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Country Description: The Czech Republic is a rapidly developing European nation. It is undergoing profound economic and social change. Tourist facilities, particularly those found in the capital, Prague, are quickly approaching the level of those found in most European countries. Outside of Prague these facilities are not as developed, and some goods and services taken for granted in other European countries may not yet be available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required but a visa is not necessary for stays of up to 30 days. For further information concerning entry requirements for the Czech Republic, travelers can contact the Embassy of the Czech Republic at 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 363-6315.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are available but may be limited, particularly in remote areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States and travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The Czech Republic has a low rate of violent crime. However, there has been a dramatic increase in street crime, particularly pickpocketing, especially in major tourist areas in Prague and on public transportation. Visitors should be alert to the potential for a substantial overcharging by taxis, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the 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 safeguarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.

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

Aviation Oversight: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in November 1995, the FAA has found the government of the Czech Republic's Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Czech Republic air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1 (800) 322-7873.

Registration and Embassy Location: U.S citizens who register in the Consular Section of the Embassy in Prague can obtain updated information on travel and security within the Czech Republic. The U.S. Embassy in Prague is located at Trziste 15; Telephone (42) (2) 2451-0847 or, after hours, (42) (2) 531-200.

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