with little warning. You should remain vigilant and informed. During and ahead of demonstrations, there's often travel disruption as a result of road closures. The authorities often use tear gas and buckshot to disperse protests.
There are severe shortages of basic foodstuffs, bottled water, toiletries and medication, including basic over-the-counter medicine. Medical treatment, including emergency medical treatment, is unavailable in many parts of the country, including Caracas.
The road between Caracas and the airport (Maiquetia) is dangerous and there have been muggings and kidnappings by bogus taxi operators at the airport. There have been armed robberies on buses travelling to Maiquetia Airport, and along Avenida de La Libertador in Caracas. Incidents of violent crime within the airport are rising and foreigners are often targeted. Do not use ATMs are the airport. Do not take a taxi from the airport; ensure that a friend or trusted transportation service is waiting to collect you if you travel. There have been reports of muggings and kidnappings by criminals posing as taxi drivers or money changers.
If approached by an officer purporting to be an airport official, even if they are in uniform and/or present credentials, you should try to ensure that you remain in a busy area of the airport and, if possible, check with other airport or airline staff that the officials are genuine.
If you are taking an international flight from Caracas you should arrive at the airport three hours before departure, to allow time for security procedure. Don't stay in an airport hotel unless you can make safe transport arrangements between the hotel and the airport.
Tourist travel can often involve flying in light aircraft. There have been several accidents in recent years on the main tourist routes, including Los Roques, Canaima and Merida - some with fatalities. The International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. A number of international airlines have reduced or suspended flights to Venezuela – you should contact your airline or travel operator in advance if you choose to travel for information on possible disruptions
There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against boats in and around Venezuela's waters, especially east of Puerto La Cruz and in waters between Venezuela and Trinidad. Take suitable precautions and avoid these areas if possible.
Kidnapping and border issues
There is a serious threat of kidnapping in Venezuela, including 'express kidnapping' (victims are kidnapped from the street and forced to withdraw money from an ATM). There are security concerns related to drug trafficking at both the Brazilian and Guyanese borders and security forces in these areas are scarce. The land borders between Venezuela and Colombia and Venezuela and Brazil have been closed since 11 December. In general, border closures are common and can happen at very short notice. We advise against all travel within 80km of the Colombian border due to particularly high rates of violence, trafficking and activities of armed groups.
Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after accepting 'spiked' food and drink. Also be wary of accepting pamphlets as there have been reports of attacks and robberies occurring where pamphlets are distributed that are soaked in skin penetrating substances that intoxicate the victim.
Road conditions across Venezuela are poor. Carjacking is a problem by day and night. There are regular police and National Guard checkpoints throughout the country. Drive slowly through these and stop if asked to do so. There have been reports of attempts by the police and National Guard to extract bribes.
All vehicles must carry a spare tyre, wheel block, jack wrench and special reflector triangle. Driving under the influence of alcohol is common, especially during weekends. Many vehicles are in poor condition and drivers routinely ignore red lights. In the event of an accident, both vehicles must remain in the position of the accident until a traffic police officer arrives. Insurance companies won't pay claims on vehicles that have been moved without a police accident report.
Do not hitch hike under any circumstances
When taking a taxi in Caracas or other towns and cities, use only pre-booked taxis rather than hailing them in the street. Hotels will normally book a taxi from a reputable company or supply their own driver service.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Drug trafficking is a serious problem in Venezuela. Don’t handle illicit drugs. Arrests for drug trafficking are common and conviction leads to severe penalties, including up to two years being held on remand prior to sentencing and lengthy prison sentences (usually ten years) in harsh and dangerous conditions in Venezuelan jails. Many prisoners carry firearms and explosive devices and violence is common.
Be extremely wary of any offers of remuneration or hospitality in Venezuela in exchange for transporting packages in your luggage back to Ireland.
Military or strategic installations
It is an offence to photograph military or strategic installations including military airports and the Presidential Palace. Avoid plane spotting.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters and climate
Venezuela has suffered exceptionally heavy rains, which have affected wide areas of the country. Travel has been affected in many areas, and road conditions remain poor. The rainy season extends from May to December when hurricanes, flooding, and landslides may occur. Transportation, utilities, emergency and medical care, as well as food, fuel, and water supplies may be disrupted. You can monitor local and international weather updates for the region through the US National Hurricane Centre, the World Meteorological Organisation and the Weather Channel.
Venezuela lies in an active earthquake zone and is subject to tremors. Find out from local contacts or your hotel what you should do in the event of an earthquake.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
If you are unsure about the entry requirements for Venezuela, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy of Venezuela.
You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.
We advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Venezuela and carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay. If your passport is lost or stolen it can take up to 4 weeks to obtain a replacement.
If you are living in Venezuela, including Margarita, the only place where you can apply for or extend your residency permit is the main Venezuelan Immigration Office (ONIDEX) in Caracas. The telephone numbers are: (0212) 483 20 70 / (0212) 483 35 81 / (0212) 483 27 06
There have been reports of other ways of getting a residency permit, including at least one company offering residency permits for the island of Margarita, but these permits may be of dubious legality and you should avoid them.
Any dual national Venezuelan must use their Venezuelan identity documents to enter and leave the country.
Travelling with children
Children travelling unaccompanied, with a guardian, or with one parent must provide a letter from the non-travelling parent(s) confirming that they are satisfied for the child to travel without them. This letter must include all the travel details and must be notarised by a local notary public. If the child is resident overseas, the letter must be notarised by the nearest Venezuelan consulate/embassy. The child should carry this letter while travelling within in the country and also when leaving Venezuela. Children may be denied exit from the country if they do not have this letter
Check with your doctor well in advance (8 weeks) of travelling to see what vaccinations you need for Venezuela. The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation has reported that there is a shortage of50% of medication supplies due to the economic crisis. Make sure you bring enough medication for your stay. Medical facilities in Venezuela vary widely in quality. More complex treatments may require evacuation to the US. The diphtheria outbreak that began in July 2016 in Venezuela remains active. Travellers going to areas with diphtheria outbreaks should ensure they have the necessary vaccinations in advance of travel.
For up-to-date information on the swine flu epidemic in Venezuela, you should contact the nearest Venezuelan embassy or visit the (Spanish language)website of the Venezuelan Ministry of Health.
Malaria is present in Venezuela so you should take medical advice on anti-malarial medication before travelling. Take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.
Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Take precautions against being bitten by Dengue-carrying mosquitoes, which are active throughout the day.
Yellow fever is a problem in Latin America and you may need a Yellow Fever Certificate to travel in the region.
We recommend that you drink only boiled, filtered or bottled water during your stay.