Mongolia 2019 Crime & Safety Report

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report's publication assesses Mongolia at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.

Review OSAC's Mongolia webpage for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

There is minimal risk from crime in Ulaanbaatar. However, crime is rising steadily nationwide. The National Police Agency reported the number of serious crimes increased by 20%, and less serious crimes increased by nearly 40% year on year across the country. In the capital alone, serious crimes increased 9% and less serious crimes jumped nearly 50% in 2018.

Overall crime in Ulaanbaatar's central Sukhbaatar district, which contains many of Mongolia's government institutions, foreign diplomatic missions, and tourist attractions (e.g. Sukhbaatar Square, expatriate-oriented restaurants and hotels) increased by 29% in 2017, and another 8% in 2018.

Street crime remains common in Mongolia, with victims seemingly targeted at random. Locations that attract thieves include the Narantuul covered market (commonly known as the Black Market); the State Department Store (a name derived from Mongolia's socialist past); the Mercury food market shopping center; the Seoul Street restaurant/bar district; the section of Baga Toiruu (Little Ring Road) between the Urgoo Cinema and Ulaanbaatar Hotel; and crowded sporting events.

There are no criminal code provisions covering sexual harassment, although Mongolian law includes a definition of sexual harassment and charges employers with taking steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The country adopted a law on combating domestic violence in 2016. Female visitors should be cautious when traveling alone, in isolated areas, and in situations in which alcohol consumption is prevalent.

Most local businesses accept international credit cards, though they may occasionally reject them, especially when they lack embedded computer chips. Credit cards issued by Mongolian banks are widely accepted, especially in Ulaanbaatar. Credit card use outside the capital is far less common. Credit card fraud, although not common, does occur. Keep your credit card issuing bank's contact information readily available, and closely monitor accounts during and after travel to Mongolia for fraudulent activity.

ATMs are rapidly becoming common at Ulaanbaatar hotels, major banks, restaurants, and supermarkets. There have been reports of ATM card fraud involving scanning devices attached to the front of ATMs, and of employees at restaurants and bars using skimmers to duplicate magnetic strip information. For more information, review OSAC's report, The Overseas Traveler's Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud. Hotels and banks provide official currency exchange; exchanging relatively small amounts of U.S. dollars and other major foreign currencies in Ulaanbaatar is generally easy. The Mongolian tugrik (MNT) is not easily exchangeable outside Mongolia.

Police report that known organized crime groups are specifically involved with human trafficking (prostitution and labor) and drug trafficking. Most of this activity originates from China and Russia.

Other Areas of Concern

Due to extreme weather and the absence of paved roads in much of rural Mongolia, travelers should use GPS and to avoid traveling outside of Ulaanbaatar or other city centers after dark.

Mongolia maintains and supports a military-oriented border police force, and takes any attempted illegal border-crossing seriously. Even with an onward visa, overland travel into and out of Mongolia is not always possible. Most of Mongolia's overland border crossings are unavailable for foreign traveler use. However, the most widely used overland ports of entry and exit�the Zamiin Uud border crossing in the south and the Sukhbaatar/Altanbulag border crossing in the north�are always open to foreign travelers. Travelers attempting to enter/depart Mongolia illegally can expect detention and interrogation.

Source: Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)