Be sure to read this so you can learn what to do in order to prevent the current threats of safety and security in Azerbaijan.
18 November 2013| Last updated on 27 June 2017
In light of ongoing global and regional threats against U.S. and foreign interests, the U.S. embassy has recently released several Emergency Messages to U.S. citizens advising them to remain vigilant, particularly in public places associated with Western and Israeli communities. In January 2012, the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry disrupted a terrorist plot, reportedly backed by Iran, to attack prominent foreigners in Baku.
You should avoid travel to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas, as well as regions along the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian positions. Because of the existing state of hostilities, we cannot offer consular services to U.S. citizens in Nagorno-Karabakh.
U.S. citizens of Armenian ancestry considering travel to Azerbaijan should remain particularly vigilant when visiting the country, as the government of Azerbaijan has claimed it is unable to guarantee your safety. However, the U.S. Embassy is unaware of such U.S. citizen travelers recently experiencing threats to their safety based solely on their Armenian heritage or name.
Traveling to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding occupied areas via Armenia without the consent of the Government of Azerbaijan could make you ineligible to travel to Azerbaijan in the future.
Stay up to date by:
• Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution;
• Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook;
• Downloading our free Smart Traveler Enrollment App available through the iTunesstore or the Google play market to have travel information at your fingertips;
• Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries; and
• Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling abroad safely.
Most of the crime in Baku affects local residents, with burglary and assault being the most common crimes. Foreigners are at a greater risk in areas attracting large crowds or in very isolated areas. Although not common, petty theft and assault against foreign citizens do occur in Baku. Pick-pockets tend to frequent tourist sites, public transportation (especially minibuses), and pedestrian streets or large public squares where people congregate. Travelers should be mindful of their wallets, purses, and computer bags, as they make for tempting targets.
Avoid traveling alone at night. Late-night targeted attacks against lone males, while not common, are the most common crimes committed against foreigners; these usually involve victims who have been drinking.
There have been several reports from individuals who have been victims of crimes occurring late at night in bars frequented by Westerners. The crime occurs when a male patron is approached by a young woman who asks the individual to buy her a drink; after buying the drink and talking for a while, the customer is presented with an exorbitant bill. When the customer protests, he is approached by several men, detained, and forced to pay the full amount of the bill under threat of physical violence.
You should be very cautious about allowing unknown people to enter your hotel room or apartment.
Several Western women have reported incidents of unwanted male attention, including groping and other offensive behavior while walking on the streets alone or with only female companions. Travelers should remain alert when visiting tourist areas in Baku, such as Fountain Square and the Maiden’s Tower. We recommend that you avoid traveling alone in these areas after nightfall.
There have been reports of vehicle break-ins at regional tourist sites outside Baku. Whenever possible, vehicles should be parked in guarded or controlled parking lots, and valuables should never be left in plain sight.
There are instances of U.S. citizens being asked by new Internet friends to help pay a “return guarantee fee” to the Azerbaijani Immigration Service before a short trip abroad. There is no such law requiring Azerbaijani citizens to post a deposit for foreign travel, and the Internet friends were later determined to have fraudulent Azerbaijani identification cards. Please see this website for information about avoiding Internet financial scams.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but purchasing them may also be against local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME
If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
• Replace a stolen passport;
• Help you find appropriate medical care following violent crimes such as assault or rape;
• Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities and, if you want us to, we can contact family members or friends; and
• Help you understand the local criminal justice process and can direct you to local attorneys, although local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs established a special Office of Crimes By and Against Foreigners at which English-speaking officers are available until 8:00 PM at (994 12) 590-99-66. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also has a Duty Officer available after hours, at 590-93-31 or 590-94-31.
The local equivalents of the “911” emergency lines in Azerbaijan are: 101 - Fire Brigade; 102 - Police; 103 - Ambulance; 104 - Gas services; and 112 - Ministry of Emergency Situations. English speaking operators are on duty 24 hrs at 102 - Police.
Please see our Information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
While you are traveling in Azerbaijan, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws, legal systems, and criminal penalties can be vastly different from our own; for instance, religious proselytizing is illegal in Azerbaijan, and possession or use of illegal drugs of any kind carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. There are also some things that might be legal in Azerbaijan, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Azerbaijan, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know the local laws of your destination.
Azerbaijan’s security apparatus is sensitive to photography, so both professional and tourist photographers have been stopped for taking photographs of facilities that may not appear to be sensitive, including oil fields, buildings, and public squares. It is strictly forbidden to take pictures of military installations and of military equipment. Photographing or visiting military depots or equipment can lead to arrest. If police stop you for taking photographs, you should cooperate. If your photographic equipment is confiscated, you should contact the Embassy Consular Section to report the incident.
Azerbaijan is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. If you are arrested in Azerbaijan, the authorities are required to notify the embassy of your arrest and to have communicate.