Crime levels remain high and police capacity is low. There are regular armed and violent robberies against businesses and individuals. There is a risk of passers-by being caught up in such incidents - the Police tend to respond with firearms if shot at or threatened. At the end of September 2015 armed robbery was up by 3% in comparison to the same period in 2014, and in the same period 114 murders took place (in a country with a population of just over 750,000).
At the end of September 2015 the Guyana police force recorded a 10% increase in serious crimes and a 5% increase in murders compared to the same period in 2014.
Many of the crimes in Guyana are common to countries with wide gaps in wealth and where the perception is that all foreigners are wealthy. Muggings have taken place in broad daylight. Burglary and theft from cars are commonplace. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Try to avoid showing obvious signs of wealth.
Take extra precautions to safeguard your passports, money, tickets, mobile phones and other valuables. Even if you are staying with family, do not leave valuables in view. Keep them somewhere less obvious than your baggage. Use hotel safes if possible. You should be particularly vigilant when leaving local banks to ensure that you are not being followed.
In Georgetown, avoid the Tiger Bay and Albouystown areas and take care in Sophia, all of south Georgetown, Buxton and Agricola. Take particular care in the Stabroek Market area where robberies are a daily occurrence and where in January 2011 there was a grenade explosion which killed 1 person. Avoid walking alone around Georgetown, even in the main areas and don’t walk anywhere at night.
A number of assaults have taken place in the Botanic Gardens. Birding enthusiasts should be particularly vigilant. If possible go with an organised group and avoid taking valuables with you.
If you walk along the sea wall, avoid the more deserted stretches and walk at times when other walkers are most likely to be about (around 5pm to 6pm).
You should take normal precautions. Confirm the local situation in advance, avoid travel after dark, travel in convoy whenever possible and carry a means of communication.
Guyana is vulnerable to flooding. The coast of Guyana is below sea level and protected by a sea defence and dam system. Guyana also experiences heavy rainfall. The main rainy seasons are generally May/June and December/January. Infrastructure, including drainage systems, is poorly maintained.
If possible, avoid travel to and from Georgetown Cheddi Jagan international airport late at night and before dawn. There have been incidents of violence and fatal accidents caused by erratic driving. There have also been incidents of violent theft by gangs who follow cars travelling from the airport, and attack their victims when they reach their final destination. Always drive with windows closed and doors locked.
Driving in Guyana can be dangerous because of poor road sense of road-users, frequent hazards, inadequate lighting and poor road conditions in some areas. Drive defensively and limit driving at night as much as possible. The worst incidents have almost inevitably involved minibuses. When driving at night take extra care to avoid cyclists, pedestrians and animals.
If you’re planning to drive in Guyana, an International Driving Permit is recommended. Alternatively, you can get a local driving permit, valid for 1 month, from the Licence and Revenue Office in Georgetown on submission of a valid British driving licence.
Avoid using minibuses. They are driven dangerously and are responsible for the majority of road accidents in Guyana.
Although some taxis have been the target for robbers, they remain the safest means for visitors to get around town. Only use taxis from reputable companies. Don’t hail taxis from the roadside.
Tourist travel can often involve flying in light aircraft. There have been several accidents in recent years on the main tourist routes, including Kaieteur Falls, Lethem and Linden - some with fatalities.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is unable to offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
In 2007 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Guyana.
Safety concerns have been raised about INSEL Air which operates some flights into Georgetown Cheddi Jagan international airport. The US and Netherlands authorities have prohibited their staff from using the airline while safety checks are being carried out and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority have halted those Insel Air flights to Guyana which use their own planes (flights using aircraft chartered from other companies are allowed). UK government officials have been told to avoid flying on Insel Air as a precaution.
There have been armed attacks against boats in and around the waters of Guyana. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.
Only use scheduled ferry services when crossing the Corentyne river between Guyana and Suriname. Using water taxis (backtracking) from Suriname to Guyana can lead to arrest, imprisonment and then deportation.
If you’re travelling on Guyana’s rivers use registered boat services equipped with lifejackets. Don’t travel by boat after dark.
Although the UN’s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in 2007 ruled on the maritime border dispute between Suriname and Guyana, there remains a historical border dispute between Suriname and Guyana over land in the New River Triangle area in the south east of Guyana. Venezuela does not formally recognise the legitimacy of its current border with Guyana, in the north west of Guyana, and has recently issued a decree which has increased tensions at a political level between both countries. Generally these issues are not high profile, and the border areas are remote, but you should keep these disputes in mind if you’re near the border areas.
National elections held in May 2015 were generally violence free. However, demonstrations can turn violent. You should avoid all large political gatherings particularly in times of heightened tension, including around the time of elections. Local government elections are scheduled to take place in early 2016.
The following UK mobiles work with roaming services - tri-band or quad phones; Vodafone and O2. A 3G data service is also available.
Power cuts occur and you may find yourself without water or electricity for short periods of time. Consider packing a torch.
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There is considered to be 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 be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Drug trafficking is a serious problem: possession and trafficking in drugs leads to lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. The minimum jail sentence for illegal drug offences is three years. Prison conditions in Guyana are tough. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.
People are regularly offered free air tickets to Guyana. On arrival their ’sponsors’ will only allow them to leave Guyana if they carry a ’package’ (usually cocaine). The Guyana anti-drug authorities at the airport will routinely stop or search foreigners fitting a certain profile.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to 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.
British nationals do not need visas to visit Guyana. Visitors are generally given 30 days to remain in Guyana, but extensions can usually be obtained from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Georgetown. The Guyanese authorities are very severe on visitors who overstay or abuse the conditions of their stay. Conviction for overstaying will result in one year imprisonment, a fine of up to G$50,000 (Guyana dollars) and deportation - at the deportee’s expense - upon release.
Check entry requirements with the Guyana High Commission in London before you travel.
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Guyana.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Guyana.
All passengers leaving Guyana must pay a compulsory departure tax/security levy. The current fee is G$4,000/£13/US$20 and must be paid in cash (Guyana dollars or US dollars).
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Medical facilities are very limited, even in Georgetown and non-existent in remote areas. Standards are low. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, and repatriation. Medical evacuation is recommended for any serious or invasive treatment.
In the 2013 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 7,000 adults aged 15 or over in Guyana were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 1.3% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 913 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Credit card use is growing in the retail and hospitality sectors but Guyana is still a largely cash-based economy. Scotia Bank’s ATMs accept most international bankcards (Visa/Mastercard). US Dollars are more widely accepted than other foreign currencies (carry some small denomination notes).