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) 20-70-25-05
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(223) 20-70-23-01 or 20-70-23-02
Fax: (223) 20-70-23 40
Mali is a developing country in western Africa which experienced political instability and insecurity following the coup d’état in March 2012, northern rebellion, and terrorist occupation of the north, where there is ongoing conflict. The official language is French; however, Bambara is the lingua franca in addition to another thirteen local languages also spoken and having the status of national languages. The capital of Mali is Bamako (population 1.8 million, according to a 2009 census estimate). Facilities for tourism are limited and their development has stalled during the recent period of instability.
There is a serious threat of terrorist activity in Mali’s three northern regions (Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal, which make up nearly 60 percent of the country’s area) and in remote areas along the Mauritanian border. Following the fall of the north to rebel groups in April 2012, several terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), increased their use of the area as a safe haven for holding hostages and planning operations. While the Government of Mali (GOM), assisted by international military forces, regained control over the major northern cities in early 2013, these terrorist organizations still retain the capacity to launch attacks from their bases in the countryside, and attacks still remain a threat throughout the country. During the past six months, there has been an increase in asymmetric attacks targeting United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeepers. Despite peaceful presidential and legislative elections in 2013, which improved Mali’s political situation following a 2012 coup d’état, rebellion, and terrorist occupation of the north, substantial concerns remain regarding the security situation throughout Mali. In October 2014, Mali reported two imported cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from Guinea. Thus far there has been limited transmission of EVD in Mali which has not experienced the epidemic that is ongoing in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Mali for additional information on U.S.- Mali relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
U.S. passport holders require a valid passport with a visa and at least one blank page for entry to Mali. If you are not able to show evidence upon arrival of a current yellow fever immunization, you may be required to be re-immunized on the spot as a condition of entry into the country. The Embassy strongly discourages this option.
Visit the Embassy of Mali website for the most current visa information and entry requirements. Inquiries can also be made at Malian embassies or consulates worldwide. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival at Bamako Sénou International Airport; travelers must obtain a visa in advance.
Travelers departing from Mali may currently experience additional airport screening procedures and other restrictions (in Mali and in any transit/destination countries) due to the presence of EVD in Mali. Travelers should arrive at the airport at least 3 hours in advance of any flight and consult relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information in advance of travel, as guidance may change without notice. Please see our Fact Sheet on EVD for additional information.
Travelers may also wish to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most current health and immunization information for travelers to Mali, including with respect to EVD.
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
Security risks continue to exist in Mali. Major cities in northern Mali (including Gao and Timbuktu) were liberated by French, Malian, and other international forces in January 2013, but 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 the newly formed al-Murabitun, remain active in the region, although they have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers, including Gao and Timbuktu. Both the United States and the European Union have designated AQIM as a terrorist organization, and, as noted in the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, 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. Additionally, in August 2013, an announcement was released via Mauritanian press that MUJAO had merged with Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s al-Mulathamun Battalion to form a new jihadist group, al-Murabitun. In January 2014 Belmokhtar, the militant leader responsible for the attack on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, declared its continued intent to attack France, its interests and its allies for the ongoing military intervention in northern Mali.
A United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, has also been deployed in Mali, and is programmed to have more than 12,000 personnel in Mali when fully operational, but currently is operating at limited capacity of about 75 percent. About 1,000 French troops remain in the country, conducting counterterrorism operations that target extremist elements, in collaboration with Malian security forces.
While the security situation in Bamako remains relatively stable, there has been a recent uptick in possible police harassment and violent crime in Bamako, including several armed carjacking incidents, one with a fatality of a French citizen. The potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains. There are also ongoing security concerns and military operations taking place in the northern and western parts of the country. The situation in the north remains fluid.
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 has restricted all overnight travel outside of the city of Bamako for its direct-hire official employees, except with written approval. Official Embassy personnel are permitted to take day trips without prior approval to the following authorized areas: Bamako; the northern Koulikoro Region along National Roads 1, 4, and 14 (RN1, RN4, and RN14) from Kolokani to Banamba through Mourdiah; all southern parts of the Koulikoro Region; all of the Sikasso Region; parts of the Segou Region, from the cities of Souba, Segou, and San along National Road 6 (RN6); and areas in that region to the south. Though these restrictions do not apply to private U.S. citizens, they should be taken into account by all U.S. citizens contemplating travel 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 expatriates in Mali is infrequent, although there has been a recent uptick in armed carjackings in Bamako. You should be alert and remain vigilant while driving; 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 environment. If you are forced to stop your vehicle, we recommend compliance with demands of would-be assailants, as they may be armed. There are sporadic reports of nighttime robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night.
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. The U.S. Embassy advises against traveling on the Bamako-Dakar railroad, which transports passengers only as far as Kayes. You should be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance from their victims. There have also been recent reports of possible police harassment of expatriates. 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. 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.
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.
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 Mali, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Mali’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In Mali, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings. In Mali, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Mali, 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.
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.
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. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Mali in Washington 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 inoperational. 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 TRAVELERS: IF you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel 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. However, in practice, societal discrimination is widespread. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Mali you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Mali, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. 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.
Medical facilities in Mali are extremely limited, especially outside of Bamako. U.S.-standard care does not exist. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako maintains a list of physicians and other healthcare professionals who have indicated willingness to treat U.S. citizen patients.
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. 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. Be careful to avoid purchasing potentially dangerous counterfeit medications when buying on the local market in Mali, as well as those with a short shelf life that may no longer be effective.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is highly prevalent throughout subSaharan Mali in all seasons and sporadically in some areas in northern Mali. Before traveling you should discuss with your doctor the best antimalarial medication to avoid malaria. 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.
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 Mali.
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 is much more common than in the US and immunization with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine should be given to all children and health care workers, especially during the dry season (December through June), it should be considered for all adults. Epidemic meningococcal disease occurs frequently in the southern regions of Mali.
Diarrheal illness is very common among travelers even in large cities 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.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, including EVD in Mali, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information. On November 16, the CDC issued a new Travel Notice for Mali advising travelers in Mali to practice enhanced precautions regarding EVD.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Mali, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mali is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
U.S. citizens traveling by road in Mali should exercise extreme caution. 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. Travelers must be prepared to repair their own vehicles should they break down or become stuck. Travelers should also carry plenty of food and water.
We strongly urge all travelers to avoid traveling after dark on roads outside of urban centers. The roads from Gao to Kidal and Menaka, and the roads around Timbuktu, are desert tracks with long isolated stretches. Travel on these roads is strongly discouraged due to the threat of kidnapping and terrorism (see SAFETY AND SECURITY section above).
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. Due to safety concerns, we recommend against 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.
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.
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.