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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Surinam

Surinam travel guide

About Surinam

The smallest of the Guyanas (the collective term for Guyana, French Guyana and Surinam), this diminutive destination may only have half a million odd inhabitants, but it’s the liveliest of these onetime colonial backwaters. It’s also often overlooked by travellers, which is their loss because Surinam has much to offer.

The country is culturally fascinating. Languages spoken include Dutch, Creole, Chinese and English, which reflects the vibrant ethnic mix of its people. It’s also extraordinarily beautiful: the capital city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its tropical forests are full of wildlife, with an impressive one third of the country protected in nature reserves.

The 17th-century UNESCO capital, Paramaribo, is a good starting point for any trip. Home to a sumptuous collection of wooden colonial buildings, which line the waterfront, the city also lays claim to Central Market, a high-energy bazaar selling everything from quack medicine to fresh fish. At night you can dine on fresh seafood in local restaurants and cut shapes in lively bars, which are far removed from the tranquillity of the rest of the country.

Surinam's main attraction is its tropical rainforest, which covers nearly 80% of the country and harbours a huge variety of wildlife. Ecotourism is well developed here and some of the best lodges in South America can be found in the country’s jungle. With its intricate lattice of rivers, boat is the best way to get around the rainforest and you can take tours to see nesting leatherback turtles or search for other exotic creatures, including Amazon river dolphins, monkeys and, if you’re really lucky, a jaguar.

The country’s diverse cultural roots have also been well preserved: communities of Amerindians and Maroons – descendants of former African slaves – lie deep in the jungle, offering visitors an insight into their lifestyle, harmoniously adapted to their environment. Back in the cities, the busy festival calendar covers an eclectic range of events including jazz jamborees, Easter Carnival and exuberant Christmas parties, which climax on New Year’s Eve with the legendary Surifesta. It’s a wild and wonderful celebration. It’s Surinam in a microcosm.

Key facts

Area:

163,265 sq km (63,037 sq miles).

Population:

547,610 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

3.6 per sq km.

Capital:

Paramaribo.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

President Chandrikapersad Santokhi since 2020.

Head of government:

President Chandrikapersad Santokhi since 2020.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

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

All international borders remain closed. Ferry services between Guyana and Suriname and French Guiana and Suriname are operating on a limited bases, with strict controls on carriage.

There are reduced flights to the Netherlands and the USA. Your carrier will be able to provide details. Be mindful that breaches of quarantine may result in serious penalties. Countries that you visit or transit may levy fines or imprisonment against persons who do not comply with COVID protocols.

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.

Entry and borders

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

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.

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.

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

Individuals who test positive for the Coronavirus in Suriname 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 Suriname 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 Suriname

The government of Suriname have the following measures in place in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus:

  • restaurants are only open for take-away
  • funerals are allowed under the condition of 10 persons being present in rotation
  • at religious gatherings a maximum of 10 persons is allowed
  • gatherings are allowed to groups of maximum 10 people
  • lockdowns may be put in place at short notice. You are advised to monitor local reports to ensure compliance

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

Healthcare in Suriname

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 Suriname.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Suriname

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

The Suriname national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines. The Government of Suriname has stated that British nationals resident in Suriname are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information about the programme 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 Suriname, 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.

Crime

Burglary, armed robbery and violent crime occur in Paramaribo and surrounding areas. Pick pocketing and robbery are increasingly common in the major business and shopping districts in the capital. You should avoid wearing expensive jewellery or displaying large amounts of money in public. Keep valuables such as your passport, tickets, driving licence and credit cards secure and keep photocopies of these documents in a separate place. If you have a smartphone, you may consider taking photographs of important documents and storing them remotely.

Avoid remote and secluded areas, quiet streets and quiet parks. Avoid the Palm Garden (Palmentium) area in Paramaribo at night. Apart from the entertainment centre around the Torarica Hotel, you should avoid walking at night anywhere in the city.

Travel in the interior of the country is generally trouble-free, although there have been reports of tourists being robbed. Use a well-established tour company if you intend to travel to these parts of Suriname.

Local travel

Small aircraft operate to a number of interior and regional destinations. If using these services you should be aware of the potential risks, especially from bad weather. 

Although the UN’s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in 2007 ruled on the maritime border dispute between Suriname and Guyana, Suriname still claims an area of land (the New River Triangle) in the south-east of Guyana. Suriname also has a border dispute with French Guiana. Keep this in mind and take care in these border areas. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all border crossing points in Suriname are closed until further notice.

Air travel

The EU Air Safety List was updated on 9 December 2019.

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCDO cannot 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’s unsafe.

Blue Wing Airlines have been refused permission to operate services to the EU because the airline does not meet international safety standards. A full list of airlines banned from operating within the EU is available on the European Commission website. Refusal of permission to operate is often based on inspections of aircraft at EU airports. The fact that an airline is not included in the list doesn’t automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards.

Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air. The US and Netherlands authorities have prohibited their staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out. UK government officials have been told to do the same as a precaution.

Sea travel

There have been reports of attacks against fishing boats in and around the waters of Suriname. Be vigilant and take suitable precautions.

Road travel

Driving in Suriname 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. When driving at night take extra care to avoid cyclists, pedestrians and animals.

Only use taxis from reputable companies or those on official hotel taxi ranks. Don’t hail taxis from the roadside.

You can drive in Suriname with an International Driving Permit (IDP). 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.

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

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Suriname, 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.

Possession and trafficking in drugs leads to lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.

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 Suriname 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

Restrictions include enhanced medical screening and border closures, which is stopping people travelling into and out of the country and limiting those who wish to leave. See Return to the UK

Visas

You will need an e-visa to enter Suriname. Alternatively, if you are travelling for the purposes of tourism, you can get an e-tourist card for stays of up to 90 days.

From 1 January 2020 visas for Suriname and the tourist card will only be available via the official e-visa and e-tourist card website.

Visa information can be obtained from the Suriname Consulate in Amsterdam. Telephone: (00) (31) 206 426 137; Fax: (00) (31) 206 465 311; email: info@consulaatsuriname.nl

You can also contact the Suriname Honorary Consul in the UK:

Dr Amwedhkar Jethu
127 Pier House
31 Cheyne Walk
London SW3 5HN
United Kingdom
Mobile: (44) (0)7768-196 326
Email: ajethu@honoraryconsul.info

Residence Permits

The Ministry of Justice and Police issued a Ministerial Decree pertaining to the regulation of expired residence permits.

The Ministry have announced that foreigners who have not been able to apply for an extension of their residence permit between March 2020 and October 2020, have the opportunity to do so between 1 February and 1 April 2021. Those who are eligible for residence permits must submit the following documents:

  • A petition to the Minister of Justice and Police with an adhesive stamp of SRD 1.50
  • A valid passport and if necessary additional documents as requested by the Ministry
  • Proof of payment of USD 150

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are valid for entry into and exit from Suriname, but they must carry the appropriate Surinamese visa. Suriname requires travel documents to have at least a six months’ validity.

Passport validity

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

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Departure tax

There is no longer a departure tax for passengers leaving Suriname, this is now included in the cost of your ticket.

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).

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Suriname authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus. See Staying during coronavirus.

Health risks

UK health authorities have classified Suriname 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.

Along with Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid, listed as particular risks in Suriname are:

  • Dengue
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria

Because of the risk, you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Medical facilities are severely limited in Suriname. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. There is presently only one 24/7 medical facility available in Suriname, this is the Academisch Ziekenhuis in Paramaribo.

Not all medical facilities accept payment from insurance companies. Payment therefore may need to be made in advance and claimed back from the insurer.

The UNAIDS country profile for Suriname estimated that in 2016 around 4,900 people were living with HIV. One of the key populations most affected by HIV in Suriname is sex workers, with an HIV prevalence of 5.8%. Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 6% and AIDS-related deaths have increased by 17%.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 115 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Suriname is prone to flooding, particularly in the north and centre of the country. Severe heat is also causing problems, particularly with livestock, the young and elderly. Ensure you keep in the shade where possible and remain hydrated.

Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the major hotels. You should check with your hotel to confirm that credit cards are accepted. In Paramaribo some of the ATMs will accept international credit and debit cards and dispense Surinamese Dollars. If you are bringing currency with you, bring US dollars or Euros; Sterling can’t be exchanged.

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 FCDO 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 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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