MaliOfficial Name: Republic of Mali
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Required for entry
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Rue 243, Porte 297
Telephone: +(223) 2070-2300
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(223) 2070-2300
Fax: (223) 2070-2340
Mali is a developing country in western Africa which continues to experience political instability and insecurity following the coup d’etat in March 2012. Facilities for tourism are limited. The capital is Bamako. French is the official language with Bambara widely spoken. U.S. citizens are strongly cautioned against traveling to Mali’s three northern regions (Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal) and in remote areas along the Mauritanian border due to the serious threat of terrorist activity and continuing political and civil unrest. There is ongoing conflict due to rebellion and terrorist occupation of the north. Attacks still remain a threat throughout the country, including in Bamako. The ability of the U.S. embassy to provide consular services may be extremely limited in remote and rural areas.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Mali for additional information on U.S. - Mali relations
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Visitors must present a valid passport with at least one blank page, a visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination. While airport visas are available, visitors are strongly encouraged to obtain their visas in advance of travel to avoid excessive fees and unexpected potential travel restrictions imposed at the port-of-entry. Visit the Embassy of Mali website for the most current visa information. Inquiries from outside the United States should be made at the nearest Malian embassy or consulate.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Mali.
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
See the Department of State's Travel Warning for Mali and Worldwide Caution for the current security situation. Violent extremist elements including but not limited to al-Qaida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), and extremists tied to al-Murabitun remain active in the region. Terrorists elements have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers, but do still occasionally operate in cities, including Gao and Timbuktu. AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (including Mali, Mauritania, and Niger). This group has claimed responsibility for numerous recent kidnappings/attempted kidnappings and other violent events in the region. On March 7, 2015 al-Murabitun claimed responsibility for an armed attack on La Terrasse, a popular nightclub in the Hippodrome area of Bamako. Automatic rifle fire and explosives killed and injured several people.
Travel to the northern and western parts of the country is to be avoided because of continuing security and military operations. The situation in the north remains unstable and dangerous. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) along with French troops in collaboration with Malian security forces are deployed in the country and are conducting counterterrorism operations that target extremist elements.
There has been a recent uptick in police harassment and violent crime in Bamako, including several armed carjacking incidents, one with a fatality of a French citizen. While the government of Mali has increased security in the capital, the potential for additional attacks remains throughout the country, including in Bamako.
Large and small periodic street demonstrations occur regularly throughout Mali. U.S. citizens should avoid street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Although demonstrations can occur spontaneously and the majority are contained by security forces, some have quickly turned violent, particularly in northern regions and at university locations in the south, and have resulted in deaths.
For hundreds of years, the Sahel has been used by traffickers of arms, drugs, and persons because of its remoteness and centralized location between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. While these elements usually attempt to avoid contact with outsiders, even an accidental encounter could generate a violent response due to the illicit nature of their activities.
The U.S. embassy permits overnight travel outside of the city of Bamako for official U.S. government employees only on a case-by-case basis, depending on the reason for travel except during times of heightened security risk. Though this restriction does not apply to private U.S. citizens, it should be taken into account when traveling to and within Mali.
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 Mali on Twitter and the Embassy’s 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 checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Violent crime against foreigners is infrequent, although there has been a recent uptick in armed carjackings in Bamako, as well as an armed attack with fatalities in Bamako on March 7 (see Safety and Security section). There are sporadic reports of night time robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night (See Travel & Transportation section).
Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance from their victims. Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and simple theft, are common in urban areas. Closely guard your passports and wallets when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. You should be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. There have also been recent reports of possible police harassment. When asked to stop by police, stop only in well-lit areas, or places where several officers are posted.
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. Response from local authorities and recourse for victims of crime is extremely limited, if not non-existent. When you do interact with local police always request a copy of the police report.
Due to the vigilantism which often occurs when criminals are apprehended in Mali, it is best to avoid the large crowds that may gather at the scene of a crime, a vehicle accident, or any altercation.
If you become the victim of a crime the U.S. embassy can:
- Assist you in seeking medical assistance and provide a list of doctors.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, explain legal processes in general terms, and provide a list of lawyers.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys. Remember, however, that local authorities, not the U.S. government, are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
- Contact relatives or friends at your request and with your written consent.
- Replace a stolen passport.
- The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Mali is 8000-1115; connection and response, however, is not always reliable.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: Travelers are subject to local laws. Persons violating local laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Travelers may be taken in for questioning if stopped by the police and unable to produce their passport or for taking pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lead to arrest. If you break local laws, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. The U.S. government cannot get you out of jail.
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. In the event of an arrest or detention, ask the police and prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible.
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. It is also illegal to knowingly take a girl younger than 18 years old outside of the United States for the purpose of performing female genital mutilation/cutting (so-called FGM “vacation cutting. 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.
Cultural Property: Mali is a signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property, which restricts exportation of Malian archeological objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako. Contact the Embassy of Mali in Washington D.C. or the nearest Malian consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act.
Currency/Access to Funds: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often use out-of-date exchange rates. The U.S. Embassy is unable to provide exchange facilities for private U.S. citizens. There are several ATMs in Bamako that accept U.S. citizens’ credit/debit cards, though they do not function reliably. Maximum withdrawals are generally limited to $400, and local banks charge up to $20 per transaction for use of their ATMs. There are some ATMs outside of Bamako in Segou, Sikasso, Koutiala, Gao, and Mopti, though they are sporadic and occasionally inoperable. Credit cards are accepted only at the largest hotels, Banque Atlantique, a few travel agencies (for an extra fee), and very few select restaurants. Cash advances from credit cards are available in Mali only via Western Union.
Photography: Exercise caution when taking photographs in Mali. Photographing any official object, entity, or person is restricted. These restrictions include infrastructure, facilities, government buildings, as well as individuals. You should obtain explicit permission from the Malian government before photographing transportation facilities and government buildings. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area or around any of the above listed facilities often provokes a prompt response from security personnel or offends the people being photographed. Taking photos of the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is prohibited.
Telephone Calls: International telephone calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside of Bamako.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) events in Mali. Societal discrimination, however, is widespread. LGBT individuals have experienced physical, psychological, and sexual violence, which society views as corrective punishment and police frequently refuse to intervene. Most LGBT individuals isolate themselves and keep their sexual identity hidden.
ACCESSIBILITY: There is no specific law protecting the rights of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services. There is no law mandating access to transportation, communication and public buildings for persons with disabilities. No special accommodations are made or officially reduced fares or rates are available to persons with disabilities in public transportation or taxis, communications, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafés, bars or other tourist spots. Foot paths and pedestrian-friendly road crossings are rare and generally are inaccessible to persons with disabilities
Consult the CDC website prior to travel for the most up to date health information. Travelers should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling for applicable vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. Make sure health insurance provides coverage while overseas. Consider supplemental insurance that includes medical evacuation. The U.S. government cannot pay travelers’ medical bills.
On January 6, 2015 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) removed the Travel Notice for Mali regarding Ebola. Consult the CDC site for more information.
Medical facilities are extremely limited, especially outside of Bamako. U.S.-standard care does not exist. Most U.S. medicines are unavailable; European medications are more easily found, and can be obtained at pharmacies throughout Bamako, and are usually less expensive than those in the United States. Be careful to avoid purchasing potentially dangerous counterfeit medications when buying on the local market, as well as those with a short shelf life that may no longer be effective. Travelers should carry with them an adequate supply of needed medication and prescription drugs, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic names for the drugs.
Malaria is highly prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Mali in all seasons and sporadically in some areas in northern Mali. Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, and 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.
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.
Yellow Fever immunization is recommended for those over nine months old who are traveling in the southern areas of Mali.
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.
Meningococcal meningitis immunization with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine should be given to all children and health care workers, especially during the dry season (December through June). Meningococcal vaccine should be considered for all adults. Epidemic meningococcal disease occurs frequently in the southern regions.
Diarrheal diseases are prevalent throughout the country even in large cities and luxury accommodations. Follow scrupulous hygiene and safe food preparation. Wash hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food, and after using sanitation facilities. Avoid cooked food served at room temperature. Avoid raw food, including raw vegetables unless they can be washed thoroughly. Drink only beverages from sealed bottles or cans. Water is safe if it has been boiled or chemically treated. Avoid ice unless made from bottled/disinfected water.
For further health information go to:
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: We recommend you exercise extreme caution when traveling by road. Travelers after dark on roads outside of urban centers are subject to attack by kidnappers and terrorists, and more commonly regular banditry, as roads are poorly lit or traveled. Road travel between Gao Kidal, and Menaka, and outside Timbuktu should be avoided as they are common sites for improvised explosive devices (bombs) and ambushes by armed assailants.
Remain alert and vigilant while driving. Do not make any unplanned stops, avoid driving alone at night, keep doors locked and windows up, even if the need arises to speak to someone outside of the vehicle; and be aware of your surrounding. If you are forced to stop do not resist the demands of would-be assailants, as they may be armed.
Due to safety concerns, avoid the use of motorbikes, van taxis, and public transportation. Excessive speeds, poorly maintained vehicles, lack of street lighting, and roving livestock pose serious road hazards. Many vehicles are not well-maintained, and headlights are either extremely dim or not used at all, while rear lights or reflectors are often missing or broken. Driving conditions in the capital of Bamako can be particularly dangerous due to limited street lighting, the absence of sidewalks for pedestrians, and the number of motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles.
Mali has paved roads leading from Bamako to most major cities in the south and east. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, some unpaved roads may be impassable. On many roads outside of the capital, deep sand and ditches are common. Four-wheel drive vehicles with spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended. Professional roadside service is not available. It is imperative to carry sufficient quantities of drinking water and food. Drivers should ensure that their gas tanks are at least half-full at all times, as gas stations are not widely available.
Drivers travel on the right-hand side of the road in Mali. Speed limits range from 40-60 km per hour (25-40 miles per hour) within towns, to 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour) between cities. Road conditions often require much lower speeds.
For safety reasons, do not travel on the Bamako-Dakar railroad, which transports passengers only as far as Kayes.
Some international flights have occasionally been canceled due to low travel volume, but in those situations travelers have usually been notified in advance. Travelers wishing to depart the country should check with commercial airlines for the airport's operational status before traveling to the airport.
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 Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Mali’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.