For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Argentina
page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact
information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses
Argentina at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions in
the country. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Buenos Aires as being a CRITICAL-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Officially
reported, nationwide, full-range crime statistics first became available
in 2016. The police force faces tremendous challenges after
an approximate eight-year lapse in tracking and reporting statistics; the
accuracy/integrity of reported statistics is difficult to gauge. Media coverage
of individual crimes often creates disproportionate emphasis, and public
concerns follow suit.
to the U.S. Embassy reveal U.S. citizens are most often victims of
theft or non-violent robbery, principally in tourist neighborhoods. Street
crime in the larger cities (e.g. Buenos Aires, Rosario, Mendoza) is a constant
problem for residents and visitors alike. Visitors to popular tourist
destinations should be alert to muggers, pickpockets, scam artists, and purse snatchers. Violent
armed robberies have also taken place in the northern Buenos
Aires suburbs (e.g. Vicente Lopez, Olivos, Martinez, San Isidro)
and in the capital city (CABA) neighborhoods (e.g. Palermo,
Belgrano San Telmo, Recoleta, La Boca). Tourists who travel to Buenos
Aires’ La Boca area should limit their visit to the designated tourist
street during daylight hours only.
can occur anytime and anywhere. Criminals are often well
dressed and hard to spot. Thieves look for expensive-looking jewelry,
phones, and cameras, and specifically target unattended
purses, backpacks, laptops, and luggage,
often only needing a few seconds to steal valuables. There are
numerous reports of robbery of bags off chairs and from in between feet at
cafés and restaurants. Thieves on foot and motorcycles (locally identified
as motochorros) regularly nab purses, backpacks, laptops, and
luggage, and often target vehicles in stopped traffic for smash and
percentage of crime in CABA is higher than in the rest of the
country. Specifically, CABA has a higher number of robberies, assault
incidents, and car thefts. 2018-2019 crime statistics reflect a
continued decrease in the overall murder rate for Argentina, and a
decrease in the overall number of robberies committed
nationally, but a consistent threat of violent crimes in
CABA originating from motochorros.
Crime statistics from 2018 indicated a marked spike increase in motochorro-based crimes, which continues
to be a problem for visitors to Argentina, as well
as for residents. In the second half of 2019, there a
series of violent attacks targeted visitors departing from Ministro
Pistarini International Airport (EZE) traveling to hotels in downtown
Buenos Aires. This type of a violent attack resulted in the shooting death in
December of a British tourist in front of his Puerto Madero hotel. The
criminals had targeted the man and his family after arriving to EZE
from Miami, following them to their five-star hotel. Outside the hotel, a
physical encounter ensued after the man and his adult son fought
against the initial robbery attempt, resulting in the death of the father
and severe wounding of the son. The motochorros
got away with luggage containing computers, money,
and high-end watches. In recent months, local police have received
numerous reports of crimes following this scenario, in which criminals seemingly targeted foreign
tourists at EZE, followed them to their hotels, and subsequently robbed them
of luxury watches, computers, or foreign currency. Federal
and municipal police investigators have made four arrests, but these
crimes continue to pose a serious threat to travelers.
Another common crime
scenario involves spraying an offensive-smelling substance
on an individual from a
distance. Then, an accomplice posing as a
concerned bystander will notify the individual of the
substance and, while pretending to help clean the substance off,
will try to pickpocket the victim. This common scam has
been reported throughout Buenos Aires.
While most U.S. crime victims do not receive physical injuries
when robbed, criminals are often armed and may use
force and physical violence when encountering resistance. There have
been violent and even fatal attacks of foreigners carrying valuables. In
January 2019, a criminal shot a foreign tourist in the leg when he resisted the
theft of his iPhone in the Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Recently in the
tourist neighborhood of Recoleta, criminals attacked tourists for
their high-end watches and iPhones, resulting in injuries when
the victims resisted. The common targets for armed
robberies in Argentina are banks, restaurants, and businesses dealing
in cash or high-value merchandise. If confronted, do not resist
turning over valuables. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
also target individuals withdrawing cash from ATMs by
following customers exiting banks. Use caution entering and exiting
financial institutions and when using ATMs. Use ATMs in public places
(e.g. hotels, shopping malls, event venues). In an enclosed
ATM booth, make sure the door closes securely.
Use credit cards only at hotels and major stores/restaurants.
Verify that shops and restaurants accept credit cards prior to
purchase, as some locations are cash only (especially as
economic issues arise). Watch bills and statements for
fraudulent charges and have account information
available if you need to contact your credit card company to
report theft or fraud. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of stolen passports. Lock passports
and other valuables in a hotel safe and carry only a photocopy
of your passport’s information page for identification
residents have greater exposure to criminal activity than visitors
do. One trend is for criminals to go through local neighborhoods and
apartment buildings waiting for food delivery services. A common tactic is
attacking victims upon entry/exit of their residence, enabling criminals to
force their way inside. Many home invasion gangs seek
cash, which Argentines frequently store in their
homes. The Regional Security Office (RSO) has also received
reports that criminals followed victims to their accommodations,
especially from financial institutions. When staying in a hotel or apartment,
call the front desk or security office to identify uninvited
individuals before giving them access.
There have been robberies in isolated areas and occasional
burglaries of hotel rooms and rental cars in resort areas, including
while stopped temporarily at convenience stations. Highway
robbery largely affects commercial vehicles. The robbery of trucks has mainly
occurred on the highways of northern Buenos Aires province, outside the
city; and on the southern roads of Santa Fe province. Highway robbers
are often referred to as piratas del asfalto (asphalt
pirates). Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
have been also been reports of the use of date rape drugs in
bars. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
The Argentine government is developing its expertise in combatting
cybercrime. Few sophisticated schemes have been uncovered. The Ministry of
Security has established a National Cybercrime Directorate to coordinate the
activities of cybercrime investigators within the four federal police forces; there
are increasing reports of ransomware targeting businesses and individuals,
along with phishing, sexual extortion, and other cyber-enabled crimes targeting
victims in Buenos Aires and across Argentina. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Other Areas of Concern
villas in Argentine Spanish, exist in Buenos Aires and other
major cities, even adjacent to tourist zones; avoid entering these high-crime
Road Safety and Road Conditions
accidents are common in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, and remain a
serious concern. Police statistics continue to show a
slight decrease in traffic related deaths from 2018 to 2019. In
2019, independent reporting estimates almost 6,700 traffic-related deaths
nationwide. Buenos Aires province continues to have the highest
number of traffic-related deaths in the country, with almost
2,200 fatalities in 2019.
Pedestrians should be vigilant when crossing streets and look in
both directions, regardless of whether the street is designated
one-way, or the traffic light indicates a
pedestrian right-of-way. Drivers routinely disobey traffic laws, and
vehicles often travel at excessive speeds. In addition, bike lanes often run
two ways even on one-way streets for vehicles. Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
car and driver) and radio taxis are the best, most convenient form of public transportation. Remises charge
by the kilometer and are reasonably priced. Radio taxis are black and yellow in
the capital, and white with blue lettering in the
provinces; they commonly have a fare meter. In
town, and especially after dark, use radio taxis or remises hailed from
a reliable location whenever possible. Hotels, many restaurants, and shopping
centers can help you call either type of service. The following,
is a usual order of preference: a) call for a remis or taxi;
b) take a remis or taxi from an established stand; or c) hail a remis or
taxi on the street (but not from in front of a bank). Do not leave bags in
the care of a taxi driver while you run in to a bank or other location.
Subways, buses, and trains are
generally safe; be aware of pickpockets and prepare for work stoppages
that may lead to delays. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
report various scams involving yellow-and-black taxis at airports and
around town. The most frequently reported include a handler at the airport
requesting hundreds of pesos (far exceeding the likely fare) from the traveler
as they get into the cab. The traveler often assumes s/he is paying a flat rate
up front. Upon conclusion of the ride, the driver demands his
fare, stating that he has no association with the handler, and that
payment was only for placement in the cab.
scam involves the taxi breaking down on the side of the freeway and a second
cab coming to pick the passenger up. The first driver demands payment for the
whole fare, as does the second driver for completing the trip. To avoid
these scams, pre-arrange transportation or select one of
the flat-rate remis services at designated counters
inside the airport terminal.
your bags at airports and bus or ship terminals. Officials have
acknowledged the theft of valuables and money from checked baggage at airports.
International passengers arriving at Buenos
Aires’s EZE airport have been the main targets.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Buenos Aires as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. In 2018, Argentina hosted both the Summer Youth Olympic
Games and G20 Leader’s Summit without serious incident.
Both high-profile international events successfully culminated
with praise for the Ministry of Security (MOS) and federal law
enforcement agencies for their specific roles
in the handling of the security for participants,
visitors, and the overall events. The MOS maintained a secure
environment, acting in a proactive manner to eliminate potential
threats, and permitted peaceful protests during the event.
is no recent or significant operational terrorist activity in Argentina.
International terrorists used car bombs to destroy the Israeli Embassy in
1992 (killing 29 people) and a Jewish cultural center (AMIA) in 1994,
killing 85 people and injuring hundreds.
years, there were several incidents in Buenos Aires involving small
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or simulated
IEDs. Some high-profile recent incidents include:
October 2019, during a pursuit of motorcycles in the micro
center by La Ciudad Police officers, the drivers threw a small duffle
bag containing an explosive device at the pursuing police
vehicle. Following the investigation of the incident, La Ciudad officers found
evidence that suggests the device was a homemade IED produced in
2018, anarchists detonated IEDs in two separate incidents in Buenos
Aires. The first involved a premature detonation of an IED at
Recoleta Cemetery, resulting in serious injuries to one of the anarchists.
In a separate, concurrent incident, an anarchist threw a bag
containing an IED over the wall of a house belonging to a
There were numerous
incidents of intimidation in 2018, in which individuals left IEDs
at federal police stations and other government offices in and
around Buenos Aires.
also used Molotov cocktail-style incendiary devices to attack
official government buildings in 2018 – specifically, the Ministry of
Security Headquarters in La Plata.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Buenos Aires as being a MEDIUM)-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. There are frequent demonstrations
in downtown and greater Buenos Aires, as well as
in other major cities. Most demonstrations are
protesting domestic economic and political
issues – especially labor disputes and price hikes in previously
subsidized utility services. Occasionally, protests target U.S.
interests based on current events and in conjunction with local labor
protests. Protests can attract thousands of participants, and
often feature piqueteros, a collection of social activist groups
whose main tactic is to block roads and disrupt local transportation
In Buenos Aires, demonstrations
most commonly occur at highway access points, the Ministro Pistarini
International Airport road, or downtown (e.g. the Plaza de Mayo, Casa
Rosada, Congress, or the obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio). Protestors
generally come from labor unions, unemployed/underemployed/landless movements,
student groups, and the political left. While most protests are peaceful, there
are hooligan elements who may show up to fight the police and/or
engage in vandalism. The use of sound systems, fireworks, and musical
instruments is common, as is the burning of tires, effigies, and flags.
The Government of Argentina has been proactive in dispersing
demonstrations, especially when roads are blocked. As such, there has
been a slight increase in clashes with police, but with typically only
minor violence. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
heavy rains and flooding in low areas (including parts of Buenos
Aires and Santa Fe province) have become more prevalent in recent
western and northwestern provinces (e.g. San Juan, Mendoza, Salta, Jujuy,
Tucuman) periodically experience earthquakes.
continues to suffer from high inflation. Argentina is a hub for
counterfeit currency, with fake U.S. dollars and Argentine pesos circulating in
significant numbers. Traditionally, fake currency arrives from neighboring
countries. Avoid street moneychangers and be aware that fake peso
exchange occasionally occurs in taxis; this happens when the customer pays the
driver, the driver exchanges the good note for a fake one, and then
declares that a fake note came from the passenger. Watch the driver’s hands and
avoid paying with large bills.
have been multiple reports from individuals who have attempted to sell
electronics (mainly cellular phones) through an online marketplace
called Mercado Libre. The victims have either been physically
robbed of the electronics or had the buyers give them counterfeit
currency. Police sources believe that organized criminal gangs from
third countries – mainly the Dominican Republic and
Peru – are behind these robberies.
not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not
only are the bootlegs illegal in the U.S., but you may also be
breaking local law by purchasing them.
Personal Identity Concerns
NGOs have identified femicide as
a major issue in Argentina; the country has a very public
campaign against gender-based violence, “Ni Una Menos.” One NGO
that has been tracking femicides for over a decade, reporting that a woman is
killed every 30 hours in Argentina. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for female
People with disabilities may find
accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. The
law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but while the
federal government has protective laws, many provinces do not. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
There are no legal restrictions on
same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Argentina. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
the bulk of which is imported from Paraguay and used for domestic consumption,
continues to be the most widely abused illegal drug in Argentina.
to official Argentine government figures, DEA reporting, and open-source
information, traffickers import significant amounts of cocaine into
Argentina from Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. Cocaine use has risen sharply.
Based on the United Nations Office of Drug Control's (UNODC)
estimates, Argentina is home to 25% of the cocaine users in South and Central
America (with approximately 740,000 users), second only to Brazil.
The UNODC World Drug Report 2013 placed Argentina cocaine abuse at
just under 1% for users 15-65 years of age; Argentine government officials
confirm that this statistic remains accurate in 2019. Cocaine remains by
far the leading drug for which Argentines seek help at treatment centers. The
use of cocaine base is a growing problem among the economically disadvantaged.
cheap, readily available, and mentally debilitating drug, paco (a
derivative of cocaine production similar to crack), is popular
in Argentina’s poorer neighborhoods. The use of cocaine products has increased
concurrently as the country acts as a transshipment zone for cocaine
from South America to expanding markets in Europe, West Africa, and, to a
lesser extent, the Far East. Cocaine trafficking is the most challenging drug
threat faced by Argentine authorities. Large seizures of cocaine in Europe
link back to Argentina, and authorities intermittently
discover individual carriers of small quantities from Argentina to Europe.
There is evidence of sustained use by traffickers of light aircraft to bring
drugs into the country across borders with Bolivia and Paraguay.
are occasional reports of express kidnappings. Victims are
often targets of opportunity, profiled due to their appearance of
perceived wealth and the vehicles they drive. In some scenarios, kidnappers
make them withdraw as much money as possible from an ATM, and then contact their
family or co-workers and tell them to deliver all the cash that they have on
hand or can gather in a couple of hours. Once the ransom is paid, the kidnappers
usually release the victim unharmed.
kidnappings (fake telephone kidnappings) are a common scam in which criminals
use stolen phones or otherwise obtained personal data to contact family members
and coworkers claiming to have kidnapped the owner of the phone.
This happens while the alleged kidnapping
victim is in a movie theater, on an international flight,
or has just had their cell phone stolen, making it
difficult to confirm whether the claimed kidnapping is real. Memorizing phone
numbers and immediately letting family members know you are all right
is important in interrupting this cycle. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics
can generally expect better police response and less harassment from police
than in many other Latin American countries. Police uniforms vary from
municipality to municipality, and a number of federal security forces
augment the local police periodically.
are common, especially around Buenos Aires. Drivers must have all
documentation, including a copy of their passport or Argentine identification
card, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of third-party
law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government of
Argentina generally observes these prohibitions; however, there are occasional
reports of the police arresting and detaining citizens arbitrarily. Individuals
detained by the police should ask to contact the Embassy. Report any
irregular police procedures to the Embassy.
Buenos Aires, the Tourist Police (within the Argentine Federal Police) have
been very responsive in assisting many tourists with language
services to file police reports. Recently, however, the unit has suffered
staffing issues and become less effective.
Argentine Federal Police: 4346-7000, Av. Moreno 1550, CABA
– Buenos Aires City.
Bomberos (Fire Department): 911/100, Av. Belgrano
1547, CABA – Buenos Aires City
Tourist Police (Comisaría del
Turista): 4346-5748 ,
Av. Corrientes 436, CABA – Buenos Aires City
PNA - Prefectura Naval Argentina (Coast
Guard): 4318-7000/7400/7500/7600, Edificio Guardacostas Av. Eduardo Madero
235, CABA – Buenos Aires City
GNA – Gendarmería (Nacional de Argentina)
– Border Patrol
Policia de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires –
Buenos Aires City Police
MOS – Ministry of Security
PBA – Policía de la Provincia de Buenos
Aires – Buenos Aires Provincial Police
PFA – Policía Federal (de Argentina) –
Argentine Federal Police
PNA – Prefectura (Nacional de Argentina) –
PSA – Policía de Seguridad Aeroportuaria -
are comparable to those in the U.S., and well-trained medical professionals are
plentiful. Public hospitals are excellent for treating trauma; for any less
serious medical needs, use private clinics.
Emergency Medical Service (for transport to a public hospital): 107/911 or 4923-1051/9.
medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
December 2018 through January 2019, a Hantavirus
outbreak in southwest Argentina, (e.g. Epuyen, Chubut) impacted local
communities, with 29 confirmed cases and 11 deaths
reported. Authorities at the time implemented a quarantine and warned
against travel to the area. Health authority measures controlled
the outbreak. There have been no further signs of an outbreak.
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Argentina.
The U.S. Department of State
strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Departments webpage on insurance
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad
OSAC Country Council Information
Country Council in Buenos Aires is active, meeting
quarterly. Interested private-sector security managers should contact
OSAC’s Latin America Team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Colombia 4300, CABA, 0121
of Operation: 0800-1800
Before you travel, consider the
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Argentina Country Information Sheet