- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and violent crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- Members of the Burkinabé security forces were arrested following a security incident in Ouagadougou on 29 June.
- Presidential elections are scheduled for 11 October 2015. Further unrest is likely in the lead up to the elections. Travellers to Ouagadougou should remain vigilant and monitor local media for developments which could affect your safety. We advise using accommodation outside the Ouaga 2000 precinct as a precautionary measure. See Safety and security.
- In October 2014, demonstrations and violent clashes with security forces occured in Ouagadougou and other centres throughout the country in response to the former President’s attempt to amend the constitution. The security situation remains fragile. You should continue to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
- An expatriate worker in the mining industry was kidnapped from the Tambao manganese mine in Burkina Faso’s far north-east in April 2015. We strongly advise you not to travel to all areas north of a line connecting Djibo and Dori due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping targeting foreign nationals. See Safety and security.
- Armed bandits operate throughout Burkina Faso. You should avoid travelling alone or after dark. See Safety and security.
- Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Burkina Faso. The Canadian Embassy located in Ouagadougou, provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Ghana, can also assist Australians in Burkina Faso.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Burkina Faso for the most up to date information. The Consulate-General of France in Sydney may be able to assist with the issue of visas for Burkina Faso.
The exportation of objects of art (old or traditional artists' works and all old material of national cultural patrimony) must be approved by the Ministry of Culture.
Burkina Faso is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Burkina Faso (see Health section). A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Burkina Faso.
For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and security
A heightened threat of kidnapping exists in northern Burkina Faso: On 4 April 2015, an expatriate worker in the mining industry was kidnapped from the Tambao manganese mine in Burkina Faso’s far north-east. We strongly advise you not to travel to all areas north of a line running between Djibo and Dori in northern Burkina Faso due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the threat of kidnapping targeting foreign nationals.
Militant groups in the region continue to pose a kidnapping threat. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has stated its intention to target foreigners 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.
You should be aware that the Australian Government has a limited capacity to provide consular assistance in this area.
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 northern Burkina Faso where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. See our Kidnapping threat bulletin.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin for more information.
Civil unrest/political tension
Members of the Burkinabé security forces were arrested in Ouagadougou on 29 June following a protest during which shots were fired.
Presidential elections are scheduled for 11 October 2015. Further unrest is likely in the lead up to the elections. Travellers to Ouagadougou should remain vigilant and monitor local media for developments which could affect your safety. We advise using accommodation outside the Ouaga 2000 precinct as a precautionary measure.
In October 2014, demonstrations and violent clashes with security forces occured in Ouagadougou and other centres throughout the country in response to the former President’s attempt to amend the constitution. The security situation remains fragile and further protests are likely.
Australians should continue to avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings as they may turn violent. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso overall because of the risk of violent crime. Purse snatching, muggings and thefts from hotel rooms 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 carrying valuables in public and 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. The main areas affected are the eastern, central, east-central and north-central regions and the central plateau, but incidents can happen anywhere. Bandits have used roadblocks to stop vehicles and have been known to open fire. Bandits sometimes use ‘spotters’, for example at roadhouses and checkpoints, to identify potential victims. 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 to 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.
Fake internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.
Money and valuables
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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Driving in Burkina Faso can be hazardous. Apart from the national highways, most roads are in poor condition and have insufficient lighting. There is also a risk of banditry and of colliding with stray livestock. 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 for 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 Where to get help) provides a legal certification service.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Burkina Faso.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Burkina Faso, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, may attract the death penalty.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Burkina Faso, but the local community is generally intolerant of same-sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.
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, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, 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 page 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. For more information on the outbreak and regional travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa bulletin.
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 taking prophylaxis against malaria and using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Burkina Faso is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Burkina Faso. See the Entry and exit) section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, meningitis and measles) 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.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 10-10, which will connect a caller to the Ministry of Security who can then dispatch the appropriate law enforcement or emergency assistance entity.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:
Canadian Embassy, Ouagadougou
316 Professeur Joseph KIZERBO Ave.
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
Telephone: +226 25 49 08 00
Facsimile: +226 25 49 08 10
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Ghana:
Australian High Commission, Accra
2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Telephone: +233 302 216 400
Facsimile: +233 302 216 410
See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above missions, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
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.
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.