International Travel

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Country Information

The Gambia

The Gambia
Republic of The Gambia
Exercise normal precautions in The Gambia. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise normal precautions in The Gambia. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.      

Exercise increased caution in:

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to The Gambia:

Southern Border with Senegal

Separatist groups have attacked travelers on roads south of The Gambia in the Casamance region of Senegal. Some landmines from the conflict remain in the border region.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Valid for duration of stay

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Banjul

92 Kairaba Avenue, Fajara
Banjul
The Gambia
Telephone: +(220) 439-2856
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(220) 439-2856
Fax: +(220) 439-2475
Email: 

Destination Description

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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. 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.

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

Safety and Security

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.

  • 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: 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.

  • Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person and whose situation you cannot independently verify.
  • If you believe you might be a victim of an internet scam, please contact the Embassy at ConsularBanjul@state.gov before sending money to a person you have only met online.
  • See Internet Dating and Romance Scams.

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 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 and they may not investigate.
  • 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.
  • 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:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

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.

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, 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.

Health

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.

You should:

  • Carry and use insect repellents containing either 20 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone.
  • Treat clothing and tents with permethrin.
  • Sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.

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:

Travel and Transportation

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.

  • 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 in 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 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. 

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.

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.

Last Updated: December 11, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Banjul
92 Kairaba Avenue, Fajara
Banjul
The Gambia
Telephone
+(220) 439-2856
Emergency
+(220) 439-2856
Fax
+(220) 439-2475

The Gambia Map