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 remains politically unstable following the coup d’état in March 2012 and has ongoing conflict in the north. 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 activities 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, assisted by international intervention 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.
In July and August 2013, Mali held its first presidential election since the coup, followed by legislative elections in November and December. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet on Mali for additional information on U.S.-Mali relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
If you are not able to show evidence 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. Travelers should obtain the latest visa information and entry requirements from the Republic of Mali Embassy at 2130 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Inquiries can also be made at Malian embassies or consulates worldwide. Visit the Embassy of Mali website for the most current visa information. Although in the past travelers had some success with obtaining visas on arrival at Bamako Sénou International Airport, this is no longer possible. Travelers must obtain a visa in advance.
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 Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), al-Qaida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and extremists tied to the newly formed al-Murabitun, remain active in the region. 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 the initial statement the group threatened to attack France, its interests and its allies.
A United Nations peacekeeping mission has also been deployed in Mali. On July 1, the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) transferred its authority to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). When fully deployed, MINUSMA is expected to have more than 12,000 personnel in Mali, but until then its capacity remains limited. French forces remain in the country and have announced their intention to delay, from the end of 2013 to late January or early February 2014, their drawdown of troops to 1,000.
While the security situation in Bamako remains relatively stable, there are ongoing security concerns and military operations taking place in the northern and western parts of the country. The situation in Kidal remains fluid. A June 18 agreement between the Government of Mali (GOM) and armed northern groups provided for an interim solution that allowed for the return of the GOM’s authority to that city and permitted citizens of that region the opportunity to participate in the July 28 presidential elections. Armed groups suspended participation in that agreement for one week and agreed to resume peace talks on October 5 after the GOM liberated Tuareg detainees. The situation remains precarious and, in late November, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared an end to a five-month ceasefire pact with the government following clashes at the Kidal airport between Tuareg demonstrators attempting to prevent Mali's Prime Minister from visiting Kidal with Malian armed forces
On September 27, two Malian National Guards were injured in a grenade attack at the Malian Solidarity Bank (BMS) in the downtown area of Kidal. AQIM claimed responsibility for two suicide bombers who on September 28 detonated their vehicle by a military camp in Timbuktu, killing themselves and two civilian bystanders, and injuring several soldiers. On September 29, armed fighting ensued between the Malian National Guard and elements of the MNLA at a check point in Kidal. Also on September 29, French soldiers responded to a report of an explosion in an unoccupied former World Food Program site in Kidal, with no injuries reported. In Gao, MUJAO took responsibility for the October 7 shelling of the city with artillery fire, and the October 8 explosives attacks on two small bridges, which wounded two civilians. On October 23, two MINUSMA troops and a civilian were killed and several others were injured in a car bomb attack by four suicide bombers, who were also killed, on a checkpoint in the town of Tessalit in the Kidal region. AQIM affiliates claimed responsibility for the attack. On November 2, two French journalists were kidnapped and killed outside of Kidal, with AQIM again claiming responsibility. On November 4, four people were killed on a road leading to the town of Menaka (near Gao) when their truck ran over a land mine.
Large and small street demonstrations occur regularly in Bamako. U.S. citizens should avoid street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Although demonstrations can occur spontaneously, large student demonstrations typically begin in January and February and continue through May. You should be particularly vigilant at these times. While the majority of these demonstrations are contained by security forces, some have quickly turned violent 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 in cases of written approval of the U.S. Ambassador. Official Embassy personnel are permitted to take day trips to anywhere within the central area of the Koulikoro Region without prior approval. 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.
Although we place the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to kidnappers. This, along with the vast and remote territory where kidnappers usually hold their victims, limits our ability to assist kidnap victims.
Stay up to date by:
- Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
- Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad; and
- Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
CRIME: Violent crime against expatriates in Mali is infrequent, but petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and simple theft, are common in urban areas. Passports and wallets should be closely guarded when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. Individuals are advised against traveling on the Bamako-Dakar railroad, which transports passengers only as far as Kayes, and should be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance from their victims. There are sporadic reports of nighttime robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups, and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
Violent criminal activity does occasionally occur in Bamako. During and after the coup d’état in March 2012, violent attacks and looting were reported around Bamako. Violent attacks were also reported prior to the coup, most occurring south of the Niger River in the neighborhood of Badalabougou. Most reported attacks took place at night. The majority targeted unaccompanied individuals and ranged from muggings at gun- or knife-point to physical assaults. Many of the attacks occurred near the residences of the victims, both inside and outside of their vehicles.
Sporadic banditry and random carjackings have historically plagued Mali's vast northern desert region and its borders with Mauritania and Niger. While banditry has not targeted U.S. citizens specifically, such acts of violence cannot be predicted. The current instability in the north has increased the risk of carjacking, kidnapping, and banditry. In November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from their hotel rooms in Hombori, one of whom was reportedly beheaded in early 2013. The following day, one German was killed while a Dutch citizen, a Swedish citizen, and a South African were kidnapped in Timbuktu. In April 2012, a Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu and seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Gao. In November 2012, a French national was kidnapped near the town of Kayes, close to the Senegalese/Mauritanian border. On November 2, 2013, two French journalists were kidnapped and killed outside of Kidal.
Don’t buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. The bootlegs are illegal in the United States, and if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime in Mali, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Bamako.
- 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 a friend
- 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.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Mali is 17 or 18.
Please see our information on 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 even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. You may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you, and driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in Mali, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Also, engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Mali, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Persons violating Mali’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
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 immediately notify the U.S. Embassy in Bamako if you you are arrested or detained in Mali.
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 infrequent 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 in Mali, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on travel.state.gov.
LGBT RIGHTS: Although there is no official discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in practice, societal discrimination is widespread. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Mali, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is available 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. US-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.
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.
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. 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 THREATS TO 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.
International flights have occasionally been canceled due to low travel volume, but in those situation travelers have always 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.