Top 20 Countries Where Americans Are NOT Welcome

Top 20 Countries Where Americans Are NOT Welcome
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem, Nathan Sharp
From the USA? Go away! For this list, we'll be looking at countries and territories from which Americans are either discouraged from visiting or generally unwelcomed by the native populace. Our countdown of countries where Americans are not welcome includes Myanmar, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and more!

Top 20 Countries Where Americans Are Not Welcome

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Countries Where Americans Are Not Welcome.

For this list, we’ll be looking at countries and territories from which Americans are either discouraged from visiting or generally unwelcomed by the native populace.

Have you visited any of these places? Let us know in the comments below.

#20: Myanmar

On February 1, 2021, Myanmar experienced a coup d’état which saw the country’s military overthrowing the elected ruling party and establishing a junta. This has resulted in the ongoing Myanmar civil war, which has plagued the country with demonstrations and violent crackdowns from the military regime. As such, the United States government has advised its citizens not to travel to Myanmar. They cited various reasons for the advisory, including the potential for wrongful detention, violent civil unrest, inadequate healthcare, and even the possibility of death from hidden mines. Until this conflict gets resolved, Americans are most definitely not welcome in the country.

#19: Yemen

The Republic of Yemen is another Asian country that does not wish to see American faces. Like Myanmar, the United States government has imposed a strict advisory against traveling to Yemen, citing its ongoing civil war. They cite terrorism as a major problem in the country and warn that American citizens may quickly find themselves in danger. Furthermore, they state that foreigners are often the targets of kidnappings. To make matters even worse, the country’s U.S. Embassy closed back in 2015, meaning American citizens are not legally protected while inside Yemen. This, of course, makes them all the more susceptible to targeted violence.

#18: Sudan

Ranked 172nd on the Human Development Index, Sudan is one of the least-developed countries in the entire world. It currently faces large degrees of poverty, political instability, and fractional violence, and like Myanmar and Yemen before it, Sudan is currently under a strict “do not travel” advisory. Armed conflicts and civil unrest plague the country, and areas often frequented by Westerners are often the targets of terrorist attacks. Furthermore, Westerners and aid workers are often the victims of targeted crimes like assault, kidnappings, and armed robberies. Even the rural areas outside of urban centers are populated with hidden explosives, making travel inside the country incredibly dangerous and ill-advised.

#17: Libya

Bordering Sudan is the State of Libya, which is the fourth largest country in the Arab world. And, like its neighbor, it is not entirely welcome to Americans. Libya has a high volume of crime and violent extremist activity, making it a highly inopportune place to travel. American citizens have been the targets of kidnappings, and tourist locations like malls, hotels, and airports are known to be hotspots for terrorist activity. Foreigners might also be subjected to militia-controlled checkpoints and unlawful detention, not to mention crimes of opportunity like assault and robbery. There is also no formal tourist industry operating inside Libya, making travel extremely unpredictable and discouraged.

#16: Angola

Found in southern Africa is the Republic of Angola, which is currently the second-largest Portuguese-speaking country behind Brazil. Unlike the other countries so far mentioned on this list, Angola is not currently under a travel advisory. However, that doesn’t make it any less difficult. Simply getting a visa to visit Angola can be a real pain for American citizens. The application process is dense and intimidating, even requiring a personal letter of invitation from a resident of the country. If successful, it may take months for the approval process to go through. And that’s if you’re even approved in the first place - there’s a pretty good chance that the application will be denied.

#15: Venezuela

We travel across the Atlantic to visit Venezuela, found on the northern tip of South America. A developing country, Venezuela is known for its high degree of corruption and limited civil liberties, and is currently considered an authoritarian state under President Nicolás Maduro. The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission has found many human rights abuses within Venezuela, including forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. American citizens are also routinely detained by the regime’s security forces and become targets of robberies, carjackings, and homicides. And in March of 2019, the Department of State withdrew from the U.S. Embassy Caracas, leaving scant emergency services for American visitors.

#14: India

The famous South Asian country is generally safe to visit, with a few notable exceptions. The U.S. government advises against visiting the India-Pakistan border and the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, citing civil unrest and armed conflict. Some tourist locations are also targeted by local criminals, and violent crime has been known to occur in these areas. It’s also not advised for Western women to travel alone. But aside from the general danger, it’s also very difficult to get into India, as the country has complex visa conditions and a long approval process that may prove too demanding for some.

#13: Somalia

Known for its long coastline, Somalia is found on the eastern edge of Africa, right beside Ethiopia and Kenya. While the seaside landscape is undeniably beautiful, Somalia is an incredibly poor country, with up to 70% of its population living in poverty. It is also placed last on the Human Development Index. And no, it is not a place for American visitors, with frequent terrorist attacks and a high degree of violent crime in crowded areas. Illegal roadblocks also populate the country, with kidnappings and detention being very frequent occurrences. In fact, Somalia’s dangers are so serious that the U.S. government advises drafting a will and leaving behind DNA samples before entering the country.

#12: Afghanistan

This Asian country has been in a bad state since the late 1970s, when the Saur Revolution overthrew President Mohammed Daoud Khan to establish a socialist republic. Ever since, Afghanistan has been embroiled in what is called the Afghan conflict, indicating near continuous violence for over forty years. Travel to Afghanistan is strictly advised against, with an extremely high chance for Western visitors to be kidnapped or injured. Terrorist attacks and hostage taking are a common occurrence, and there is no formal tourism industry in place. Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul closed in 2021, resulting in an increased frequency of unlawful detentions.

#11: Syria

For many years, it was impossible to obtain a Syrian tourist visa, meaning American citizens were quite literally banned from entering the country. That changed in 2023, but the United States government still strongly objects to visiting. Syria is a very problematic country that is rife with in-fighting, cartel activity, corruption, and poverty. U.S. citizens are often the targets of kidnappings and illegal detentions, and the risk of harm is extremely high owing to the widespread violence. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus has also been out of operation since 2012, shortly after the onset of the Syrian civil war. Millions of citizens have left the country in recent years, and Americans are strongly discouraged from going in.

#10: Russia

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, visiting Russia is pretty much off the board for Americans. But even before this conflict, Americans often needed to jump through many hoops to cross the border. Visas are only granted prior to arrival, and you need an invitation letter from someone in the country to even apply for a visa. Once acquired, you then fill out a lengthy visa application. It requires you to indicate every country you have visited for the last ten years, your education history, parents’ names, where you have worked, and even professional organizations you are a member of. After all that, you hope your passport comes back with a valid visa.

#9: Bhutan

Landlocked between India and China, the country of Bhutan is a place some tourists may want to visit, but get stuck in the details of how to get in. The country has no embassy of any kind with the United States. As a result, the only way to obtain a proper visa to enter the country is through a tour agency. The visa application itself is not all that complicated, but having to go through a tour operator severely limits the amount of visas issued to anyone wishing to come in. This unusual policy does however keep the sheer number of visitors down, allowing your experience to be that much more special.

#8: Iran

Relations between the US and Iran have been strained for decades and worsened during the Trump administration. This resulted in Iran outright banning any US citizens from entering the country. The ban has since been lifted, but travelers still need to go through several processes to be allowed to visit. Initially, they need a travel authorization number. Once acquired, then they can obtain a visitor visa. However, visitors cannot travel solo within the country, so tourists need to work with a guide to acquire their number and the visa in order to spend any time within the borders of Iran.

#7: Nauru

This island nation is known as the least visited country in the world. It’s also the third smallest at just eight square miles. Economically, Nauru relies heavily on Australia, in exchange for hosting an extremely controversial immigration detention center. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t easily visited by tourists. Americans need to email Nauru Immigration to obtain an application form for a visa. Replies can take time. Applicants must provide a certified copy of their passport identity pages, proof of an onward flight, and a hotel reservation, or sponsorship from a local resident. The process is cumbersome and can be long. Wannabe visitors will then have to make their way to Brisbane, Australia to fly to Nauru.

#6: Turkmenistan

Similar to other entries on this list, US visitors to this part of Central Asia will need a government sanctioned letter of invitation. It’s essentially a letter form of sponsorship which allows the government to control how many visitors come into the country. Although the process can be arduous, you’re far more likely to get in this way than through other means. Some people have tried acquiring a transit visa which allows you to pass through the country but not have an extended stay. Valid for three days, many of the embassies don’t issue these and will force you to go through the proper steps to get a real tourist visa.

#5: Eritrea

Eritrea is perhaps not as familiar a name to Americans as some other countries on this list - but that doesn’t make it easier to visit. Yet another place that has excessive visa paperwork, you’ll need a lot of patience to get it sorted out. Aside from the typical forms, you have to provide proof of flights, a bank statement showing you have money to be there, and a “plea” document. It’s essentially a letter asking you to explain why you want to visit, and possibly “name drop” someone over there to help sway officials into thinking you know someone within the country. It does however appear that some of these requirements are easing, so keep your eye out for changes.

#4: Cuba

The inability of Americans to travel to Cuba for business has its roots in the trade embargo established in 1958. The embargo also extended to Americans who simply wanted to visit the country for pleasure. So as far as official tourism goes, that’s still banned and illegal today. However, Americans are permitted to visit the country under twelve different “categories” of travel, that do not include tourism, so apply for a travel license under one of those categories. You’ll always need a Cuba Tourist Card, AKA a visa, to enter the country. Finally, be sure you have cash as you can’t convert US funds while in Cuba, and be careful what you buy. Some businesses are off-limits to American visitors.

#3: Saudi Arabia

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is a major supplier of oil to the United States, it has historically been difficult to get a visa to enter the country. Prior to 2019, they were only issued to individuals who were there on a religious visit to Mecca. Beyond that, no tourist visa was available and those from the US had little ability to visit. However, major changes have been pushing through Saudi Arabia since the election of Mohamed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. For the first time, the country began offering visitation rights to many countries, including the USA. Only time will tell if this remains.

#2: Iraq

Given the hostility that exists between these two countries, you may want to reconsider personal travel to this country. But should you proceed anyway, you’ll need to go through their visa application process, and provide your passport, driver’s license, a letter indicating why you are traveling there, and the appropriate fee. Be aware that both a copy and your original passport need to be sent to acquire the visa. In some cases, despite having filled out everything as needed, embassy officials have been known to just arbitrarily deny applications at random. Plus, the possibility of violence in the area may persuade you to travel elsewhere.

#1: North Korea

As it stands now, North Korea is one of the few countries in the world that US citizens are outright banned from visiting. During the Trump Administration, a ban on travel to the country was issued for anyone with an American passport. According to the US Bureau of Consular Affairs website, only very specific exceptions are made by the State Department themselves. Prior to the ban, personal travel was permitted, as long as you were on contract with a North Korean guide. This prevented any “on your own” exploration of the country, but at least you could visit. Only time will tell if the travel ban will be lifted.