- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burkina Faso overall because of the high risk of terrorist attack, the risk of civil unrest and violent crime. If you do decide to travel to Burkina Faso, you should exercise extreme caution.
- Pay very close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Due to ongoing instability in the region we assess that there is a heightened risk of terrorist attack and kidnapping in Burkina Faso at this time. Following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013 there is also a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Burkina Faso.
- We continue to receive reporting that terrorists are planning attacks in Burkina Faso. Information of late September 2012 indicates that terrorists from Mali may be planning kidnapping operations in Burkina Faso and we continue to see information of similar threats.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to provinces bordering Mali and Niger and all areas north of the town of Boulsa due to the risk of terrorist attack and the high risk of kidnapping targeting foreign nationals. The government of Burkina Faso has warned that terrorist and criminal groups continue to express a desire to attempt to kidnap Westerners in the areas bordering Mali and Niger. See the Terrorism section below for more information.
- During 2011 and 2012, a number of violent demonstrations occurred throughout Burkina Faso, including in the capital Ouagadougou. These demonstrations became violent and there are reports of shootings, lootings and other violent crimes. Several people died and many were injured. The military has also staged demonstrations. You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
- Armed bandits operate throughout Burkina Faso. You should avoid travelling alone or after dark. See Crime section below for more information
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. The local Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso (except the issue of passports). The Australian High Commission in Ghana can also provide assistance to Australians.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Burkina Faso for the most up to date information.
The exportation of objects of art (old or traditional artists' works and all old material of the national cultural patrimony) must be approved by the Ministry of Culture.
A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. If in doubt, check with your airline.
If you have visited Burkina Faso in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burkina Faso overall because of the high risk of terrorist attack. Due to ongoing instability in the region we assess that there is currently a heightened risk of terrorist attack and kidnapping in Burkina Faso at this time. Following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013 there is also a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Burkina Faso.
Ask yourself whether, given your own personal circumstances, you are comfortable travelling to Burkina Faso knowing that you may be caught up in a terrorist attack. Ask yourself whether travel could be deferred or an alternative destination chosen. If, having considered these issues, you do decide to travel to Burkina Faso, you should exercise extreme caution. You should monitor the local and international media for information affecting your safety and security. If you are in Burkina Faso and concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving.
We continue to receive reporting that terrorists are planning attacks in Burkina Faso. Information of late September 2012 indicates that terrorists from Mali may be planning kidnapping operations in Burkina Faso and we continue to see information of similar threats. Attacks could take place at any time at public locations frequented by Westerners, including foreign and local mining interests, NGO operations, identifiably Western businesses, bars, hotels and guest houses, places of worship and when travelling by road.
A heightened risk of kidnapping exists in northern Burkina Faso: We strongly advise you not to travel to provinces bordering Mali and Niger, and all areas north of the town of Boulsa due to the risk of terrorist attack and the heightened risk of kidnapping targeting foreign nationals. This includes the border provinces of Lebara, Kenedougou, Banwa, Kossi, Sourou, Yatenga, Loroum, Soum, Oudalan, SÚno, Yagha, Komondjari and Tapoa. It also includes the provinces of Passore and Zondouma, as well as all parts of Bam, Sanmatenga, Namentanga and Gnagna provinces north of the town of Boulsa (which is 25 km north of the capital Ouagadougou).
If, despite our strong advice to the contrary, you decide to travel to these areas, you should be aware that the Australian Government has a limited capacity to provide you with consular assistance.
The unpredictable security situation in Mali following the coup in March 2012 has heightened the kidnapping threat in the region. There is now a greater risk that the very high level of kidnapping activity seen in Mali and Niger may affect Westerners in Burkina Faso. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has formally identified foreigners as a legitimate target for terrorism and kidnapping operations, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in the region since 2006. AQIM has taken a number of hostages from remote areas in neighbouring countries. A number remain in captivity.
The government of Burkina Faso has warned that terrorist and criminal groups continue to express a desire to attempt to kidnap Westerners in border areas with Mali and Niger. In November 2011, two French nationals were reportedly kidnapped in the Malian town of Hombori (50 kilometres from the border of Burkina Faso). In view of these risks, you should maintain a high degree of vigilance at all times.
Australians in northern Burkina Faso should have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance: The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Burkina Faso overall because of the risk of civil unrest and violent crime. If you do decide to travel to Burkina Faso, you should exercise extreme caution.
Pay very close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Conflict in Mali during early 2012 has caused an influx of thousands of refugees into Burkina Faso. The large numbers of refugees could cause a greater strain on resources, especially food supplies, and an increased risk of crime.
During 2011 and 2012, violent demonstrations and protests occurred throughout Burkina Faso, including in the capital Ouagadougou. Many demonstrations were violent with reports of shootings, lootings and other violent crimes. Several people died and many were injured. Elements of the military also staged demonstrations. You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
Border region with Cote d’Ivoire: You should be particularly vigilant in the border region between Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire due to the ongoing political tensions in that country and the risk of banditry. For more information see our travel advice forCote d'Ivoire.
There are high levels of violent crime in Burkina Faso. Assaults and thefts are common, particularly in Bobo Dioulasso and the capital, Ouagadougou. Muggings often occur around the central market and the United Nations traffic circle in Ouagadougou. Thefts are sometimes committed by one or two individuals on a motorbike. You should remain vigilant in crowded areas and ensure that your personal belongings are secure at all times. Security risks increase after dark. You should avoid travelling alone or after dark.
Armed bandits operate across the country and have attacked vehicles, including buses, on roads connecting major cities within Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries. Bandits have used roadblocks to stop vehicles. These attacks occur mostly at night but have also occurred during the day. If travelling by car outside of urban areas we recommend that you travel in convoy.
Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a financial scam, we advise you to obtain legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our information on International Financial Scams provides more detail on these types of scams.
Some Australian citizens have also been defrauded or had their lives endangered by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from West African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely. In some instances, foreigners who have travelled to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner have been kidnapped and held to ransom.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Burkina Faso.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Driving in Burkina Faso can be hazardous as most roads are in poor condition and have insufficient lighting. Travelling by road outside Ouagadougou at night can be dangerous. Vehicles do not always use or have headlights. Many vehicles may be in poor mechanical condition. You should not leave marked roads or tracks and should carry sufficient drinking water given the arid conditions. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.
You should always carry a legally certified copy of your passport's identification page. The Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou (see below) provides a legal certification service.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Burkina Faso, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, may attract the death penalty.
Homosexuality is illegal in Burkina Faso.
Photography around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel is prohibited.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Burkina Faso and you should take care not to offend.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
Medical facilities and emergency hospital care are very limited, particularly in areas outside Ouagadougou. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could exceed $A100,000.
Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in West African countries, including Burkina Faso. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling, taking prophylaxis against malaria, using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, meningitis, measles and polio) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For more information on our advice the risk of infection see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the local Canadian Embassy provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports. The address is:
316 Professeur Ki-Zerbo Street
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Telephone: (226) 50 311 894
Facsimile: (226) 50 311 900
For emergency assistance after hours, call the Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou and follow the instructions.
You can also obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in Ghana:
Australian High Commission
2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Telephone: +233 302 216 400
Facsimile: +233 302 216 410
If you are travelling to Burkina Faso, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Flooding may occur in the wet season which extends from June to October. Roads may be impassable as result of flooding. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure.
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.