U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
This information is current as of today,
March 06, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mali is a developing country in western Africa with a stable and democratic government. The official language is French. The capital is Bamako. Facilities for tourism are limited. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Mali for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. All travelers must have international vaccination cards with a current yellow fever immunization. Travelers should obtain the latest visa information and entry requirements from the Republic of Mali Embassy at 2130 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Inquiries should be made at the nearest Malian embassy or consulate. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Mali and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Mali web site at http://www.maliembassy.us/ for the most current visa information.
See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Bamako advises American citizens to avoid traveling to the northern regions of Mali beyond the cities of Timbuktu and Gao. Travelers should exercise caution when traveling in any isolated areas. U.S. Government employees serving in Mali, including those on temporary duty, are required to have approval from the Chief of Mission prior to traveling to areas north of the Niger River. Some of the towns included in this requirement are Kidal, Tessalit, Lere, Goundam, Essakane, and Menaka.
Mali's northern regions have become a safe haven for the Group Salafist for Prayer and Combat (GSPC), a terrorist group seeking the overthrow of the Algerian government. In February 2003, a GSPC faction moved into Mali's far north with 15 European hostages; one hostage died and 14 were subsequently released to Malian authorities. The continued presence of the GSPC and other armed groups presents potential dangers to travelers. Northern Mali hosts several annual music festivals in the desert, including one north of Timbuktu at Essakane, one outside Kidal and another near Menaka. These are official events sanctioned by the Government of Mali. Americans planning to attend these festivals or otherwise travel to the northern regions of Mali despite this caution are urged to notify the Embassy about their plans by e-mail at email@example.com.
Sporadic banditry and random carjacking have historically plagued Mali's vast desert and borders with Mauritania and Niger. While banditry is not seen as targeting U.S. citizens specifically, acts of violence cannot be predicted.
Flying or traveling by boat to Timbuktu and other northern locations is considered to be safer than driving; local carriers provide these services. Travel overland is best via convoys with several vehicles and some type of long-range communications capability. The Embassy strongly urges all travelers to avoid traveling after dark on roads outside of urban centers; travelers are urged to limit overland travel to daylight hours and to avoid dirt track and unimproved roads. The roads from Gao to Kidal and Menaka and the roads around Timbuktu are desert tracks with long isolated stretches. Travelers must be prepared to repair their vehicles should they break down or become stuck in the sand. Travelers should also carry plenty of food and water.
Instability in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire has caused security incidents along Mali’s southern border. Travelers should maintain heightened vigilance in those areas. Throughout Mali, U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: Violent crime in Mali is infrequent, but petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and simple theft, are common in urban areas. Passports and wallets should be closely guarded when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. Individuals traveling on the Bamako-Dakar railroad are advised to be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance on the part of their victim. There are sporadic reports of nighttime robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Mali are limited, especially outside of the capital, Bamako. Psychiatric care is non-existent. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals who may see U.S. citizen patients. The Embassy cannot guarantee these services or specifically recommend any physicians.
Many American medicines are unavailable; French medications are more easily found. Available medications can be obtained at pharmacies throughout Bamako, and are usually less expensive than those in the U.S. Travelers should carry with them an adequate supply of needed medicines and/or prescription drugs, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITION : While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mali is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
U.S. citizens traveling by road in Mali should exercise caution. Mali has paved roads leading from Bamako to Segou, Mopti and Sikasso. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, some unpaved roads may be impassable. On many roads outside of the capital, deep sand and ditches are common. Four-wheel drive vehicles with spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended. Nighttime driving is particularly hazardous and not recommended.
Drivers drive 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 lower speeds. Due to safety
concerns, we recommend against the use of motorbikes, van taxis, and public transportation. Excessive speeds, poorly maintained
vehicles, lack of street lighting and livestock pose serious road hazards. Many vehicles are not maintained well and headlights
are either extremely dim or not used. Driving conditions in the capital of Bamako can be particularly dangerous due to limited
street lighting, the absence of sidewalks for pedestrians, and the number of motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information . The Malian authority for road safety is the Compagnie Nationale de Circulation Routiere in Bamako at telephone (223) 22-38-83.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mali’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Mali is signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property that 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. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Mali in Washington, D.C. or the nearest Malian consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act .
Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out-of-date rates. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide exchange facilities for private Americans. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, a few travel agencies, and select restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards are available from only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and the only card they accept for this is Visa.
The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Malian authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. Americans are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy (see section on Registration/Embassy Location below).
Photographing military subjects is restricted. One should also obtain explicit permission from the Malian government before photographing transportation facilities and government buildings. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or offend the people being photographed.
International telephone calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside of Bamako.
Please see our information on Customs Regulations .
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating Mali’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Mali are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy or through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mali . Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at the intersection of Rue Rochester NY and Rue Mohamed V. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone number is (223) 222-5470 or (223) 222-3678. The general fax number is (223) 222-3712; the Consular Section fax is (223) 222- 0118. The Embassy webpage is at http://www.usa.org.ml/.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 15, 2005, to update the sections on Country Description, Safety and Security, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.