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Travel Security Advice for Senegal




The Republic of Senegal is a developing West African country.  The capital is Dakar.  Facilities for tourists are widely available but vary in quality.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Senegal for additional information.


A passport is required.  For U.S. passport holders, a visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days.  Current yellow fever vaccination is mandatory to enter Senegal and meningitis vaccination is highly recommended if the traveler is arriving from or has recently traveled to an endemic area.  Travelers unable to provide proof of vaccinations may be required to pay for and receive vaccinations at the Dakar airport.  Travelers should obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of Senegal, 2112 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 234-0540, and at the Senegal Tourism AuthorityOverseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Senegalese embassy or consulate.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.


Public demonstrations, political gatherings, and student protests are relatively common in Senegal, both in Dakar and in outlying regions, particularly on Friday afternoons. In the past, these events have sometimes turned violent.  Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times.  For guidelines on dealing safely with public demonstrations, please see the American Citizen Services page of the U.S. Embassy Dakar website.

Lac Rose (Pink Lake) is a popular tourist destination in Senegal.  The Lac Rose area has a large number of tourists and isolated beach areas, but lacks multiple exit and entry points.  The U.S. Embassy recommends that all visitors to Lac Rose and its surrounding beaches be particularly vigilant and not travel alone.

Banditry occurs with some regularity on the main highways after dark, particularly in the central and eastern area of Senegal, including around Tambacounda and Matam. Bandits often target RN2 (National Road) between Ndioum and Kidira and occasionally target RN1 between Kidira and Tambacounda.

The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel to the Casamance region west of the city of Kolda, except for direct air and ferry travel to the Cap Skirring resort area or to the city of Ziguinchor.  If travel is deemed essential, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens carefully monitor the security situation before traveling.  There have been occasional instances of fighting in the Casamance region (composed of the Ziguinchor and Kolda regions) involving factions of the Casamance separatist MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de la Casamance) in southern Senegal and the Senegalese military. Some military and political leaders in the Casamance region have been killed.  In May 2008, rebels kidnapped 16 local residents five kilometers from Ziguinchor and then cut off their left ears before releasing them.  That same month, two soldiers and a peasant were killed in other clashes near the same area.  Reports of banditry in the area remain high.  In addition, vehicles have been attacked by armed bandits even during daylight hours on well-traveled roads.  On February 14, 2007, four people were killed when their bus was attacked after being stopped at a roadblock.

Landmine explosions continue to plague inhabitants of the Casamance, with fatalities and serious injuries continuing into 2008.  One man was killed in Tounkara, approximately 70 kilometers north of Ziguinchor.  A Senegalese soldier was injured by a landmine near Boutoupa-Camaracounda, on the border with Guinea-Bissau.  Since 1990, more than 1,000 people have been killed by land mines in the Casamance. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remain on well-traveled routes at all times.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website,

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.


Minor street crime is very common in Senegal, particularly in cities.  Most reported incidents involve pickpockets and purse-snatchers, who are especially active in large crowds and around tourists. Aggressive vendors, panhandlers and street children may attempt to divert the victim’s attention while an accomplice carries out the crime.  To avoid theft, U.S. citizens should avoid walking alone in isolated areas or on beaches, particularly at night, lock their doors and close their windows when driving, and avoid public transportation.  Americans should not walk on dark streets at night, even in groups.  To minimize inconvenience in the event of theft, U.S. citizens should carry copies, rather than originals, of their passports and other identification documents.  U.S. citizens should carry a credit card only if it will be used soon, rather than carrying it as a routine practice.  There is traditionally an increase in crime before major religious holidays.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to use common sense and situational awareness to ensure personal safety and to reduce the risk of becoming a crime victim.  Always be aware of the surroundings, especially in large cities and crowded places such as markets and taxi stands.  Keep a low profile, remain vigilant, and avoid potential conflict situations.  Do not wear flashy clothing or jewelry, and be cautious about displaying any amount of currency in public.  Use common sense when faced with something out of the ordinary or if someone is following you.

While violent crime is not common in Senegal, it does occur.  There have been incidents in the past year of Americans in groups of two or three being robbed at knife-point.  If confronted by criminals, remember that cash and valuables can be replaced, but life and health cannot.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to walk away from a criminal confrontation no matter the material cost.  Break-ins at residential houses occur frequently as in major cities everywhere.  Persons who plan to reside in Senegal on a long-term basis should take measures to protect their dwellings.  Long-term residents should consider installation of window grilles, solid core doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.  In the past year, a number of American citizen residences have experienced burglaries.  No violence or personal injuries have been reported in these cases, in which the burglars appear to have been exclusively seeking financial gain.

Fraud is prevalent in Senegal and U.S. citizens are often the target of scams that may cause both financial loss and physical harm.  Typically, business scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of West Africa.  The perpetrators of these scams often claim to be victims of various western African conflicts (notably refugees from Sierra Leone) or relatives of present or former political leaders.

There are many variations of these business scams.  In some cases, a series of “advance fees” must be paid in order to conclude the transaction, such as fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes.  In fact, the final payoff does not exist since the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees.  Another common variation consists of a request for the U.S. citizen's bank account information, purportedly to transfer money into the account.  Once the perpetrator obtains this information, however, he or she then simply transfers all money out of the victim's account.  Other scams extend an apparent job offer, but request upfront payment for “administrative” or visa processing.

Visa scams take advantage of people who wish to travel to the U.S.  One variant is to “guarantee” a U.S. visa for participants who pay a large sum of money to register for a conference or attend an event in the United States.  In other instances, the perpetrator uses links or apparent links to U.S. government websites or email addresses in order to solicit money, purportedly in the name of the U.S. government.  Please refer to the State Department website or the website of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar for authoritative information about the visa process and the costs involved.

In addition to business and visa scams, personal and dating scams are also prevalent. U.S. citizens should be wary of persons claiming to live in Senegal who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet.  The anonymity of the Internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality or even gender of the correspondent.  In some cases, the correspondent is a fictitious persona created only to lure the U.S. citizen into sending money.

If paying for someone else's travel, U.S. citizens may prepay for a plane ticket directly with an airline rather than wiring money for transportation to the traveler.  U.S. citizens may also research the legitimate immigration process with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ServicesThe best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud, a business scam or a visa scam is to use common sense:  If an offer seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam.  You should carefully research any unsolicited business proposal originating in Senegal before you commit funds, provide goods or services, or undertake travel.

U.S. citizens who are victims or witnesses of a crime are encouraged to report crimes to the police by telephoning 800-00-20-20 or 800-00-17-00, Senegal's police hotline numbers. Another 24-hour phone number for the police in Senegal is 33-821-2431.  The Government of Senegal has also created a tourist police unit, which may be reached at (+221)33 860-3810.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Dakar for assistance.  The Embassy staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Senegal is 800-00-20-20 and 800-00-17-00.
See our information on
Victims of Crime.  


While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Senegalese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Senegal are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

Travelers to Senegal should be advised that under Article 319 of the Senegalese penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of CFA 100,000 (USD 3,000).  In the past, authorities have not actively sought to prosecute individuals under this article.  However, in December 2008, nine gay men – several of whom are known anti-AIDs activists – were sentenced to eight years in prison for criminal conspiracy and committing “unnatural acts.”  The sentence has produced outrage among Senegalese human rights non-governmental organizations and AIDS activists, as well as international gay rights organizations. 


Senegalese law requires that all persons carry personal identification at all times, and all Senegalese law enforcement officials have the authority to challenge suspicious activity and to request personal identification.  Be aware that they may request personal identification even without cause, which is generally not the case in the United States.  If a U.S. citizen does not cooperate and provide identification, s/he may be detained for up to 48 hours without the filing of formal charges.

The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Senegalese authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy.

There are several types of items which may not be brought into Senegal without clearance by Senegalese customs officials, including computers and computer parts, video cameras and players, stereo equipment, tape players, auto parts, and various tools and spare parts.  Airport customs officials may hold such items if brought in as baggage or carry-on luggage.  Travelers should check with the Embassy of Senegal in Washington, DC, regarding these restrictions. (See Entry Requirements Section above for contact information.)

Senegalese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes.  ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States.  For additional information, call (212) 354-4480 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for details.

Please see our Customs Information.

Travelers can obtain cash from some ATMs in Senegal.  Travelers can get cash and/or traveler's checks through international credit cards, such as Master Card, Visa, and American Express, by presenting their credit card at a local financial institution sponsoring their card.

USG SANCTIONS AND SUDATEL – EXPRESSO:  Until further notice, all U.S. citizens in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau are advised not to subscribe to or purchase services or equipment from Senegal's new telecommunications company, Sudatel/Expresso.  The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified Sudatel as a company owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan.  U.S. sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from doing business with companies owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan unless authorized by OFAC.


Several hospitals and clinics in the capital, Dakar, can treat major and minor injuries and illnesses.  There is inadequate inpatient psychiatric care and limited office-based psychiatric treatment.  Public hospitals do not meet U.S. standards.  Medical facilities outside Dakar are limited.

French medications are far more readily available than American pharmaceuticals, and drugs in stock are often listed under the French trade name.  Medications may be obtained at pharmacies throughout Dakar and in other areas frequented by tourists, and are usually less expensive than non-generics in the U.S.  Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.

Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Senegal.  Travelers should consult their physician to discuss the benefits and risks of taking anti-malarial medication.  Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medications they have been taking.  For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, visit the CDC Travelers' Health website.

Water supplies in Senegal are not consistently free of disease-causing microorganisms.  For this reason, the Embassy recommends drinking filtered or boiled water, particularly for babies under one year of age.  Raw vegetables and fruits should be washed in a bleach solution before eating.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Senegal. 

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s websiteFor information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) websiteFurther health information for travelers is available from the WHO.


The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.


While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Senegal is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Senegal is very different from driving in the United States.  Many U.S. citizens find the traffic in Senegal chaotic, particularly in Dakar.  Drivers tend to exceed speed limits, follow other vehicles closely, ignore lane markings and attempt to pass even when facing oncoming traffic.  Many vehicles are not well-maintained; headlights may be either extremely dim or not used at all. Roadways are poorly lit and poorly marked and many sections have deteriorated surfaces.  Some roads have sidewalks or sufficient space for pedestrian traffic; others do not, and pedestrians are forced to walk along the roadway.  Due to limited street lighting, pedestrians are difficult to see at night.  Drivers in both rural and urban areas may expect to frequently encounter and share the road with motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, livestock and animal carts.  Caution and defensive driving techniques are strongly recommended.

While most main roads in Senegal are in relatively good condition for daytime driving, smaller roads are poor by American standards.  During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles.  Travelers may be stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, where their vehicles and luggage may be searched.  Service stations are available along main roads.  Due to poor road conditions and the risk of crime, driving outside major cities at night is not recommended.  Due to language barriers (outside Dakar, relatively few Senegalese speak French) and the lack of roadside assistance, receiving help may be difficult in the event of distress.

For safety reasons, the Embassy recommends against the use of motorbikes, van taxis ("cars rapides"), and public transportation.  They can be dangerous due to overloading, careless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the lack of basic safety equipment such as seat belts.  Regulated orange-striped sedan auto taxis are safer, but make sure to agree on a fare before beginning the trip.

In Senegal, one drives on the right-hand side.  Vehicles give priority to traffic coming from the right, except at traffic circles, where vehicles already in the circle have the right of way.  Before January 2005, however, cars entering traffic circles had the right of way.  This change is not well known, so drivers should exercise extreme caution at traffic circles.

All drivers are expected to carry the following documents in their vehicles and present them at any time at the request of the police:  (1) valid driver's license; (2) valid insurance papers; (3) vehicle registration/immatriculation card ("carte grise"); (4) "vignette" tax disc for the current year; and (5) valid identification.  If Americans carry a copy of their U.S. passport, the copy must be clear enough to identify the driver of the vehicle.

Third-party insurance is required and will cover any damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries, and found not to have been at fault.  If you are found to have caused an accident, the penalty ranges from five months to two years in prison, with a possible fine.  If you cause an accident which results in a death, the penalty can be as high as five years in prison.

For guidance on what to do if you are in an automobile accident in Senegal, please see the American Citizen Services page of the U.S. Embassy Dakar website.  Senegalese law prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver is using “hands-free” equipment.  Protective helmets are mandatory for all bicycle, moped, scooter and motorcycle drivers/riders and passengers.

When police officers stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, the police officer will generally confiscate the driver’s license or ID card until the fine is paid.  We encourage you to comply with the request. Sometimes, police officers try to solicit bribes instead of or in addition to the fine.  The U.S. Embassy does not encourage paying bribes.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.


As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Senegal, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Senegal’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA's website


For information, see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.


Americans living or traveling in Senegal are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Senegal.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The U.S. Embassy in Dakar is located at Avenue Jean XXIII, Dakar; the mailing address is B.P. 49, Dakar, Senegal.  The telephone number is (221) 33 829-2100; after hours (221) 33 829 2209.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Senegal dated July 8, 2008, to update sections on Safety and Security, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also have information regarding travel to Senegal HERE.......

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)........

There is also a Malaria Warning for Senegal HERE.......


The SW Team........


Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts