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.
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.
Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Monitor local and international news from reliable sources and consular messages. To receive consular messages automatically, enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
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.
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 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 firm in turning down unwanted help or attempts at conversation.
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 seeking financial or other assistance under false pretenses. 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 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:
Report crimes to the local police at 117 for police assistance or 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.
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should contact the U.S. Embassy in addition to Gambian police. Sexual assaults by relatives are often seen by police as family matters outside their jurisdiction.
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.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences. This includes use or possession of marijuana. There are strict laws on the import and export of skin-bleaching creams and some medications.
Local Laws: 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.
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. This is particularly true if the traveler uses 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.
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 our 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. A number of LGBTI persons were arrested in 2015 when former President Jammeh was in power, but there have been no reports of arrests under the law since the change in government in xxxx. [M1] Under Jammeh, Gambian security forces systematically targeted individuals for arrest and detention because of their perceived sexual orientation. 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.
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 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:
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.