Security Alert
May 17, 2024

Worldwide Caution

May 10, 2024

Information for U.S. Citizens in the Middle East

International Travel


Learn About Your Destination


Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Reconsider travel to Mauritania due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Reconsider travel to Mauritania due to crime and terrorism.  Some areas have increased risk.  Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do Not Travel To:

  • Areas designated as off limits by the Mauritanian military due to crime and terrorism.

Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as mugging, armed robbery, and assault, are common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crimes.

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting places frequented by Westerners.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Mauritania as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside Nouakchott. U.S. government employees may travel only during daylight hours and are prohibited from walking alone outside of designated areas and times.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Mauritania.

If you decide to travel to Mauritania:

  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Mauritania.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

Areas Designated Off-Limits by the Mauritanian Military – Level 4: Do Not Travel

The government of Mauritania designates certain areas off-limits to foreigners and most Mauritanians. These “No Movement Zones” are extremely dangerous due to their proximity to Mali, where armed groups engaged in an active insurgency carry out cross-border attacks into Mauritania. The government of Mauritania does not maintain a substantial presence in these areas and thus police are unable to respond to most incidents there. In addition, cell phone coverage and paved roads are nonexistent. U.S. officials are unable to travel to these places. Since the boundaries of such areas frequently change, U.S. citizens should pay attention to all posted signs and notices of restricted entry. They should presume the following areas are off-limits:

  • All areas north of the Tropic of Cancer
  • All areas east of 08⁰ longitude (West of Greenwich) situated within 100km of the Mali Border

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.


Embassy Messages


Quick Facts


Six months remaining validity upon entry.


One page required for entry stamp


Yes, and should be obtained before travel, overseas.


Evidence of yellow fever vaccination required.


Local currency may not be imported.  See below


Local currency may not be exported.  See below

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Nouakchott
Nouadhibou Road, Avenue Al Quds,
Nouakchott, Mauritania
 +(222) 4525-2660 
Emergency Phone: +(222) 3662-8163 
Fax: +(222) 4525-1592 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Basic passport, visa, and immunization information for tourist and business travelers can be found here.

A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. Mauritanian visas can be obtained at most Mauritanian Embassies abroad. Note that travelers who do not have at least six months’ validity remaining on their passport may be denied entry, regardless of the length of their intended stay.

For the most current visa information, visit the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-5700,, or the Mauritanian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 116 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 252-0113.

Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Mauritanian embassy or consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott cannot provide assistance to private citizens seeking Mauritanian visas.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Mauritania.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Read the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Mauritania and Worldwide Caution before planning travel to Mauritania.

Terrorism: The U.S. government assesses that a credible terrorist threat against foreigners remains in Mauritania. U.S. citizens in Mauritania should take precautions, remain vigilant, and be alert to local security developments. Travel in Mauritania is discouraged, particularly in the easternmost region, due to activities by terrorist groups including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which are active in the neighboring regions of Mali.

Traveling safely within Mauritania: You should exercise prudence and caution when traveling in Mauritania. Be particularly vigilant when traveling by road outside of populated areas. The U.S. Embassy discourages travel outside of urban areas unless in a convoy accompanied by an experienced guide, and even then only if equipped with sturdy vehicles and ample provisions. Nighttime driving should be avoided. Travel at night between cities in Mauritania is prohibited for U.S. Embassy staff and all driving outside of the capital of Nouakchott requires a minimum two vehicle convoy. Landmines remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara and travelers should cross only at designated border posts.

Political concerns: Protests and political rallies occur frequently in Mauritania, and can sometimes turn violent. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid political rallies and street demonstrations.

Crime: Criminal activity in Nouakchott continues to rise. A number of homes and private individuals, including U.S. citizens, have recently been targeted by violent criminals. In Nouakchott, armed robberies and burglaries are occurring at homes as well as on busy streets in broad daylight. Some of these incidents have been violent, and the use of knives and other weapons is becoming more common.

Because of the increase in criminal activity, U.S. Embassy staff and their family members are prohibited from walking alone outside of designated areas and times. U.S. citizens have been victims of assaults, including sexual assaults. Given the lack of government regulation of taxi fares and poor regular maintenance, U.S. citizens should avoid taxis and public transportation. U.S. Embassy staff and their family members are prohibited from using public transportation and local taxi services.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

  • U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.
  • Report crimes to the local police at 117 and contact the U.S. Embassy at 4525-2660 or after hours at 3662-8163.
  • 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.

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place.  Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk.  Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in-country.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance.  

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: While traveling in Mauritania, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. If you break local laws in Mauritania, 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.

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.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

Religious norms: Islamic ideals and beliefs in Mauritania encourage conservative dress and behavior. Mauritania recognizes Islam as the sole religion of its citizens and the state. Religious freedom is restricted and affronts against Islamic modesty and morals carry penalties which range from fines to the death penalty. Participation in Christian gatherings and activities that have not been authorized by the Mauritanian government is illegal. Apostasy is punishable by death. Proselytizing in Mauritania is illegal and may lead to deportation, arrest, prosecution, or incarceration.

Importation of alcohol and pork: Passengers caught attempting to bring alcoholic drinks or pork products into Nouakchott International Airport, including alcohol bought duty free on an inbound flight, may be subject to immediate fines, confiscation, and/or incarceration.

Interactions with Police: Persons of Black African appearance may be subject to prejudicial treatment by the Mauritanian authorities. If you are detained or arrested by the Mauritanian authorities, insist to be put in contact with the U.S. Embassy so that we may assist you.

Local currency: The local currency is the ouguiya, and it may not be imported or exported. Credit cards can be used only at a few hotels in the capital, Nouakchott, and in the northwestern city of Nouadhibou. However, travelers are strongly advised to pay hotel bills in cash. ATMs are available in Nouakchott and other large cities, but are also not secure.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons from discrimination. Under Mauritanian law, consensual same-sex sexual activity between men is punishable by death, and such activity between women is punishable by three months to two years in prison and a monetary fine. There are no organizations advocating for sexual orientation or gender-identity rights in the country.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Mauritania, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. There are very few sidewalks or paved roads and few buildings are wheelchair accessible.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.


Medical and dental facilities in Mauritania are extremely limited and do not approach Western standards. Local pharmacies are to be used with caution. Many medicines are difficult to obtain or may be counterfeit. Travelers are advised to carry their own medical supplies, medications, and prescription eyewear. There are no Western mortuary services available in Mauritania.

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 coverage overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

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: While in a foreign country, visitors may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Overland travel is difficult and roadside assistance is non-existent. The country’s size (larger than Texas and New Mexico combined) and harsh climate make road maintenance and repair especially problematic. Even small amounts of rain can make paved roads in Nouakchott impassable for cars without high clearance.

U.S. citizens traveling overland for long distances in Mauritania should travel in convoys, and be sure to have suitable four-wheel drive vehicles, a local guide, an adequate supply of water and food, and a second fuel reservoir. Multiple vehicles are recommended in case of breakdown. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and satellite phone are essential when traveling in remote areas. Visitors are urged not to travel alone into the desert or after dark when outside of major urban areas.

The telecommunications infrastructure, including cellular telephone coverage, is limited. For those traveling outside the major urban areas, it is recommended to have a satellite telephone readily available.

Traffic Laws: Driving in Mauritania can be treacherous, and we encourage travelers to hire a trained local driver. Traffic patterns differ considerably from those in the United States and many Mauritanians drive without regard to traffic signs or rules. Roadway obstructions and hazards caused by drifting sand, animals, and poor roads often plague motorists. These hazards, when combined with the number of untrained drivers and poorly maintained vehicles, make heightened caution imperative at all times. Drivers should be extremely vigilant and all vehicle occupants should always wear their seat belts. Motorcycle and bicycle riders should wear helmets and protective clothing. Nighttime driving should be avoided. Travel at night between cities in Mauritania is prohibited for U.S. Embassy staff and all driving outside of the capital of Nouakchott requires a minimum two vehicle convoy

Public Transportation: Public transportation is not safe in Mauritania, particularly in the interior. Taxis and public transportation are not considered to be secure forms of transportation for western visitors to Mauritania, and U.S. Embassy personnel are directed not to use them.

For more information, please visit our Road Safety page. 

Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Mauritania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Mauritania’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.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Mauritania. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: December 29, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Nouakchott
Nouadhibou Road
Avenue Al Quds, NOT PRTZ
Nouakchott, Mauritania
+(222) 4525-2660
+(222) 3662-8163
+(222) 4525-1592

Mauritania Map