North Korea

North Korea Flag
Country Description: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a developing Communist state under the control of the Korean Workers Party (KWP).

Interim Consular Protecting Power: The United States does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, and does not maintain a U.S. diplomatic presence there. Negotiations are under way for the opening of a U.S. Liaison Office in Pyongyang but it is uncertain when they may be completed. The government of Sweden, acting through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, serves as the interim consular protecting power for the government of the United States in North Korea (effective September 26, 1995). In this capacity, the Swedish Embassy provides basic consular protective services in cases of U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea who are ill, injured, arrested or who die.

Embassy Location: There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in North Korea. The Embassy of Sweden is located at the following address: Embassy of Sweden, Daedonggang District, Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The telephone and fax number is: (850-2) 381-7258. Passport and/or Visa Requirements: U.S. passports are valid for travel to North Korea. The North Korean Mission to the United Nations in New York may be in a position to provide information regarding entry requirements. Otherwise, information is available from a North Korean consulate in a country which maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Restricted Financial Transactions: U.S. citizens do not need U.S. government permission to travel to North Korea. All transactions related to travel to, from and personal expenses within North Korea are authorized. U.S. travel service providers are authorized to organize group travel to North Korea, including transactions with North Korean carriers. However, U.S. citizens may spend money in North Korea only to purchase items ordinarily incident to travel, such as hotel accommodations, meals, and goods for personal consumption by the traveler in North Korea. There is no longer any per diem restriction on these expenses, and the use of credit cards for these transactions is also authorized. Because the sanctions program prohibits business dealings with North Korea unless licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department, purchases of goods or services unrelated to travel are prohibited.

U.S. Customs Requirements: A traveler returning from North Korea may bring into the United States as accompanied baggage $100 worth of merchandise in non-commercial quantities, and may bring in informational materials without limitation.

U.S. Treasury Department Licenses: A license from the U.S. Treasury Department is required for all business dealings with North Korea. Individuals contemplating trade with North Korea may contact the Department of the Treasury for further information at:

Licensing Division
Office of Foreign Assets Control
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Treasury Annex
Washington, D.C. 20220
tel: 202/622-2480; fax: 202/622-1657

Travel Documents: U.S. citizens contemplating travel to North Korea should carry only U.S. passports with the proper visa affixed. Under no condition should U.S. citizens use travel documents which identify them as citizens of North Korea.

Medical Facilities: Although foreign visitors who become ill in North Korea are usually provided with the best medical care available in the country, U.S. citizens may not consider medical facilities to meet U.S. standards. There are no Western-style pharmacies stocking drugs common in the United States. Medications should be carried in hand luggage packed in their original labeled containers, accompanied by duplicate original signed doctor's prescriptions. 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 may prove useful. In addition, insurance covering medical evacuation is highly recommended. The international traveler's hotline at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (404) 332-4559, has additional useful health information.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police, and to the Swedish Embassy as interim U.S. protecting power. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad" which is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Criminal Penalties: While in North Korea, a U.S. citizen is subject to North Korean laws and regulations which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the laws can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. North Korea utilizes the death penalty for serious crimes. Criminal penalties for possession of, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in North Korea are extremely severe.

Registration: There is no U.S. Embassy in North Korea. The U.S. government is not in a position to accord normal consular protective services to U.S. citizens in North Korea. U.S. government interests are represented on an interim basis by the government of Sweden, which, as a protecting power, is able to provide only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens.

Dual Citizenship: U.S. citizens who were born in North Korea or who were at one time citizens of North Korea, and the children of such persons, may be considered dual nationals by North Korean authorities and may, therefore, be subject to North Korean laws. These laws may impose special obligations upon North Korean nationals, e.g., military service and taxes. Specific questions on dual nationality may be directed to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry their U.S. passports or photocopies of the passport data and photo pages with them at all times so that, if questioned by DPRK officials, proof of U.S. citizenship is readily available to DPRK authorities and Swedish protecting power officials.

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