U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
This information is current as of today,
Americans planning travel to Oman should read Intercountry Adoption Oman, International Parental Child Abduction Oman and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement available on the Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov
January 13, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Sultanate of Oman has a long and proud heritage, and is a land of great natural beauty on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula. With a population of 2.33 million, Oman has seen rapid economic and social development in the past three decades. As a monarchy governed by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the country does not have political parties or a legislature, although a bicameral representative body provides the government with advice. While Oman is traditionally Islamic and Islam is the state religion, Omanis have for centuries lived with people of other faiths. Non-Muslims are free to worship at churches and temples built on land donated by the Sultan. The economy is largely dependent on the production and export of oil and, increasingly, natural gas. Excellent tourist facilities are available in the major cities of Muscat, Salalah, Sohar, and Nizwa, and can increasingly be found elsewhere in the country. Travelers may wish to visit the Sultanate’s tourism website at: http://www.omantourism.gov.om for more information. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Oman at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35834.htm for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport and visa are required for entry into Oman. Omani embassies and consulates issue two-year, multiple-entry tourist and/or business visas to qualified U.S. citizens. Alternatively, U.S. citizens may obtain a 30-day visa by presenting their U.S. passports on arrival at all Oman land, sea and air entry points. (Note: The validity period of the applicant's passport should not be less than six months.) Adequate funds and proof of an onward/return ticket, though not required, are strongly recommended. The fee is Rial Omani 6.00 (approximately USD 16.00). This visa can only be extended for an extra 30 days; a completed extension application form and the fee of Rial Omani 6.00 (USD 16.00) should be submitted to the Directorate General of Passports and Residence, or to its branches at regional Royal Oman Police offices. Other categories of short-term visit/business/work contract visas are available, but these must be arranged in advance through an Omani sponsor. To obtain a visa or for details on entry and travel requirements, please contact the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, 2535 Belmont Road N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 387-1980/2. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required if the traveler enters from an infected area.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been no instances in which U.S. citizens or facilities in Oman have been subject to terrorist attacks. However, the Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests throughout the region. American citizens in Oman are urged to maintain a high level of security awareness. The State Department suggests that all Americans in Oman maintain an unpredictable schedule and vary travel routes whenever possible. Americans are also urged to treat mail or packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. Unusual mail or packages should be left unopened and reported to local authorities. U.S. citizens with security concerns are encouraged to contact local authorities and the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Muscat.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution, and Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at ../../tips/safety/safety_1747.html.
CRIME: The incidence of street crime is low in Oman; violent crime is rare by U.S. standards, but can occur. Crimes of opportunity remain the most likely to affect visitors. Visitors to Oman should, therefore, take normal precautions, such as avoiding travel in deserted or unfamiliar areas and after dark. Visitors should also protect personal property from theft. In particular, valuables and currency should not be left unsecured in hotel rooms. Common sense and caution are always the best methods for crime prevention.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime at ../../tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: There are a number of modern medical facilities in Oman. Local medical treatment varies from quite good to inadequate, depending in large part on location. Many Western pharmaceuticals can be found in Oman. Hospital emergency treatment is available. Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health services.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad
to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at: cis_1470.html.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Oman is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Road Conditions and Hazards: Road conditions, lighting, and traffic safety in cities and on major highways are good. The condition of rural roads varies
from good to poor. Travel between cities, especially at night, may be dangerous due to poor or no lighting, wandering livestock,
and speeding drivers. The safety of public transportation is generally good. Taxis, minivans, and small buses may swerve
to the side of the road to pick up passengers with little notice or regard for other vehicles.
Local Laws and Practices: Traffic laws in Oman are strictly enforced. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited, and there are stringent penalties for violating this law. Seat belt use is required, and the use of non-hands-free cellular telephones while driving is prohibited. In the event of a traffic violation and fine, drivers should pay the fine as directed and should not attempt to pay or negotiate payment at the time of the traffic stop. In the event of an accident, the driver should not move the vehicle from the location of the accident until police grant permission; moving a vehicle may be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
The use of European-style traffic circles is prevalent in Oman. However, unlike European traffic practice, the driver on the inside lane always has priority. A driver flashing his/her high beams is generally asking for a chance to pass. Turning right on a red traffic signal is prohibited.
Visitors should not drive without a valid license. Short-term visitors in possession of a valid U.S. driver's license may drive rental vehicles, but residents must have an Omani driver's license. To obtain an Omani license, a U.S. citizen must have a U.S. license that has been valid for at least one year or must take a driving test. Visitors hiring rental cars should insure the vehicles adequately against death, injury and loss or damage. Residents may insure their vehicles outside the Sultanate; however, third party liability insurance must be purchased locally.
Emergency Services: A modern ambulance service using American equipment and staff trained in the U.S. was instituted in 2004, and has been assessed as very good. The service currently serves only certain urban locations in Oman, including the capital area, but is eventually expected to provide coverage for motor vehicle accident victims throughout the entire Sultanate. For all traffic-related emergencies, the Royal Omani Police can be contacted by dialing "9999."
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at ../../tips/safety/safety_1179.html. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.omantourism.gov.om/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Oman as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Oman’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Omani employers often ask that expatriate employees deposit their passports with the company as a condition of employment. Although customary, this practice is not required by Omani law. The U.S. Embassy in Muscat advises Americans to exercise caution on the issue of permitting an employer to hold their passports, since this can operate as a restraint on travel and could give undue leverage to the employer in a dispute. U.S. passports are the property of the U.S. government.
Islamic ideals provide the conservative foundation of Oman's customs, laws and practices. Foreign visitors are expected to be sensitive to the Islamic culture, and not dress in a revealing or provocative style, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter-tops and shorts. Athletic clothing is worn in public only when the wearer is obviously engaged in athletic activity. Western bathing attire, however, is the norm at hotel pools and beaches. Please see our information on customs regulations at cis_1468.html.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Omani laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Oman are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. For more information visit cis_1467.html.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Oman are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Oman. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on Jamiat A’Duwal Al Arabiya Street, Al Khuwair Area (Shatti Al-Qurum), in the capital city of Muscat. The mailing address is: P.O. Box 202, Medinat Al Sultan Qaboos 115, Sultanate of Oman, telephone: (968) 24-698-989, fax: (968) 24-699-189. The Embassy’s e-mail address is: ConsularMuscat@state.gov, and its website address is: http://oman.usembassy.gov.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 29, 2005 to update the section on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.