KUWAIT - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Kuwait. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime and the general threat of terrorist attacks.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
There is a constant and high terrorist threat throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan. From time to time, reports emerge that terrorists plan to attack specific locations in one of these countries. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Heightened security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced upon short notice. Exercise caution in commercial, public or tourist areas frequented by foreigners, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities. Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times.
The crime rate is low and violence is rare, including against foreigners. However, you should avoid secluded places or non-residential areas after dark.
Report any suspicion of being followed or unexplained loitering to the local police. Locals have sometimes followed Westerners home after dark and then vandalized their parked vehicles.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for July 27, 2013, and related demonstrations are expected in the lead up to as well as during these elections. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
There have been reports of physical and verbal harassment toward women. Travelling alone, especially after dark, is not advisable. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Accidents are common and due mainly to unsafe driving practices such as reckless driving. Exercise caution when driving after dark.
In the event of an accident, do not attempt to move the vehicle, even though it may impede traffic. Kuwaiti law states that the driver must wait for the police to make an official report. Be aware that digital cameras register traffic violations.
Off-road driving can be hazardous. Undertake off-road driving in a convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles with an experienced guide only. Leave a travel itinerary with a family member or friend. Be well prepared and equipped with gasoline, water, food and a cellular phone.
Use only officially marked taxis and pre-negotiate fares.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Consult the Ministry of Interior of the State of Kuwait for instructions and regulations for sailing in Kuwaiti waters.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Exercise caution if travelling by sea, including for recreational purposes, in the Persian Gulf, particularly around the islands of Abu Masa and the Tunbs, as both Iran and the UAE have claimed sovereignty over the islands.
General safety information
Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes at all times.
Unexploded munitions from the 1991 Gulf War pose hazards in rural areas, picnic spots and beaches. Monitor children closely. Do not touch suspicious unfamiliar objects.
Weapons are readily available, and accidental shootings have occurred.
Dial 112 for police, fire department or ambulance service.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been confirmed with the Kuwaiti authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the Embassy of the State of Kuwait for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Kuwait, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country.
Canadian temporary passports are not recognized by Kuwait. Canadians travelling on a Canadian temporary passport will not be permitted to enter Kuwait and will be deported to the last country they transited on their way to Kuwait.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Kuwait.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival. Business and student visas must be obtained from the nearest embassy or consulate of Kuwait before arrival. Arriving without a visa could lead to refused entry or lengthy delays. A round-trip or onward travel ticket is required to obtain a transit visa.
A Certified Criminal Record Check is required if you intend to work in Kuwait. You must obtain this clearance for each individual or dependent family member over the age of 18 who will be residing in Kuwait. Certified Criminal Record Checks must be authenticated by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and by the Embassy of the State of Kuwait before travelling, but no more than three months before arriving in Kuwait.
Canadians who intend to work in Kuwait must also obtain a Police Clearance issued by the Ministry of Interior of the State of Kuwait within three months of their arrival. Visit the Embassy of Canada in Kuwait during regular business hours to obtain the letter required to apply for the Police Clearance.
Kuwaiti employers/sponsors have customarily retained the passports of foreign employees.
Canadians have been denied entry into Kuwait because their passports bore: (a) an Israeli visa; (b) an Israeli border stamp; or (c) an Egyptian or Jordanian border stamp issued by an office bordering Israel (such a stamp would indicate entry from Israel).
If you are travelling in the Middle East, your passport could come under increased scrutiny by immigration authorities, and the authenticity of your passport could be questioned due to incidents of possible misuse. Contact the nearest Canadian government office or Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa for advice and assistance.
Use only official border crossings when crossing from Iraq or Saudi Arabia into Kuwait. Other crossings are considered to be illegal. Borders are patrolled by armed guards and there have been exchanges of gunfire in the recent past.
Health entry requirements
You must produce proof of yellow fever vaccination if arriving from an infected area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Violations of entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Kuwait.
Modern medical care is available through government-run clinics and hospitals. Immediate cash payment is often required.
While domestic tap water is usually safe to drink, it may be tainted with sand dust. Filtered or bottled water is generally preferred. Peel all fruits and vegetables and avoid undercooked meat, dairy products, and most food sold in the streets.
Dehydration is a serious risk due to very high temperatures during the summer months. Protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water.
Carry the original prescription and keep your prescription medications in the original container.
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
The work week is from Sunday to Thursday.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Suspects as well as witnesses to incidents may be held for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or consular officials. If access is granted, it may be severely limited by the Kuwaiti authorities. Authorities may withhold the passport of an individual involved in legal processes, pending resolution of the case. This could result in the delay of a planned departure.
Criticism of the Emir is not permitted by Kuwaiti authorities.
Religious proselytizing is not permitted.
Common-law relationships, homosexual relations, adultery and prostitution are illegal and are subject to severe punishment.
Penalties for possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, lengthy jail sentences or even the death penalty. The possession of drugs, even a very small amount, could result in arrest and imprisonment.
Possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal in Kuwait. Alcohol cannot be legally purchased or imported into Kuwait, and the penalties associated with the possession of alcohol include heavy fines, imprisonment or deportation.
There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Consequences include heavy fines, imprisonment or deportation.
Importation and consumption of pork products is illegal.
It is illegal to possess pornographic material.
Photography of government buildings and military or industrial sites, particularly oil fields, is forbidden. Do not photograph people without their permission.
Fraudulent practices, for example, writing cheques without sufficient funds and non-payment of bills, are regarded as extremely serious offences and may result in imprisonment and fines. Temporary release pending legal action may be granted in minor cases if the passport of the accused and the passport of the guarantor are surrendered to the authorities.
Dress and behaviour
Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour. Men and women should dress conservatively. Men must wear pants and a shirt in public. It is uncommon for Western women to cover their head in Kuwait. Dresses and skirts are permitted, provided they cover the shoulders and knees. Shorts and short skirts are considered inappropriate.
Exercise particular care in your behaviour with others, especially officials, to avoid offending local sensitivities. Verbal insults and obscene gestures may be considered a criminal act and, if found guilty, you could face deportation, fines and/or a prison sentence.
Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law. It is extremely difficult for a Canadian woman, even if she is a Muslim, to obtain custody of her children through Kuwaiti courts. Regardless of their parents' marital status, minor children with a Kuwaiti father may not leave Kuwait without his permission.
The currency, the Kuwaiti dinar (KWD), is readily convertible to U.S. dollars. Credit cards and U.S. dollar traveller's cheques are widely accepted, and automated banking machines are available nationwide.
Natural Disasters & Climate
The rainy season extends from December to January, often resulting in flooding.
High levels of humidity and severe heat occur from June to September.
Severe sand and dust storms also occur.
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