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State Department: Greece - Consular Information Sheet, June 23, 1999

Greece - Consular Information Sheet
June 23, 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, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at http://www.greekembassy.org/.

DUAL NATIONALITY: Dual nationals may be subject to Greek laws, which impose special obligations. 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. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY/SECURITY: Civil disorder is rare. However, several active terrorist groups, including the 317 November2 organization, have at times targeted U.S. Government and U.S. commercial interests. Terrorist activities against U.S. Government and commercial interests increased during the NATO air operations against Serbia-Montenegro. On April 27, 1999, a terrorist bomb killed one person at the Intercontinental Hotel in Athens. However, there have been no specific threats against private American citizens, or tourist facilities. Travelers are advised to review their security practices and to be alert to their surroundings.

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 an U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State9s pamphlet, 3A Safe Trip Abroad2, 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.1 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. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: 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. 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 3Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad,2 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.

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. driver9s license and an international driver9s license. Vehicles may be rented without a license, 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.

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.

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 Greece9s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 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.

Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling to or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties. They may wish to take practical precautions against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer phenomenon. Monitor the home page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs for updates on Y2K issues.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, 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: U.S. citizens 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)(1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel: (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.

*****

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 2, 1999, to add or update information on Entry Requirements, Dual Nationality, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Safety/Security, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations, Special Circumstances, Registration and Embassy/Consulate Location, Y2K Information, and Children9s Issues.

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Friday, 25 June 1999, 05:22 EST