COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mongolia is a vast country of mountains, lakes, deserts, and grasslands. It is approximately the size of Alaska. Since 1990, Mongolia has been successfully transitioning into a parliamentary democracy. Economic reforms continue, although the country’s development will depend on considerable infrastructure investment, particularly in the mining, energy, transportation, and communication sectors. You should be aware that shortcomings in these areas could affect your travel plans. Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Mongolia for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Mongolia, please take the time to tell our Embassy in Ulaanbaatar about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar
Micro Region 11, Big Ring Road, Ulaanbaatar
Telephone: (976) 7007-6001
Emergency after-hours telephone: 976-9911-4168
Facsimile: (976) 7007-6016
You can email the Consular Section directly. The Consular Section is open for American Citizens Services by appointment Monday and Thursday from 1-3 p.m., except on U.S. and Mongolian holidays.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: You must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your intended stay in Mongolia. An entry/exit visa is not required if you are visiting for fewer than 90 days; however, if you plan to stay in Mongolia for more than 30 days, you must register with the Office of Immigration, Naturalization, and Foreign Citizens in Ulaanbaatar within seven days of arriving in Mongolia and obtain a residency permit card. If you do not register and you stay longer than 30 days, even for reasons beyond your control, you will not be allowed to exit until you pay a fine. On July 8, 2010, the Government of Mongolia passed a law requiring foreign citizens to carry their residency permit card or passport at all times while in Mongolia. Mongolian authorities now have the legal right and responsibility to stop people and request their documents. Persons found to be non-compliant with the law are subject to a fine.
If you are planning to work or study in Mongolia, you should apply for a visa at a Mongolian embassy or consulate outside of Mongolia. If you do not have a visa upon arrival in Mongolia, the authorities may refuse to allow you to register and obtain a residency permit, charge you a fine, or require that you leave the country.
If you plan to arrive and depart Mongolia through China or Russia, you should be aware of Chinese and Russian visa regulations and obtain multiple-entry visas for Russia or China before beginning your trip. It is difficult to obtain Russian visas at the Russian Embassy in Mongolia, so if you need a visa for Russia, you should obtain it outside of Mongolia.
Check with immigration authorities to make sure that the border posts you intend to use in China and Russia will allow U.S. citizens to transit there and will be open when you want to use them. A number of border posts are closed to foreigners. For more information on the entry/exit requirements for Russia and China, see the Country Specific Information for Russia and China.
Visitors who have been in Mongolia for more than 90 days must obtain an exit visa to leave the country. The exit visa is obtained from the Office of Immigration and usually takes 10 days to process. Visitors to Mongolia for less than 90 days do not need an exit permit or visa. However, be aware that requests to exit Mongolia can be denied for reasons such as pending civil disputes, pending criminal investigation, or an immigration violation. In such instances, you may not be allowed to leave the country until the dispute is resolved, however long that may be. We are aware of U.S. citizens who have been denied exit visas for more than two years.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission from the parent(s) or legal guardian for the child to travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
Please visit the Embassy of Mongolia website for the most current visa information or contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone (202) 333-7117, ext. 13 or 16.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Mongolia. For additional information, contact the Embassy of Mongolia before you travel.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been no significant acts of terrorism or extremism in Mongolia, and there are no regions of instability in the country. However, you are advised to avoid all protests, including political protests and street demonstrations that occur occasionally in Ulaanbaatar, since demonstrations may become violent at any time.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Street crime is common in Mongolia, particularly in Ulaanbaatar, the capital. Most of the street crime is non-violent, but violent incidents do occur regularly. The most common crimes against foreigners are pickpocketing and bag snatching. There are reports of organized groups operating in open areas, usually after dark, surrounding, grabbing, and choking an individual in order to search his or her pockets. Thieves have also cut victims’ bag straps and clothing in attempts to reach wallets, cell phones, and other valuables. If you detect pickpocket attempts, you should not confront the thieves, since they may become violent. It is best not to walk alone through Ulaanbaatar after dark.
Inter-racial couples are targeted for assault. The perpetrators usually target foreign men with local women. These assaults range from organized attacks by nationalist groups to spontaneous incidents in bars.
Since the spring of 2010, the U.S. Embassy has received an increased number of reports of apparently xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals.These attacks occurred without provocation, and robbery was not the motive. Attackers targeted the victim(s) based solely on their ethnicity or perceived foreign nationality. Some of these attacks were directed against U.S. citizens.
Additionally, nationalist groups frequently mistake Asian-Americans for ethnic Chinese or Koreans and may attack without warning or provocation. Asian-Americans should exercise caution at all times when walking the streets of Ulaanbaatar.
In general, you should be extremely cautious at these locations:
You should also be careful in crowded public areas, such as open-air markets, the Central Post Office, and the Gandan Monastery.
In addition, you should be alert for potential criminal activity when you use public transportation or taxis. There have been several reports of foreigners being robbed and/or assaulted while riding in taxis. You may wish to ask your hotel, a restaurant, or store to make taxi arrangements for you. Also, you may wish to request that a native speaker write your destination address in Mongolian, since most cab drivers do not speak English. Private unmarked cars often act as taxis in Mongolia; their availability is high, but their consistency of performance, fare, and safety is low. You should not use unmarked taxis. If you find a cab driver whom you like (English speaker, trustworthy, clean car, etc.), request his mobile phone number for future use.
Crime rises sharply before, during, and after the Naadam Summer Festival in July, throughout the summer tourist season, and during and after Tsagaan Sar, the Winter Festival, in January or February.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegged items illegal in the United States, but you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates ). We can
Ulaanbaatar does not have a dedicated tourist police unit; nor does it have any centralized reporting system. You should report allegations of criminal activity to the police district responsible for the area where the crime took place. You may wish to consult with an attorney before you report a crime, since the local police can be uncooperative or aggressively question crime victims. You may be required to remain in the country for the duration of the police investigation and prosecution.
In Mongolia, the local equivalents to the “911” emergency line are “102” for the police department and “103” for a medical emergency.
Please see general and more detailed information on help for victims of crime in Mongolia including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Mongolia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and 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 Mongolia, 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 where you are going.
If you are arrested in Mongolia, Mongolian authorities are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should ask the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. embassy of your arrest. You may need to make repeated requests to authorities to speak to a consular officer. Authorities may be unaware of your rights to consular access.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In Ulaanbaatar, some hotels accept travelers’ checks in U.S. dollars, and several banks convert travelers’ checks to dollars or Mongolian currency, known as Tugrugs. You can use credit cards at a variety of hotels, restaurants, and shops in the city. Cash advances against credit cards are available at some commercial banks such as Trade and Development Bank, Golomt Bank, Khan Bank, and Xac Bank. International bank wire transfers are also possible. There are a handful of VISA and Maestro/Cirrus ATMs in Ulaanbaatar, but they are not reliable. Very few ATMs exist outside the capital. Outside of Ulaanbaatar, cash is the only method of payment that is possible.
The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification of the detention or arrest of a U.S. citizen, particularly outside of Ulaanbaatar. Remember that you are required by law to carry your residency permit or passport (not a copy) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, evidence of your identity and citizenship are readily available.
During the winter, severe fuel shortages and problems with central heating and electrical systems may cause seriously reduced
heating levels and power outages in Ulaanbaatar and other cities. Smaller towns in the countryside may have no heat or electricity
at all. You should prepare to leave the country if there is a complete energy failure. General information about natural disaster
preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Mongolian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning import and export of items such as firearms, ammunition, and antiquities. Import of firearms or ammunition requires prior approval from the Government of Mongolia. Exporting antiquities requires a special customs clearance certificate issued by authorized antique shops at the time of purchase. For additional information contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone: (202) 333-7117.
Accessibility: The Law on Social Protection of the Disabled (2010) gives the government of Mongolia the responsibility to implement measures to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including physical, sensory, and mental disabilities. However, the government does little to execute such measures, and in practice, most persons with disabilities faced significant barriers to employment, education, and participation in public life.
Government buildings remain largely inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Public transportation is also largely inaccessible to the disabled. Despite a new law introducing standards for road construction under which some textured sidewalks meant to aid visually impaired pedestrians were installed, the persistence of open manholes, protruding obstacles, and unheeded crosswalks prevent many persons with disabilities from moving freely. There are few paved sidewalks, and those that are paved usually lack curb cuts. A few buildings have ramps, but most buildings remain inaccessible to persons in wheel chairs and on crutches. Elevators are quite small and unable to fit a standard-sized wheelchair. Service animals are rare here, and are often barred from public buildings.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Mongolia are very limited and do not meet most Western standards, especially for emergency health care. Many brand-name Western medicines are unavailable. The majority of medical facilities are located in Ulaanbaatar and are extremely limited or non-existent outside of Ulaanbaatar. Specialized emergency care for infants and the elderly is not available. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate payment in cash for health services.
Sanitation in some restaurants, particularly outside of Ulaanbaatar, is inadequate. Stomach illnesses are frequent. You should drink bottled water and use other routine safety measures to protect your health. Severe air pollution is a serious problem during the winter months, and travelers with breathing or other health problems should plan accordingly. Infectious diseases, such as plague and meningococcal meningitis, are present at various times of the year. Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Mongolia. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB . Local hospitals generally do not contact the Embassy about ill or injured U.S. citizens in their care. If you need assistance from the Embassy, you should ask the doctor or hospital to contact the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. See our website for a list of medical facilities in Ulaanbaatar.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation either within Mongolia or to other countries are extremely expensive and can cost more than $100,000. Evacuation companies will not take you to another location without a full fee guarantee beforehand. Please note that not all insurance companies provide medical evacuation coverage for Mongolia. Please check with your insurance provider before traveling to Mongolia and consider supplemental medical or travel insurance. Currently, SOS Medica Mongolia UB International Clinic is the only clinic that has medical evacuation services in Mongolia.
You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out if yours does BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Mongolia, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mongolia is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Ulaanbaatar can be extremely difficult due to poorly maintained streets, broken traffic lights, poor street lighting, a shortage of traffic signs, and undisciplined pedestrians. The knowledge and skills of the driving population have not kept pace with the dramatic growth in the number of automobiles on the streets in recent years. There are few paved roads outside of the capital and no street lights, and driving outside of Ulaanbaatar after dark is unsafe. For specific information concerning Mongolian drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Mongolia at 2833 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone (202) 333-7117.
There are many metered taxis in Ulaanbaatar. There are a few car rental companies, but safety and maintenance standards are uncertain, so rental vehicles should be used with caution. Local tourist companies can provide cars with drivers. Public transportation within the capital is widespread, cheap, and generally reliable, but it is also extremely crowded, so pickpocketing can occur.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Mongolia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Mongolia’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Mongolia dated April 16, 2012 with changes to the sections on Smart Traveler enrollment Program (STEP)/Embassy Location, Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Aviation Safety Oversight.