Electricity

120 volts, 60Hz. American two-pin plugs are generally used.

Language

Spanish is the official language of Venezuela.

Money

Venezuela's currency is the Bolívar Soberano (VES), which replaced the Bolivar Fuerte (VEF) in August 2018. It is divided into 100 centimos. US dollars are the most favoured foreign currency so it is best to have cash in USD. Foreign currency can be changed at bureau de change offices found in most larger cities and tourist destinations. Some banks will now buy US dollars for bolivares or sell bolivares against a foreign credit card; some major hotels will also swap US dollars for bolivares. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday. Bolivars should be exchanged before exiting Venezuela. There are ATMs in the cities (however some travellers have experienced problems using them), and most credit cards, including MasterCard/Eurocard and Visa, are accepted in major cities. Visitors are also warned that there is a serious problem with credit card fraud and using credit/debit cards will greatly increase trip expenses.

Tipping

Tipping is at the discretion of the client and not obligatory. A 10 percent service charge is usually added to restaurant bills, but in budget places tipping is not common. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but it is customary to give baggage handlers some small change per bag. Tips in Caracas are usually the highest.

Health

There are no vaccination requirements for Venezuela, but those who plan to travel in areas outside the main cities should consider vaccinations for yellow fever, hepatitis A, and typhoid. Some airlines travelling to Venezuela will insist on a yellow fever certificate before boarding the plane, and travellers are advised to check with their airline before travel. There is a risk of malaria, particularly in jungle areas, but prophylaxis is not necessary for travel to Caracas or the coastal areas. Medical advice should be sought at least three weeks prior to departure. Insect protection measures are vital to avoid both malaria and dengue fever, which is on the increase. Tap water should not be drunk, but bottled drinking water is available. Venezuela's hospitals offer free emergency treatment; however, the private hospitals are better quality, though expensive. Public hospitals suffer from a shortage of basic supplies, as do private hospitals and clinics outside Caracas. Health insurance is essential.

Safety

The 1,000-mile (1,609km) long border between Venezuela and Colombia is notorious for the risk of violence, kidnapping, smuggling and drug trafficking. Visitors should give the border region a wide berth. Foreign nationals have also been kidnapped for ransom or violently mugged in Caracas and visitors should be alert to this threat in hotels, taxis and, in particular, at the airport. Street crime is high in Caracas and other cities, and foreigners should be particularly cautious at night. Passengers have been robbed at gunpoint by bogus taxi drivers at Caracas airport; it is best not to accept offers of assistance within the arrivals hall, only at the official taxi rank directly outside. Only licensed taxis bearing a clearly identifiable number should be used. Passengers arriving on late flights are particularly vulnerable. Political demonstrations, sometimes with violence and gunfire, occur regularly in Venezuela (many Venezuelans carry guns) and should be avoided. Pickpockets are very active in the city centres, particularly around bus and subway stations. Armed robberies and muggings are on the increase and theft of unattended valuables left on beaches or in cars is common. Obvious displays of wealth, and talking on mobile phones on the street, should be avoided to reduce the risk of crime. The coastal beach resorts are generally trouble free, though visitors should use common sense in ensuring the safety of their person and possessions. There have been recent cases of robberies and assaults after tourists have been drugged - either through spiked drinks or pamphlets impregnated with substances that are handed out on the streets or in shopping centres.

Local customs

Photography of military installations and the Presidential Palace is prohibited.

Doing business

Although the temperature in Venezuela is warm with a high humidity, formal business attire is the norm. People should be addressed as Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs) and Señorita (Miss) unless otherwise specified. Shaking hands is a customary greeting, and business cards are exchanged on meeting for the first time; it is best to have one side translated into Spanish. Meetings are prompt and generally occur over lunch; evening dinners are generally reserved for socialising. Business hours are 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Duty free

Travellers to Venezuela do not have to pay duty on the following items: 25 cigars and 200 cigarettes; 2 litres of alcohol; and 4 small bottles of perfume. Those travellers arriving from international destinations do not have to pay duty on goods to the value of US$1,000. Prohibited items include flowers, fruits, meat and meat products, plants and birds or parts thereof.

Communications

The international country code for Venezuela is +58 and the outgoing code is 00. City/area codes are in use, for example Caracas is (0)212. Wifi isavailable in Caracas and tourist resorts, and free international calls can be made over the internet.

Passport & Visa

Those entering Venezuela on a visa require a passport valid for at least six months. Tourist Entry Cards are issued free of charge by air carriers allowing for a stay of up to 90 days and are essential for entry into Venezuela. Visitors not holding proof of accomdation could be refused entry. Visitors must have return tickets or tickets for onward travel as well as all documents required for the next destination and sufficient funds. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

United States citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date and a visa for entry to Venezuela.

British citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

Canadian nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

Australians require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

South African citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date, but a visa is not necessary for a touristic stay of up to 90 days.

Useful contacts

171 (General Emergencies)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of Venezuela, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 647 1444.

Embassy of Venezuela, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 20 7584 4206/7.

Embassy of Venezuela, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 235 5151.

Embassy of Venezuela, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 2 6290 2967.

Embassy of Venezuela, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 346 5747.

Embassies / consulates in Venezuela

United States Embassy, Caracas: +58 212 975 6411.

British Embassy, Caracas: +58 212 319 5800.

Canadian Embassy, Caracas: +58 212 600 3000.

Australian Embassy, Brasilia, Brazil (also responsible for Venezuela): +55 61 3226 3111.

South African Embassy, Caracas: +58 212 952 0026.

New Zealand Consulate-General, Caracas: +58 212 277 7965.

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