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State Department: Greece - Consular Information Sheet, July 6, 1998

Greece - Consular Information Sheet
July 6, 1998

Country Description: Greece is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. The capital city is Athens.

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. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provisions for air evacuation, has proved to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline at 1-888-232-3228, or their autofax service at 1-888-232-3229, or their Internet site 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 State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad", is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.

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

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. In Greece, penalties for possession, use, and trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Those arrested may spend up to 18 months in pre-trial confinement.

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 assessed Greece's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Greece's 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 highway inadequacies 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. driver's license is not valid in Greece unless accompanied by an international driver's license, which must be acquired in the United States.

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 in Thessaloniki is located at 59 Leoforos Nikis, telephone (30) (31) 242-905. The Embassy's website address is: http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the Consular Section is consul@ibm.net.

No. 98-88

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 30, 1997, to update information on Entry Requirements, Crime, Medical Facilities, Customs Violations, Dual Nationality, Aviation Safety Oversight, Transportation, Road Safety, and the Internet.

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