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Travel Security Advice for Morocco

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral Parliament and independent judiciary; however, ultimate authority rests with the king. The population is estimated to be almost 34 million. While Morocco has a developing economy, modern tourist facilities and means of transportation are widely available, though the quality may vary depending on price and location. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Morocco for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Travelers to Morocco must have a valid passport. Visas are not required for American tourists traveling to Morocco for fewer than 90 days. For visits of more than 90 days, Americans are required to apply for an extension of stay (providing a reason for the extension). No vaccinations are required to enter Morocco. Travelers who plan to reside in Morocco must obtain a residence permit. A residence permit may be requested and obtained from immigration authorities (Service Etranger) at the central police station of the district of residence. 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.

Children born to a Moroccan father may experience difficulty in leaving Morocco without the father's permission. Under Moroccan law, these children are considered Moroccan citizens. Even if the children bear U.S. passports, immigration officials may require proof that the father has approved their departure before the children will be allowed to leave Morocco. Although women, regardless of their nationality, are normally granted custody of their children in divorces, the father must approve the children's departure from Morocco. American women married to Moroccans do not need their spouse's permission to leave Morocco.

For further information on entry/exit requirements for Morocco, please contact the Embassy of Morocco at 1601 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, telephone (202) 462-7979 to 82, fax 202-462-7643, or the Moroccan Consulate General in New York at 10 E. 40th Street, New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 758-2625, fax 212-779-7441. Visit the Embassy of Morocco web site for the most current visa information.
Information about
dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

 In March and April 2007, a series of terrorist bombings occurred in Casablanca, two of which simultaneously occurred outside the U.S. Consulate General and the private American Language Center. In 2003, a series of similar attacks in Casablanca targeted hotels and restaurants. The potential for terrorist violence against American interests and citizens remains high in Morocco. Moroccan authorities continue to disrupt groups seeking to attack U.S. or Western-affiliated and Moroccan government targets, arresting numerous individuals associated with international terrorist groups. With indications that such groups still seek to carry out attacks in Morocco, it is important for American citizens to be keenly aware of their surroundings and adhere to prudent security practices such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile. Establishments that are readily identifiable with the United States are potential targets for attacks. These may include facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate, including clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, movie theaters and other public areas. Such targets may also include establishments where activities occur that may offend religious sensitivities, such as casinos or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.

All U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and be vigilant regarding their personal security and report any suspicious incidents or problems immediately to Moroccan authorities and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Demonstrations occur frequently in Morocco and usually center on local domestic issues. During periods of heightened regional tension, large demonstrations may take place in the major cities. All demonstrations require a government permit, but on occasion spontaneous unauthorized demonstrations occur, which have greater potential for violence. In addition, different unions or groups may organize strikes to protest an emerging issue or government policy. Travelers should be cognizant of the current levels of tension in Morocco and stay informed of regional issues that could resonate in Morocco and create an anti-American response. Avoid demonstrations if at all possible. If caught in a demonstration, remain calm and move away immediately when provided the opportunity.

The Western Sahara, with a population of approximately 350,000, was long the site of armed conflict between government forces and the POLISARIO Front, which continues to seek independence for the territory. A cease-fire has been fully in effect since 1991 in the U.N.-administered area. There are thousands of unexploded mines in the Western Sahara and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the Western Saharan border. Exploding mines are occasionally reported, and they have caused death and injury. Travel to the Western Sahara remains restricted; persons planning to travel to the region should obtain information on clearance requirements from the Moroccan Embassy.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

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.

CRIME:

Crime in Morocco is a serious concern, particularly in the major cities and tourist areas. Aggressive panhandling, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, theft from occupied vehicles stopped in traffic and harassment of women are the most frequently reported crimes. Criminals have used weapons, primarily knives, during some street robberies and burglaries. These have occurred at any time of day and night, not only in isolated places or areas less frequented by visitors, but in crowded areas as well. It is always best to have a travel companion and utilize taxis from point to point, particularly at night and when moving about unfamiliar areas. Residential break-ins also occur and have on occasion turned violent, but most criminals look for opportunities based on stealth rather than confrontation.

Women walking alone in certain areas of cities and rural areas are particularly vulnerable to harassment from men. Women are advised to travel with a companion or in a group when possible and to ignore any harassment. Responding to verbal harassment can escalate the situation. The best course of action is generally not to respond or make eye contact with the harasser.

Joggers should be mindful of traffic and remain in more heavily populated areas. It is always best to have a jogging companion and avoid isolated areas or jogging at night.

Taxis in Morocco are generally crime-free, although city buses are not considered safe. Trains are generally safe, but theft, regardless of the time of day, sometimes occurs. Avoid carrying large sums of cash and be particularly alert when using ATM machines. In the event you are victimized by crime or an attempted crime, or experience any security-related incident during your stay in Morocco, please report the incident to the local police and the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca as soon as possible.

Fraud in Morocco may involve a wide range of situations from financial fraud to relationship fraud for the purpose of obtaining a visa. If you believe you are the victim of a fraudulent scheme, you may wish to consult with an attorney to best determine what your options are under Moroccan law. Since fraud can involve a wide range of circumstances, it is difficult to provide general guidelines on how to pursue criminal charges in these issues.

There have been instances in which an American has met a Moroccan online and come to live with or visit him or her in Morocco and found themselves in financial or otherwise difficult situations while in country. If you are concerned about a family member or friend who is visiting someone he or she met online, you can contact the American Citizens Services Unit at 212-522-26-71-51.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

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 nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could 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 Morocco is 190.

Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

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 Morocco laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Morocco 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.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

The government of Morocco considers all persons born to Moroccan fathers to be Moroccan citizens. In addition to being subject to all American laws, U.S. citizens who also possess the nationality of Morocco may be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Morocco. Recently, Morocco has begun allowing Moroccan mothers of children born outside of Morocco to petition for their children’s citizenship. For further information on that process, please contact the Moroccan Consulate General in New York or the Embassy of Morocco in Washington DC.

Current Moroccan customs procedures do not provide for accurate or reliable registration of large quantities of U.S. dollars brought into the country by tourists or other visitors. As a result, travelers encounter difficulties when they attempt to depart with the money. In particular, American citizens with dual Moroccan nationality have been asked to provide proof of the source of the funds and have incurred heavy fines. The export of Moroccan currency (dirhams) is prohibited; however, Moroccan currency can be converted back into U.S. dollars prior to departure only if the traveler has a bank or money transfer receipt indicating he or she exchanged dollars for dirhams while in Morocco.

Also, Moroccan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Morocco of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, business equipment, and large quantities of currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, DC or the Moroccan Consulate General in New York for specific information concerning customs requirements.

Please see our Customs Information.

Islam is the official religion in Morocco. However, the constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion. The Moroccan government does not interfere with public worship by the country’s Jewish minority or by expatriate Christians. Proselytizing is, however, prohibited. In the past, American citizens have been arrested, detained and/or expelled for discussing or trying to engage Moroccans in debate about Christianity.

Although rare, security personnel in Morocco may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities. As a general rule, travelers should not photograph diplomatic missions, government buildings or other sensitive facilities and, when in doubt, they should ask for permission from the appropriate Moroccan authorities.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Adequate medical care is available in Morocco’s largest cities, particularly in Rabat and Casablanca, although not all facilities meet high-quality standards. Specialized care or treatment may not be available. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in the urban areas, but most medical staff will have limited or no English skills. Most ordinary prescription and over-the-counter medicines are widely available. However, specialized prescriptions may be difficult to fill and availability of all medicines in rural areas is unreliable. Emergency and specialized care outside the major cities is far below U.S. standards, and in many instances may not be available at all. Travelers planning to drive in the mountains and other remote areas may wish to carry a medical kit and a Moroccan phone card for emergencies.

In the event of vehicle accidents involving injuries, immediate ambulance service usually is not available. The police emergency services telephone number is 190 (See Traffic Safety and Road Conditions section below).

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Morocco. 
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 web site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

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.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

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 Morocco is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic accidents are a significant hazard in Morocco. Driving practices are very poor, and have resulted in serious injuries to and fatalities of U.S. citizens. This is particularly true at dusk during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when adherence to traffic regulations is lax, and from July to September when Moroccans resident abroad return from Europe by car in large numbers. Congested streets are characteristic of urban driving. Drivers should also exercise extreme caution when driving at night due to poor lighting systems along roads. Traffic signals do not always function, and are sometimes difficult to see. Modern freeways link the cities of Tangier, Rabat, Fez, Casablanca, and Marrakesh. Two-lane highways link other major cities.

Secondary routes in rural areas are often narrow and poorly paved. Roads through the Rif and Atlas mountains are steep, narrow, windy, and dangerous. Maximum caution should be exercised when driving in the mountains. Pedestrians, scooters, and animal-drawn conveyances are common on all roadways, including the freeways, and driving at night should be avoided, if possible. During the rainy season (November - March) flash flooding is frequent and sometimes severe, washing away roads and vehicles in rural areas. Often Moroccan police officers pull over drivers for inspection within the city and on highways. Confiscation of a driver’s license is possible if a violator is unable or unwilling to settle a fine at the time of a traffic stop.

In the event of a traffic accident, including accidents involving injuries, the parties are required to remain at the scene and not move their vehicles until the police have arrived and documented all necessary information. The police emergency services telephone number is 190.
While public buses and taxis are inexpensive, drivers typically exhibit poor driving habits, and buses are frequently overcrowded. The train system has a good safety record. Trains, while sometimes crowded, are comfortable and generally on time.
Please refer to our
Road Safety page for more information. You may also visit the web site of the Moroccan Ministry of Transportation.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Morocco’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Morocco’s air carrier operations. 

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

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

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Morocco are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Morocco. 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 Rabat is located (at 2 Avenue Mohamed AL Fassi (formerly Avenue de Marrakech) in the capital city of Rabat, telephone (212) (537) 76-22-65. For emergency services after-hours, please call the Duty Officer cell phone at (212) (661)13-19-39. Please visit the Embassy web site for information on the services provided. 

The U.S. Consulate is located at 8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef. The Consular Section’s American Citizens Services hotline is (212) (522) 26-71-51 and the fax number is (212) (522) 29-77-01. For any ACS related question, please contact the Consular Section via email or visit the Consulate web site for information on all consular services and other assistance offered in Casablanca.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Morocco dated August 20, 2008 without substantive changes.

  


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has information regarding travel to Morocco 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).........

Regards

The SW Team.......

 

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