Faith-Based Travel Information
Faith-based travel includes a wide variety of activities -- from pilgrimages to service projects, from missionary work to cruises. Millions of U.S. citizens participate safely in some type of religious travel every year. However, U.S. faith-based travelers in some destinations encounter challenging conditions –- including poor medical facilities, high rates of violent crime, and risk of terrorism -- and in some countries it is a crime to conduct religious activities. You need to know the laws and conditions in the places you will be living and traveling.
Before You Go
Visit our Traveler’s Checklist and review our country information pages for details on visa requirements and to learn about local laws. Enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive safety information about your destination.
Additional Resources for faith-based travelers:
- International Religious Freedom Report
- Human Rights Report
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
Traveling Under a Sponsoring Organization?
Here are a few things to consider when researching a sponsoring organization:
- Does it have plans for various emergency scenarios, such as local threats to security, natural disasters, and injury or death of a U.S. citizen traveler?
- Is it aware of laws and customs about religious expression in the countries you will be visiting?
- Is your sponsoring organization a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, either in the United States or in your destination country?
While You’re There
Remember, you are subject to the laws and the justice system of the countries you are visiting.
Many countries have laws that restrict religious expression. These may include restrictions on:
- public or private prayer or other religious practices,
- wearing religious attire or symbols,
- preaching in a private or public setting,
- speaking to others about your beliefs,
- possessing religious images,
- criticizing or questioning the religious beliefs of others,
- visiting certain religious sites if you are female,
- possessing printed religious materials,
- distributing religious literature, and
- participating in religious services or activities.
These laws may be applied more or less severely to foreign visitors, so be sure to research the local laws and customs of your destination country.
When possible, coordinate with members of the faith community in your destination country, to make sure planned activities are culturally and legally appropriate.
If you run into problems while overseas, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Always carry the address and phone number with you, in English and the local language. Consular officers in the American Citizens Services office may be able to help if you run into problems overseas, especially if you feel you cannot approach local police, or if you need help communicating with local authorities. Consular officers will protect your privacy and will not make generalizations, assumptions, or pass judgment.
Learn About Your Destination
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.