• Venezuela update: Insurance, currency, security

    CWT Savvy Traveler
    The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office's advisory map for Venezuela, as of 10 March 2014.

    The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advisory map for Venezuela, as of 10 March 2014.

    International travel generally requires more preparation than domestic travel, but depending on your destination, the list of unique considerations to take into account may vary. To illustrate some potential factors, let’s look at the current situation in Venezuela as an example.

    Safety & Security
    The ongoing social and political tensions currently taking place in Venezuela (with the potential to prompt unpredictable and violent incidents) may present challenges to travelers, making it important to
    stay fully aware of the situation as it evolves. Both the United States and Canadian governments maintain detailed information about the current health and security situations at worldwide destinations, as well as the entry and exit requirements for travelers.

    March 18 update: Air Canada has announced it will suspend service to Venezuela because of the unrest. The airline flew from Toronto to Caracas three times a week.

    The U.S. Department of State currently has a travel warning in effect for Venezuela. The Government of Canada has an advisory in place for parts of Venezuela within 80 km of the Colombian border, as do the U.K., Ireland and Australia, among others.

    If you must travel to the affected areas:
    • Exercise a high degree of caution due to the significant level of criminal activity in Venezuela.
    • Monitor the media and your government’s travel advisories for information about new restrictions or security recommendations.
    • Update your traveler profile and register your contact details, so CWT can contact you in the event of an emergency.

    Currency conversion
    In addition to staying informed about the overall security situation in Venezuela, visitors should also be aware of issues related to currency conversion. The Venezuelan currency exchange rate differs for essential goods vs. non-essential goods, and recent changes to exchange rules have added complexity to the situation.

    “Black market” currency exchange transactions are common — involving individuals offering visitors significantly more bolivars for their U.S. dollars than the official exchange rate. Travelers need to be aware that such transactions are prohibited under Venezuelan foreign exchange controls, and can result in criminal penalties. Remember, visitors are subject to the local laws.

    Insurance requirements
    Recently, the Ministry of Tourism in Venezuela has mandated new travel requirements for those entering and exiting Venezuela regarding medical and travel insurance. Starting on March 31, 2014, those within Venezuela who are traveling internationally must have proof of medical and travel insurance for their stay outside the country.

    Starting on May 1, those traveling to Venezuela must have proof of medical and travel insurance for their stay within the country.

    If you’re traveling for leisure, remember to check the resources from your government ahead of travel to ensure you’re informed about the situation at your destination. And if you’re traveling for business, remember to consult your company’s travel policy regarding travel to higher-risk destinations. One of the benefits of working with a travel management company like CWT is that there are systems in place through which your company can help keep you aware of the security situation at your destination, and can track your location in the event of an emergency.

    Safe travels!

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