What makes Lithuania a unique country to travel to?
Lithuania is a stable democracy. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in other European cities. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.
Although Lithuania is relatively safe, both violent and non-violent crimes affecting tourists have occured throughout the country. You should maintain the same awareness and practice good personal security that you would in any U.S. metropolitan area. Large amounts of cash and expensive jewelry should be secured in a hotel safe or left at home. Common crimes against foreigners include pick-pocketing and thefts, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Thefts from cars and car thefts occur regularly. Valuables should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows being smashed and items stolen. You should avoid walking alone at night or utilize a taxi service arranged by telephone. Isolated ATMs should be avoided after dark. Like in the United States., public inebriation should be avoided as criminals have been known to take advantage of drunken pedestrians. U.S. citizens have reported being robbed and/or scammed while intoxicated.
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, you may be breaking local law too.
While you are traveling in Lithuania, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in Lithuania, 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 Lithuania, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not.
If you break Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. For more information about arrest procedures in Lithuania please visit the Embassy’s website. While most authorities will automatically notify the U.S. Embassy if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested, this might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the Embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical care in Lithuania has improved, but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that nearly equal Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics, and other pharmaceuticals; however, hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Lithuania has highly trained medical professionals, some of whom speak English, but their availability is decreasing as they leave for employment opportunities abroad. Depending on a patient’s condition, an appointment with a specialist may not be available for several weeks. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold in Lithuania are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, particularly if immigration status in Lithuania is unclear.
Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are widespread throughout the country. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. Rabies is also increasingly prevalent in rural areas.
Safety and Security
There have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward U.S. interests in Lithuania. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.
Lithuania is not experiencing any civil unrest at this time. However, marches and protests do occur, especially in larger cities. Although such events have generally been peaceful in nature, U.S. citizens are reminded that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational. Therefore, we urge you to avoid the areas of demonstrations, if possible, and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any event. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
From time to time, especially late at night near bars and night clubs, foreigners have been subject to violent crimes, such as muggings, or have become involved in altercations with inebriated individuals. Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical harassment of foreigners and ethnic minorities in major cities have occurred.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Lithuania, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
You may drive in Lithuania with a U.S. driver’s license for up to 90 days. U.S. citizens who reside in Lithuania for 185 days or more in one calendar year and who wish to continue driving in Lithuania must acquire a Lithuanian driver's license. An applicant for a driver’s license must take both the written and driving exams. The foreign license must be given to the Lithuanian Road Police to be processed by the Consular Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information, please visit the Embassy’s website. Roads in Lithuania range from well-maintained two- to four-lane highways connecting major cities, to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles traveling at high speed, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night-- especially in the countryside--can be particularly hazardous. In summer, older seasonal vehicles and inexperienced drivers can be extra hazards. Drive with caution at all times. Driving whileintoxicated is considered a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. Be aware that such laws are significantly stricter than in many states in the United States. The speed limit is 50 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-01414 from a regular phone and 1414 from a GSM mobile phone. If you are involved in a traffic accident, be aware that moving the car before the police arrive can result in your being charged with hit and run.
Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers. Children under the age of 3 must be seated in the back seat in a child seat appropriate for their age and size. Children under the age of 12 and under 150 cm (approximately 59 inches) may not be seated in the front seat.
During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Winter or all-season tires are required from November 10th through April 1st. Studded tires are not allowed from April 10th through October 31st. Drivers must have at least their low-beam lights on at all times while driving.
Public transportation is generally safe, but you should maintain personal security awareness while on public transportation.