Foreign travel advice

Paraguay

Summary

A small number of British tourists visit Paraguay every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but violent crime is increasing.

UK health authorities have classified Paraguay as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There are regular outbreaks of dengue fever in Paraguay. You should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Terrorist attacks in Paraguay 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.

Safety and security

Crime

Street crime like bag snatching and pick-pocketing, on public transport may occur. Many foreigners choose to use taxis in preference to public transport for security and convenience. Muggings and robberies (occasionally armed) also take place. Keep valuables, spare cash and spare credit cards in a safe place. Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs and where possible use machines that are not on the street. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewellery. Consider carrying cash and bank cards in separate pockets and only take with you the money you need at the time.

Take sensible precautions to safeguard your possessions. Keep essential items like mobile phones or wallets out of sight. Leave your passport and other valuables in a safe place.

Try to keep away from isolated or poorly lit areas at night and avoid walking in downtown Asunción, Ciudad del Este and Pedro Juan Caballero alone during nighttimes.

In recent years a small number of high profile kidnappings have occurred. Although foreigners are not routinely targeted, you should remain vigilant.

If you need to report a crime you must go to the nearest police station. You can also contact the Tourist Police in Asunción at (595 21) 446-608 or (595 21) 449-020; in Ciudad del Este
(595 61) 502-715; Encarnación (595 71) 204-102 and in Salto del Guairá (595 46) 243-575.

A small guerrilla-style group calling itself the EPP (Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo) operates in the northern part of the Department of San Pedro and southern part of the Department of Concepción. Take extra precautions if you travel to these areas. The EPP typically targets police, military and large landowners. They steal cattle and kidnap for ransom. Their attacks can be violent, including the use of explosives and firearms. In August 2016, eight Paraguayan soldiers were killed in a suspected EPP attack in Concepción.

Public venues

Take care when visiting public venues. Markets are often located in narrow streets and can be crowded. Safety regulations may be non-existent or poorly-enforced. Food stalls burning fuel and poor electricity standards present a constant fire risk; in 2004, a major fire at a supermarket killed 400 people and in April 2015 a fire in Mercardo de San Lorenzo destroyed 150 stalls

Local travel

Groups of demonstrators may sometimes block major roads throughout the country, including international routes used by local residents and tourists, resulting in considerable delays.

Road travel

You can use your UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit while in Paraguay if you are visiting as a tourist. You must have your driver’s licence, passport and entrance stamp with you while driving. If you hire a car, take out adequate insurance. Driving standards are poor and traffic accidents, particularly involving motorcycles, are frequent. Many motorcyclists drive with no crash helmets and no lights at night.

There are regular police checks nationwide, usually to check the vehicle and drivers’ documents (passport, entrance stamp, driving licence) and perform breathalyser tests. These are particularly frequent in Asunción, its neighbouring cities and the San Pedro and Concepción Departments. Take extra care when travelling in and around these areas. Take care when travelling in the departments of Alto Paraná, Concepción, San Pedro, Amambay, Salto del Guairá, Canindeyú and the border with Bolivia where illegal cross-border activities are common.

Paraguay’s network of surfaced main roads is limited and of variable condition. Minor and rural roads remain unsurfaced and often become impassable during the rainy season and major paved roads (including in Asunción) are prone to flooding during heavy rain. Large potholes are a hazard on most roads including in Asunción. Avoid driving on country roads at night, which can be particularly hazardous.

Stop signs, traffic lights and speed limits are often ignored and road signs indicating hazards are lacking in many areas. Road signs are generally poor and can be confusing, even for local drivers.

Many taxis and most of the bus companies do not meet European standards and rarely have functioning seat belts. Road rules and etiquette of driving in Paraguay do not always match those of the UK.

The Terminal de Omnibus Asunción is the main terminal for long distance journeys. The bus station has security but you should keep a close eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings.

River travel

Boat trips and excursions are available on the main rivers, but many vessels don’t meet European health and safety standards. Be cautious when swimming in rivers as many have strong currents. Avoid swimming in the River Paraguay around Asunción, which is highly polluted. Seek the latest official advice before swimming in the popular tourist destination of Lake Ypacaraí, close to Asunción.

Air travel

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, 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.

Consular assistance

The British Embassy in Paraguay reopened in 2013. The Embassy can only provide emergency consular assistance to British nationals in Paraguay. Routine assistance and other services for British nationals are provided by the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

For emergency consular assistance only, please contact the Consular Officer in Asunción paraguay.consulate@fco.gov.uk during office hours. Outside of office hours, please call +595 21 614 588 or the British Embassy in Buenos Aires +54 11 4808-2200.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in Paraguay can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

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

All residents and visitors are required by law to carry an acceptable form of identification at all times. Foreign residents are issued with identity cards. You should carry a photocopy of the details page of your passport, as well as a copy of your entrance stamp.

Don’t become involved with drugs, as there are severe penalties for drug trafficking and possession. Prison sentences are mandatory, without bail, and prison standards are poor.

Homosexuality is legal, but Paraguay is a conservative society. Be aware that public displays of affection are infrequent and may be frowned upon.

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

British Passport holders do not need a visa to enter Paraguay. On presentation of a valid British passport you will normally be granted a 90-day stay in the country.

You must make sure on arrival that your passport is stamped by an immigration official, dated and signed. Anybody without an entry stamp in their passport will be fined when they leave the country. This is particularly important for anyone entering Paraguay at a land border, typically the crossing between Ciudad del Este and Foz de Iguazu (Brazil). Sometimes long distance bus drivers tell foreign nationals that they can complete immigration formalities in Asunción. This is not true, and visitors will incur a fine if they do not get their passport stamped at the point of entry.

If you wish to extend your stay for another 90-day period, seek advice from the Direccion General de Migraciones.

If you are travelling to Paraguay to work or study you should contact the Paraguayan Embassy 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.

Travelling with children

If you’re under 18, travelling across borders in the region without one or both parents, it’s advisable to have written permission to travel from both parents, duly certified by the Paraguayan Embassy in London, or your nearest Paraguayan Embassy. Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that immigration officers often request documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For more information on this please contact the Paraguayan Embassy in London.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Paraguay. The validity requirements are the same as for full validity British passports. If you plan to travel to Argentina or the US you will need a visa in your ETD. You must contact the nearest Embassies of those countries in order to apply.

Please be aware that the British Embassy in Asunción does not produce ETDs. In case you require an ETD it will be done so through the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

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.

Facilities for good private medical care exist but are limited to the major cities. Hospitals and GPs will expect immediate payment for medical services. The availability of certain types of medicines cannot be guaranteed. Elsewhere, facilities may not meet acceptable standards. If you need a regular prescription you should bring enough with you.  Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

UK health authorities have classified Paraguay as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There are regular outbreaks of dengue fever. Rain and flooding can lead to an increase in dengue carrying mosquitoes, leaving affected areas more vulnerable to dengue outbreaks. There have also been reported cases of the chikungunya virus, mainly of local residents returning from affected countries. You should take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 141 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

Heavy rainfall and flooding has affected a number of areas, including some areas of Asunción and neighbouring cities. Residents of the worst affected areas have been evacuated, and water levels are expected to continue to rise. Take extra care, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities. Further information and updates can be found on the website of the Secretaría de Emergencia Nacional (in Spanish).

Money

There are many ATMs accepting Cirrus, Maestro and Visa cards. You may be asked to provide identification if you are paying for items with a credit or debit card. Travellers’ cheques are not widely used. When exchanging money, use registered banks or bureaux de change. Don’t change money with people offering attractive rates on the street or on arrival at the airport, as false banknotes are common.

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.