Time Zone: +2 hours. Daylight saving time GMT + 3.
Tel. Country Code: 963
USADirect Tel.: 0
Electrical Standards: Electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz). European Style Adaptor Plug. Grounding Adaptor Plug D.
Travel Advisory - Syria
There is a low risk of malaria in North Africa and the Middle East, but other insect-transmitted diseases, such as leishmaniasis and viral infections, are potential threats. Safe water precautions, safe needle, and insect-bite prevention measures are important.
Dr. Rose Recommends for Travel to Syria
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• U.S. Embassy
al-Mansur Street No. 2
Tel:  (11) 333-2814 or 332-0783
Fax:  (11) 331-9678.
• Canadian Embassy
Lot 12, Mezzeh Autostrade
Tel:  (11) 611-6692 or 611-6851
Fax:  (11) 611-4000
• British Embassy
11 Mohammad Kurd Ali Street
Tel:  (11) 373 9241/2/3/7
Facsimile:  (11) 373 1600
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required. Visas must be obtained prior to arrival in Syria from a Syrian diplomatic mission located in the traveler’s country of residence, although the Syrian visa policy with respect to American diplomats and citizens is currently under review. Foreigners who wish to stay 15 days or more in Syria must register with Syrian immigration authorities by their 15th day.
Visit the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic, 2215 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-6313 or check the Syrian Embassy’s home page at:
for the most current visa information.
HIV Test: Testing required for students and anyone staying more than 1 year. Contact the
Syrian Embassy (202-232-6313) for further details.
Required Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers coming from infected countries.
Since March 1963, the Syrian Arab Republic has been ruled by an authoritarian regime dominated by the Socialist Ba’ath Party. While the ruling Ba’ath party espouses a largely secular ideology, Islamic traditions and beliefs provide a conservative foundation for the country’s customs and practices. Syria has a developing, centrally-planned economy with large public (30%), agricultural (25%), and industrial (20%) sectors. Tourist facilities are available, but vary in quality depending on price and location. Read the Department of State Background Note on Syria for additional information.
Vaccinations: Recommended and Routine
Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travelers >1 year of age not previously immunized against hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B: Recommended for all travelers who might be exposed to blood or bodily fluids from unprotected sex with a high-risk partner; from injecting drug use with shared/re-used needles and syringes; from medical treatment with non-sterile (re-used) needles and syringes; from contact with open skin sores. Recommended for any traveler requesting protection against hepatitis B virus.
Influenza: Vaccination recommended for all travelers >6 months of age who have not received a flu shot in the previous 12 months.
Polio: A one-time dose of IPV vaccine is recommended for any traveler >age 18 who completed the primary childhood series but never received an additional dose of polio vaccine as an adult. Available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine).
Rabies: Rabies vaccine is recommended for those persons anticipating an extended stay, for those whose work or activities may bring them into contact with animals, especially when in a remote location where medical is not readily available, or when extra protection is desired.
Routine Immunizations: Immunizations against tetanus-diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine) and varicella (chickenpox) should be updated, if necessary, before departure. MMR protection is especially important for any female of childbearing age who may become pregnant.
• The new Tdap vaccine, ADACEL, which also boosts immunity against pertussis (whooping cough) should be considered when a tetanus-diphtheria booster is indicated.
Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to major restaurants and hotels, such as business travelers and cruise passengers.
Hospitals / Doctors
Basic medical care and medicines are available in Syria’s principal cities, but not necessarily in outlying areas. Serious illnesses and emergencies may require evacuation to a Western medical facility.
All travelers should be up-to-date on their immunizations and are advised to carry a medical kit as well as antibiotics to treat travelers’ diarrhea or other infections; they should bring drugs for malaria prophylaxis, if needed according to their itinerary. Travelers who are taking regular medications should carry them properly labeled and in sufficient quantity to last for the duration of their trip; they should not expect to obtain prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies in this country — the equivalent drugs may not be available or may be of unreliable quality.
• Travelers are advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance with specific overseas coverage. Policies should cover: ground and air ambulance transport, including evacuation to home country; payment of hospital bills; 24-hour telephone assistance. Serious illness or injury may require medical evacuation to Europe.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a listing of doctors and hospitals at:
• Dr. Shami-Attar-Bdeir Medical Care Center
Malki West Park
Tel:  (11) 333-3328/333-4041/333-6886
Fax:  (11) 333-8464
All specialties; open heart surgery; ICU; emergency and trauma services; ambulance service; Used by expatriates.
• Medico-Surgical Hospital
Tarik Al Sham Street
Behind Homs Grand Hotel
• Sanamin National Hospital
200-bed, modern well-equipped, three story hospital, recently completed.
Destination Health Info for Travelers
AIDS/HIV: The prevalence of HIV in the Middle East is estimated at 0.4%. As in other regions, known high-risk groups in the Middle East include men who have sex with men, female sex workers and their clients, injecting drug users and prisoners. The quality of the available data, however, is seriously lacking. No country in the Middle East conducts systematic surveys of groups at high risk of infection.
• The development of AIDS should not be a primary concern for the traveler. However, there may be a concern for a subset of travelers who may be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through contact with another person’s body fluids or blood. Although travel has contributed in a general way to the global spread of AIDS, fear of traveling because of this disease is not warranted.
• Transmission of HIV can be prevented by avoiding: sexual contact with a high-risk partner; injecting drug use with shared needles; non-sterile medical injections; unscreened blood transfusions.
Accidents & Medical Insurance: Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travelers under the age of 55 and are most often caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; drownings, aircraft crashes, homicides, and burns are lesser causes.
• Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travelers.
• Infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travelers, but, overall, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.
• MEDICAL INSURANCE: Travelers are advised to obtain, prior to departure, supplemental travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should provide for direct payment to the overseas hospital and/or physician at the time of service and include a medical evacuation benefit. The policy should also provide 24-hour hotline access to a multilingual assistance center that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care and determine if medevac or air ambulance services are required.
Hepatitis: All travelers not previously immunized against hepatitis A should be vaccinated against this disease. Travelers who are non-immune to hepatitis A (i.e. have never had the disease and have not been vaccinated) should take particular care to avoid potentially contaminated food and water. Travelers who will have access to safe food and water are at lower risk. Those at higher risk include travelers visiting friends and relatives, long-term travelers, and those visiting areas of poor sanitation.
• Hepatitis E is endemic but the levels are unclear. Sporadic cases may occur but go underdiagnosed or underreported. Transmission of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) occurs primarily through drinking water contaminated by sewage and also through raw or uncooked shellfish. Farm animals, such as swine, and also deer and wild boar, may serve as a viral reservoirs. (HEV is one of the few viruses which has been shown to be transmitted directly from animals through food.) In developing countries, prevention of hepatitis E relies primarily on the provision of clean water supplies and overall improved sanitation and hygiene. There is no vaccine.
• The overall hepatitis B (HBsAg) carrier rate in the general population is estimated at 3% to 4%. Hepatitis B is transmitted via infected blood or bodily fluids. Travelers may be exposed by needle sharing and unprotected sex; from non-sterile medical or dental injections, and acupuncture; from unscreened blood transfusions; by direct contact with open skin lesions of an infected person. The average traveler is at low risk for acquiring this infection. Vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended for: persons having casual/unprotected sex with new partners; sexual tourists; injecting drug users; long-term visitors; expatriates, and anybody wanting increased protection against the hepatitis B virus.
• Hepatitis C is endemic but levels are not well documented. Most hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread either through intravenous drug use or, in lesser-developed countries, through blood contamination during medical procedures. Over 200 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis C - an overall incidence of around 3.3% of the population of the world. Statistically, as many people are infected with HCV as are with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Influenza: Influenza is transmitted from November through March. The flu vaccine is recommended for all travelers over age 6 months.
Leishmaniasis: More than 90% of the cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in the world occur in Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. In Syria, Cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis, transmitted by sand flies, occur in the steppe region, which is the transitional area between the fertile river valleys and the southeastern desert area. There is risk of visceral leishmaniasis in northern Syria.
• The parasites that cause leishmaniasis are transmitted by the bite of the female phlebotomine sandfly. Sandflies bite mostly in the evening and at night. They breed in ubiquitous places: in organically rich, moist soils (such as found in the floors of rain forests), animal burrows, termite hills, and the cracks and crevices in stone or mud walls, and earthen floors, of human dwellings.
• All travelers should take measures to prevent sandfly bites. Insect-bite prevention measures include applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin, permethrin (spray or solution) to clothing and gear, and sleeping under a permethrin-treated bednet.
Malaria: Low risk. Transmission occurs from May through October, peaking in July and August, below 1,100 meters elevation in rural areas in the northern provinces bordering Turkey and Iraq. Urban areas are generally risk free. Ninety-nine percent of malaria cases are vivax, 1% falciparum.
• Chloroquine prophylaxis is recommended for travel to the lower river valleys of northeast Syria.
Take chloroquine, once weekly, in a dosage of 500 mg, starting one-to-two weeks before arrival and continuing through the trip and for four weeks after your departure.
A malaria map is located on the Fit for Travel website, which is compiled and maintained by experts from the Travel Health division at Health Protection Scotland (HPS). Go to www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and select Malaria Map from the Syria page on the Destinations menu.
Malaria is transmitted via the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Anopheles mosquitoes feed predominantly during the hours from dusk to dawn. All travelers should take measures to prevent evening and nighttime mosquito bites. Insect-bite prevention measures include applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin, applying permethrin spray or solution to clothing and gear, and sleeping under a permethrin-treated bednet. DEET-based repellents have been the gold standard of protection under circumstances in which it is crucial to be protected against insect bites that may transmit disease. Nearly 100% protection can be achieved when DEET repellents are used in combination with permethrin-treated clothing.
NOTE: Picaridin repellents (20% formulation, such as Sawyer Picaridin or Natrapel 8-hour) are now recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization as acceptable non-DEET alternatives to protect against malaria-transmitting mosquito bites. Picaridin is also effective and ticks and biting flies.
• You should consider the diagnosis of malaria if you develop an unexplained fever during or after being in a malaria endemic region of this country.
Other Diseases/Hazards: Anthrax
• Boutonneuse fever (also known as Mediterranean spotted fever; transmitted by dog ticks; low risk), b
• Brucellosis (usually transmitted by unpasteurized dairy products; In countries of the Middle East, brucellosis is reported in almost all domestic animals, particularly cattle, sheep and goats)
• Echinococcosis (carried by stray dogs; reported sporadically)
• Relapsing fever (tick-borne; reported frequently), sandfly fever (may occur)
Rabies: Human cases occur sporadically. Jackals, foxes, and stray dogs constitute the main animal reservoir of rabies in this country. Pre-exposure rabies vaccine is recommended for travel longer than 3 months, for shorter stays in rural when travelers plan to venture off the usual tourist routes and where they may be more exposed to the stray dog population; when travelers desire extra protection; or when they will not be able to get immediate medical care.
• All animal bite wounds, especially from a dog, should be thoroughly cleansed with soap and water and then medically evaluated for possible post-exposure treatment, regardless of your vaccination status. Pre-exposure vaccination eliminates the need for rabies immune globulin, but does not eliminate the need for two additional booster doses of vaccine. Even if rabies vaccine was administered before travel, you will need a 2-dose booster series of vaccine after the bite of a rabid animal.
Schistosomiasis: Urinary schistosomiasis is found in the basins of the Euphrates and Bolikh Rivers to the Iraqi border in the northeast. Schistosomiasis is transmitted through exposure to freshwater streams, rivers or lakes during activities such as wading, swimming, and bathing. Schistosoma larvae, released from infected freshwater snails, penetrate intact skin to establish infection. All travelers should avoid swimming, wading, or bathing in freshwater lakes, ponds, or streams. There is no risk in chlorinated swimming pools or in seawater.
Travelers' Diarrhea: Medium-high risk outside of first-class hotels. Water distribution systems may be contaminated. Outside of hotels and resorts, we recommend that you boil, filter or purify all drinking water or drink only bottled water or other bottled beverages and do not use ice cubes. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products. Do not eat raw or undercooked food, especially meat and fish. Peel all fruits.
• Good hand hygiene reduces the incidence of travelers’ diarrhea by 30%.
• A quinolone antibiotic, or azithromycin, combined with loperamide (Imodium), is recommended for the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea not responding to antibiotic treatment may be due to a parasitic disease such as giardiasis, amebiasis, or cryptosporidiosis.
• Seek qualified medical care if you have bloody diarrhea and fever, severe abdominal pain, uncontrolled vomiting, or dehydration.
Tuberculosis (TB): Tuberculosis is highly endemic in Syria with an annual occurrence was greater than or equal to 40 cases per 100,000 population. Tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted following inhalation of infectious respiratory droplets. Most travelers are at low risk. Travelers at higher risk include those who are visiting friends and relatives (particularly young children), long-term travelers, and those who have close contact, prolonged contact with the local population. There is no prophylactic drug to prevent TB. Travelers with significant exposure should have PPD skin testing done to evaluate their risk of infection.
Typhoid Fever: Typhoid is the most serious of the Salmonella infections. Typhoid vaccine is recommended for all people traveling to or working in the Middle East, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water. Current vaccines against Salmonella typhi are only 50-80% protective and do not protect against Salmonella paratyphi. Travelers should practice strict food, water and personal hygiene precautions even if vaccinated.