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Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: Greece

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XYZ Consular Info: Greece

Greece Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 30, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Greece is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required, but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. For other entry requirements, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at http://www.greekembassy.org.
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 not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Greek laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Greek citizens. For additional information, see the Citizenship and Nationality section of the Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil disorder is rare. However, strikes and demonstrations are a regular occurrence. Several active terrorist groups, including the "November 17" organization, have at times targeted U.S. and western government and commercial interests. For example, in 1999, terrorists bombed a major international chain hotel perceived to have American ties. Prominent Greek businessmen, journalists, and politicians have also been targeted. In a June 8, 2000, terrorist attack, the British Defense Attach was murdered. The potential for terrorist activities against U.S. and commercial interests remains high. However, there have been no specific threats against private American citizens traveling in Greece. Travelers should nevertheless review their security practices and be alert to their surroundings. Americans are encouraged to check the Consular Affairs home page (http://travel.state.gov) for updated travel and security information.
CRIME: Crime against tourists (purse-snatchings, pickpocketing) appears to be on the rise at popular tourist sites and on crowded public transportation, particularly in Athens. Reports of date or acquaintance rape have also increased, with most of the offenses occurring on the islands. The usual safety precautions practiced in any urban or tourist area ought to be practiced during a visit to Greece. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are adequate, and some in Athens and Thessaloniki are quite good. Nursing care, however, particularly in public hospitals, may be less than adequate.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299, or by visiting CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Greece is provided for general reference only and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Visitors to Greece must be prepared to drive defensively. Heavy traffic and poor highways pose hazards, especially at night. Extreme care is warranted in operating a motorbike. The majority of U.S. citizen traffic casualties in Greece have involved motorbikes. Drivers must carry a valid U.S. license as well as an international driver's permit. The U.S. Department of State has authorized two organizations to issue international driving permits to those who hold valid U.S. driver's licenses: AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Vehicles may be rented without the permit, but the driver will be penalized for failure to have one in the event of an accident. Fines are high. Small motorbike rental firms frequently do not insure their vehicles; the customer is responsible for damages. Review your coverage before renting.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Greek driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Greek National Tourism Office via the Internet at www.gnto.gr.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Greek Government's civil aviation authority as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Greek air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, the Greek air carriers currently flying to the U.S. will be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the U.S. by Greek air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Greek customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the export from Greece of antiquities, including rocks from archaeological sites. Penalties range from large fines to prison terms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Greece in Washington or one of Greece's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call 212-354-4480, send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Greek laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Greece are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Labor strikes in the transportation sector (national airline, city bus lines, and taxis) occur frequently. Most are announced in advance and are of short duration. Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly recommended.
The Government of Greece does not permit the photographing of military installations. In 2001, several British and other nationals who photograph military aircraft as a hobby were arrested while taking photographs of aircraft taking off and landing at a military base. They have been charged with obtaining national secrets and could face stiff sentences or fines.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE: People traveling in Greece who do not speak Greek may call 112 if they require emergency services. This is a 24-hour toll-free number. Callers will be able to receive information in English and French (as well as Greek) to request ambulance services, the fire department, the police and the coast guard.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's issues.html or tel (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Greece are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, tel: (30)(10) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel: (30)(310) 242-905. The Embassy's website is http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the consular section is consul@global.net. The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is cons@compulink.gr.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated August 9, 2001 to add information on Emergency Assistance and on photography restrictions to the section on Special Circumstances.