Special Travel Circumstances in Armenia

Armenia remains largely a cash-only economy. Credit cards are accepted at some businesses, including major hotels and restaurants in Yerevan, but rarely outside of the capital. Limited facilities exist for cashing traveler's checks and wiring money into the country. There are a number of ATMs in the center of Yerevan. Card skimming is on the rise at ATMs throughout Armenia. Dollars are readily exchanged at market rates. You may experience problems with local officials seeking bribes to perform basic duties. Armenian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Armenia of items such as firearms, pornographic materials, medication, and communications equipment. To export antiquities and other items that could have historical value, such as paintings, carpets, old books, or other artisanal goods, you need to get special authorization in advance from the Armenian Ministry of Culture. Please contact the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, D.C. or Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Dual nationals: Armenian legislation permits Armenian citizens to hold dual citizenship. U.S. citizens who emigrated from Armenia to the United States and subsequently acquired U.S. citizenship without explicitly giving up their Armenian citizenship are required by Armenian law to document their Armenian citizenship by obtaining an Armenian passport. Armenian citizens are entitled to certain rights, such as the right to vote in Armenian elections, though Armenian citizenship also entails specific legal obligations, including military service for certain males (see below). U.S. citizens interested in obtaining Armenian citizenship must register their dual citizenship with the Passport and Visa Department of the Police of the Republic of Armenia (formerly OVIR) by simply presenting proof of their other citizenship (e.g. passport). For more information, please consult with the Passport and Visa Department of the Police (tel.: 374 53 69 42) and/or the Foreign Ministry's website.

Armenian law requires that all Armenian citizens enter and depart Armenia on their Armenian passports. If you are an Armenian citizen according the law of the Republic of Armenia, you will be required to obtain an Armenian passport prior to departing Armenia. The law applies to children considered Armenian citizens under Armenian law, including children born in the United States to two Armenian citizens, even if those children have never held an Armenian passport. Individuals who are dual citizens, or could be dual citizens, should inquire with the Armenian Embassy in Washington, D.C. prior to traveling to Armenia to determine if they will be required to obtain an Armenian passport to depart Armenia at the end of their visit. The full text of the Armenian Law on Citizenship is available online.

Compulsory military service: In addition to being subject to all Armenian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals are also subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Armenian citizens. Male U.S. citizens over the age of 18 who are also considered to be Armenian citizens are subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and to other aspects of Armenian law while in Armenia. Armenian authorities have regularly detained U.S. citizens on these grounds upon their arrival in or attempted departure from Armenia. In most cases, ethnic-Armenian travelers over the age of 18 accused of evading Armenian military service obligations are immediately detained and later found guilty of draft evasion. Penalties for those convicted are stiff and include jail time or a substantial fine. Those who may be affected are strongly advised to consult with Armenian officials at an Armenian embassy or consulate regarding their status before traveling.

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