Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 18 May 2017, 09:24 NZST
  • Still current at: 23 October 2017

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Extreme Risk

There is extreme risk to your security within 80 kilometres of the border with Colombia, particularly in the states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure. Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups operate in these areas and there is a risk of kidnapping. New Zealanders should not cross the Venezuela-Colombia border by land and we advise against all travel to these areas.

High Risk

There is high risk to your security elsewhere in Venezuela due to high levels of violent crime, the potential for violent civil unrest and shortages of food and medicine. We advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel.

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Violent crime
The level of violent crime throughout Venezuela is critically high, including in national parks and tourist areas. Murder, armed robberies, kidnappings and carjackings are common, especially in the capital Caracas. Street crime, such as mugging and pickpocketing, is prevalent and often results in violence. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of crime as this could lead to an escalation in violence. Victims are often injured or killed when attempting to resist perpetrators. Sexual assault is also a significant concern and we advise that women should exercise a high degree of caution and avoid travelling alone, especially at night.

Kidnapping is of serious concern in Venezuela. In particular, express kidnappings occur, where criminals abduct a victim for a short amount of time and force them to withdraw funds from their bank account. Tourists may be specifically targeted. Express kidnappings have increased in Caracas and around the airport. To reduce the risk, we recommend you use ATMs which are located within bank branches and during daylight hours only.

The capital Caracas has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world and you should avoid ‘barrios’ (heavily populated slum areas) as violent crime is especially prevalent in these areas.

New Zealanders are advised to exercise vigilance at all times as crime in Venezuela can occur at any time. You should avoid walking or driving in isolated areas, especially at night and avoid wearing or displaying valuables such as electronic devices and jewellery. When travelling by car, keep doors locked and windows up at all times and do not stop to assist with vehicle breakdowns, clear debris from the road or pick up hitchhikers.

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after accepting spiked food and drink. Do not leave food or drink unattended or accept any food or drink from strangers. Criminals have also been known to pose as police officers or uniformed officials to harass and extort money from tourists.

The area around Maiqueta Simon Bolivar Airport and the road between the airport and Caracas are particularly dangerous. Criminal groups operate at, and around, the airport and we advise particular vigilance while transiting the airport. Travel after dark on the road to Caracas should be avoided. We recommend staying in an airport hotel if your flight is arriving late at night or leaving early in the morning.

There have also been reports of muggings and kidnappings by criminals posing as taxi drivers. New Zealanders are strongly advised to exercise caution when using taxis throughout Venezuela. Use radio-dispatched or pre-booked taxis and check the driver’s identification and company information before you enter the vehicle.

Civil unrest/political tension
Since April 2017, political tensions have increased resulting in increasingly violent demonstrations resulting in deaths and injuries, especially in Caracas. Roads and highways are often blocked during demonstrations which can also disrupt public transport systems. Authorities often use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. Political demonstrations and protests regularly occur elsewhere in Venezuela and have increased due to economic issues and shortages of basic necessities and utilities. Protests have taken place inCaracas, Merida, San Cristobal, Valencia, Maracay and other cities. Further demonstrations are likely and there is the ongoing possibility of violence.

New Zealanders in Venezuela are advised to avoid any protests, demonstrations or large public gatherings as even peaceful gatherings have the potential to turn violent. We advise paying close attention to personal security and monitoring local media for information. You should adhere to any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities.

Basic Services
The economic situation in Venezuela remains extremely fragile. Provisions of basic food items and necessities, including water, electricity and medication can be unreliable, leading to shortages. These items may be difficult to obtain away from hotels and as precautionary measure, we recommend ensuring adequate supplies of food and water are on hand.

Piracy
Incidents of piracy have occured off the coast of Venezuela. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautionary measures. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report

General travel advice
New Zealanders in Venezuela should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.  

New Zealanders in Venezuela are encouraged to register their details their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand Embassy Mexico City, Mexico is accredited to Venezuela

Street Address Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510 Telephone +52 55 5283 9460 Fax +52 55 5283 9480 Email nzmexico@mfat.govt.nz Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/mexico Hours Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400, 1500 - 1700 hrs

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Mexico

Street Address
Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510

Telephone: +52 55 5283 9460

Fax: +52 55 5283 9480

Email: nzmexico@mfat.govt.nz

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/mexico

Hours: Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400, 1500 - 1700 hrs

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