Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > The Gambia International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on The Gambia for information on U.S. – The Gambia relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Obtain your visa before traveling or within two working days of arrival from the Department of Immigration in downtown Banjul. In the United States, contact the Embassy of The Gambia at 5630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20011, or call 202 785-1379 for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.
Tourist travelers are typically granted a 30-day stay in The Gambia upon arrival. Travelers who stay beyond the allowed time are fined 1,000 dalasi per month of overstay on departure, payable in cash. Extensions to stays can be requested at the Department of Immigration in Banjul.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of The Gambia.
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. For more detail, see the Travel Advisory for The Gambia.
Avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain situational awareness at all times. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Crime: Petty street crime is common. Pickpockets, purse snatching, and theft from vehicles occur on ferries, in market and commercial areas, and hotels. Ensure that your travel documents, luggage, and valuable items are secure. Business fraud and relationship scams are common.
Beware of “bumsters” - local men who approach tourists, particularly on beaches and tourist zones, offering help or to act as local guides. They will often demand payment for their services, even if no agreement has been made. Be polite but firm in turning down unwanted help or attempts at conversation.
Relationship fraud/scam: Internet romance and financial scams are common in The Gambia. Scams are often initiated when a U.S. citizen is befriended over the internet. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for assistance and they request financial assistance from the unsuspecting victim to help pay for fraudulent claims, such as for urgent medical treatment, payment of exit tax, or a government fine.
Business fraud/scams: The U.S. Embassy receives reports of scams in which U.S. businesses sent payment, but did not receive shipments.
Victims of Crime:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: Outside of primary tourist areas in the immediate capital region, formal tourism industry infrastructure is minimal or nonexistent. The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is moderate to minimal in the immediate capital region, and limited to unavailable in much of the rest of the country. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase private medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
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.
Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs can result in long prison sentences. This includes use or possession of marijuana.
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.
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 you solely as a Gambian citizen. This is particularly true if you use a Gambian passport rather than a U.S. passport to enter The Gambia.
Medications: Many common medications are available in Gambian pharmacies although you may need to know the European name or brand to find an equivalent product. Medication, such as insulin, requiring refrigeration may be difficult to store as The Gambia is subject to frequent power outages. 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. For more information, including additional restrictions on importing medications, please contact the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.
Photography: It is against the law to photograph or film airport security operations, military installations, embassies, 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 U.S. dollars, euros, and West African Francs (CFA) are widely accepted. The Gambia is a cash economy; credit cards are accepted only at major hotels and a few restaurants. Exchange currency at banks or exchange bureaus only. Changing money unofficially is prohibited. Due to the potential for fraud, avoid using ATMs except those at banks. Money transfers are widely available at Western Union branch offices.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Under Gambian law, consensual same-sex sexual relations are illegal. Prison terms range from five years to life imprisonment. Antidiscrimination laws do not protect LGBTI individuals, and there is strong societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals. Gambian authorities have called on landlords and owners of bars, restaurants, and hotels to monitor activities that happen in their environments.
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.
Although gender-based violence is illegal, many 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. Four-fifths 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.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
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.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of The Gambia, via the neareast embassy or consulate, to ensure the medication is legal. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Malaria is prevalent throughout the country. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
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 to cover medical evacuation.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
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, while others habitually drive with high beams on. Side roads in the Banjul area and 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to The Gambia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.