USBCI encourages business representatives to come experience Iraq, meet the people, and explore investment opportunities for themselves. However, since Iraq is a unique environment for business and travel, careful preparation is required in advance of your trip.
Cash and Banking
Iraq is predominantly a cash economy, and US dollars are an accepted form of currency throughout the country. While advances in banking have been made, services in Iraq are still limited. Do not assume that you will have access to an ATM during your visit. If you have an account with an international bank that has a presence in Iraq, contact them to be sure that you will have access to your account from their Iraqi branches. Routine banking transactions can be very difficult and time-consuming.
Many hotels in Baghdad, Basra, and Erbil now accept credit cards, as do some restaurants and government agencies. If possible, come into the country with all the necessary currency for your visit – up to $10,000 can be carried into Iraq without declaring it at customs.
It may be necessary to purchase additional insurance before coming to Iraq. Check with your health insurance provider to see if your coverage includes Iraq. Some companies offer kidnapping and ransom insurance as well. The State Department provides general medical insurance information for travelers here.
Passports and Visas
Before your departure, be sure that your passport has enough pages to receive a full-page sticker and a stamp. Iraqi immigration will NOT use the back page of your passport for this, and you cannot add pages to your passport at the airport. Travelers with a valid visa letter but without space for the sticker in their passports have been denied entry to the country upon arrival at the airport and deported. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your expected departure from Iraq, and bring a spare passport photograph in case your passport needs to be replaced. For passport services in Iraq, see the American Citizen Services page on passports.
For detailed information on the visa process, please see the USBCI white paper on visas.
Despite huge improvements in the security situation over the last five years, Iraq is still a dangerous place and any traveler – even Iraqis – must take precautions.
For American citizens, the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that keeps travelers abreast of changes in the security environment of Iraq and will help family and friends contact you from home in case of an emergency.
Before leaving for Iraq, if you are not being met at the airport by friends or business partners with their own security and transportation in place, you should make arrangements with a reputable security company. DO NOT TAKE A TAXI FROM THE AIRPORT. The US Embassy in Baghdad provides a list of major security companies, although some information may be dated. USBCI can advise prospective members about security requirements and options in Iraq.