- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
- Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel overland to and from The Gambia through the Casamance region in southern Senegal because of the unpredictable security situation and the risk of attack by armed bandits.
- There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western interests in the West Africa region following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in The Gambia. The Canadian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal provides consular assistance to Australians in The Gambia (except the issue of passports). The Australian High Commission in Nigeria can also assist Australians. The British High Commission in Banjul, The Gambia, can also provide consular 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 The Gambia for the most up to date information.
A compulsory Airport Development Fee must be paid on exiting the country. The Fee is 20 Euros, or equivalent in local currency. Travellers can pay using a VISA credit card, but not other credit cards. You should check with your travel agent or airline whether the fee is included in your air ticket.
A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into The Gambia.
The Gambia 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 The Gambia 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
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western interests in the West Africa region following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. While there is currently no specific information relating to any terrorist threats in The Gambia, it is prudent to be aware of events occurring in neighbouring countries.
Civil unrest/Political tension
You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Pickpockets are active in crowded market areas and on ferries in The Gambia, as well as along the beaches in tourist resort areas. Tourists have been mugged while walking alone along beaches at night.
Foreigners frequently have their passports stolen on arrival at Banjul International Airport by people posing as officials or security officers. All authorised security personnel who have the right to ask to see a passport have photographic identification badges, but not all are in uniform.
Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been deceived by hoax business proposals and defrauded. 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. Victims have been kidnapped for ransom. Our international scams page 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.
Casamance region in southern Senegal: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel overland to and from The Gambia through the Casamance region in southern Senegal because of the unpredictable security situation and the risk of attack by armed bandits. Travellers have been attacked on roads leading north from Ziguinchor to Banjul. See also our travel advice for Senegal.
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 which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in The Gambia.
Credit cards are not widely accepted in The Gambia. Credit card fraud can occur. You should keep your card in sight when making purchases. It can be difficult to change foreign currency other than British Pounds (Sterling) outside of Banjul and the Atlantic Coast Resorts. There are a limited number of ATMs in The Gambia.
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 can be dangerous due to the poor condition of roads, poor driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles, insufficient street lighting and pedestrians, especially when driving at night and outside urban areas. Some local taxis are not roadworthy. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.
Police roadblocks are common on all major routes in The Gambia and you may be asked to show identity documentation and vehicle registration and ownership papers. Travellers are recommended to carry photographic ID at all times.
Travel on river craft, including ferries and wooden pirogues, is dangerous as they can be overloaded and lack necessary lifesaving equipment.
Both male and female visitors should be particularly cautious of young men locally known as ‘bumsters’ who approach tourists, particularly on beaches, offering help. Bumsters often use romance in the hope of gaining money and other assistance, or in the hope of departing The Gambia through marriage to a Westerner.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in The Gambia, 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.
Penalties for drug offences in The Gambia are severe and include lengthy imprisonment.
Penalties for treason and murder include the death penalty.
Offences such as assault, sexual assault, theft and serious driving offences attract corporal punishment.
Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties may include imprisonment.
It is illegal to photograph military and official installations in and around airports.
Skin-bleaching creams and some medications are subject to strict import/export laws. The import, use and possession of certain prescription and over the counter drugs (including those containing codeine and diazepam) are banned. If in doubt, you should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of The Gambia well in advance of travel.
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 Australian 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.
Information for dual nationals
While the government of The Gambia recognises dual nationality, government officials may place restrictions on the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to Australian/Gambian dual nationals if they are detained or arrested. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in The Gambia and you should take care not to offend. During Ramadan, Muslims are forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset.
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 in The Gambia are very limited. Most doctors and hospitals will expect immediate cash payment for medical care. In the event of a illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could exceed $A100,000.
Malaria is endemic throughout the year in The Gambia. Dengue fever also occurs in the region. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long loose-fitting and light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis, leptospirosis, meningitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Where to get help
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in The Gambia. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the nearest Canadian Embassy, in Senegal, provides consular assistance to Australians in The Gambia. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports. The address is:
You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Nigeria:
Australian High Commission
Australian citizens in need of consular assistance may also contact the British High Commission in Banjul which is able to provide assistance to citizens of Commonwealth countries that do not have diplomatic or consular missions in The Gambia. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports.
British High Commission
48 Atlantic Road
Telephone: 220 4495 133
Facsimilie: 220 4496 134
If you are travelling to The Gambia, 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 missions 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
The rainy season is June to October when flooding may occur. Roads may be blocked due to flood waters. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
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.