Information & Facts
Although the temperature in Venezuela is warm with a high
humidity, formal business attire is the norm. People should be
addressed as Señor (Mr), Señora (Mrs) and Señorita (Miss) unless
otherwise specified. Shaking hands is a customary greeting, and
business cards are exchanged on meeting for the first time; it is
best to have one side translated into Spanish. Meetings are prompt
and generally occur over lunch; evening dinners are generally
reserved for socialising. Business hours are 8am to 12pm and 2pm to
6pm Monday to Friday.
Being situated just above the equator, the weather in Venezuela
is pleasant all year around. However the dry season (September to
April) is the best time to visit, though the Angel Falls are most
impressive towards the end of the wet season.
The international country code for Venezuela is +58 and the
outgoing code is 00. City/area codes are in use, for example
Caracas is (0)212. Mobile telephone GSM networks cover Caracas but
are sparse outside of the city. Internet cafes are available in
Caracas and tourist resorts.
Photography of military installations and the Presidential
Palace is prohibited.
Travellers to Venezuela do not have to pay duty on the following
items: 25 cigars and 200 cigarettes; 2 litres of alcohol; and 4
small bottles of perfume. Those travellers arriving from
international destinations do not have to pay duty on goods to the
value of US$1,000. Prohibited items include flowers, fruits, meat
and meat products, plants and birds or parts thereof.
110/220 volts, 60Hz. American two-pin plugs are
There are no vaccination requirements for Venezuela, but those
who plan to travel in areas outside the main cities should be
immunised against yellow fever, Hepatitis A, and typhoid. Some
airlines travelling to Venezuela will insist on a yellow fever
certificate before boarding the plane, and travellers are advised
to check with their airline before travel. There is a risk of
malaria, particularly in jungle areas, but prophylaxis is not
necessary for travel to Caracas or the coastal areas. Medical
advice should be sought at least three weeks prior to departure.
Insect protection measures are vital to avoid both malaria and
dengue fever, which is on the increase. Mains water should not be
drunk, but bottled drinking water is available. Venezuela's
hospitals offer free emergency treatment, however the private
hospitals are better quality, though expensive. Public hospitals
suffer from a shortage of basic supplies, as do private hospitals
and clinics outside Caracas. Health insurance is advisable.
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela.
Venezuela's currency is the Bolivar Fuerte (VEF), which replaced
the Bolivar (VEB) in January 2008. The revaluation means that Bs.
1,000 becomes Bs F 1. It is divided into 100 centimos. US dollars
are the most favoured foreign currency so it is best to have cash
and travellers cheques in US$. Foreign currency and cheques can be
changed at bureau de change offices found in most larger cities and
tourist destinations. Some banks (e.g. Banco Mercantil) will now
buy US dollars for bolivares or sell bolivares against a foreign
credit card; some major hotels will also swap US dollars for
bolivares. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday. It is best to
obtain local currency where possible before travelling, and
bolivars should be exchanged before exiting Venezuela. There are
ATMs in the cities (however some travellers have experienced
problems using them), and most credit cards, including
MasterCard/Eurocard, American Express and Visa, are accepted in
major cities. Diners Club has more limited acceptance. Visitors are
also warned that there is a serious problem with credit card
Those entering Venezuela on a visa require a passport valid for
at least six months. If travel is for touristic purposes, passports
valid for two months will be accepted as long as the passport
expires after the departure date. Tourist Entry Cards are issued
free of charge by air carriers allowing for a stay of up to 90 days
and are essential for entry into Venezuela. Visitors must have
return tickets or tickets for onward travel as well as all
documents required for the next destination and sufficient funds.
It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months
validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your
travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different
rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
The 1,000-mile (1,609km) long border between Venezuela and
Colombia is notorious for the risk of violence, kidnapping,
smuggling and drug trafficking. Visitors should give the border
region a wide berth. Foreign nationals have also been kidnapped for
ransom or violently mugged in Caracas and visitors should be alert
to this threat in hotels, taxis and, in particular, the airport.
Street crime is high in Caracas and other cities, and foreigners
should be particularly cautious at night. Passengers have been
robbed at gunpoint by bogus taxi-drivers at Caracas airport; it is
best not to accept offers of assistance within the arrivals hall,
only at the official taxi rank directly outside. Only licensed
taxis bearing a clearly identifiable number should be used. The
road from the airport to Caracas is undergoing major
reconstruction, and journey times can be long and unpredictable.
The road is best avoided after dark due to the recent spate of
armed robberies taking place on the highway at night. Passengers
arriving on late flights are particularly vulnerable. Unlicensed
taxicab operators have been known to overcharge and rob passengers;
travellers are advised to only use licensed radio taxis or those
from reputable hotels. Political demonstrations, sometimes with
violence and gunfire, occur regularly in Venezuela (many
Venezuelans carry guns) and should be avoided. Pickpockets are very
active in the city centres, particularly around bus and subway
stations. Armed robberies and muggings are on the increase and
theft of unattended valuables left on beaches or in cars is common.
Obvious displays of wealth, and talking on mobile phones on the
street, should be avoided to reduce the risk. The coastal beach
resorts are generally trouble free, though visitors should use
common sense in ensuring the safety of their person and
possessions. There have been recent cases of robberies and assaults
after tourists have been drugged - either through spiked drinks or
pamphlets impregnated with substances that are handed out on the
streets or in shopping centres. Safety standards in light aircraft
are variable and there have been several accidents on the main
tourist routes, including Margarita and Canaima/Angel Falls;
visitors are advised to go with established companies operating
modern multi-engined aircraft.
Tipping is at the discretion of the client and not obligatory. A
10% service charge is usually added to restaurant bills, but in
budget places tipping is uncommon. Taxi drivers do not expect tips,
but it is customary to give baggage handlers some small change per
bag. Tips in Caracas are usually the highest.