Pakistan Travel Guide For US Citizens

Apr 21,2021


If you are a US citizen and plan to travel to Pakistan, you must prepare yourself for certain things before starting your trip. Mostly, traveling to Pakistan brings you a good experience, but sometimes you can be subject to unprecedented occurrences. Therefore, you should read all the gathered information below to have a general idea about how things work in Pakistan and how you should respond to certain situations.

Post Covid-19 Circumstances In Pakistan

Pakistan has lifted lockdown orders and resumed the mass transit services and intercity domestic travel activities in most cities. However, it can reinforce all the travel restrictions, business closures, and stay-at-home orders anytime, depending upon the Covid cases.

Areas Not To Travel

You should not travel:

  • Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), to avoid terrorism and kidnapping incidents.
  • Areas in the vicinity of Line of Control (LOC) due to potential for armed conflicts.

As a responsible US citizen, you should:

  • Stay aware of your location and your surroundings, and the local events.
  • Change your travel routes or timings, especially when you are on a routine trip.

Visa Requirements

Note down the following points before you depart.

  • Your passport should be valid for six months starting from the date of arrival in Pakistan
  • It must have at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps
  • If you are visiting Pakistan for tourism purposes, you should first obtain a tourist visa.
  • Pakistan does not require any vaccinations from US citizens, but polio vaccination took within one year before travel may be required.

Entry & Exit Currency Restrictions:

There are no restrictions on the currency you bring to Pakistan but, it can not be more than $10,000 when you exit the state.

Entry & Exit Visa Requirements:

  • A valid passport
  • A valid Pakistani visa
  • Dual Nationals should possess National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP)

You should obtain your visa at the Pakistani Embassy Consular Office before traveling to Pakistan. The US embassy in Pakistan cannot help you with Pakistani visa problems.

If you are a US government employee or immediate family member, you need to follow the proper procedures for an official or personal visit to Pakistan.

Dual Nationals:

Dual nationals holding both Pakistan and US citizenship may need to present some extra documents.

  • If you are a dual national traveling to Pakistan on NICOP or POC Cards, the government considers and treats you as a Pakistani citizen.
  • It may limit the assistance the US government could provide you in any mishap.
  • You need to get advanced permission from the government authorities before traveling to:
  • Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan
  • Various districts in Azad Jammu Kashmir
  • You should adhere to the immigration regulations of Pakistan. In case of overstaying the visa, violating the terms, you may be fined, detained, arrested, or imprisoned.
  • Always keep a set of copies of important travel documents, including the US passport data page, Pakistan immigration entry stamp, and Pakistani visa or ID card. You may also keep these documents on your mobile phone.

Safety And Security

Despite the heightened security measures taken by the government, the terrorist attacks are still there. Terrorists have a history of targeting public buildings with no exception to government facilities, schools, shrines, etc. Crowded gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations, religious gatherings have the potential of confrontation with security forces.

US citizens should therefore avoid such gatherings. In such incidents, Pakistan’s government has also jammed the cellular networks and internet in the past, making it difficult to contact each other.

Precautions:

  • Lock your home and vehicle doors
  • hire a 24-hour guard
  • vary your routes and schedules
  • travel in groups
  • associate with a native Urdu speaker, if you travel outside urban areas

If you encounter assault, flee to a safe area and inform the police via dialing 15. You can also physically report the incident at the police station.

Domestic Violence

 If you are subject to domestic violence, report at the US embassies in Karachi and Lahore.

Tourism

There is no proper regulation of the tourism industry. Hazardous areas do not come with appropriate signage.

Crime

Men and women both should wear full dresses with covered legs and arms. Don’t walk alone, especially at night.

Crime is common in Pakistan, including fraud, theft, robbery, carjacking, assault, and burglary.

Victims of Crime

US citizen victims of crime should first report the case to the police and then contact the US embassy. Police from different areas have different responsiveness to the crime. The crimes often go unprosecuted.

Local authorities may recognize a Dual US-Pakistani national as a Pakistani citizen.

There are cases when Pakistani families make US citizens subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, confiscation of passports, and forced marriages. Restricting the freedom of movement is also reported. Local police do not consistently report such cases. Nevertheless, if you face a life-threatening situation, you should call the police immediately and follow up with a call to the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

Local Laws

Criminal Penalties

When you are in Pakistan, you are subject to its local laws. If you violate the law, you may be detained, arrested, or expelled.

  • Do not take pictures of sensitive places like military installations, cantonments, and nuclear sites.
  • Driving while you are on drugs can immediately land you in Jail and result in penalties.
  • Using or Trafficking illegal drugs in Pakistan is dealt with severely. The convicted offender can get sentence to long jails in local prisons and heavy fines.

Arrest Notification

 If you get arrested by Pakistani local police in any case, you should ask them to inform the US embassy immediately so that the US government can analyze your case from scratch and check if it can assist. Usually, the Pakistani law enforcement authorities do not notify the US embassy if the US citizen is under arrest unless they are requested.

Currency:

You can transact goods by cash in Pakistan. Credit cards are accepted only in major cities.

There are bank branches, registered currency exchangers, and ATMs in all international airports.

Forced Marriage

There have been reports from US citizens when their family tricked their Pakistani Heritage by pushing them into a forced marriage. Then, the victim passes through physical and emotional abuse. The family confiscates their belongings, including passports. Report such cases to US officials as they might help to replace the stolen travel document.

All US citizens should keep their travel documents in their personal possession.

Property Disputes

Dispute over land leading to crime is common in Pakistan and is often difficult to resolve legally. The US embassy can not ensure the safety of your personal property in Pakistan. 

It can not take sides in any legal dispute as well.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance

There are no proper public facilities for the individual with physical disabilities in major cities, often the family and society cares for them.

Mostly, families care for individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Outside major cities, such facilities are non-existent.

Adventure Travel

There have been reported cases in which US citizens lost their lives while climbing the Karakoram mountain range, where rescue operations are difficult or impossible. The cost for emergency rescues starts at $15,000. To start the rescue mission, you need to pay the amount.

Health

Basic medical facilities are available in major cities of Pakistan but are limited in rural areas. The health facilities are generally below US standards.

  • Potable water is not available, and sanitation is also inadequate in most restaurants.
  • US citizens should bring their own sufficient supplies of prescription to Pakistan.
  • Seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution is also a problem in some areas of Pakistan. If required, US citizens should first consult the doctors before traveling to Pakistan.

Travel Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety

Road conditions vary according to different locations in Pakistan, but generally, they differ from those in the United States. You may find poor road conditions even in the major cities of Pakistan.

Traffic Laws:

Traffic moves on the left in Pakistan, the opposite of US traffic.

Roads are uneven, and the drivers are often untrained and aggressive. Traffic rules are often not followed strictly by citizens in few areas.

Donkey carts, bicyclists, and pedestrians can often cause roadside hazards in some areas. Road accidents are also common. Even the major highways in Pakistan suffer from poor maintenance. They have sharp drop-offs, numerous potholes, and barriers that are not sign-posted. We recommend hiring a trained local driver during your stay. A local driver knows well about the roads and streets, and he can negotiate with the locals in case of any dispute.

If you prefer driving yourself, you should be extremely cautious.

Public Transportation

You should avoid all forms of public transports, including trains, taxis, or Uber. Those in US government personnel are strictly not allowed to use any public transport due to security reasons. 

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