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State Department: Greece - Consular Information Sheet, April 2, 1999

Greece - Consular Information Sheet
April 2, 1999

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. An AIDS test is required for performing artists and students on Greek scholarships; U.S. test results are not accepted. For other entry questions, 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.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are adequate, and some in Athens and Thessaloniki are quite good. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost from several hundred dollars per day to $40,000 or more for air evacuation by private air ambulance.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor 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, 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 Prevention9s international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877- 394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299, or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

CRIME INFORMATION: Crime against tourists (purse-snatchings, pickpocketing) appears to be on the rise at popular tourist sites and on crowded public transportation, particularly in Athens. The usual safety precautions practiced in any urban 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 State9s 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.

TERRORIST ACTIVITIES: Civil disorder is rare. However, several active terrorist groups, including the "17 November" organization, have at times targeted U.S. Government and U.S. commercial interests.

TRAVELER SAFETY IN LIGHT OF NATO AIR OPERATIONS IN SERBIA: The U.S. Embassy in Athens has received a number of threats against the Embassy and U.S. officials stationed in Greece. Protesters of NATO action staged a violent demonstration at the Embassy and at the Consulate General in Thessaloniki, and future demonstrations are expected. People needing to conduct business at the Embassy or Consulate General are advised to check ahead of time to avoid any scheduled demonstration. There have been no specific threats against private Americans, tourists, or tourist facilities.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country9s 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 law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. If arrested, you may spend up to 18 months in pre-trial confinement. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

PENALTIES FOR CUSTOMS VIOLATIONS: The removal of antiquities, including rocks from archaeological sites, is forbidden. Penalties range from large fines to prison terms.

DUAL NATIONALITY: U.S. citizens who are also considered to be Greek citizens may be subject to compulsory Greek military service and other aspects of Greek law while in Greece. Greek-Americans should inquire at the Greek Embassy or a Greek consulate to determine their status before traveling to Greece. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not yet completed its assessment of Greece9s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece9s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

TRANSPORTATION: Labor strikes in the transportation sector (national airline, city bus lines, and taxis) occur with some frequency. Most are announced in advance and are of short duration. Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly recommended.

ROAD SAFETY/TRAFFIC CONDITIONS: 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. Vehicle insurance coverage should be reviewed before renting autos and motorbikes. A U.S. driver9s license is not valid in Greece unless accompanied by an international driver9s license, which must be acquired in the United States.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling to or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties. You may wish to take practical precautions against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer phenomenon.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY/CONSULATE LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, telephone (30) (1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki, currently located at 59 Leoforos Nikis, telephone (30) (31) 242-905, will relocate. The office will be closed from April 5 to April 14, 1999. After April 14, the Consulate General will be located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, 54623 Thessaloniki, telephone (30)(31) 242-905. The embassy9s website is: http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the consular section is consul@ibm.net. The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is cons@hol.gr. The e-mail address for the Consular Section is consul@ibm.net.

Department of State travel information publications are available at Internet address: http://travel.state.gov. U.S. travelers may hear recorded information by calling (202) 647-5225 from a touch-tone telephone, or receive information by automated telefax by dialing (202)647-3000 from their fax machine.

*****

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated July 6, 1998, to add or update information on Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Traveler Safety, Road Safety, Criminal Penalties, Y2K Information and relocation of the U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki.

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Friday, 2 April 1999, 18:05 EST