SenegalOfficial Name: Republic of Senegal
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Route des Almadies
Telephone: +(221) 33-879-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(221) 33-879-4444
The Republic of Senegal is a developing West African country. The capital is Dakar. Facilities for tourists are widely available but vary in quality. The official language is French; English is not widely used. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Senegal for additional information.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Senegal no longer requires visas for U.S. citizens for stays of fewer than 90 days. For longer stays, U.S. travelers should obtain visas directly at either the Senegalese Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the Senegalese Consulate in New York City prior to travel. As entry requirements are subject to change, travelers should obtain the latest information from the Embassy of Senegal, 2215 M Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20037, telephone (202) 234-0540. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Senegalese embassy or consulate.
For travelers arriving from yellow-fever endemic countries, evidence of yellow-fever vaccination is required for entry into Senegal. Travelers arriving from yellow-fever endemic countries who are unable to provide proof of vaccinations may be required to pay for and receive vaccinations at the Dakar airport. Travelers should expect to have their temperature taken upon arrival and, if it is high, may undergo additional health screening for Ebola Virus Disease.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Senegal.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction is available on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Public demonstrations, political gatherings, and student protests are common in Senegal, both in Dakar and in outlying regions, particularly on Friday afternoons. Occasionally, these events have led to violence. Because of this potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times. Check the U.S. Embassy website for Security Messages related to demonstrations.
Incidents of banditry have been reported on the main highways outside of Dakar, particularly in the central and eastern area of Senegal, including around Tambacounda, Matam, and Kolda. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens carefully monitor the security situation before traveling.
Senegal shares borders in the north and east with both Mauritania and Mali. In February 2013, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) made a public statement indicating that it regards Senegal as a hostile country for contributing to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) took over authority for the mission in July 2013. Thus far, Senegal has been spared any direct terrorist attack, but does remain vulnerable due to its porous borders, regional instability, and the terror activities of AQIM and its affiliates. U.S. citizens planning to visit the border regions of Senegal are encouraged to exercise additional caution and to maintain situational awareness at all times. Travelers planning overland trips to Mauritania or Mali should monitor current security developments to assess appropriately the risks of regional travel.
Clashes in the region between government forces and alleged members of the Movement of the Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) have greatly diminished since 2012, and the government and MFDC are in talks to bring a peaceful end to the Casamance conflict. While attacks by MFDC rebels targeting military installations and personnel have ended, unplanned armed clashes in rural areas still occur. Civilians living and traveling in the Casamance are sometimes targets of opportunity for bandits that operate in the area.
The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remain on well-traveled routes at all times.
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.
- 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: Street crime is very common in Senegal, particularly in urban areas. Most reported incidents involve the grabbing of purses or backpacks by thieves on motorized scooters. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are especially active in large crowds and at locations frequented by tourists. Aggressive vendors, panhandlers, and street children may attempt to divert the victim’s attention while an accomplice carries out the crime. To avoid theft, you should avoid walking alone in isolated areas or on beaches, particularly at night, lock doors and close windows when driving, especially at night and when traffic is slow or stopped, and avoid public transportation. You should not walk on dark streets at night, even in groups.
To minimize inconvenience in the event of theft, U.S. citizens should carry copies, rather than originals, of their passports and other identification documents. You should carry a credit card only if it will be used soon, rather than carrying it as a routine practice. There is traditionally an increase in crime before major religious holidays.
Be vigilant about your personal safety and take precautions to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places such as markets and taxi parks. Keep a low profile – do not display large sums of money, electronics, or jewelry. Many of the thefts reported to the Embassy are thefts of high-value personal electronics such as smart phones, tablets, and other portable electronics.
Violent crimes and crimes involving the use of weapons are increasing and at times have resulted in injuries when victims resist. U.S. citizens have been robbed at knife-point within the past year. This happens regularly along the Corniche d’Ouest, an area heavily frequented by tourists and westerners. As a result of this recent trend, the embassy prohibits its personnel from walking on the Corniche d’Ouest after dark. U.S. citizens have also reported crimes throughout the city of Dakar, including downtown, N’gor, and Almadies. Some criminals use mopeds or scooters in robberies; others reach in through open car windows on traffic circles.
If confronted by criminals, remember that cash and valuables can be replaced, but life and health cannot. U.S. citizens are encouraged to comply with the attackers, give them whatever they ask for, find a secure location, and seek assistance from local law enforcement. Again, when driving, it is important to keep your windows rolled up and doors locked.
In the past year, several U.S. citizen residences have been burglarized. No violence or personal injuries have been reported in these cases, in which the burglars appear to have been exclusively seeking financial gain. Persons who plan to reside in Senegal on a long-term basis should take measures to protect their dwellings by installing window bars (recognizing fire safety issues), solid-core doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.
Visitors should be alert to fraud scams that may cause both financial loss and physical harm. Typically, business scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of West Africa. The perpetrators often claim to be victims of various western African conflicts or relatives of present or former political leaders.
Scams have many variations. In some cases, a series of “advance fees” must be paid to conclude the transaction, to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist, since the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. Another variation consists of a request for the U.S. citizen's bank account information, purportedly to transfer money into the account. Once the perpetrator obtains this information, however, he or she then simply transfers all money out of the victim's account. Other scams extend an apparent job offer, but request upfront payment for “administrative” or visa processing.
Personal and dating scams are also prevalent. Be wary of persons claiming to live in Senegal who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet. The anonymity of the Internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. The correspondent is a fictitious persona created solely to lure the U.S. citizen into sending money.
Don’t wire money to purchase plane tickets. Prepay a plane ticket directly through an airline rather than wiring money for transportation to the traveler. U.S. citizens may also research the legitimate immigration and nonimmigrant visa process online with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State.
The best way to avoid becoming a scam victim is to use common sense. If an offer seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam. Carefully research any unsolicited business proposal originating in Senegal before you commit funds, provide goods or services, or undertake travel.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
Credit card fraud is prevalent in Senegal, particularly in Dakar. Avoid using credit cards if possible. Incidents of credit card fraud have occurred at major hotels and stores. If you must use a credit card, monitor your accounts carefully.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, 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.
In Senegal, there is no local equivalent to a “911” emergency line that coordinates an emergency response for all types of responders.
U.S. citizens who are victims or witnesses of a crime are encouraged to report crimes to Senegal's police hotline by telephoning 800-00-20-20, 17, 33–842-3575/76, or, in Dakar, 33-823-7149 or 33-823-2529. The fire brigade (pompiers) can be reached at 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 in Senegal, you are subject to its laws. If you break local laws, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than those in the United States. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In Senegal, it is forbidden to photograph embassies, military installations, and police stations. For other buildings, such as government ministries, it is best to ask the security personnel guarding the building first before taking any pictures.
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.
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. 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. If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Senegal is generally a very tolerant society, and 95 percent of the Senegalese population practice Islam. Be mindful of local social and cultural mores.
Personal Identification: Senegalese law requires all persons to carry personal identification at all times, and all Senegalese law enforcement officials have the authority to challenge suspicious activity and to request personal identification. Be aware that they may request personal identification even without cause. Authorities may detain a U.S. citizen who does not cooperate and provide identification up to 48 hours without filing formal charges.
Tourist Tax: In some locations, such as the popular tourist attraction Goree Island, local officials may legally charge tourists a tax when they visit. However, notices of the tax and payment locations are not always clearly posted. If in doubt, please ask the official for paperwork and a receipt upon payment.
Currency: Senegal’s currency is the Central African Franc (CFA), which has a fixed exchange rate to the euro. Avoid using ATMs in Senegal, as they can be a source of identity theft. MasterCard debit cards do not work in most of Senegal’s ATMs; Visa debit cards sometimes do. Travelers can get cash and/or traveler's checks through international credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, by presenting their credit card at a local financial institution sponsoring their card.
U.S. Government Sanctions: Until further notice, all U.S. citizens in Senegal are advised not to subscribe to or purchase services or equipment from the Sudatel/Expresso telecommunications company. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified Sudatel as a company owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan. U.S. sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens from doing business with companies owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan unless authorized by OFAC. In addition, there may be other companies operating in Senegal which, given their relationship with countries subject to sanctions, might also be on OFAC’s list. For further information, you may email the OFAC compliance division at OFAC_feedback@do.treas.gov or call the OFAC hotline at 202-622-2490.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Senegal. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals routinely face discrimination, and there is strong societal disapproval. Under Article 319 of the Senegalese penal code, “unnatural acts” are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of CFA 1,000,000 (USD $2,000). While authorities have not dedicated significant resources to prosecuting individuals under this article, there have been several recent prosecutions. In September 2014, two men were arrested after police caught them kissing behind the presidential palace. In February 2014, a judge sentenced two men to six months in jail after they admitted in court to having consensual same-sex sexual relations. The men were arrested after a neighbor told police they were living together. In November 2013, five women were arrested for violating the law at a birthday party in a bar in Dakar. Following several days in prison, where they were harassed, the women were released due to a lack of evidence. In October 2012, a court in Dakar sentenced a man for violating the law. In January 2012, two women were arrested following the circulation of a cell phone video that showed them kissing. They were detained and released on bail several days later but were never formally charged with a crime. These incidents were widely covered in local print and online media. Acts of aggression by the pubic based on sexual orientation are considered routine.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Senegal, you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on LGBTI travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: That there are almost no accommodations made for individuals with disabilities in Senegal. The few that exist are inadequate or very different from what you will find in the United States.
Several hospitals and clinics in Dakar can treat major and minor injuries and illnesses; however, medical facilities outside Dakar are extremely limited, and unprepared to handle major injuries. There is inadequate inpatient psychiatric care and limited office-based psychiatric treatment in Dakar.
French medications are far more readily available than U.S. pharmaceuticals, and drugs in stock are often listed under the French trade name. Medications are available at pharmacies throughout Dakar. Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.
Malaria is a serious risk to travelers. Travelers should consult their physician to discuss the benefits and risks of taking anti-malarial medication. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area, or after returning home, even after several years, should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medications they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, anti-malarial drugs, and protection from insect bites, visit the CDC Travelers' Health online.
Water supplies are not consistently free of disease-causing microorganisms. The U.S. Embassy recommends drinking filtered or boiled water, particularly for babies under one year of age. Wash raw vegetables and fruits in a bleach solution before eating.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. Yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers coming from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, and recommended for all travelers over nine months of age; Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, meningitis, and typhoid vaccines are recommended for most travelers. Rabies vaccination is recommended for prolonged stays, especially for young children. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Senegal. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Senegal is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Senegal is very different than in the United States. Many U.S. citizens find the traffic in Senegal chaotic, particularly in Dakar. Drivers tend to exceed speed limits, follow other vehicles closely, ignore lane markings, and attempt to pass even when facing oncoming traffic. Many vehicles are not well-maintained; headlights may be either extremely dim or not used at all. Roadways are poorly lit and poorly marked, and many sections have deteriorated surfaces. Some roads have sidewalks or sufficient space for pedestrian traffic; others do not, and pedestrians are forced to walk on or along the roadway. Due to limited street lighting, pedestrians are difficult to see at night. Drivers in both rural and urban areas may frequently expect to encounter and share the road with motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, livestock, and animal carts. Caution and defensive driving techniques are strongly recommended.
While most main roads in Senegal are in relatively good condition for daytime driving, smaller roads are poor by U.S. standards. During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Travelers may be stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, where their vehicles and luggage may be searched. Service stations are available along main roads. Due to poor road conditions and the risk of crime, driving outside major cities at night is not recommended. Due to language barriers (outside Dakar, relatively few Senegalese speak English and some do not speak French) and the lack of roadside assistance, receiving help may be difficult in the event of an emergency.
For safety reasons, the U.S. Embassy recommends against the use of motorbikes, van taxis ("cars rapides"), and public transportation. They can be dangerous due to overloading, careless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the lack of basic safety equipment such as seat belts. Regulated orange-striped sedan auto taxis are safer, but make sure to agree on a fare before beginning the trip.
In Senegal, traffic circulates on the right. At traffic circles, right of way is assigned according to the vehicle’s mass and the driver’s daring, even if it may technically belong to the vehicle already in the circle. Expect the unexpected from taxi drivers. All drivers are expected to carry the following documents in their vehicles and present them at any time at the request of the police: (1) valid driver's license; (2) valid insurance papers; (3) vehicle registration/matriculation card ("carte grise"); (4) "vignette" tax disc for the current year; and (5) valid identification. If U.S. citizens opt to carry a copy of their U.S. passport rather than the actual book, the copy must be clear enough to identify the driver of the vehicle.
Third-party insurance is required and will cover any damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries and found not to have been at fault. If you are found to have caused an accident, the penalty ranges from five months to two years in prison, with a possible fine. If you cause an accident which results in a death, the penalty can be as high as five years in prison.
For guidance on what to do if you are in an automobile accident in Senegal, please see the U.S. Citizen Services page of the U.S. Embassy’s web site. Senegalese law prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver is using “hands-free” equipment. Protective helmets are mandatory for all bicycle, moped, scooter, and motorcycle drivers/riders and passengers.
When police officers stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, the police officer will generally confiscate the driver’s license or ID card until the fine is paid. We encourage you to comply with the request. Sometimes, police officers try to solicit bribes instead of or in addition to the fine. The Embassy does not encourage paying bribes. 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 Senegalese registered carriers, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Senegal’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.