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Burkina Faso
Official Name:

Burkina Faso

Last Updated: January 5, 2017
Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou
Secteur 15, Ouaga 2000
Avenue Sembène Ousmane, Rue 15.873
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Telephone: +(226) 25-49-53-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(226) 25-49-53-00

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One blank page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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Yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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 None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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 None

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U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou
Secteur 15, Ouaga 2000
Avenue Sembène Ousmane, Rue 15.873
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Telephone: +(226) 25-49-53-00
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(226) 25-49-53-00
Consular Fax: (226) 25-49-56-23
Consular e-mail:  consularouaga@state.gov

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Burkina Faso for information on U.S. – Burkina Faso relations.

Visit the Embassy of Burkina Faso website for the most current visa information.

We strongly urge U.S. citizens to acquire visas for Burkina Faso before traveling to the country.

U.S. citizens traveling to Burkina Faso can apply for a visa by mail, in person, or at the Embassy of Burkina Faso, where they can receive a five-year multiple-entry visa.  Single-entry and multiple-entry visas with a maximum validity of three months are available upon arrival in Burkina Faso.  Once in Burkina Faso you can apply for a five-year multiple entry visa at the Visa Office of Ouagadougou located in Gounghin.  

(Note: 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).

All travelers older than nine months are required to present their current and valid World Health Organization (WHO) “International Certificate of Vaccination” card (commonly called a “yellow card”) showing that their yellow fever vaccination is up-to-date.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burkina Faso.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and Customs Information on our websites.

See the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Burkina Faso and Worldwide Caution for current security information.

Terrorism:  Violent extremist elements, including, but not limited to al-Qaida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and extremists tied to al-Murabitun, remain active in Bukina Faso and throughout the region.  They have specifically targeted Westerners in attacks and kidnappings. 

On January 15, 2016, armed assailants attacked civilians at the Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino restaurant, killing people of 10 different nationalities, including one U.S. citizen.  Violent extremist and militant elements, AQIM and al-Murabitun, have claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Civil Unrest:  Demonstrations may occur with little to no advance warning throughout Burkina Faso.  Maintain a surplus of supplies including food, water, fuel, and medical supplies in case the need to shelter-in-place arises.  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;
  • staying abreast of the situation through media outlets.

Crime:  Crime rates are a concern in the major cities of Burkina Faso and foreign nationals are often directly targeted.  Purse snatchings, muggings, and thefts from hotel rooms are common.  You should remain vigilant in crowded areas and ensure your personal belongings are secure at all times.  Security risks increase during nightime, so avoid traveling alone after dark.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings, travel with a group of people if at all possible, and avoid poorly lit streets and narrow alleys.

Travel in convoys when outside of major urban areas to deter roadside crime.Roadside banditry occurs most frequently in the East region, which borders Niger, Benin, and Togom, and increasingly in the Center-East, Center-North and Center-West regions, which include highways out of Ouagadougou.  Bandits often use spotters at highway checkpoints and bus stations to profile and identify potential victims.  While bandits mainly steal valuables, they may physically harm victims during the course of a robbery.  

Exercise caution when traveling along the northern areas of the country near the Mali and Niger borders.  The Government of Burkina Faso and the U.S. Embassy have limited ability to provide assistance in the Sahel Reserve region.  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.  Embassy personnel are also prohibited from traveling to or staying at Parc National du W (Parc W), the regional national park located on Burkina Faso’s southeastern border with Niger and Benin.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to follow the same guidance.  

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:  Report crimes to the local police at 10-10 and contact the U.S. Embassy.  The national emergency telephone number, 10-10,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
    • Dial 18 for emergencies.
    • Dial 25-30-69-47 or 25-30-69-48 for administrative issues.
  • Ambulance Service:
    • Dial 18 for emergencies.
    • Dial 25-30-66-44 or 25-30-66-45 for administrative issues.
  • Police:
    • Dial 17 for emergencies.
    • Dial 25-36-44-42 or 25-32-60-69 for administrative issues.
  • Gendarmerie (Military Police):
    • Dial 16 or 80-00-11-45 for emergencies.
    • Dial 25-30-32-71 or 25-31-33-40 for administrative issues.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance:  Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas.  Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.  See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Burkina Faso to ensure the medication is legal in Burkina Faso.  Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevelant:

  • Dengue
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Tuberculosis

HIV infection is common throughout the country and is estimated to be present in 16% of sex workers in Ougadougou.

Vaccinations:  Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers:  There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Burkina Faso.  LGBTI persons are at times threatened and face societal discrimination..  Same-sex civil unions or marriages are not recognized by the government, nor do LGBTI organizations receive official recognition by the government.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance:  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.  Most 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.

Students:  See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers:   Although the law prohibits violence against women, domestic violence, including spousal abuse, is widely reported.  Wives have limited legal recourse in cases of abuse. There is no reliable data on the extent of sexual assault though it is a problem.  Rape cases usually are not tried.  Police generally investigate reports of rape, but victims often do not file reports due to cultural barriers and fear of reprisal.

The law prohibits Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, but it is practiced widely, particularly in rural areas, and usually performed at an early age.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Early Marriage:  The legal age for marriage is 17 for girls and 20 for boys, but child marriage is a problem.  The law prohibits forced marriage.  Polygyny is permitted, but a woman must agree to it prior to marriage.

Road Conditions and Safety:  Road conditions differ significantly from those in the United States.  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.  The police rarely enforce traffic laws and there is virtually no police presence on rural roads.  Emergency services in case of accidents are scarce, underequipped, and practically nonexistent in most rural areas. 

Traffic Laws:  In addition to regular car and truck traffic, there are large volumes of non-vehicular traffic on main thoroughfares.  As a result, the average safe speed is 25-30 MPH.  Few streets are named, and some street names have changed in recent years.  When navigating the city, take note of landmarks, such as neighborhood pharmacies, specific buildings, permanent signs, and roundabouts.  The majority of paved roads do not have adequate markings, which leads to confusion among drivers.  Roadways are poorly lit, making travel at night is especially dangerous.  Flooding is a major problem during the rainy season in parts of Burkina Faso, causing severe damage to roads and buildings. 

Public Transportation:  Avoid using buses and local (green) taxis.  Buses have been involved in catastrophic accidents and been targeted by roadside bandits.  Green taxis are often mechanically unsafe, pick up multiple passengers in one single taxi, and have been connected to criminal activity involving its passenger.  There are a handful of yellow taxi cab services that are acceptable and utilize centralized dispatchers, fare meters, seatbelts, and well-maintained automobiles.  Exercise caution and remain aware of yourpersonal belongings at all times.

See 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.

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