PARAGUAY

Paraguay Flag
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Paraguay is a middle-income nation with a developing economy. Tourist facilities are good in Asuncion, the capital, poor in major cities, and almost nonexistent in remote areas.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for stays up to three months. Minors (under 20) traveling alone, with one parent or with a third party must present written authorization from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian, specifically granting permission to travel alone, with one parent, or with a third party. This authorization must be notarized, authenticated by the Paraguayan Embassy or Consulate, and translated into Spanish. For current information concerning entry and customs requirements for Paraguay, travelers may contact the Paraguayan Embassy at 2400 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 483-6960 or the consulate in Los Angeles, Miami, or New York.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Facilities for medical care are limited. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. In some cases, medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proved to be useful. For further information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), or their autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Armed robberies, car thefts, and burglaries are on the rise. Street crime, including pickpocketing and mugging, is prevalent in the cities, particularly during the evening hours in the vicinity of hotels and airports. There have been incidents of pilferage from checked airline baggage. Travelers have found it prudent to put valuables in their carry-on luggage.

Because of concerns about crime in border areas, the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion requires its employees and their family members to provide advance notice and a travel itinerary when traveling to Ciudad del Este or Pedro Juan Caballero.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. Also available from the same sources is the Department of State publication, "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America."

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties in Paraguay for possession, use and trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Driving in Paraguay presents special hazards. Only minimal standards must be met to obtain a Paraguayan driver's license, and few drivers receive driver education courses prior to licensing. Drivers throughout Paraguay routinely ignore traffic regulations; all visitors who drive in Paraguay should be prepared to drive defensively.

While some roads in Asuncion and other larger cities are paved with asphalt, most urban streets are paved with rough cobblestone. Two main roads leading from Asuncion are acceptably maintained. One leads east to Ciudad del Este and the Brazilian border; the other south to Encarnacion and Argentina. Elsewhere, roads are generally unpaved, and during rainy periods may be impassable. Driving at night is not advisable outside Asuncion, as animals or vehicles without proper lights are often on the roads. Road signs indicating hazards, such as sharp curves or major intersections, are lacking in many areas.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Paraguay's civil aviation authority as Category 3 - not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Paraguay's air carrier operations. Flights to the U.S. by Paraguay's air carriers are not permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by a carrier from a country meeting international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. At 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 3 countries for official business. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

OTHER INFORMATION: U.S. citizens traveling and residing in Paraguay are advised to take common sense precautions and avoid large gatherings or any other event where large crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. When these events occur, additional advice may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy at the telephone number below.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: Americans are encouraged to register and to obtain updated security and travel information at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion at 1776 Mariscal Lopez Avenue, telephone (011-595-21) 213-715.

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