COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Senegal is a developing West African country. The capital is Dakar. Facilities for tourists are widely available but vary in quality. The official language is French; English is not widely used. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Senegal for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or travel to Senegal, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date. It is important during enrollment or when you update your information to include your current phone number and email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Dakar
Route des Almadies – B.P. 49
Telephone: (221) 33-879-4000
Emergency after-hours telephone: (221) 33-879-4444.
Facsimile: (221) 33-879-4050
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: As of July 1, 2013, a valid passport, visa, and evidence of yellow-fever vaccination are required for entry into Senegal.
A meningitis vaccination is highly recommended if the traveler is arriving from or has recently traveled to an endemic area.
Travelers unable to provide proof of vaccinations may be required to pay for and receive vaccinations at the Dakar airport.
The official website for purchasing the visa is hosted by Société Nationale d'Edition de Documents Administratifs et d'Identification. Since the visa is biometric, U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Senegal must first pay the visa fees (approximately $67) before appearing in person to be fingerprinted. This can be accomplished at either the Senegalese Embassy, in Washington, D.C., or the Senegalese Consulate in New York City prior to travel. As long as they have applied and paid for the visa in advance, travelers may also retrieve their visas at Leopold Sedar Senghor Airport in Dakar, Senegal, or other posts along the Senegalese border. You may be denied entry if you lack the proper documentation before arriving in Senegal.
Travelers should obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of Senegal, 2031 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009, telephone (202) 234-0540. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Senegalese embassy or consulate.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Senegal.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Back to Top
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Public demonstrations, political gatherings, and student protests are relatively common in Senegal, both in Dakar and in outlying regions, particularly on Friday afternoons. In the past, these events have sometimes turned violent. Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times.
The threat of terrorism in Senegal has increased due to the conflict in Mali. It should be noted that Senegal shares porous borders in the north and east with both Mauritania and Mali. Terrorist attacks involving members of Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have occurred in Mauritania and Mali in recent years. In February 2013, AQIM made a public statement indicating that it regards Senegal as a hostile country for contributing to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). Thus far, Senegal has been spared any direct terrorist attacks, but does remain vulnerable due to porous borders, increased regional instability, and the increased terror activities of AQIM. In December 2010, two members of AQIM were confronted along the border with Senegal as they were attempting to flee Mauritania and one member detonated his suicide vest prior to capture. U.S. citizens planning to visit the border regions of Senegal are encouraged to exercise additional caution and to maintain situational awareness at all times. Travelers planning overland trips to Mauritania or Mali should register with the respective Embassies and monitor the current security developments to appropriately assess the risks of the regional travel.
Lac Rose (Pink Lake) is a popular tourist destination in Senegal. The Lac Rose area has a large number of tourists and isolated
beach areas, but lacks multiple exit and entry points. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all visitors to Lac Rose and its surrounding
beaches be particularly vigilant and do not travel alone.
Banditry occurs with some regularity on the main highways after dark, particularly in the central and eastern area of Senegal, including around Tambacounda and Matam. Bandits often target RN2 (National Road) between Ndioum and Kidira and occasionally target RN1 between Kidira and Tambacounda.
The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel to the Casamance region west of the city of Kolda, except direct air or sea travel to the Cap Skirring resort area or to the city of Ziguinchor. If travel is deemed essential, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens carefully monitor the security situation before traveling. If travel by road is essential, the U.S. Embassy recommends that it be done during daylight hours only and, if possible, in convoy.
Violent clashes in the region between government forces and alleged members of the Movement of the Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) diminished following Presidential elections in March 2012, and the government and MFDC are in talks to bring a peaceful end to the Casamance conflict. In the past, MFDC rebels targeted military installations, convoys, and personnel in an attempt to destabilize the region. Civilians living and traveling in the Casamance are often targets of opportunity for the rebels and bandits that support the group. The indiscriminate violence serves to perpetuate fear within the region.
Landmine explosions continue to plague inhabitants of the Casamance. Several civilians and soldiers have been killed or injured by landmines during the past twelve months. Since 1990, more than 1,000 people have been killed by land mines in the Casamance. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remain on well-traveled routes at all times.
Stay up to date by:
Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Minor street crime is very common in Senegal, particularly in cities. Most reported incidents involve pickpockets and purse-snatchers,
who are especially active in large crowds and around tourists. Aggressive vendors, panhandlers and street children may attempt
to divert the victim’s attention while an accomplice carries out the crime. To avoid theft, U.S. citizens should avoid walking
alone in isolated areas or on beaches, particularly at night, lock their doors and close their windows when driving, and avoid
public transportation. U.S. citizens should not walk on dark streets at night, even in groups. To minimize inconvenience in
the event of theft, U.S. citizens should carry copies, rather than originals, of their passports and other identification
documents. U.S. citizens should carry a credit card only if it will be used soon, rather than carrying it as a routine practice.
There is traditionally an increase in crime before major religious holidays.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to use common sense and situational awareness to ensure personal safety and to reduce the risk of becoming a crime victim. Always be aware of the surroundings, especially in large cities and crowded places such as markets and taxi parks. Keep a low profile, remain vigilant, and avoid potential conflict situations. Do not wear flashy clothing or jewelry, and be cautious about displaying any amount of currency in public. Use common sense when faced with something out of the ordinary or if someone is following you.
Violent crimes and crimes involving the use of weapons are increasing. There have been incidents in the past year of U.S. citizens in groups of two or three being robbed at knife-point. Such robberies occur with some frequency along the Corniche d’Ouest, an area heavily frequented by tourists and westerners. Walking on the Corniche D’Ouest during hours of darkness should be avoided. If confronted by criminals, remember that cash and valuables can be replaced, but life and health cannot. U.S. citizens are encouraged to walk away from a criminal confrontation no matter the material cost. Break-ins at residential houses occur frequently. Persons who plan to reside in Senegal on a long-term basis are advised to take measures to protect your dwellings by installating window grilles (fire safety issues should be considered), solid core doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system. In the past year a number of U.S. citizen residences have experienced burglaries. No violence or personal injuries have been reported in these cases, in which the burglars appear to have been exclusively seeking financial gain.
Fraud is prevalent in Senegal and U.S. citizens are often the target of scams that may cause both financial loss and physical
harm. Typically, business scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual
who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out
of West Africa. The perpetrators of these scams often claim to be victims of various western African conflicts (notably refugees
from Sierra Leone) or relatives of present or former political leaders.
There are many variations of these business scams. In some cases, a series of “advance fees” must be paid in order to conclude the transaction, such as fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist since the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. Another common variation consists of a request for the U.S. citizen's bank account information, purportedly to transfer money into the account. Once the perpetrator obtains this information, however, he or she then simply transfers all money out of the victim's account. Other scams extend an apparent job offer, but request upfront payment for “administrative” or visa processing.
Visa scams take advantage of people who wish to travel to the United States. One variant is to “guarantee” a U.S. visa for
participants who pay a large sum of money to register for a conference or attend an event in the United States. In other instances,
the perpetrator uses links or apparent links to U.S. government websites or email addresses in order to solicit money, purportedly
in the name of the U.S. government. Please refer to the State Department’s Travel Information or the U.S. Embassy in Dakar for authoritative information about the visa process and the costs involved.
In addition to business and visa scams, personal and dating scams are also prevalent. U.S. citizens should be wary of persons claiming to live in Senegal who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet. The anonymity of the Internet means that the U.S. citizen cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent. In some cases, the correspondent is a fictitious persona created only to lure the U.S. citizen into sending money.
Don’t wire money to purchase plane tickets. U.S. citizens may prepay a plane ticket directly with an airline rather than wiring money for transportation to the traveler. U.S. citizens may also research the legitimate immigration process online with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud, business scam, or visa scam is to use common sense: If an offer seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam. You should carefully research any unsolicited business proposal originating in Senegal before you commit funds, provide goods or services, or undertake travel.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
Credit card fraud is prevelant in Senegal, particularly in Dakar. Avoid using credit cards if possible. There have been numerous incidents of credit card fraud, mostly believed to related to “skimming” during the past year. Incidents have occurred at major hotels and stores. If use is necessary, careful monitoring of accounts is highly recommended.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
There is no local equivalent to a “911” emergency line in Senegal.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
U.S. citizens who are victims or witnesses of a crime are encouraged to report crimes to the police by telephoning 800-00-20-20; 800-00-17-00, Senegal's police hotline numbers. Another 24 hour phone number for the police in Senegal is 33-821-2431. The Government of Senegal has also created a tourist police unit, which may be reached at ( 221)33 860-3810.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Senegal, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In Senegal specifically, it is forbidden to photograph Embassies, military installations and police stations. For other buildings, such as government ministries, it is best to ask the security personnel guarding the building first before taking any pictures. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Senegal, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
If you are arrested in Senegal, you have the right to request authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Senegalese authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens 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 is readily available. If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Personal Identification: Senegalese law requires that all persons carry personal identification at all times, and all Senegalese law enforcement officials have the authority to challenge suspicious activity and to request personal identification. Be aware that they may request personal identification even without cause, which is generally not the case in the United States. If a U.S. citizen does not cooperate and provide identification, she/he may be detained for up to 48 hours without the filing of formal charges.
Issues for LGBT Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Senegal. LGBT individuals routinely face discrimination, and there is strong societal disapproval. Travelers to Senegal should be aware that under Article 319 of the Senegalese penal code, “unnatural acts” are punishable by imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of CFA 100,000 (USD 2,000). While authorities have not actively sought to prosecute individuals under this article, there were several prosecutions in 2008 and 2009. In December 2008, eight men – several of whom are known anti-AIDS activists – were arrested and later sentenced to eight years in prison for criminal conspiracy and committing “unnatural acts.” Although they were all released in April 2009, the sentence was unusually harsh and has produced outrage among some Senegalese human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and anti-AIDS activists, as well as international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations. Additional arrests and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity occurred during 2009. The Embassy is inaware of any arrests or acts of violence based on sexual orientation during the past year. For further information, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender travelers should read our LGBT Travel Information page.
Tourist tax: Please note that in some locations, such as the popular tourist attraction, Goree Island, local officials may charge tourists
a tax when they visit. While legal, notices of the tax and where to pay it are not always clearly posted. If in doubt, please
ask the official for paperwork and a receipt once the tax is paid.
Customs Regulations: You are not permitted in the country without clearance by Senegalese customs officials with the following items: computers and computer parts, video cameras and players, stereo equipment, tape players, auto parts, and various tools and spare parts. Airport customs officials may hold such items if brought in as baggage or carry-on luggage. Travelers should check with the Embassy of Senegal in Washington, D.C., regarding these restrictions. (See Entry Requirements section above for contact information.)
Senegalese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, call (212) 354-4480, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the United States Council for International Business website for details.
Please see our Customs Information.
Currency: Senegal’s currency is the CFA, which is pegged to the EURO. Travelers can obtain cash from some ATMs in Senegal. Travelers can get cash and/or traveler's checks through international credit cards, such as Master Card, Visa, and American Express, by presenting their credit card at a local financial institution sponsoring their card.
U.S. Government Sanctions: Until further notice, all U.S. citizens in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau are advised to not subscribe to or purchase services or equipment from Senegal's new telecommunications company, Sudatel/Expresso. The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified Sudatel as a company owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan. U.S. sanctions prohibit U.S. citizens from doing business with companies owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan unless authorized by OFAC. In addition, there may be other companies operating in Senegal which, given their relationship with countries subject to sanctions, might also be on OFAC’s list. For further information, you may email the OFAC compliance division at OFAC_feedback@do.treas.gov or call the OFAC hotline at 202-622-2490.
Accessibility: Individuals with disabilities should be aware that there are almost no accommodations made for individuals with disabilities in Senegal. The few that exist are inadequate or very different from what you will find in the United States.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Several hospitals and clinics in the capital, Dakar, can treat major and minor injuries and illnesses; however, medical facilities
outside Dakar are extremely limited. These facilities are not prepared to handle major injuries. There is inadequate inpatient
psychiatric care and limited office-based psychiatric treatment in Dakar.
French medications are far more readily available than U.S. pharmaceuticals, and drugs in stock are often listed under the French trade name. Medications may be obtained at pharmacies throughout Dakar and in other areas frequented by tourists, and are usually less expensive than in the United States – although more expensive than U.S. generics. Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.
Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Senegal. Travelers should consult their physician to discuss the benefits and risks of taking anti-malarial medication. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area, and up to one year after returning home, should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medications they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, visit the CDC Travelers' Health online.
Water supplies in Senegal are not consistently free of disease-causing microorganisms. For this reason, the U.S. Embassy recommends drinking filtered or boiled water, particularly for babies under one year of age. Raw vegetables and fruits should be washed in a bleach solution before eating.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. Yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers coming from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, and recommended for all travelers over 9 months of age. Rabies vaccine is recommended for prolonged stays, with priority for young children. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Senegal. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Senegal is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Driving in Senegal is very different from driving in the United States. Many U.S. citizens find the traffic in Senegal chaotic,
particularly in Dakar. Drivers tend to exceed speed limits, follow other vehicles closely, ignore lane markings, and attempt
to pass even when facing oncoming traffic. Many vehicles are not well-maintained; headlights may be either extremely dim or
not used at all. Roadways are poorly lit and poorly marked, and many sections have deteriorated surfaces. Some roads have
sidewalks or sufficient space for pedestrian traffic; others do not, and pedestrians are forced to walk in or along the roadway.
Due to limited street lighting, pedestrians are difficult to see at night. Drivers in both rural and urban areas may frequently
expect to encounter and share the road with motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, livestock, and animal carts. Caution and
defensive driving techniques are strongly recommended.
While most main roads in Senegal are in relatively good condition for daytime driving, smaller roads are poor by U.S. standards. During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Travelers may be stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, where their vehicles and luggage may be searched. Service stations are available along main roads. Due to poor road conditions and the risk of crime, driving outside major cities at night is not recommended. Due to language barriers (outside Dakar, relatively few Senegalese speak French) and the lack of roadside assistance, receiving help may be difficult in the event of distress.
For safety reasons, the U.S. Embassy recommends against the use of motorbikes, van taxis ("cars rapides"), and public transportation. They can be dangerous due to overloading, careless driving, inadequate maintenance, and the lack of basic safety equipment such as seat belts. Regulated orange-striped sedan auto taxis are safer, but make sure to agree on a fare before beginning the trip.
In Senegal, one drives on the right-hand side. Vehicles give priority to traffic coming from the right, except at traffic circles, where vehicles already in the circle have the right of way. All drivers are expected to carry the following documents in their vehicles and present them at any time at the request of the police: (1) valid driver's license; (2) valid insurance papers; (3) vehicle registration/matriculation card ("carte grise"); (4) "vignette" tax disc for the current year; and (5) valid identification. If U.S. citizens opt to carry a copy of their U.S. passport rather than the actual book, the copy must be clear enough to identify the driver of the vehicle.
Third-party insurance is required and will cover any damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries, and found not to have been at fault. If you are found to have caused an accident, the penalty ranges from five months to two years in prison, with a possible fine. If you cause an accident which results in a death, the penalty can be as high as five years in prison.
For guidance on what to do if you are in an automobile accident in Senegal, please see Citizen Services page of the U.S. Embassy Dakar web site. Senegalese law prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver is using “hands-free” equipment. Protective helmets are mandatory for all bicycle, moped, scooter and motorcycle drivers/riders and passengers.
When police officers stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, the police officer will generally confiscate the driver’s license or ID card until the fine is paid. We encourage you to comply with the request. Sometimes, police officers try to solicit bribes instead of or in addition to the fine. The U.S. Embassy does not encourage paying bribes.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Senegal, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Senegal’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.
Both Delta Airlines and South African Airlines fly direct to the United States from Dakar.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Senegal dated April 12, 2013, to update the section on Entry/Exit Requirements.