Guyana travel guide

About Guyana

Guyana might not be on everyone's bucket list, but with its unspoiled rainforests, golden beaches, sweeping savannahs and meandering rivers, this little-known South American nation offers rich rewards for those daring enough to visit.

Wild and welcoming in equal measure, Guyana's attractions range from the awesome natural splendour of Kaieteur Falls, to the charming, stilted wooden houses of its capital, Georgetown.

Jungle trekking, freshwater fishing and wildlife watching are the big draws, and while few succeed in sighting the country's famously elusive jaguar's, nature lovers will have the opportunity to spot giant anteaters, giant otters and, sticking with the supersize theme, arapaima, the world's largest freshwater fish.

In many ways a trip to Guyana is a jump back in time, a refreshing tonic in a world of instant gratification and constant connectivity. But while the country's tourist infrastructure is almost non-existent, ATMs scarce and holidaymakers rarer than the wild cats that roam the rainforests, pioneering travellers certainly won't be left wanting.

One of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island, multicultural Guyana has more in common with the West Indies than it does South America; from the English and Creole spoken on the streets to the curry dishes served on dinner tables.

Guyanese culture and cuisine reflect the ethnic makeup of the country, which consists of Indian, African and European people, who were brought over to the Caribbean by Dutch and British colonialists. There is also a substantial Amerindian population, which distinguishes it from other parts of the Caribbean.

Travellers looking for a destination with a difference, a country well off the tourist trail, will find Guyana a joy to discover. It's by no means cheap to fly there and exploring the country will require a strong sense of adventure and a willingness to forsake creature comforts. But that's a small price to pay for what Guyana gives in return.

Key facts

Area:

214,969 sq km (83,000 sq miles).

Population:

770,610 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

3.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Georgetown.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Irfaan Ali since 2020.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Mark Phillips since 2020.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Guyana on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Scheduled international flights are in place from Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri and the Eugene Correia Airport at Ogle.

Airlines are now operating regular scheduled flights between Guyana, Barbados, Suriname and the USA.

COVID-19 PCR test results are required for entry and transit through Barbados. For passengers coming from Guyana, these tests cannot be more than four days old. For passengers arriving into Barbados from the UK, tests cannot be more than 72 hours old. You can find details of COVID-19 measures in Barbados on the Barbados Government Information Service website.

The Government of Guyana has announced that all foreign travellers to Guyana must be fully vaccinated and will be required to present their Vaccination Passport/Proof of Vaccination for inspection upon arrival. Fully vaccinated refers to having a complete course/regimen of vaccination at least two weeks prior to travel. Travellers with a mixed vaccination regimen are considered fully vaccinated.

In addition, passengers arriving into Guyana must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within seven days prior to their arrival. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to Guyana. You should arrange a private test. If you arrive with a test completed within 72 hours you will be allowed immediate entry into Guyana without restrictions. Passengers with tests within four to seven days prior to arrival in Guyana will be subjected to a second PCR test at the point of entry but will be allowed to self-isolate in their hotel or home until a negative result is obtained. You will not be allowed on the aircraft at the point of departure if your test is more than 7 days old. The test on arrival costs GY$16,000.

If you are planning to transit the USA, you should check USA travel advice for the latest entry requirements. You should also check travel advice for your destination country and any countries on your route.

Border closures continue between Guyana and neighbouring Brazil. The Canawaima Ferry Service between Moleson Creek in Guyana and South Drain, Suriname, resumed in February 2021, however restrictions to non-residents apply. Regular international travellers are not presently permitted to use the service. Air travel between Guyana and Suriname has been impacted by services being stopped at short notice. You are advised to contact your carrier for the latest information. There is no exit/entry available to Venezuela.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Guyana.

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) also provides advice on how to stay safe as you travel by air.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Individuals who test positive for the Coronavirus in Guyana before returning to the UK will be expected to self-isolate for 10 days, either in a hotel or private accommodation. Individuals may be contacted by the Ministry of Health if they have tested positive for the virus. The Government of Guyana will not provide assistance for people who may need to leave their hotels. Minors (under 18 years) are unlikely to be treated differently to adults

Moving around in Guyana

For information on entering Guyana, see Entry Requirements

The Chief Medical Officer from the Guyana Ministry of Public Health has urged people to exercise social distancing and carry out measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

Emergency measures have been introduced by the National COVID-19 Task Force. These include:

  • curfew between 12pm and 4am
  • any member of the public not vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus may only access services available in government departments and agencies in person by appointment
  • there are restrictions on all social activities. This includes activities along the sea wall, attending bars, restaurants and gymnasiums
  • cinemas, betting shops and casinos can reopen at 40% capacity, customers and staff however must show evidence that they are fully vaccinated
  • where gatherings are allowed it shall not exceed more than 10 people

Restaurants may insists on seeing evidence of full vaccination, along with proof of ID.

Be mindful that breaches of quarantine may result in serious penalties.

Healthcare in Guyana

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Guyana.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Guyana

We will update this page when the Government of Guyana announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Guyana national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines. The Government of Guyana has stated that British nationals resident in Guyana are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. The vaccination programme is open to everyone aged over 12 years living in the country. Information on vaccination sites can be found at the Ministry of Health website.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Guyana, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Further information

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crime

Crime levels remain relatively high and police capacity is low. There are regular armed and violent robberies against businesses and individuals. There is a risk of passers-by being caught up in such incidents - the Police tend to respond with firearms if shot at or threatened.

Many of the crimes in Guyana are common to countries with wide gaps in wealth and where the perception is that all foreigners are wealthy. Muggings have taken place in broad daylight, often at gun or knife point. Burglary and theft from cars is commonplace. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Try to avoid showing obvious signs of wealth.

Take extra precautions to safeguard your passports, money, tickets, mobile phones and other valuables. Even if you are staying with family, do not leave valuables in view. Keep them somewhere less obvious than your baggage. Use hotel safes if possible. You should be particularly vigilant when leaving local banks to ensure that you are not being followed.

In Georgetown, avoid the Tiger Bay and Albouystown areas and take care in Sophia, all of south Georgetown, Buxton and Agricola. Take particular care in the Stabroek Market area where robberies are a daily occurrence. Avoid walking alone around Georgetown, even in the main areas and don’t walk anywhere at night.

A number of assaults have taken place in the Botanic Gardens. Birding enthusiasts should be particularly vigilant. If possible go with an organised group and avoid taking valuables with you.

The COVID-19 Emergency Measures have banned activities, including walking, along the sea wall. Some public parks (such as the Botanic Gardens have also been closed.)

Local travel

You should take normal precautions. Confirm the local situation in advance, avoid travel after dark, travel in convoy whenever possible and carry a means of communication.

Guyana is vulnerable to flooding. The coast of Guyana is below sea level and protected by a sea defence and dam system. Guyana also experiences heavy rainfall. The main rainy seasons are generally May/June and December/January. Infrastructure, including drainage systems, is poorly maintained.

Road travel

If possible, avoid travel to and from Georgetown Cheddi Jagan international airport late at night and before dawn. There have been incidents of violence and fatal accidents caused by erratic driving. There have also been incidents of violent theft by gangs who follow cars travelling from the airport, and attack their victims when they reach their final destination. Always drive with windows closed and doors locked.

Driving in Guyana can be dangerous because of poor road sense of road-users, frequent hazards, inadequate lighting and poor road conditions in some areas. Drive defensively and limit driving at night as much as possible. The worst incidents have almost inevitably involved minibuses. When driving at night take extra care to avoid cyclists, pedestrians and animals.

If you’re planning to drive in Guyana, from 28 March 2019, a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. Alternatively, you can get a local driving permit, valid for 1 month, from the Licence and Revenue Office in Georgetown on submission of a valid British driving licence.

If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

Avoid using minibuses. They are driven dangerously and are responsible for the majority of road accidents in Guyana.

Although some taxis have been the target for robbers, they remain the safest means for visitors to get around town. Only use taxis from reputable companies and book them in advance (or take them from official hotel taxi ranks). Don’t hail taxis from the roadside. 

Air travel

Tourist travel within Guyana can often involve flying in light aircraft. There has been the occasional accident in recent years on the main tourist routes, including Kaieteur Falls, Lethem and Linden, some with fatalities. The last fatality occurred in February 2019.

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

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is unable to 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.

In 2016 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Guyana.

There are some restrictions in place on travel within Guyana. Foreigners travelling to Lethem need to apply to the COVID-19 Task Force for permission to travel.

River and sea travel

There have been armed attacks against fishing boats in and around the waters of Guyana and Suriname. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Only use scheduled ferry services when crossing the Corentyne River between Guyana and Suriname. Using water taxis (backtracking) from Suriname to Guyana is illegal and can lead to arrest, imprisonment and then deportation.

If you’re travelling on Guyana’s rivers use registered boat services equipped with lifejackets. Don’t travel by boat after dark.

Border areas

Although the UN’s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in 2007 ruled on the maritime border dispute between Suriname and Guyana, there remains a historical border dispute between Suriname and Guyana over land in the New River Triangle area in the south east of Guyana. Venezuela continues to dispute the legitimacy of its current border with Guyana resulting in periodical increased tensions at a political level between both countries. The Suriname border issue is not high profile. The Venezuela border controversy can be. You should keep these border issues in mind if you’re near the border areas, both of which are in remote areas.

Political situation

Following elections on 2 March 2020 a new government is now in place. In case of demonstrations you are advised to be careful when travelling around the country and avoid large crowds.

Mobile phones

The following UK mobiles work with roaming services - tri-band or quad phones; Vodafone and O2. A 3G data service is also available.

Electricity

Power cuts occur and you may find yourself without water or electricity for short periods of time. Consider packing a torch.

Hotel safety

A small hotel fire in the centre of Georgetown in August 2018 highlighted poor safety procedures in some hotels and the need to be vigilant. You should make yourself aware of evacuation procedures and exit routes on arrival and speak to hotel management if you have any concerns.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Guyana, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

Drug trafficking is a serious problem: possession and trafficking in drugs leads to lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. The minimum jail sentence for illegal drug offences is three years. Prison conditions in Guyana are tough. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.

People are regularly offered free air tickets to Guyana. On arrival their ’sponsors’ will only allow them to leave Guyana if they carry a ’package’ (usually cocaine). The Guyana anti-drug authorities at the airport will routinely stop or search foreigners fitting a certain profile.

Homosexual activity is illegal. Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Guyana set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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.

Restrictions in response to coronavirus

Passengers arriving into Guyana must obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken within seven days prior to their arrival. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to Guyana. You should arrange a private test. If you arrive with a test completed within 72 hours you will be allowed immediate entry into Guyana without restrictions.

Passengers with tests within four to seven days prior to arrival in Guyana will be subjected to a second PCR test at the point of entry but will be allowed to self-isolate in their hotel or home until a negative result is obtained. You will not be allowed on the plane at the point of departure if your test is more than 7 days old. The test on arrival costs GY$16,000.

Borders

The Governments of Brazil and Suriname have both announced the closure of borders with neighbouring countries, including Guyana. There is no exit/entry available to Venezuela. Guidance for travellers coming to Guyana from a COVID-19 affected country is available from the Guyana Ministry of Public Health. The Guyana Ministry of Public Health hotline is +592 624 3067 and +592 227 4986 ext 215.

Visas

British nationals do not need visas to visit Guyana. Visitors are generally given 30 days to remain in Guyana, but extensions can usually be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown. The Guyanese authorities are very severe on visitors who overstay or abuse the conditions of their stay. Conviction for overstaying will result in one year imprisonment, a fine of up to G$50,000 (Guyana dollars) and deportation - at the deportee’s expense - upon release.

Check entry requirements with the Guyana High Commission in London before you travel.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Guyana.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Guyana.

Departure tax

Departure tax is no longer required. All taxes are now included in the ticket.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Coronavirus

See information on coronavirus (COVID-19) measures introduced in Guyana and find out how to return to the UK from Guyana.

Other risks

UK health authorities have classified Guyana 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.

Malaria and dengue fever are common to Guyana and can occur throughout the year. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Medical facilities are very limited, even in Georgetown and non-existent in remote areas. Standards are low. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, and repatriation. Medical evacuation is recommended for any serious or invasive treatment.

In the 2016 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 8,500 people in Guyana were living with HIV. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 913 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Credit card use is growing in the retail and hospitality sectors but Guyana is still a largely cash-based economy. Scotia Bank’s ATMs accept most international bankcards (Visa/Mastercard). US Dollars are more widely accepted than other foreign currencies (carry some small denomination notes).

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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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 FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team 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.

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