I started talking about Consular Information Sheets here.
Odd but possibly vital information can be found in the Consular Information Sheets regularly posted by the U.S. Department of State [D.O.S.]. For example:
“It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items, sometimes for several weeks. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription.”
Staggering advice! But the report doesn’t stop there. It includes links to English-language Japanese sites with prescription look-ups, because “Japanese customs officials do not make on-the-spot …˜humanitarian’ exceptions.”
In a recent Peru information sheet,
“Travelers are advised to seek advice from local residents before swimming in jungle lakes or rivers, where alligators or other dangerous creatures may live. All adventure travelers should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and they should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information. … Peruvian customs regulations require that many electronic items or items for commercial use be declared upon entering the country. Failure to make a full and accurate declaration can lead to arrest and incarceration.”
Better mention your laptop or digital camera.
If you “get sand in your shoes,” that is, fall in love with island life on your Bahamian vacation, you’ll be glad to have read that
“U.S. citizens should exercise caution when considering time-share investments and be aware of the aggressive tactics used by some time-share sales representatives. Bahamian law allows time-share purchasers five days to cancel the contract for full reimbursement. Disputes that arise after that period can be very time-consuming and expensive to resolve through the local legal system.”
Going to see the pyramids of Giza and Cairo’s exotic Khan el Khalili bazaar? The U.S. D.O.S. tells us that
“Egypt is one of the world’s leaders in fatal auto accidents. Traffic regulations are routinely ignored. If available, seatbelts should be worn at all times. … Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings are non-existent in many areas, and drivers do not yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.”
Knowing this will certainly alter your behavior whether driving, taxiing, or walking in Egypt.
The U.S. Department of State isn’t in the scare business. Each of its reports is rich with phone numbers and links to official websites to help travelers get the information they need. Instruction is included on how to deal with problems and emergencies while abroad, including after-hour phone numbers. The State Department’s information is invaluable, available via phone, fax, pamphlet, and internet; and free.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
For recorded travel information, call 202-647-5225
For information by fax, call 202-647-3000 from your fax machine