Shortly after the awarding of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden by Russian President Putin, the relationship with the US President became contentious, to the extent that it was announced that the two Presidents would not meet at a prescribed summit. This may or may not have happened to occur; it may have just been sabre-rattling.

My question: Barring warring countries, has any country denied entry to the US President due to a legal, political, or similar type of dispute? What was the dispute, and with whom?

  • 4
    I'm going to guess Great Britain, back 200-odd years ago?
    – user4012
    Oct 17, 2013 at 15:35
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    That is why the question starts "Barring warring countries...". Sarcasm rejected.
    – wbogacz
    Oct 17, 2013 at 15:43
  • 3
    Are you only looking for a case the the President turns up at the border and an official says "you can't come in"? Or would you accept an invitation to a country that was withdrawn? Oct 17, 2013 at 20:52
  • 16
    By the way, could we not say "our president"? Not everyone reading this site is an American. Oct 17, 2013 at 21:02
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    @SamIam Did the US president ever get denied entry to a country during the Cold War as a result of the Cold War? Nixon did visit both China and Moscow during the Cold War.
    – cpast
    Jan 22, 2015 at 0:46

5 Answers 5


There is no record of a sitting or former US President being denied entry to a foreign nation. The first President to travel abroad was Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 (he traveled to Panama to witness the work being performed upon the canal being built there).

Since any such trip would require extensive planning and security preparation for the Presidential visit and given the public embarrassment that not allowing a US President to enter a nation, it's improbable that any trip would be undertaken without the clear understanding that the President's visit was a welcome event.


  • There have been a number of times where the president was set to meet with a foriegn power that was scrapped after tensions rose. There was at least one time where a president was set to meet with a foriegn leader in a 3rd party country only to have that 3rd party host country say that the US President would not be welcome there and it was moved. I do not remember exactly what it was but the meeting was with an african leader in an african country. Jan 3, 2017 at 16:35

Jimmy Carter was denied entry to Zimbabwe on Nov. 22, 2008.

  • 4
    Good to know. I'll read up on that. But he was out of office almost 30 years by then.
    – wbogacz
    Jan 21, 2015 at 22:09
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    @wbogacz You might want to clarify you're talking about a sitting president if that's what you're talking about, especially as Mistah Mix's answer addresses former presidents as well. Carter's case is still more interesting than most ex-presidents, since he frequently does freelance diplomacy type stuff (so it's not like a former president was going on vacation and had some visa problem).
    – cpast
    Jan 22, 2015 at 0:44

Sitting US presidents seldom if ever go to other countries outside of official diplomatic visits. As others have noted, they also require drastic security measures so a lot of preparation. But heads of states from smaller countries do sometimes travel for private or medical reasons (even to go shopping or take holidays…) and typically have much lighter security requirements so it might be possible to find such an event between countries other than the US.

Most importantly, an official visit, even relatively informal and with a light security detail would always be preceded by contacts at multiple levels to set the program and agenda, organize the practical details, agree on the protocol, etc. Heads of state do not show up or even officially request anything before they already know that there is interest on both sides. That's why incidents like the Putin/Obama snub or the aborted visit by Dilma Rousseff arise from current events that intervene between the planning phase and the actual summit/visit.

At the latest, potential visitors would know something is wrong when officially notifying the other country's ambassador. So they cannot find themselves in a situation where they can be denied entry unless they are trying to make a point like Lázsló Sólyom in 2009 (another bit of trivia: this event led to one of the very few proceedings for failure to fulfil an obligation in front the EU court of justice initiated by a member state; the EU Commission regularly initiates proceedings against states but states traditionally do not complain about each other).


The sitting US President Barack Obama is currently denied entry to the Chechen Republic (Or Chechnya), which is a part of the Russian Federation. After the sanctions of 2014 were imposed, the infuriated president of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who himself was included onto the sanction list, prohibited Obama from entry to Chechnya.

This was widely discussed by the Russian media, so here is one of the links (Forbes) -


The link is in Russian, but you can click translate page if you are using Chrome browser.

  • 1
    Chechnya is not an independent country.
    – Vikki
    Sep 11, 2021 at 23:44
  • Did he actually try to enter or did they just say he was not welcome?
    – Joe W
    Feb 26, 2022 at 3:13

No sitting US president has tried and been denied that I know of, but they aren't in the practice of asking countries that are unlikely to accept them, nor are they in the practice of publicizing such a snub.

Probably the closest thing that has happened is the US invited the Brazilian president over for a state visit and Brazil called the visit off. They were pissed off that the US was spying on them (the Brazilian president, not just people in Brazil) even though they are supposed to be allies.

  • The cancellation of state visits is fairly common.
    – phoog
    Feb 26, 2022 at 7:44

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