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The Gambia
Official Name:

Republic of The Gambia

Last Updated: November 25, 2016

Embassy Messages

Banjul

 

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 Banjul

92 Kairaba Avenue, Fajara
Banjul
The Gambia

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Valid for duration of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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One page 

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 Banjul

92 Kairaba Avenue, Fajara
Banjul
The Gambia

Telephone: +(220) 439-2856, +(220) 439-2858 or +(220) 439-1971

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(220) 437-2856, x-2466

Fax: +(220) 439-2475

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

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination for people coming from countries where Yellow Fever infection is common.

Visas:

Obtain your visa before traveling or within two working days of arrival from the Department of Immigration in downtown Banjul.  Visit the Embassy of The Gambia website for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.  

An “airport development” fee of 20 Euros (or its equivalent in Dollars or Dalasi) is included in ticket fees for passengers departing The Gambia.

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

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Avoid the southern borders of the Casamance region in Senegal, where separatist groups/rebels operate and have attacked travelers on roads leading north from Ziguinchor, Senegal, to Banjul, and on Senegalese roads from Bignona to Senoba, which is near the Senegal - Gambia border.

Public demonstrations are increasingly common.  Police tactics used to clear these events have included violence and the arrest of bystanders not directly involved in the demonstrations. In April and May 2016, dozens of people were arrested for participating in and being in the vicinity of protests.  At least one of the arrested protestors died while in police custody.  

Because of this potential for violence, you should avoid political events and street demonstrations, including peaceful protests and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

Safety Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings.
  • Monitor local and international news from reliable sources and consular messages.

Crime: Petty street crime is common. Pickpockets, purse snatching, and theft from hotel rooms and vehicles occur on ferries and in market and commercial areas frequented by foreigners.  Ensure that your travel documents, luggage, and valuable items are secure. Business fraud and relationship scams are problems.

Beware of “bumsters” - local men who approach tourists, particularly on beaches, offering help or to act as local guides and then demand payment even if not previously agreed upon.  Bumsters target Western travelers, seeking either financial assistance or marriage in order to depart The Gambia.  Be polite but decisive in turning down unwanted help or attempts at conversation. 

  • Avoid walking alone, including on beaches, in tourist areas, and after dark. 
  • Do not display cash and valuable personal property.
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed or rolled up enough at all times to prevent theft while stopped in traffic.

Relationship fraud/scam: The U.S. embassy is frequently contacted by victims of internet romance scams and health-related plea-for-help scams in which the person with whom the U.S. citizen has been corresponding is using a fake identity and is in no need of financial or other assistance. The most common scenario is when a U.S. citizen is befriended or engaged to someone over the internet. This person eventually requests financial assistance from the unsuspecting victim to help pay for urgent medical treatment, exit tax, government fine, or other fraudulent reason.

Business fraud/scams: The U.S. embassy receives reports of scams in which U.S. businesses sent payment, but did not receive shipments

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited offers to participate in lucrative business opportunities, especially if they require financial disclosures, money transfers, large up-front investments, or promises of confidentiality. 
  • Carefully scrutinize all proposals before you commit any funds, provide any goods or services, or undertake any travel. 
  • See International Financial Scams

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

Victims of Crime:   

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.

Report crimes to the local police at 117 for police assistance, 117 for ambulatory services, and 118 for fire and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(220) 439-2856.   The Gambian Police Force operates a 24 hour emergency line at (220) 422-4914.  Please be advised that emergency responders may lack fuel for vehicles or face other resource challenges.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. 

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

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:

Medical facilities are very limited, some treatments are unavailable, and emergency services can be unpredictable and unreliable. There are no trauma centers in The Gambia and severe accidents require evacuation to Senegal or Europe.  

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription as well as over-the-counter medicines or treatments. Check with the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate to ensure the medication is legal. Malaria is prevalent throughout the country. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays. Use mosquito repellents containing either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR3535.  Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. 

You should:

  • Carry and use insect repellents containing either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. 
  • Treat clothing and tents with permethrin
  • Sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. 

Medical Insurance:  If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Malaria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Dengue Fever
  • Diarrheal Illness
  • Rabies
  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Schistosomiasis

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

Further health information:

Criminal Penalties: Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences or death.  There are strict laws on the import and export of skin-bleaching creams and some medications. 

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.  Gambian law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy therefore may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained.

Dual Nationals:  In addition to being subject to all of The Gambia’s laws affecting foreigners, dual U.S. - Gambian citizens may be subject to additional provisions of Gambian law. Please inquire at a Gambian embassy or consulate regarding your status before you travel.  Gambian police routinely do not recognize dual citizenship and may treat the person solely as a Gambian citizen.

Medications: Import and export of skin-bleaching creams and some medications is strictly regulated.  You can face fines up to $2,000 and/or three years imprisonment if you arrive with substances containing one percent or more of: hydroquinone (in any form), hydrocortisone (unless in trace amounts and for specific purposes such as anti-itch products), betamethasone, flucinonide, clobestatol, or clobestatone.

Photography:  It is against the law to photograph or film government buildings, airports, military installations, embassies, bridges, or government motorcades. You could be fined, have your photographic equipment confiscated without notice, and risk detention and arrest.  Do not take photos of Gambians without their permission.

Currency:  The dalasi is the official currency, though US dollars, euros, and CFAs are widely accepted.  The Gambia is a cash economy; credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, some grocery stores, and a few restaurants.  Exchange currency at banks or exchange bureaus only. Changing money unofficially is prohibited.  Be aware that banks may close unexpectedly.  Due to the potential for fraud and equipment malfunction, avoid using ATMs.  Money transfers are widely available at Western Union branch offices.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual relations are illegal with prison terms ranging from five years to life imprisonment, and there is strong societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals.  The Gambian authorities have called upon landlords and owners of bars, restaurants, and hotels to monitor activities that happen in their environments.  A number of people have been arrested under this law. The Gambian president frequently uses violent, threatening public rhetoric to discourage LGBTI individuals from traveling to The Gambia, and he participates in public protests against LGBTI rights. Antidiscrimination laws do not protect LGBTI individuals.  Gambian security forces have systematically targeted individuals for arrest and detention because of their perceived sexual orientation.

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

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance:

Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, communication, accommodations, and public buildings. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

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

Women Travelers:  

Although gender-based violence is illegal, 75.5 percent of wives experience domestic violence. Rape, including spousal rape, is a widespread problem.  Police generally consider spousal rape to be a domestic issue outside their jurisdiction.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a crime.  Accomplices who are aware of the practice but do not report it to the police can also be punished.  Almost 80 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 19 have undergone FGM/C, and seven of the nine major ethnic groups practice FGM/C on girls from shortly after birth until age 16.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

 

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are poor, particularly during the rainy season, which generally lasts from July through September.  Although main roads are paved in the greater Banjul area, many are potholed and poorly lit. Some drivers in the Banjul area do not use vehicle lights at night, and many habitually drive with high beams on. Most roads outside the Banjul area are unlit and unpaved. Livestock and pedestrians pose road hazards throughout the country, including in the greater Banjul area. 

Traffic Laws:  Numerous accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers.  You may be substantially fined or imprisoned if you cause an accident while intoxicated.  

The police do not consistently apply traffic laws and regulations, and sometimes compel drivers to pay fines on the spot for violations, real or contrived.  Written citations/tickets are rarely given.

Roadblocks:  Police periodically set up impromptu traffic stops on major streets to check for drivers’ licenses and proper insurance.  You are obligated to stop at all roadblocks or road checkpoints.  Do not reverse direction to avoid a road checkpoint or make any movements that security personnel may view as suspicious or provocative.

Government convoys pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians. Government convoys frequently travel at high speeds and often in either or both lanes of traffic, including in the oncoming traffic lane and do not always use sirens to announce their presence.

  • Pull to the side of the road as far as possible.
  • Do not attempt to move until the entire convoy has passed.
  • Failure to comply may result vehicle damage with possible personal injury. 

Public Transportation: Exercise caution when using taxis, particularly at night. Most taxis lack safety belts and many are not road-worthy. 

Water transportation, including government ferries, is unsafe and unreliable. Ferries, which are poorly maintained and usually lack sufficient numbers of life preservers for all passengers, are often overcrowded.  Exit your vehicle quickly after parking to avoid becoming trapped inside for the duration of the crossing. The wooden dugout “pirogues” that also cross the Gambia River often leave shore overloaded and occasionally sink in the middle of the river. 

See our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of The Gambia’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in The Gambia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of The Gambia’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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