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


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


6,725,430 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

16.7 per sq km.





Head of state:

President Santiago Peña since 2023.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

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

The authorities in Paraguay set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Paraguayan Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Paraguay.

Passport validity requirements

To enter Paraguay, your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

Make sure that an immigration official stamps, dates and signs your passport when you arrive. If you do not have an entry stamp in your passport, you will get a fine when you leave the country.

This is important if you enter Paraguay at a land border, typically the crossing between Ciudad del Este and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. Long-distance bus drivers sometimes tell foreign nationals that they can complete immigration formalities in Asunción. This is not true, and you will get a fine if you do not get your passport stamped at the point of entry.

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to visit Paraguay. You will normally get permission to stay for 90 days on arrival.

If you want to stay for another 90 days, check with the Paraguayan Immigration Department (in Spanish). 

If you are travelling to Paraguay to work or study, you should contact the Paraguayan Embassy in the UK or check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visa information

Travelling with children

You need a parental permission document (‘Permiso del Menor’) to bring a child into or out of Paraguay if they are not travelling with both parents. The permission document must be certified by the Paraguayan Embassy in the UK, or your nearest Paraguayan embassy. You can get more information on requirements for children entering or leaving Paraguay from the Paraguayan Immigration Directorate (in Spanish).    

Vaccination requirements

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Paraguay guide.   

Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Paraguay. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking money into and out of Paraguay

Declare any cash or travellers cheques if the value is 10,000 US dollars or more. You can make an online declaration in advance, or at computer terminals at the airport or place of arrival. You will get a certified declaration to show you brought it in with you.

Many ATMs accept bank cards. When exchanging money, use registered banks or a bureau de change. Do not change money with people on the street or on arrival at the airport as false banknotes are common.

This guide also has safety advice for regions of Paraguay.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Paraguay

Terrorist attacks in Paraguay cannot be ruled out.

Political situation

Demonstrations and protests

There is often social conflict in Paraguay. Groups may set up blockades as a form of protest along the main roads and in downtown Asunción near government buildings. This disrupts public transport and leads to widespread delays often with little warning.

If this happens, avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities.


Protecting yourself and your belongings

Bag-snatching and pickpocketing are a problem on public transport. Many foreigners choose to use taxis rather than take buses. Keep your bags within sight at all times when travelling, and be wary of anyone offering to help you.  

Muggers are occasionally violent and can be armed. Carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewellery can make you a target. To reduce the risk of attacks:

  • use ATMs inside buildings rather than on the street
  • call a licensed taxi from a landline or a hotel rather than hailing one in the street
  • keep items like mobile phones and wallets out of sight
  • keep valuables and passports in a safe place

You might be asked for photo ID if you pay by credit card. Many people choose to carry their photo ID in a money belt under their clothes, to keep it secure.

At night, keep away from isolated or poorly lit areas, and avoid the downtown areas of major cities.

Organised crime

Criminal organisations carry out drug trafficking and arms smuggling, often in the border regions. They have also carried out isolated violent attacks in Asunción and elsewhere. These attacks have usually been aimed at the Paraguayan security forces and people associated with rival gangs. Tourists have not been the target of such incidents, but bystanders could be affected.

In recent years there has been a small number of high-profile kidnappings. Although foreigners are not routinely targeted, you should be vigilant. See the safety advice for regions of Paraguay

Reporting crime

To report a crime, go to the nearest police station, or call the tourist police:

  • 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

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

You must always carry ID. Carry a copy or printout of the photo page of your passport, and a copy of your entry stamp.

If you are resident in Paraguay, the authorities will issue you with an identity card.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

There are severe penalties for trafficking and possession of illegal drugs. If you are caught in possession of or trafficking drugs, you may get a prison sentence, without bail. Prison standards are poor.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is not illegal and there is a small, active LGBT+ community in Asunción. Same-sex marriages are not recognised in Paraguay. People are likely to disapprove of same-sex couples showing affection in public. Find more information on the websites of LGBT+ organisations like AireanaPanambi and SOMOSGAY.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Risks at public venues

Safety regulations at public venues may be non-existent or poorly enforced.   

Food stalls burning fuel and using power cables with poor electricity standards present a constant fire risk in markets. The risk is heightened because markets are often located in narrow streets and can be crowded.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Swimming safety

Many rivers have strong currents which make them dangerous for swimming. The River Paraguay around Asunción is highly polluted and not suitable for swimming.

Check the latest official advice before swimming in Lake Ypacaraí, the tourist destination close to Asunción.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Paraguay, see information on driving abroad.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Paraguay. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

You’ll need to have your driving licence and your passport showing the entry stamp with you in the car.

There are regular police checks nationwide, usually to check the vehicle and driver’s documents (passport, entry stamp, driving licence) and carry out breathalyser tests. Police checks are common in Asunción, its neighbouring cities and the San Pedro and Concepción departments.

The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.00%. If a police officer suspects you of drink-driving, they can confiscate your licence on the spot. If you’re convicted, you can expect a heavy fine. 

Driving standards

Driving standards are poor and there are often traffic accidents, particularly involving motorbikes. Many motorcyclists drive with no crash helmets.

Some vehicles drive with no lights at night. Driving on country roads at night can be particularly dangerous.

Drivers in Paraguay often ignore stop signs, traffic lights and speed limits. In many areas, there are no road signs indicating hazards. Road signs are generally poor and can be confusing.

Paraguay’s network of paved main roads is limited. Minor and rural roads remain unpaved and are often impassable during the rainy season. Even major paved roads, including in Asunción, can be flooded during heavy rain. Large potholes are a hazard on most roads, including in Asunción.

Public transport

Many taxis and buses do not meet European standards and rarely have functioning seat belts.

The ‘Terminal de Omnibus Asunción’ is the main bus terminal for long-distance journeys.

River travel

Many vessels do not meet the health and safety standards that would apply in the UK.

Extreme weather and natural disasters


Heavy rainfall and flooding can affect several areas, including some areas of Asunción and neighbouring cities. Monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.


During especially hot and dry periods a single spark or flame can start a wildfire. Report fires to the emergency services immediately.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice

Paraguay-Brazil border

Transnational criminal organisations carry out drug trafficking and arms smuggling along Paraguay’s eastern border with Brazil. Most activity is from Pedro Juan Caballero south to Ciudad del Este, and to the Tri-Border Area where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet.

Violent crime is on the increase in this area – take particular care in the departments (‘departamentos’) that border Brazil:

  • Amambay Department
  • Concepción Department
  • Alto Paraná Department
  • San Pedro Department
  • Canindeyú Department
  • Salto del Guairá Department

A small guerrilla-style group calling itself the Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) operates in the north of the Department of San Pedro and the south of the Department of Concepción. The group typically targets police and the military. They attack the ranches of major landowners, often stealing large numbers of cattle. Their attacks can be violent, and include the use of explosives and firearms. In the last decade, they have kidnapped several high-profile people for ransom, most recently in 2022. Three people are still in captivity.   

Paraguay-Bolivia border

Illegal cross-border activities are common in this area, centred around drug trafficking.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 141 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

If you need a regular prescription, you should bring enough medication with you.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Paraguay

There are some good private medical facilities, but only in the major cities. Hospitals and GPs will expect immediate payment for medical services. Some types of medicines may not be available.

Elsewhere, facilities may not meet UK standards. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Paraguay

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Paraguay

Ambulance: 141

Fire: 132

Police: 911  

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Paraguay and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Asunción.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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