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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Paraguay

Paraguay travel guide

About Paraguay

There’s a saying in Paraguay that people who visit always cry twice – once when they arrive and once when they leave. And you can see why emotions might run high in this lesser-travelled South American nation, whose beautiful, beguiling and baffling character is made all the more alluring by its relative obscurity.

After years in the wilderness – Paraguay has long been politically as well as geographically isolated – the country is gradually opening up to the outside world. Its tourism infrastructure remains undeveloped, but patient and pioneering travellers are rewarded for their endeavours.

Boasting an intoxicating blend of crumbling colonial cities, exotic natural wonders and indigenous tribes, visitors to Paraguay can also expect a warm welcome from the locals, who are unerringly polite, interested in outsiders and liberal with their dinner invitations (expect football chat to be on the menu).

Most travellers begin their Paraguayan adventure in the capital, Asuncion. A charming, colonial city, it’s one of South America’s more endearing capitals and is blessed with neoclassical façades, pretty piazzas and tree-lined boulevards.

It is also a place of contradictions; expensive sports cars whizz along crumbling cobbled streets, while traditional street vendors ply their trade in the shadows of modern shopping malls. Inequality is hard to ignore.

Outside the capital, Paraguay’s true beauty is revealed. The east is characterised by sweeping savannahs and dense forests, which are peppered with sleepy colonial towns barely changed since the turn of the 20th century.

Crumbling Jesuit missions and yerba maté plantations can be found in the southeast corner, while the largely unexplored northern region is blanketed by steamy marshes, shimmering lagoons and dense rainforests, which harbour exotic species such as the elusive puma.

And then there’s the wild, western region of Chaco; one of South America's great wilderness areas, it is home for many of Paraguay’s indigenous people, who live largely traditional lives amongst a myriad of spectacular flora and fauna.

Key facts

Area:

406,752 sq km (157,048 sq miles).

Population:

6,725,430 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

16.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Asunción.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Mario Abdo Benítez since 2018.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Paraguay 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

Commercial flights are now operating to and from Paraguay on a limited number of routes. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

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

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.

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.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

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

Travel in Paraguay

In March 2020, Paraguayan authorities declared a nationwide health-related State of Emergency, putting in place restrictions, which were relaxed in phases.

Local authorities have extended the nationwide restriction on free movement between 01:00 am and 05:00 am. There are exceptions to go to the pharmacy or hospital, and for essential workers.

Wearing a facemask is mandatory at all times and observing sanitary measures (washing of hands and observing physical distance).

Accommodation

Some accommodation options are open such as hotels, hostels and private rentals. Check with your accommodation provider what facilities, including restaurants, are available.

Public spaces and services

Commercial activities:

  • Businesses can operate in well-ventilated environments between the permitted hours, with use of facemasks, work in crews to limit contact and promoting the sale of products on a delivery and pickup basis

  • Restaurants can operate within the permitted hours, promoting delivery and pickup services or on a reservation and client registration

  • Essential businesses such as pharmacies, delivery services and call centres can operate on a 24 hour basis

Academic activities:

  • In-classroom lessons will be virtual or hybrid
  • Higher education lessons will continue to be virtual

Social activities:

  • Social events in public and private venues are allowed for a maximum duration of 4 hours, with up to 100 people in closed spaces with adequate ventilation and up to 150 people in outdoor spaces and a person responsible for the event, with prior individual registration, mandatory use of facemasks and observing a 2-metre social distancing. No bars or dance floors are allowed.

  • Social events in private homes can take place with up to 15 people.

Physical activities:

  • Physical activities, non-contact sports and group classes are allowed in academies, gyms and other sport related spaces, based on a reservation, registration of client details and observing a 4-metre social distancing.

Cultural and Religious activities:

  • Cultural activities can take place with up 150 people in closed spaces and up to 200 people in outdoors or open spaces, observing a 2-metre social distancing, mandatory use of facemasks, previous registration and in compliance with sanitary measures.
  • Religious services with up to 150 people are permitted in closed spaces and up to 200 people in open spaces, observing a 2 metre social distancing, mandatory use of facemasks, with preassigned seating, previous registration and in compliance with sanitary measures.

Further information

For exhaustive information, visit the Paraguayan Ministry of Health website (in Spanish).

The Paraguayan government has announced that, if the circumstances require it, further localised restrictions may be put into place. You should follow local government guidelines stated on the Paraguayan Ministry of Health website (in Spanish).

Healthcare in Paraguay

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, dial the Ministry of Health hotline at 154.

The public healthcare system varies across the country, and in some cities in Paraguay, the additional burden of treating COVID-19 patients might affect services such as accident and emergency care. Some private hospitals might not accept credit card payments for admissions and only accept patients with valid health insurance. Short-term foreign visitors are required to demonstrate proof of medical insurance before boarding their flight to Paraguay. Check with your airline carrier.

Check if your travel or health insurance has comprehensive cover for coronavirus and refer to official channels in your location for further details.

People with COVID-19 symptoms, that have recently come in contact with someone with COVID-19, or have recently travelled internationally are eligible for testing by booking an appointment by calling the Ministry of Health’s hotline at 154, but results from public laboratories may take up to a week to arrive.

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 Paraguay.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Paraguay

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. As further information is available about the Paraguayan national vaccination programme, this page will be updated. Sign up to get email notifications.

The Paraguayan authorities have issued the national vaccination programme (only available in Spanish). Vaccination is occurring in priority phases and is voluntary and free of charge. Resident British Nationals with a locally issued cédula de identidad (identity card) are eligible to register within the vaccination programme on the same basis as Paraguayan nationals, by using the Registro de Ciudadanía option. British Nationals who do not hold a cédula de identidad (identity card) are eligible to register within the vaccination programme, under the Registro de Extranjeros option. Information about priority group categories are included on the national vaccination programme website.

Please refer to official guidance from local authorities for further information. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.

British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.

Finance

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

Further information

Further information is also available on the Paraguayan Ministry of Health website or official Twitter channel (both in Spanish). If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Street 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 night times.

Violent crime

Transnational criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking and arms smuggling operate along Paraguay’s eastern border with Brazil, especially from Pedro Juan Caballero south to Ciudad del Este, including the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Their presence has increased violent crime in these areas. They have also carried out isolated violent criminal attacks in Asunción targeting the Paraguayan security forces and people associated with rival organisations. While tourists have not been the target of such incidents, anyone in the vicinity of an incident could be affected and you should exercise due caution.

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. The group typically targets police, military and large landowners. They steal cattle and in the last decade, they have kidnapped locals for ransom, the most recent one in 2020. Three people remain in captivity. 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. Although they do not target UK nationals or tourists, you should take extra precautions if you travel to these areas.

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

Reporting crime

If you need to report a crime you must go to the nearest police station. You can also contact the Tourist Police by phone:

  • Asunción - (595 21) 446-608 or (595 21) 449-020
  • Ciudad del Este - (595 61) 502-715
  • Encarnación (595 71) 204-102
  • Salto del Guairá (595 46) 243-575

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 Mercado de San Lorenzo destroyed 150 stalls.

Demonstrations

Groups of demonstrators may sometimes block streets in downtown Asunción near government buildings. You should avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities in such circumstances.

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 some vehicles with 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 FCDO 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.

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

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.

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 not illegal and there is a small, active LGBT community in Asunción. There are no provisions, however, in Paraguayan law guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation. Same-sex marriages or unions are not recognised in Paraguay and public displays of affection between same-sex couples are likely to be frowned upon. You can find more local information on the website of the SOMOSGAY association. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Non-resident foreign nationals may enter Paraguay subject to compliance with health protocols.

From 21 July, the Paraguayan government requires mandatory quarantine for all incoming travellers: people who enter the country will have to quarantine for 5 days after the date of their pre-departure PCR test (taken within 72 hours prior to entering Paraguay) and pay for a PCR test on the 5th day of quarantine for release. Children aged 10 or under do not require a negative PCR test to enter Paraguay. More information about this new entry requirement can be found here.

Foreign travellers must complete an online health declaration available on the Paraguayan Health Ministry website. All travellers must complete the health card at the time of entering the country at the immigration check informing the Paraguayan Ministry of Health of any potential issues or exposure.

Non-resident foreigners must present international medical insurance with complete health coverage to include attention to COVID-19 cases, PCR tests, laboratory studies, outpatient care, hospitalisation, and stays in the ICU. Children under 18 years old that have a mother or father with Paraguayan nationality are exempt from this requirement.

All people entering the country must comply with the sanitary measures imposed by the Ministry of Health, such as physical distancing, use of facemasks and frequent hand washing.

Visas

From 2 November 2020, tourists and non-resident foreigners who are still within Paraguayan national territory and whose period of lawful stay in the country has expired, must pay the corresponding penalty (Gs. 253,050) when registering their departure at the border post or airport immigration control or when approaching the offices of the Direccion General de Migraciones.

Likewise, foreign citizens whose temporary residence has expired must approach the Direccion General de Migraciones to obtain a new residence card, pay the corresponding penalty in case of being in breach and update their immigration status.

If you are in Paraguay and your period of lawful stay has expired, contact the Direccion General de Migraciones for further information.

You can find more information on the Paraguayan Dirección General de Migraciones website (in Spanish).

Regular entry 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 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.

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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Paraguay.

Other health advice

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 is 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).

Health risks

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.

Local medical care

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.

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.

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).

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.

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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