Burkina FasoOfficial Name: Burkina Faso
Alerts & Warnings
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Yellow Fever Vaccination required for entry
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Avenue Sembène Ousmane
Secteur 15, Ouaga 2000
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Telephone: +(226) 50-49-53-00
Alternative After-Hours Telephone:+(226) 77-20-24-93; (226) 77-20-24-95; (226) 77-20-24-97; +(226) 77-21-73-99; +(226) 77-21-74-99
Fax: +(226) 50-49-56-23
Burkina Faso, previously known as Upper Volta, is a landlocked, developing country in the Sahel region of West Africa. Its capital is Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso is a former French colony; the official language is French. With a population of approximately 17.8 million, it is one of the world’s least-developed countries, and infrastructure for tourism is limited. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Burkina Faso for additional information on U.S. – Burkina Faso relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens traveling to Burkina Faso can apply for a visa by mail, or in person, at the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington, D.C., where they will receive a five-year multiple entry visa for 140 USD. If visas are not obtained in advance, the cost at the port of entry is 94,000 francs CFA (approximately 190 USD) for a single-entry visa with a maximum validity of three months, or 122,000 CFA (approximately 245 USD) for multiple-entry visa with a maximum validity of three months. Once in Burkina Faso one can apply for a five-year multiple entry visa for 70,000 CFA (approximately 140 USD) at the Visa Office of Ouagadougou located in Gounghin.
Travelers who are older than 9 months old entering Burkina Faso are required to present their current and valid “International Certificate of Vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)” (commonly called a “yellow card”) showing that their yellow fever vaccination is up-to-date.
The Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington is located at 2340 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 332-5577. Visas are also available from Burkina Faso’s Mission to the United Nations in New York City. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Burkinabe embassy or consulate. Visit the Embassy of Burkina Faso website for the most current visa information, or contact their offices directly. Several companies that offer visa services, but have no affiliation with the Government of Burkina Faso, have set up sites to resemble that of the Embassy of Burkina Faso. The correct web address for the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington DC is www.burkina-usa.org; the site for Burkina Faso’s Permanent Mission to the UN is www.burkina-onu.org.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burkina Faso.
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 page.
Safety and Security
U.S. citizens traveling to, or residing in, Burkina Faso should exercise caution and maintain a high level of security awareness at all times. Violent crimes such as roadside banditry, robbery, and rape sometimes occur in Burkina Faso, especially in remote and border areas.
Roadside banditry is a primary concern for local law enforcement, and a problem that exists country-wide. Several recent noteworthy events help illustrate the threat. On October 10, 2013, a U.S. citizen reported that she was robbed by bandits while traveling from Pissila to Kaya. The vehicle came under fire and the driver pulled over after gunshots struck the windshield. Two armed bandits ordered the passengers to exit the vehicle and lie on the ground. The gunmen searched the personal belongings of the passengers and took money and valuables before departing. On December 27, 2013, a group of armed men attacked a vehicle carrying Burkina Faso’s most famous athlete, soccer star Alain Traoré, on the route between Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, near Boromo. On the same day and in the same vicinity, a Swiss government official was shot when the driver of his vehicle refused to stop for armed bandits. These incidents drew special attention because of their high-profile victims, but they are not unusual in terms of the planning that accompanied them or the outcome. Bandits often use spotters at highway checkpoints and bus stations, to profile and identify the traveling route of potential victims. While bandits mainly steal valuables, it is not uncommon for them to physically harm victims during the course of a robbery. According to data from the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security, armed attacks increased significantly in 2012 and 2013. Highway attacks rose from 104 in 2011 to 375 in 2012, an increase of 260 percent, and then to 509 in 2013, rising another 36 percent. It should be noted that many incidents go unreported.
The East region, one of 13 administrative regions, recorded the most armed incidents by far in 2012 and 2013. The region, which borders Niger, Benin, and Togo, was the site of more than a third of total attacks in each of those years. The East region is particularly vulnerable due to its large geographical area and sparse population, and cross-border traffic providing some tempting targets. The Center-East, Center-North and Center-West regions, which include highways out of Ouagadougou to other population centers, also saw marked increases in bandit activity in 2012, and these increases were sustained in 2013.
Newspaper reports from 2014 indicate that while the East region again had the highest number of incidents, banditry occurred throughout several regions and continues to be a country-wide problem.
U.S citizens should avoid travelling on roads at night, particularly in regions with high numbers of incidents. When possible, follow a police convoy or seek local support.
U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling along the northern areas of the country near the Mali and Niger borders. On April 4, 2015, a Romanian national was kidnapped and two Burkinabe wounded in an attack by an unidentified armed group at the Tambao manganese mining site, in Northern Burkina Faso near the Mali and Niger borders.
The Sahel Reserve region of Burkina Faso is extremely remote, and the ability of both the Government of Burkina Faso and the U.S. Embassy to render assistance in the event of an emergency there is limited. The U.S. Embassy has placed restrictions on official government travel to Dori, Djibo, the road that connects these cities, and all areas north of that road.
Burkina Faso shares a border with Mali. On January 11, 2013, the French military launched operations against terrorist groups that had taken control of northern Mali. Since that time, terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnappings against Westerners, particularly against those countries which support international military intervention in Mali. The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) terrorist organization and their affiliates could therefore target Westerners in Burkina Faso, especially in the regions of the north near Mali and Niger.
Burkina Faso experienced large-scale demonstrations and civil unrest from October 21 to November 2, 2014, during which time there were incidents of violence, looting, road blockages, tire burning, and destruction of property throughout the capital city of Ouagadougou, in Bobo-Dioulasso, and in other parts of the country. On October 31, 2014, Burkina Faso’s former President Compaore resigned, after crowds looted and burned the National Assembly and other government buildings and residences. Martial law was declared, a curfew installed, and the airport and land borders were temporarily closed. Burkina Faso’s new interim President, Michel Kafando, was sworn in on November 18, 2014 for a 12-month transitional period. Kafando formed a transitional government. Elections are expected to take place in October 2015. Spontaneous demonstrations will likely continue to occur with little to no advance warning throughout Burkina Faso. Instances may arise where the best, safest course of action is to shelter temporarily in place. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant and utilize appropriate personal security practices, including: avoiding large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations; maintaining situational awareness and exercise good judgment; remaining alert and aware of your surroundings; and staying abreast of the situation through media outlets.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso on Twitter and visiting the U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and check for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime in Burkina Faso poses some measure of risk for visitors.
Recent incidents of violent crime against visitors have included shooting, armed robbery, sexual assault, and rape. Non-violent crimes directed against visitors have included harassment, theft, burglary, and various confidence scams. Most reported incidents involve purse-snatchers, pickpockets, and street scam artists who target wallets, jewelry, cell phones, and other valuables. Passing thieves on motorbikes or in vehicles have stolen bags from pedestrians. If you must carry a bag, consider holding it in your hand rather than strapped over your shoulder, so you will not be seriously injured if someone grabs it forcefully. Thieves are especially active during international meetings or events which draw large crowds to the capital. The areas near and around the U.N. Circle, Avenue Kwame N’Krumah, and the Central Market in Ouagadougou experience the highest incidence of street crime targeting foreigners. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups, and avoid poorly lit areas. Be especially cautious at night, when most reported incidents have taken place, but be aware that there have also been incidents in the daytime. Several attacks have been directed at intercity public buses, and these attacks typically take place during the day. It is best to check the U.S. Embassy website for the latest security information before setting out on your journey.
Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including U.S. citizens. Recent scams that have victimized U.S. citizens have taken many forms, including fraudulent transactions for gold and antiquities. Such fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Burkina Faso. The scams pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. A typical indicator of a business scam is the demand for advance payments on contracts. Persons contemplating business deals in Burkina Faso should contact the commercial section of the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou if they have any doubts about the legitimacy of a potential business client or partner.
Normally, fraud schemes begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or gold dust out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. Common variations of this scheme involve individuals claiming to be refugees, victims of various African conflicts, or former political leaders in need of help in transferring large sums of money. Sometimes perpetrators manage to induce victims to provide bank account and credit card information, as well as financial authorizations that allow them to incur large debts against the victim’s credit. In some instances, victims have lost their life savings.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense. If a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is. Research thoroughly any unsolicited business proposal originating from Burkina Faso or any other source before committing funds, providing goods or services, or undertaking travel.
Do not purchase counterfeit and pirated goods such as CDs, DVDs, or computer software even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but purchasing them may also be a violation of local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The national emergency telephone number is 10-10, which will connect a caller to the Ministry of Security who can then dispatch the appropriate law enforcement or emergency assistance entity.
Within Ouagadougou, emergency services numbers are as follows:
- Fire Department:
o Dial 18 for emergencies.
o Dial 25-30-69-47 or 25-30-69-48 for administrative issues.
- Ambulance Service:
o Dial 18 for emergencies.
o Dial 25-30-66-44 or 25-30-66-45 for administrative issues.
o Dial 17 for emergencies.
o Dial 25-36-44-42 or 25-32-60-69 for administrative issues.
o Dial 16 or 80-00-11-45 for emergencies.
o Dial 25-30-32-71 or 25-31-33-40 for administrative issues.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Burkina Faso, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not in every place that you visit; foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own.
Persons violating Burkina Faso’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Burkina Faso can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In Burkina Faso, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In Burkina Faso, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, including government buildings, and it is also illegal to photograph individuals without their permission. If you break local laws in Burkina Faso, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Burkina Faso’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning export from Burkina Faso of items such as masks, religious materials, and antiquities. The Director of the National Museum has stated that the export of objects of art (old or traditional artists’ works, and all old material of the national cultural patrimony) is subject to the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture. Contact the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Foreigners should carry photocopies of the biographic page of their passport and their visa with them at all times. If a passport is lost and a valid visa cannot be presented by the traveler upon departure, a police report documenting the loss of the visa may be required.
Credit cards are accepted at only a few high-end establishments in Ouagadougou. Travelers' checks may be cashed at local banks, but euro-denominated traveler’s checks are much more widely accepted. There are a few ATMs in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, but they do not always accept cards from foreign banks. ATMs generally accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards with a personal identification number.
Burkina Faso’s laws concerning photography have changed. Photo permits from the Tourist Office are no longer required for tourists. Film crews, however, still do require permits. Note that the Tourist Office publishes a list of buildings, installations, and areas that may not be photographed at all.
Local telephone service is adequate but expensive. Cell phone networks are available in most urban areas, although service can be unreliable. Telephone coverage in rural areas is limited, though increasing. International calls cannot always be made from hotels; it may be necessary to make international calls from a Post and Telecommunications Office, where only local currency is accepted. Collect calls are not possible. Cyber-cafes for Internet access are common in both Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: The law does not criminalize same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults, but LGBT persons face societal discrimination exacerbated by religious and traditional beliefs against LGBT status. Same-sex civil unions or marriages are not recognized by the government. Local LGBT organizations have no legal status, and repeated attempts by gay rights groups to register with the government were not approved, despite following correct procedures. In early 2013, there were public anti-LGBT demonstrations and inflammatory comments made by government officials. There have been instances of physical abuse of LGBT people that have not been pursued or prosecuted by law enforcement. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Burkina Faso, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Burkina Faso, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, the provision of other state services, or other areas; however, the government does not effectively enforce these provisions. Accommodation and accessibility for individuals with disabilities is limited in Burkina Faso. Access to buildings, pedestrian paths and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. Sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and rarely have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent and traffic almost never gives pedestrians (disabled or otherwise) the right of way. Most, but not all, cafés, restaurants, hotels and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance without wheelchair ramps. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.
Medical facilities and emergency hospital care are very limited and of poor quality, particularly in areas outside of Ouagadougou. Emergency response services, such as ambulances, are in very short supply, poorly equipped, and in many regions simply nonexistent.
Some medicines are available through local pharmacies, though supplies can be limited, counterfeit drugs are common and drug quality is inconsistent. Travelers requiring specific medicines should bring an adequate supply for the duration of their stay in Burkina Faso.
Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc., some of which may also carry infections.
Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Burkina Faso, it is widespread in the country, including the capital, and can be fatal. Current medications recommended for malaria prophylaxis include Mefloquine (Lariam), Atovaquone/Proguanil (Malarone), and Doxcycline. 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 drugs they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, please visit the CDC’s website.
Dengue, another mosquito-borne illness is also present in Burkina Faso. Prevention of bites is the only protection against dengue; there are no vaccines or treatment currently available.
All routinely recommended immunizations for the US should be up to date. Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, pertussis and chickenpox are much more common than in the US, especially among children. Additionally, hepatitis A and typhoid immunization is recommended for all travelers. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all those who may have sexual contacts, tattoos or require medical treatment while in Burkina Faso. Yellow Fever is required for entry for all those over 9 months old.
Meningococcal meningitis is much more common than in the US especially during the drier dustier months of January through June and immunization with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine should be given to all children and health care workers; it should be considered for all adults.
Rabies immunization is recommended for all travelers staying for more than four weeks or who will have remote, rural travel or expect animal exposure. Even in urban areas dogs may have rabies and bites and scratches from dogs, bats or other mammals should be immediately cleaned with soap and water and medical evaluation sought to determine if additional rabies immunization is warranted.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in Ouagadougou and luxury accommodations. Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. The greatest risk of traveler’s diarrhea is from contaminated food. Choose foods and beverages carefully to lower your risk (see Food & Water Safety). Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers, and avoid ice (because it may have been made from unclean water). Talk to your doctor about short course antibiotics and loperamide to take with you in case of diarrhea while traveling.
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm that is spread by fresh water snails. The larval stage of the worm can burrow through your skin when in contact with contaminated fresh water and is common throughout Burkina Faso especially in northern regions. Avoid wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in untreated fresh water such as canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs.
HIV infection is common throughout the country and is estimated to be present in 16% of sex workers in Ougadougou.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Burkina Faso. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Burkina Faso you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information which follows is for general reference only, and may not be applicable in a particular location or circumstance within Burkina Faso.
Travelers should exercise great caution when traveling by road in Burkina Faso. While major urban and intercity roads are paved, they can be narrow and full of potholes. Dirt roads are common, even in large cities. Vehicles will often enter oncoming traffic to pass or maneuver around obstacles. Broken-down vehicles may be abandoned on the road. Rural roads outside of major arteries are often in poor condition and roadside assistance is not available. Some rural roads are impassible in the rainy season. Livestock and children may dart onto the road without warning. Road travel at night is especially dangerous and should be avoided. At night, there is a high volume of truck traffic passing through the country, and pedestrians, bicycles, and donkey carts pose a major hazard on unlit, unmarked roads. Vehicles are often dangerously overloaded and poorly maintained. Drivers, including motorcyclists and bicyclists, are at times careless. The police rarely enforce traffic laws and are virtually absent from rural roads. Emergency services in case of accidents are scarce, underequipped, and practically nonexistent in most rural areas. Caution is urged while using any form of public transportation to travel by road, and travelers should remain aware of their personal belongings at all times.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burkina Faso, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Burkina Faso’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Assistance for U.S. Citizens
U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou
Avenue Sembéne Ousmane
Ouaga 2000, Secteur 15
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso