Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Announcement of Relocation of U.S. Embassy Staff

June 16, 2014

As a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq, Embassy Baghdad is reviewing its staffing requirements in consultation with the State Department. Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated ? both to our Consulate Generals in Basrah and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman. Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Iraq because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens concerned for their safety should make plans to depart by commercial means. U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Iraq. International Airports in Baghdad, Erbil, and Basrah are open and commercial flights are operating. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to traveling to verify the flight schedule.

We advise U.S. citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and limit travel to Anbar, Ninawah, Salah ad-Din, Diyala and Kirkuk provinces; make their own contingency emergency plans; and maintain security awareness at all times. We also encourage all U.S. citizens in Iraq to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://step.state.gov in order to receive the latest updates from the Department.

U.S. citizens living and working in Iraq should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. Those who remain should prepare to depart at short notice. This includes ensuring that travel documents for all family members are available and up to date. U.S. citizens with valid passports and foreign dependents with valid passports or visas should not/not contact the Embassy for travel arrangements. Rather, they should make their own arrangements directly with transportation companies or travel agents.

The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is particularly limited given the security environment. U.S. citizens should be aware that the Embassy does not offer ?protection? services to individuals who feel unsafe. Due to disruptions caused by the current environment, consular services, including American Citizen Services, could experience unusual delays. Routine visa services will be curtailed. Changes to appointment schedules or the inability of the public to reach the Embassy may occur on very short notice and the Consular Section?s capacity to respond to inquiries will be impacted. We regret the inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we strive to provide efficient service while prioritizing your safety.

The U.S. Consulates General in Erbil and Basrah remain operational at normal staffing levels. U.S. citizens in need of American Citizen Services in Erbil must make an appointment with the Consulate on-line, either through the Embassy?s website or the website for the Consulate in Erbil. The Embassy's website includes consular information and the most recent messages to U.S. citizens in Iraq. U.S. citizens in Iraq who need emergency assistance should call 0770-443-1286 or 0770-030-4888. The U.S. Consulates in Basrah and Kirkuk cannot provide routine services such as passport applications, extra visa pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.

U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or U.S. Consulate General Erbil. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens may contact the U.S. Embassy, located in the IZ, via e-mail to BaghdadACS@state.gov. In the event of a U.S. citizen emergency please contact: 0770-443-1286 (from Iraq) or 011-964-770-443-1286 (from the United States).

U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information can be found. The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad,? which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain the latest information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).