Lebanon - Consular Information Sheet
January 23, 1998

Warning: The United States Department of State warns all U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Lebanon. Therefore, the Department recommends that only those Americans with compelling reasons should consider traveling to Lebanon. Americans have in the past been targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of these attacks are still present in Lebanon, and retain the ability to act. Due to limited staff and the local security environment inhibiting movement of U.S. officials in much of the country, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut cannot perform routine consular functions and may not be able to provide timely assistance to Americans traveling in Lebanon. In addition, Americans working at the U.S. Embassy do not normally use Beirut International Airport (BIA) due to the concern about security of passengers and aircraft.

The expiration of the passport restriction should not in any way be construed as a determination by the Department of State that it is safe for Americans to travel to Lebanon. U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon despite this warning, should exercise extreme caution and avoid traveling in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. The Department of State will keep the situation under close review and will issue additional warnings and take any other appropriate steps that may be required.

U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. For security reasons, personal access to the Consular Section is not possible unless prior arrangements have been made. Therefore, contact with the U.S. Embassy on the specific requirements needed for registration should take place by phone, fax, or by mail. The U.S. Embassy is located in Antelias, P.O. Box 70-840, Beirut, Lebanon. The telephone numbers are (961-1) 417-774, 415-802, 415-803, 402-184, 402-200, 403-300, fax 407-112.

Country Description: The Republic of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. The country is emerging from a long period of civil war, which has damaged the economy and the social fabric. The population is composed of both Christians and Muslims from a variety of sects. Although the Government of Lebanon has made efforts to expand its control, several areas of Lebanon remain outside of effective government control. The U.S. Government still considers the situation so dangerous that U.S. citizen employees of the American Embassy live under a very strict security regime. They live inside the U.S Embassy's secured compound, travel only to certain areas of the country, and then only in Embassy motorcades, escorted by armed bodyguards employed by the Embassy.

Hizballah has not been disarmed, and maintains a presence in several areas of the country, including training camps in the Bekaa Valley. In addition, outside forces still control portions of Lebanon and impinge the authority of the Lebanese government. There are about 25,000 Syrian troops in the country. Israel exerts control in a self-declared "security zone" in the south with 1200 troops and through the Army of South Lebanon (SLA). Palestinian groups, hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S., operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country.

Entry Requirements: Passports and visas are required. Travelers holding passports which contain visas or entry/exit stamps for Israel may be refused entry into Lebanon. Further information on entry requirements can be obtained from the Embassy of Lebanon, 2560 28th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20524, telephone (202) 939-6300. Travelers may also contact one of the consulates general of Lebanon, located at 7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 510, Los Angeles, CA 90028, telephone (213) 467-1253; 1959 E. Jefferson, Suite 4A, Detroit, MI 48207, telephone (313) 567-0233; and 9 East 76th Street, New York, NY 10021, telephone (212) 744-7905.

The Federal Aviation Administration has not certified Beirut International Airport (BIA) as secure for U.S. carriers. U.S. carriers may not fly into Beirut, and the Lebanese national carrier, Middle East Airlines, is prohibited from flying into the United States. All U.S. citizens working at the U.S. Embassy do not normally use Beirut International Airport due to the concern about security of passengers and aircraft. The Department of Transportation continues to have restrictions on the sale of airline tickets to Lebanon. Information on the restrictions can be obtained from the Department of Transportation at telephone (202) 366-4000.

Areas of Instability: There are areas within the country that the Lebanese government does not effectively control. Syrian military forces, Israeli military forces, the South Lebanon Army, and Hizballah vie to control parts of Lebanese territory, including the southern suburbs of Beirut, sections of the Bekaa Valley, and south Lebanon. Hostilities can occur in Lebanon with little warning, including attacks by Israeli military forces and random or planned criminal acts. A cycle of raids and counterraids in the south continues between Hizballah and its allies on one side, and Israeli military forces and the SLA on the other. Civilians in the south continue to suffer artillery and aerial attacks, bombings, and abductions. Occasionally these raids extend as far north as Ba'albak and the Naameh Hills, 9 miles south of Beirut.

Dual Nationality: U.S. Consular protection -- when available -- is severely limited for dual nationals traveling on a foreign passport.

Compulsory Military Service: Lebanese males 18 to 30 years old are subject to mandatory military service of one year. Dual nationals who visit Lebanon are not exempt, except as allowed by Lebanese law. Dual-nationals should contact the military office of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. for details prior to traveling to Lebanon.

Business Disputes or Employment: Travelers who enter Lebanon on work visas under the sponsorship of a Lebanese company or individual may face problems and be unable to leave the country before the completion of their contract without the agreement of their employer. In cases of a business dispute, if jurisdiction falls under local law, the Lebanese party to a contract may obtain an injunction to prevent the departure of a foreign party from the country until the dispute is settled. In such cases, the U.S. Embassy can provide a list of local lawyers to assist U.S. citizens, but ultimate responsibility for the resolution of a dispute rests with the parties.

Medical Facilities: In Beirut and the surrounding areas, basic modern medical care and medicines are widely available. Such facilities are not always available in outlying areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven useful. Information on health problems can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at telephone (404) 332-4559 or on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov.

Information on Crime: While the crime rate in Lebanon is moderate, both car thefts and house break-ins occur. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Lebanon, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Individuals charged with drug offenses are not usually releasable on bail and can expect to remain in jail while judicial authorities prepare their cases for prosecution.

Consular Services/Embassy Location: The tight security under which the U.S. Embassy operates means that assistance is available only in cases of extreme emergency such as arrest or death. Due to the extremely difficult security environment in Lebanon and restrictions on the movement of American officials for security reasons, such assistance may not always be provided in a timely manner. The Consular Section is not able to replace lost, stolen or expired passports. Because of unreliable telephone service in Lebanon, contacting the U.S. Embassy can occasionally be difficult. Americans are advised to register with the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. However, personal access to the Consular Section is not possible unless prior arrangements have been made. Visitors should forward by fax or by mail their travel itineraries, contact numbers, and copies of the information pages of their passports. The U.S. Embassy is located in Antelias, P.O. Box 70-840, Beirut, Lebanon. The telephone numbers are (961-1) 417-774, 415-802, 415-803, 402-184, 402-200, 403-300, and fax 407-112.

No. 98-08

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated August 22, 1997 and updates information about entry requirements and employment.

From: Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings