Do not travel to Mali due to crime and terrorism.
Violent crime, such as kidnapping and armed robbery, is common in the regions of northern and central Mali. Violent crime is a particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali’s southern regions. Roadblocks and random police checkpoints are commonplace throughout the country, especially at night.
Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting night clubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, Western diplomatic missions, and other locations frequented by foreigners.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the northern and central regions of Mali as U.S. government employees travel to these regions is restricted due to security concerns.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Mali, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Mali:
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Mali for information on U.S. - Mali relations.
To enter Mali, you will need a valid passport with at least one blank page, a visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination. Visas are not available upon arrival in Mali. You must obtain your visa in advance of travel to avoid excessive fees and unexpected potential travel restrictions imposed at the port-of-entry. Visit the Embassy of Mali website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Mali.
Political Stability: Mali continues to face significant political and security challenges amidst slow implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2015 that aims to resolve the ongoing conflict in northern Mali. A disparate group of political armed groups, militias, bandits, and extremist groups continue to exert influence in wide swathes of Mali north of the Niger river. The Malian government is generally not present in those areas outside of major cities. Furthermore, terrorist groups have increased the frequency and range of their attacks - particularly against the base camps of the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) in Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal - in an effort to destabilize the country.
Travelers should avoid travel to the northern parts of the country because of continuing insecurity and ongoing military operations. The situation in central Mali - in the Segou and Mopti Regions - is increasingly unstable due to intercommunal conflict and localized political violence.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups with varying degrees of allegiance to al-Qa'ida and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operate in Mali, and often pursue local agendas complementary to these global jihadist movements. Groups such as al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and the Macina Liberation Front (MLF) continued to conduct terrorist attacks throughout 2016, primarily targeting international and Malian military forces. These groups have claimed responsibility for recent gun and improvised explosives attacks, kidnappings, and other violent actions in northern and central Mali.
In March, 2017, four of these Al-Qa’ida-linked groups – AQIM, Ansar al-Dine, MLF and MUJAO - merged under the banner of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (“Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims”). Terrorist groups are likely to continue, if not escalate, attacks on Western targets throughout the Sahel (including Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger).
MINUSMA and French troops, in collaboration with Malian security forces, are deployed in the country and are conducting counterterrorism operations that target extremist elements. However, their presence is not sufficient to counter every threat. Extremist groups have attacked UN peacekeepers’ northern base camps in Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal throughout 2016 and early 2017. Since 2015, attacks by violent Islamist extremist groups have moved beyond the traditional conflict zone in the north to the center and south of the country. The entire area along the border with Burkina Faso, and some remote parts of southern Mali, are increasingly under threat of attack.
In Bamako, there are ongoing threats against hotels, restaurants, and other areas where Westerners congregate. On November 20, 2015, heavily armed assailants stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako using gunfire and grenades. AQIM and al-Murabitoun claimed responsibility for this attack, in which one U.S. citizen and 19 other foreigners were murdered. In March 2016 the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) headquarters building, locally referred to as the Azali Nord-Sud Hotel, was attacked.
Kidnapping: The threat of kidnapping of Westerners by criminal or terrorist groups remains high throughout the region. Several high-profile kidnappings of westerners also occurred in 2016 and early 2017. In October, 2016, a U.S. citizen missionary-NGO worker was abducted from Abalak, in western Niger near the Malian border. In December 2016, a French aid worker was abducted in Gao. In February, 2017, a Colombian nun was kidnapped near Koutiala, in the Southeast of Mali, near the border with Burkina Faso. These kidnappings illustrate the increasing reach of criminal and terrorist groups.
Travel Restrictions for U.S. Government Employees: Overnight travel outside of the city of Bamako for official U.S. government employees is discouraged and reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Though this restriction does not apply to private U.S. citizens, it should be taken into account when traveling to and within Mali.
Civil Unrest: Periodic street demonstrations occur throughout Mali. Although some are planned and often peaceful, demonstrations can occur spontaneously and turn violent. The majority of these are contained by security forces, but U.S. citizens should avoid street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
Crime: Criminal traffickers of all kinds operate throughout the Sahel, and may respond violently if encountered. Violent crimes are not frequent, but U.S. citizens should maintain a vigilant posture in all urban areas. There has been a recent uptick in police harassment and violent crime such as banditry, armed robbery, armed carjacking, and assault in Bamako. There are sporadic reports of night time robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive at night (See Travel & Transportation section).
For Your Safety:
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.
Report crimes to the local police at 8000-1115 (connection and response is not always reliable) and contact the U.S. Embassy during normal consular hours, at (+223) 20 70 25 05, or after-hours at (+223) 66 75 28 60. If you are unable to reach the Consular Section, please call the main Embassy phone at (+223) 20 70 23 00.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. However, response from local authorities and recourse for victims of crime is extremely limited. When you do interact with local police always request a copy of the police report.
Due to the vigilantism which often occurs when criminals are apprehended in Mali, it is best to avoid the large crowds that may gather at the scene of a crime, a vehicle accident, or any altercation.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Travelers may be detained for questioning if stopped by the police and unable to produce their passport or for taking pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lead to arrest. If you break local laws, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. The U.S. government cannot get you out of jail.
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.
Cultural Property: Mali is a signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property, which restricts exportation of Malian archeological objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako. Contact the Embassy of Mali in Washington D.C. or the nearest Malian consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act.
Currency/Access to Funds: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often use out-of-date exchange rates. The U.S. Embassy is unable to provide exchange facilities for private U.S. citizens. There are several ATMs in Bamako that accept U.S. credit/debit cards, though they do not function reliably. Maximum withdrawals are generally limited to $400, and local banks charge up to $20 per transaction for use of their ATMs. There are some ATMs outside of Bamako in Segou, Sikasso, Koutiala, Gao, and Mopti, though they are sporadic and occasionally inoperable. Credit cards are accepted only at the largest hotels, Banque Atlantique, a few travel agencies (for an extra fee), and very few select restaurants. Cash advances from credit cards are available in Mali only via Western Union.
Photography: Exercise caution when taking photographs in Mali. Photographing any official object, entity, or person is restricted. These restrictions include infrastructure, facilities, government buildings, and individuals. You should obtain explicit permission from the Malian government before photographing transportation facilities and government buildings. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area or around any of the above listed facilities often provokes a prompt response from security personnel or offends the people being photographed. Taking photos of the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is also prohibited.
Communication: Communication infrastructure in Mali is of limited coverage and speed. International telephone calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside of Bamako. There are a number of internet service providers in Mali, many of which operate on cellular networks.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Mali. Societal discrimination, however, is widespread. LGBTI individuals have experienced physical, psychological, and sexual violence, which society views as corrective punishment and police frequently refuse to intervene. Most LGBTI individuals isolate themselves and keep their sexual identity hidden.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There is no law protecting the rights of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services, nor requiring accommodation and access to public facilities. No special accommodations are made or officially reduced fares or rates are available to persons with disabilities in public transportation or taxis, communications, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafés, bars or other tourist spots. Foot paths and pedestrian-friendly road crossings are rare and generally are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Women Travelers: Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, is common. Although the law prohibits spousal abuse, it does not prohibit domestic violence. The minimum age to marry without parental consent is 16 for girls and 18 for boys. Girls may marry with parental consent at age 15 if a civil judge approves. However, child marriage remains a common practice.
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is legal in Mali and widely practiced. The government of Mali prohibits FGM/C in government-funded health care centers.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
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 to cover medical evacuation.
Medical facilities are extremely limited, especially outside of Bamako. U.S.-standard care does not exist. Most U.S. medicines are unavailable; European medications are more easily found, and can be obtained at pharmacies throughout Bamako.
Ebola: In late 2014, Mali experienced a minor outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The government of Mali, with the help of International partners including the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health responded successfully to quickly halt the spread of this disease in 2015. On March 29, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the end of the regional Ebola Public Health Emergency. While Ebola virus disease is no longer present in Mali and the sub region, if another outbreak occurs, travelers should remain vigilant by taking care not to come into contact with anyone who is obviously sick. Visit CDC’s Ebola web page for more information.
Zika: On March 13, the CDC designated Mali as a country at risk for an outbreak of Zika virus. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not travel to Mali. All travelers should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika virus during and after the trip.
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: We recommend you exercise extreme caution when traveling by road. Travelers after dark on roads outside of urban centers are subject to attack by kidnappers and terrorists, and more commonly regular banditry, as roads are poorly lit or traveled. Road travel between Gao Kidal, and Menaka, and outside Timbuktu should be avoided as they are common sites for improvised explosive devices (bombs) and ambushes by armed assailants.
Mali has paved roads leading from Bamako to most major cities in the south and east. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, some unpaved roads may be impassable. Four-wheel drive vehicles with spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended. Professional roadside service is not available. It is imperative to carry sufficient quantities of drinking water and food. Drivers should ensure that their gas tanks are at least half-full at all times, as gas stations are not widely available.
Drivers travel on the right-hand side of the road in Mali. Speed limits range from 40-60 km per hour (25-40 miles per hour) within towns, to 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour) between cities. Road conditions often require much lower speeds.
For more information, please visit our Road Safety page.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Mali’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.
The U.S. government has warned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Mali due to hazards associated with ongoing fighting involving military forces and extremist/militant groups. The FAA advises U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below a certain altitude in the airspace over Mali. For further information on FAA flight prohibitions, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
For information concerning travel to Mali, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Mali.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.
Mali is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Mali and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.
Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country. The government of Mali maintains information about custody, visitation, and family law on the Internet.
Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Mali and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction. For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child. The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Parental child abduction is a crime in Mali. Please refer to Article 240 in its penal code.
Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court. Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information.
Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country. Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Mali and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.
The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States. Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the U.S. Embassy in Mali for information and possible assistance.
Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Mali are authorized to provide legal advice.
The U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
Mediation is a possible remedy for both abduction and access cases. Mediation is available in the first instance at the Direction de la Promotion de l’Enfant et de la Famille and then also, if necessary, by a judge if the parents are involved in court proceedings such as a divorce case.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
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Available. Malian birth certificates are issued only to those Malians born in maternity centers or to those whose birth is declared within thirty days of birth. Many Malians simply have court declarations (le jugement suppletif) of approximate place and date of birth. Copies of these declarations or birth certificates are obtained from the court of first instance of the commune in which the applicant was born or obtained the jugement suppletif The fee for this service is CFA 3,000.
French nationals born before January 1, 1960 may obtain birth certificate copies from the Direction des Archives de France, Outre-Mer, 27 rue Oudinot, Paris. French nationals born after that date in Mali whose births were registered with the Consulate General in Bamako may obtain copies from Le Service de l'Etat Civil du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres, 7 Allees Brancas, Nantes (Loire Atlantique), France.
Available. Before 1962 marriage by a civil official was not required so many Malians only have jugements de mariage provided by justices of the peace or tribunals. These have the same validity as marriage certificates. Records of marriages after 1962 may be obtained from the civil office of the commune in which the marriage took place.
Available. Obtainable from the court that issued the divorce decree. The fee for this service is CFA 2,000.
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Available. Certification of lack of a police/prison record for Malians born abroad, Casier Judiciaire Special or Certificat de non condamnation, is obtained from the clerk of the Mali Court of Appeals, le Greffier en chef de la cour d'Appel du Mali, in Bamako. The fee for this service is CFA 1,500.
For Malians born in Mali, records of all convictions, fines, pardons, and paroles are available from the clerk of the court of first instance in the capital of the region in which they were born (Bamako, Gao, Kayes, Mopti, Segou, Sikasso, Koulikoro, Timbuktu, and Kidal) or the Justice of the Peace of the Cercle where they were born. The fee for this service is CFA 750.
Available. Military records are obtained from the prefecture where the person was recruited. French citizens born in former French Sudan can obtain their military records from the Bureau de Recrutement de PAU (Basses- Pyrénées), France.
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The following civil documents applying to French nationals prior to 1960 may be obtained from the Direction des Archives de France, Section Outre-Mer, 27 rue Oudinot, Paris:
Civil documents applying to French nationals after January 1, 1960 may be obtained from Le Service de l'Etat Civil du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres, 7 Allees Brancas, NANTES (Loire Atlantique), France.
Lebanese citizens who have recorded civil acts at the Lebanese Embassy in Bamako and have since left may obtain copies of these records by contacting the Lebanese government through the Lebanese missions where they reside or through personal representatives in Beirut.
All nonimmigrant visas for all of Mali. Immigrant visas for Malians are processed by U.S. Embassy Dakar.