Venezuela travel guide
With its reputation for violence and political instability, many travellers opt to give Venezuela a wide berth. But those brave enough to visit this feisty South American nation will discover a country of extraordinary diversity and abundant natural beauty; a land of lofty Andean peaks, mysterious Lost World plateaus, wildlife rich rainforests, vibrant cities and idyllic Caribbean islands.
At the heart of all this lies Caracas, Venezuela’s thronging capital. A hotchpotch of hillside favelas, crumbling colonial buildings and glistening skyscrapers, the city has much to offer visitors; there’s a fine collection of museums, galleries and historic monuments, not to mention a pulsating nightlife. Even the food’s good, nowadays. But for all its appeal, most of Venezuela’s attractions lie beyond the capital city, hidden away in national parks and reserves which cover an impressive 40% of the country.
The lush tropical lowlands of Los Llanos harbour abundant wildlife, with eco-conscious hatos (ranches) offering safaris to view caiman, puma, anaconda, capybara, hundreds of birds and much more. Then there are the table-top mountains of the Guyana Highlands, whose summits loom over golden savannahs and bristle with prehistoric flora and fauna. These towering peaks spawn dramatic waterfalls, including the awesome Angel Falls, officially the world’s highest.
Those with an appetite for adventure can be sated with an excursion into the virgin rainforest of Amazonas, Venezuela’s least-visited region, where indigenous communities cling onto traditional lives in the jungle. Alternatively, head to Mérida to tackle the soaring Andean peaks or go piranha fishing in the Orinoco, South America’s second longest river, which empties into the wildlife-rich wetlands of the Orinoco Delta.
Beyond that, the clear waters of the Caribbean lap onto Venezuela’s stunning coastline, where numerous offshore islands provide ample opportunities for reef diving, partying and pandering to pleasure. Amongst them the Los Roques archipelago, which is the epitome of Caribbean island idyll and a very long way from the unsavoury headlines of the mainland.
912,050 sq km (352,144 sq miles).
31,518,855 (UN estimate 2016).
32.1 per sq km.
Interim-President Juan Guaidó since 2019.
Interim-President Juan Guaidó since 2019.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Venezuela 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.
Commercial flights to and from Venezuela remain very limited.
On 11 November 2020, local authorities announced that all international regular commercial flight operations are prohibited, with the exception of operations to/from: Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and Turkey. Frequencies to these destinations are limited and under constant review due to COVID-19. Websites contain very limited information. You should contact and remain in touch with your tour operator or preferred local travel agent for further details on upcoming schedules, availability of seats (including onward connecting flights to the UK), and associated costs.
Limited regular domestic commercial flight operations resumed on 30 November 2020. Please contact your local travel agent or tour operator for further information on schedules, destinations and availability of seats.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Venezuela.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting. If you will pass through a red list country, book your hotel quarantine package before travelling to the UK.
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, quarantine is mandatory. You must follow the instructions of the local health authorities. 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 Venezuela
Authorities have announced social/community-wide quarantine and bans on inter-state travel with roadblocks in place. Inter-state travel requires a special permit or “salvoconducto” to be issued by the respective regional REDI or ZODI authorities.
Passengers located in the Caracas (Distrito Capital) area with confirmed travel itineraries are allowed to reach the airport in Maiquetia (La Guaira) without any special permit. Movement to the airport via land from other states require a “salvoconducto” in advance of travel. There are no domestic flights to Maiquetia operating until further notice.
The use of face covering is mandatory at all times, including when travelling via land in private vehicles.
Certain municipalities might be under stricter lockdown than others depending on the number of COVID-19 infections reported. Stay informed through local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
Most hotels are open and able to receive guests. Private accommodation rental remains possible, although with reduced availability.
Some hotels may require guests to be COVID-19 tested before allowing them to check-in into their premises, please confirm any specific requirements in advance.
Public places and services
Social/community-wide quarantine and bans on inter-state travel with roadblocks are in place since 16 March.
Local authorities have recently moved on to an alternating lockdown/flexible scheme where during a “flexible week” certain specific economic sectors are allowed to operate limited hours; on a “lockdown week” only essential businesses and medical services remain operational. Schools and universities remain closed until further notice.
Public gatherings are prohibited and people have been instructed to wear face covering at all times when outside.
The supply of fuel is severely limited.
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call either of the designated local numbers 0800VIGILAN (0800844526) or 0800COVID19 (08002684319) for a medical assessment and advice on what steps you must take (Spanish only).
COVID-19 testing is handled by the public health system through CDIs (centros de diagnóstico integral) and a designated network of public hospitals or “hospitales centinela” throughout the country. Testing usually takes from 24 to 48 hours, and during this time the patient with symptoms must remain in isolation in a designated health facility. If you test positive, quarantine is mandatory. You must follow the instructions of the local health authorities.
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 Venezuela.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Venezuela
We will update this page when the Government of Venezuela announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Venezuela national vaccine programme started in May 2021 and is using the Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines. The Abdala vaccine is undergoing clinical trials in Venezuela (currently considered a candidate vaccine) and may also be in use in the national programme. The Government of Venezuela has stated that British nationals resident in Venezuela are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Venezuela 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 Venezuela, 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.
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.
There is a high threat from violent crime and kidnapping throughout Venezuela, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Armed robbery, mugging, carjacking, and burglary are all common and are often accompanied by extreme levels of violence – do not resist an attacker. These crimes can occur on the street or the beach, in supermarket queues or when travelling in private vehicles or public transport, or indoors. Remain alert and avoid using your mobile phone or displaying other electronic equipment or valuables on the street or in a vehicle.
Private security services, including the use of armoured cars, are increasingly becoming the standard for business and official visitors and residents. Use of armoured vehicles is now common in Caracas, especially after dark and for transport to/from the airport.
In Caracas, reasonably priced hotels can be found in safer areas such as Chacao district. Do not visit ‘barrios’ (heavily populated slums), not even on organised tours, as these are unsafe. British nationals walking in the Avila National Park have been robbed at knife/gunpoint. If you want to visit the Avila then stick to popular trails and times (usually the morning) and where possible, go in a group and with someone who knows the park.
Only use pre-booked taxis rather than hailing them in the street. Hotels will normally book a taxi from a reputable company or supply their own vehicle service.
Avoid public transport. A number of robberies at gunpoint have been reported on the Caracas metro. There are regular reports of passengers being robbed on public buses.
A number of Venezuela’s land and sea borders are closed. The sea borders with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are currently closed, with no air or sea traffic operating between Venezuela and these islands. There are no direct air services between Venezuela and the USA. The land borders with Brazil and Colombia can take time to cross and can be dangerous. If you’re planning travel in the region on any of these routes, contact your travel company for more information.
You should take particular care to check the local situation ahead of any travel to Canaima National Park and the Gran Sabana area of Bolívar State. Occasionally, protests by locals have led to the closure (sometimes for days) of Canaima airport and main roads (eg parts of Road 10 between El Callao and the Brazilian border). There are shortages of fuel and other essentials across almost all of the country.
There have been reports of bribes being solicited by authorities at Maiquetia (Caracas) International Airport. Normal check-in for flights is 2-3 hours in advance. Police and immigration checks can be lengthy. Departure taxes are normally included in the price of a ticket, except at Puerto Ordaz Airport. Check with your airline before paying anything extra.
Do not make any non-official payments at airports and ask for a receipt for any customs duty payments you make. If you bring any personal items or merchandise into the country with a total value of over US$1,000 which are considered to be “new”, you will need to pay import duty. Further details on import duty taxes can be found on the Venezuelan customs authority (SENIAT) website (in Spanish).
Tourist travel can often involve flying in light aircraft. There have been several accidents in recent years on the main tourist routes, including Los Roques, Canaima and Merida - some with fatalities. A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network. The International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out its most recent audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Venezuela in 2013.
Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air and Avior airlines ROI (Avior Venezuela) which is banned from entering the European Union. UK government officials have been told to avoid using both airlines.
Travelling to and from Maiquetia Airport (Caracas)
Criminal groups operate in the Maiquetia airport area. Members of these groups work inside the airport to spot passengers who appear to be wealthy and then inform car hijackers and muggers waiting on the roads outside the airport. Some passengers have been followed from the airport and assaulted on the way to or on arrival at their destination in Caracas. Avoid displaying expensive jewellery, electronic items or other valuables; don’t bring large amounts of cash to Venezuela; and be alert at all times. Passengers have also been robbed when returning to their cars at the airport car park.
Avoid travelling on the road between Caracas and Maiquetia airport during the hours of darkness. There are fewer cars on the road during this time and the risk of crime is much higher. Don’t stay at an airport hotel unless you can make safe transport arrangements between the hotel and the airport.
There have been armed robberies on buses travelling to Maiquetia Airport, and along Avenida Libertador in Caracas. Ideally, arrange to be met at the airport by friends, business contacts, or your tour operator. If that isn’t possible, consider travelling by licensed taxi. If you have to take a taxi, use a licensed taxi from the official taxi rank outside the arrivals hall.
Beware of bogus taxi-drivers at the airport. Don’t accept offers of transport in the arrivals hall and do not board a taxi if there are other passengers already inside the car.
If you’re coming to Venezuela to work, bring a letter from your employer and your local contact organisation details (including a Spanish translation). There have been occasions when passengers have been asked for bribes at the airport. Exchange currency at official exchange booths only.
The National Guard carries out random drug and security checks at Maiquetia Airport, particularly on departure. Departing passengers are sometimes asked to accompany an officer to a local hospital for an x-ray. Beware of bogus security officials; if you’re in any doubt ask other airline or airport staff.
Heavy rains and lack of maintenance can affect road conditions. Seek local advice about your route before you set out, leave plenty of time for your journey and stick to the main roads. Avoid travelling after dark.
You should take particular care to check the local situation ahead of any travel and particularly to Canaima National Park and the Gran Sabana areas of Bolívar State. Fuel shortages are common across all parts of the country.
You can drive in Venezuela using a British driving licence for up to 1 year. After that you will need to get a Venezuelan driving licence. Make sure you have copies of insurance documents, driving licence and passport with you at all times. Failure to produce documents can result in your vehicle being seized by the police.
There are regular police and National Guard checkpoints throughout the country. Drive slowly through these and stop if asked to do so. There have been reports of attempts by the police and National Guard to extract bribes. Ask for a written record giving details of the offence and the officer’s details. Most major roads charge tolls.
All vehicles must carry a spare tyre, wheel block, jack and reflector triangle. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal but common, especially during weekends. Many vehicles are in poor condition and drivers routinely ignore red lights. In the event of an accident, both vehicles must remain in the position of the accident until a traffic police officer arrives. Insurance companies will not pay claims on vehicles that have been moved without a police accident report.
You should avoid hitchhiking and cycling at all costs.
There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against boats in and around Venezuela’s waters, especially east of Puerto La Cruz and in waters between Venezuela and Trinidad. Take suitable precautions and avoid these areas.
The waters of the Caribbean can be deceptive. There are strong currents and undertows in some areas that can make swimming hazardous. Lifeguards and warnings are not normally in place.
Security incidents are common on beaches at any time of day. Beach clubs can offer better security as can going with people that know the area.
Terrorist attacks in Venezuela can’t be ruled out.
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 remain vigilant.
Do not handle illegal drugs. Drug trafficking is considered a serious crime in Venezuela. Detection methods are sophisticated and drug traffickers should expect to be arrested. Conviction leads to severe penalties, including up to 2 years on remand before sentencing and then a lengthy prison sentence of between 8 and 12 years. Conditions in Venezuelan jails are harsh and dangerous, and among the worst in the region.
It is an offence to photograph military or strategic installations including military airports and the Presidential Palace. Avoid plane spotting.
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 Venezuela 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.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus
Entry to Venezuela
All travellers entering Venezuela must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 48 hours of boarding their incoming flight. All individuals will be subjected to a further COVID-19 PCR test at port of entry, to be administered by a service provider designated by local health authorities – this PCR test costs USD $60 (United States dollars) and is payable in cash only. If you test positive for COVID-19, you must follow instructions from the local health authorities in respect to quarantine and sanitary assistance.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
All visas and accreditations issued on or before 13 March 2020, including entry stamps for tourists/visitors, will automatically extend until the national emergency decree in place related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is officially lifted.
British nationals in country with an expired visa, or that have gone over the maximum 90 days allowed for tourists/visitors, will be allowed to depart via commercial means without any inconvenience.
All travellers entering Venezuela must be COVID-19 tested at port of entry. If you test positive for COVID-19, you must follow instructions from the local health authorities in respect to quarantine and sanitary assistance.
Testing on departure
Passengers departing Venezuela might undergo a medical assessment at their departure point, including answering questions on possible symptoms and having their temperature checked. Individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to depart.
In order to travel across states from certain regions of the country, such as leaving Margarita Island in Nueva Esparta state for example, authorities might request individuals to be COVID-19 tested before they are allowed to depart.
Regular entry requirements
If you’re arriving by air, you can enter for up to 90 days on a tourist card issued on arrival. You must have a valid return ticket. If you’re arriving overland or by sea, you must get a visa in advance from your nearest Venezuelan Embassy or Consulate.
If you are overstay the 90 days you may be arrested and fined when departing. Extensions of up to 90 days can be arranged at any SAIME (immigration service) for a fee but you must apply before your tourist card and stamp expire. If you are living in Venezuela, the only place where you can apply for or extend your residency permit is the main SAIME office in Caracas. Avoid companies offering residency permits as they may not be genuine.
Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of intended stay in Venezuela.
Any dual national Venezuelan citizens must use their Venezuelan identity documents to enter and leave the country. The authorities may not allow you to depart Venezuela otherwise.
Travelling with children
Children travelling unaccompanied, with a guardian, or with one parent must provide a letter from the non-travelling parent(s) confirming that they consent for the child to travel without them. This letter must include all the travel details and must be notarised by a local notary public. If the child is resident overseas, the letter must be notarised by the nearest Venezuelan consulate/embassy. The child should carry this letter while travelling within in the country and also when leaving Venezuela. Children may be denied exit from the country if they do not have this letter.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Venezuela. The ETD must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your period of intended stay in Venezuela. The usual visa requirements for land and sea arrivals apply. If you are a dual British/Venezuelan national you must have a valid Venezuelan travel document (passport) in order to be allowed to depart – a UK Emergency Travel Document cannot substitute this requirement. If you are a resident in Venezuela with an irregular immigration status (you don’t have a valid residence visa/permit) you need to submit a “retorno voluntario” request to SAIME 48 hours before your departure – you must visit your nearest SAIME office and present a valid travel document, your departure ticket and pay an applicable fine; you may be arrested at the airport otherwise.
Local banknotes are in short supply. Most people use card payments, local bank transfers (“hay punto”) and US dollars instead. Debit or credit card transactions may take longer to go through than expected, or require several attempts. Guard your PIN number and consider a well-recognised pre-payment card to protect you from fraud and theft.
If you run out of money and discover that your bank cards do not work, you can arrange with friends and family overseas to deposit funds into any Western Union branch, and pick up the deposited funds at any Grupo Zoom branch nationwide.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Venezuela 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 Venezuela.
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).
Local medical care
The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation has reported that there is a shortage of 80% of medical supplies due to the economic crisis. Make sure you bring enough medication for your stay including extra medication in case your return is unexpectedly delayed.
Medical facilities in Venezuela vary widely in quality. In large cities, private clinics provide acceptable quality care for routine treatments but are vulnerable to acute shortages of medical supplies and medicines. More complex treatments may require evacuation. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Public health facilities are poor, with frequent shortages of medicines and funding. Ambulance services in remote areas are unreliable and hospitals often lack adequate medical supplies and equipment.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 from a landline or a mobile phone. Calls to this number are free of charge.
Contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
UK health authorities have classified Venezuela 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.
Dengue fever and malaria are present throughout the country, although the central and southern states are the most affected, especially during or shortly after the rainy season between September and March.
Since 2017 there have been reports of an increase in cases of malaria and diphtheria across Venezuela. See the TravelHealthPro website for more information, including this factsheet on how to prevent diphtheria.
Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Venezuela. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Insect repellent can be difficult to purchase locally so you should bring enough for your stay.
Tap water is unsafe to drink. You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
The hurricane season runs from around 1 June to 30 November, and can affect parts of northern Venezuela. Keep an eye on weather reports on local TV and radio. You can also monitor weather updates on-line from the World Meteorological Organisation and the US National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of the local authorities. See our tropical cylones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
During the rainy season from May to November there may be flooding in low-lying areas (eg the Llanos) and in some valleys in the Andes (Merida State). There may be disruption to transport, services and infrastructure.
Venezuela is vulnerable to earthquakes. Monitor media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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.
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.
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.