Foreign travel advice

Argentina

Summary

102,151 British nationals visited Argentina in 2016. Most visits to Argentina are trouble-free, but the most common incidents affecting tourists are distraction thefts, bag snatching, pick pocketing and street robberies.

If you need to contact the emergency services, call 911 or 101 (police), 107 (ambulance) or 100 (fire).

For English assistance in Buenos Aires contact the Tourist Police on +54 (0)11 5789 8913 from 7am to 9pm and on +54 (9)11 6633 5656 from 9pm to 7am.

In Mendoza contact +54 (0)261 413 2135.

Protests and strikes take place regularly, often without warning, particularly in Buenos Aires. There have been occasional Falklands-related protests against British interests in Argentina. You should avoid all protests and demonstrations.

Terrorist attacks in Argentina can’t be ruled out.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

UK health authorities have classified Argentina as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever can occur throughout the year. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travel to some parts of the country. 

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. 

Safety and security

Crime

Be alert to street crime, especially thieves (often women) using distraction techniques. The most common form of distraction theft reported in Buenos Aires is the “mustard scam”. Thieves have been known to rob tourists while an accomplice pretends to help remove ketchup or mustard that has been ‘accidentally’ sprayed on them. If you find yourself in this situation, politely but firmly refuse assistance and walk away.

Keep a close eye on your personal possessions at all times. Thieves normally work in teams of two or more and tend to target small bags and pockets. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing jewellery. You might be asked for a photo ID when paying with a credit card so carry one with you but keep it secured. A money belt under your clothes is the safest option. Keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe. Avoid isolated or poorly lit areas at night.

Thieves posing as hotel guests are known to snatch bags while tourists are checking into hotels or hostels. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars. Don’t hang bags on the back of your chair but keep them on your lap instead.

Thieves and pickpockets operate on public transport, bus and train terminals. Handbags can be cut open in crowded places. Mobile phones are snatched while being used on the street. Thieves on motorbikes are known to snatch bags from pedestrians. Thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars are common. Keep your valuables out of sight. Avoid using ATMs at night and remain aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money.

In Buenos Aires, remain alert at all times but particularly in the areas of San Telmo, La Boca, Retiro , Florida Street, 9 de Julio and Rivadavia Avenues near the obelisk area. Distraction thefts at the Retiro Bus terminal are very common.

Robberies involving physical violence and the use of weapons are known to occur in the streets immediately outside of the Caminito tourist area in La Boca. Make sure to stay within the designated tourist area where there are high visibility police patrols. If being robbed, hand over your cash and valuables without resistance. For English assistance contact the Tourist Police at Av Corrientes 436 or on +54 (0)11 5789 8913 from 7am to 9pm and on +54 (9)11 6633 5656 from 9pm to 7am.

In Mendoza, remain alert at all times particularly at the bus terminal and at the General San Martín Park. Distraction thefts at the bus terminal are the second most common problem reported to the British Embassy. For English assistance contact the Tourist Police at San Martin 1143 or on +54 (0)261 413 2135.

If possible, book taxis in advance. If you hail a taxi in the street, only use a ‘radio taxi’. These have a clearly visible company logo on the rear passenger doors. If you’re being met at the airport and you don’t know your greeter, confirm their identity before setting off. Alternatively use a ‘remise’ service from the official stand in the centre of the arrivals concourse.

Kidnappings and so called ‘express kidnappings’ occur in Argentina. Victims are held and forced to empty their bank accounts in different ATMs after which they are normally quickly released.

If you’re a victim of crime, you should inform the local police and get a police report from the nearest police station. You’ll also need the police report to apply for an emergency travel document from the British Embassy and to apply for a replacement passport when you return to the UK.

Extreme and adventure sports

If you take part in extreme or adventure sports (including paragliding, climbing, off-road driving and hot air ballooning), make sure adequate safety precautions are in place. Only use reputable operators and insist on training. Make sure your travel insurance covers all the activities you want to undertake.

Political situation

Political demonstrations and picketing are more common in Argentina than in the UK. They can take place at many public locations throughout Argentina. Some demonstrations attract large numbers of people. There have been cases of demonstrations turning violent. You should monitor the media and avoid demonstrations.

There have been occasional Falklands-related protests including outside the British Embassy and British affiliated businesses in Argentina.

Local travel

Groups of demonstrators (piqueteros) sometimes block major roads into and out of Buenos Aires during times of social unrest. This can cause significant delays.

Air travel

The departure of flights from airports in Argentina can be unreliable and susceptible to delays and cancellations. Check with your airline or travel company before travelling to the airport.

We cannot offer advice on the safety of individual airlines, but the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the  website of the Aviation Safety network.

Road Travel

You will need an International Driving Permit to drive in Argentina.

Driving and road safety standards vary. Respect for speed limits and traffic signals is patchy, and other road users can make unexpected manoeuvres.  Crime against car users, particularly when stationary at traffic lights, is a problem. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times in major cities.

Take care when driving in the Province of Misiones close to the borders with Paraguay and Brazil; the area is used to smuggle goods. Seek local advice if you intend to drive in this area.

Sea travel

There have been cases of disruption by activist groups and unions against British flagged shipping, and shipping involved in hydrocarbons or fishing activity in the Falkland Islands . If you are in charge of a vessel, make contact with your agent or the local authorities before travelling. Most cruise ships and visiting tourists should not be affected.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in Argentina can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Since 2004 there have been a number of small explosions in Buenos Aires and the surrounding provinces which are believed to have been the work of local anti-globalisation groups. The targets have mostly been banks.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with illegal drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to a lengthy prison sentence.

The government of Argentina has stated that it intends to pursue legal action against oil and gas companies engaged in hydrocarbons exploration in the Falkland Islands. If you’re travelling to Argentina and think you may be affected by this type of legal action, you should seek independent legal advice and make contact with the British embassy.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You don’t need a visa to enter Argentina as a tourist unless you’re travelling on an Emergency Travel Document. On presentation of a valid British passport you will normally be granted a 90-day stay in the country.

If you wish to extend your stay for another 90-day period, seek advice from the Argentine Migrations Office.

If you’re travelling to Argentina for any purpose other than tourism, contact
the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in London.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Proof of onward travel

You may need to provide proof of onward or return travel. You should make all flight reservations before departing for Argentina. Airlines have sometimes refused to board passengers travelling to Argentina without proof of onward travel.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Argentina. However, holders of an ETD must apply for the appropriate Argentine visa to enter the country.

For entry into Argentina, your ETD should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

UK health authorities have classified Argentina as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Medical facilities are good, but can be expensive. Public hospitals tend to be crowded. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you have a specific condition you should bring a sufficient quantity of medical supplies and medicines with you.

Asthma, sinus and bronchial problems can be aggravated by the polluted atmosphere in the major cities.

Dengue Fever can occur throughout the year. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 107 or 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Many northern provinces suffer from seasonal flooding. This can lead to disruption to transport and delivery of foodstuffs. Flash floods can occur during heavy rains in other areas, such as the province of Buenos Aires. Monitor local media and follow any instructions given by the local authorities.

The Copahue Volcano on the Argentina/Chile border erupts every so often, causing local residents to be evacuated. If you’re travelling to this area, monitor local media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Money

ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and major shops and restaurants. Photo ID may be required. Travellers’ cheques aren’t always accepted.

The government of Argentina has in the past imposed restrictions on the purchase of foreign currency in Argentina. You should monitor the media for updates on these restrictions as they’re subject to regular change.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.