Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 28 November 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Entry and exit and Health (six people have died of Ebola Virus Disease in Mali, in Kayes and Bamako. Authorities have strengthened health checks, but not closed borders). We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to the southern part of Mali including in the region of Segou south of the Niger River, as well as to the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso (with the exception of Bamako and areas north of the latitude of Diema) due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry. We continue to advise Australians not to travel to all other areas in Mali because of the unpredictable security situation, ongoing armed conflict in northern Mali, the activities of armed groups (including terrorists and bandits), and the threat of kidnapping.

Mali overall

Bamako, and areas north of the latitude of Diema

Koulikoro, except the capital, Bamako

Kayes, Sikasso and the region of Segou south of the Niger River

Summary

  • We strongly advise you not to travel to northern regions of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti and the area of Segou north of the Niger River) as well as to Bamako, and to areas north of the latitude of Diema because of the unpredictable security situation, ongoing armed conflict in northern Mali, and the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry.
  • We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to the southern part of Mali including in the region of Segou south of the Niger River, as well as to the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso (with the exception of Bamako and areas north of the latitude of Diema) due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry.
  • Elections were held in Mali in 2013, following the military coup in 2012. Despite an improvement in the security situation, the political and security environment remains volatile and could deteriorate with little warning.
  • Demonstrations occur regularly in Bamako and can turn violent. You should avoid all political rallies, protests and large gatherings.
  • Australians in Mali should have robust security arrangements and maintain contingency plans to ensure that they are prepared to leave at short notice if necessary. This should include having up-to-date travel documentation, including, if possible, visas for neighbouring countries.
  • Armed rebel and terrorist groups continue to be active in the northern provinces of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu and parts of Mopti.
  • There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners throughout Mali, but particularly in the northern provinces and areas bordering Mauritania. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.
  • The risk of armed banditry is high throughout Mali, especially in the northern provinces and in border areas.
  • The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. Six people have died of Ebola Virus Disease in Mali, in Kayes and Bamako. Authorities have strengthened health checks, but not closed borders. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Mali. The Canadian Embassy located in Bamako, provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Ghana, can also assist Australians in Mali.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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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 Mali for the most up to date information.

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa is the most serious in recorded history. Six people have died of EVD in Mali, in Kayes and Bamako. Authorities have strengthened health checks, but not closed borders. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.

Mali 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. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry into Mali and on exit from the country. 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. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We strongly advise you not to travel to northern regions of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti and the area of Segou north of the Niger River) as well as to Bamako, and to areas north of the latitude of Diema because of the unpredictable security situation, ongoing armed conflict in northern Mali and the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry. We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the southern part of Mali including in the region of Segou south of the Niger River, as well as to the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso (with the exception of Bamako and areas north of the latitude of Diema) due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry.

In March 2012, members of the Malian military staged a coup. In April 2012, armed rebel and terrorist groups took control of the northern provinces of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu as well as parts of Mopti.

France and a number of African countries deployed troops to Mali in 2013. The African-led International Support Mission in Mali transitioned into a UN peacekeeping mission on 1 July 2013.

Presidential elections were held in July and August 2013 and Ibrahim Boubacar Keta was sworn in as Mali’s President in September 2013. Legislative elections were held in November 2013 and December 2013. Despite this, the political and security situation remains unpredictable and could deteriorate with little warning.

Terrorism

The threat of terrorism and kidnapping is high throughout the country, but particularly in northern Mali, Bamako and areas bordering Mauritania.

Terrorist attacks and kidnappings targeting westerners have increased following the French/African military intervention in Mali. During 2014 terrorist groups have conducted attacks in northern Mali using rockets and improvised explosive devices.

Terrorist targets could include places frequented by foreigners and identified with Western interests, including embassies, international schools and mining operations.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Kidnapping

There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against westerners throughout Mali, including in the south. Al Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners, is active in Mali and poses a significant security threat for foreigners, including in Bamako and southern Mali. Criminal gangs have also carried out kidnappings for terrorist groups in return for financial reward. Foreigners, western mining interests and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) may be possible targets.

There have been several recent incidents of westerners being kidnapped in Mali. On 2 November 2013, two French journalists were kidnapped in Kidal, in northeast Mali, and subsequently killed. On 21 November 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Dima, east of Kayes, near the Senegal/Mauritanian border.

A Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu on 15 April 2012, before being released on 24 April 2012. On 4 April 2012, seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Gao, three of whom were released on 5 July 2012. On 25 November 2011, one western tourist was killed and three others kidnapped in an attack on a restaurant in central Timbuktu. On 24 November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from the town of Hombori in Mopti province, one of whom has since died in captivity.

Given the ongoing high threat of kidnapping Australians in Mali, including in the south, should have robust security arrangements in place and take measures to reduce the risk of kidnapping in their daily activities.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

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 and seek professional security advice.

Civil unrest/political tension

Violent protests occurred in Bamako in May 2014.

You should avoid all political rallies, protests and large gatherings. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring you should leave if it is safe to do so, otherwise remain indoors and away from the windows.

Military clashes with armed rebel and terrorist groups continue to occur in northern regions. In May 2014, clashes occurred between Government forces and armed rebel groups in Kidal, in northern Mali. There have been increased attacks in 2014, using improvised explosive devices and rockets.

Australians in Mali should have robust security arrangements and maintain contingency plans to ensure that they are prepared to leave at short notice if necessary. This should include having up to date travel documentation including, if possible, visas for neighbouring countries.

As a precaution in the event of further disturbances we advise you to maintain several days’ stock of food and water. You should keep a low profile and monitor the media for information on political developments. The BBC World Service in English is available in Bamako on 88.9FM.

While the security situation in Bamako and the south is generally calm, the situation in northern Mali remains highly volatile. Night time checkpoints and road blocks are common and curfews could be imposed with little notice. You should keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times when travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions.

Australians in Mali should avoid areas of sensitivity, such as government facilities, military installations and places frequented by Westerners.

Senou International Airport in Bamako is operating normally, although at a heightened level of security. A vehicle checkpoint is regularly in place at the main entrance to the airport. Expect your vehicle to be searched and ensure all occupants, including the driver, are carrying personal identification. Flight schedules may be subject to change or cancellation with little warning.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft are common in urban areas of Mali.

In the north of the country, armed banditry, kidnapping and carjacking occur. Four-wheel drive vehicles are particularly targeted. Bandits are active in all remote areas of the country.

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 international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Bogus 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

Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in Mali. Some credit cards are accepted in major hotels in the capital city, Bamako. They are rarely accepted outside of Bamako. Travellers' cheques may be exchanged at banks. There are limited ATM facilities in Mali.

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.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Landmines and improvised explosive devices have been used in the north and north east of Mali.

Given the prevailing security environment, you should avoid public transport. Travel by road should only be considered if adequate security precautions are deployed. Driving at night is particularly dangerous as most roads are in poor condition. Driving conditions deteriorate further in the rainy season (June to September).

Airline safety

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 Mali.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

If you remain in Mali, 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. Research local laws before travelling.

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 possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment in local jails. Other serious offences, including murder, sedition and spying, carry the death penalty.

It is illegal to photograph around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings.

Homosexual activity is not explicitly illegal in Mali but may be considered 'contrary to accepted standards of behaviour', which is a criminal offence subject to a prison term of up to two years. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Written authorisation from the National Museum in Bamako is required for the purchase and/or removal of archaeological objects from Mali.

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.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Mali. You should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

While the Government of Mali recognises dual nationality, officials may place restrictions on the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to Australian/Malian dual nationals if they are detained or arrested. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Australian/Malian dual nationals may be liable for civil/military obligations. Before travel, dual nationals should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mali.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

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. Six people have died of EVD in Mali, in Kayes and Bamako. Authorities have strengthened health checks, but not closed borders. For more information on the outbreak and other travel restrictions and preventative measures, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.

Medical facilities in the capital Bamako are very limited and even more basic in rural areas. Up-front payment is usually required before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could exceed $A100,000.

Malaria is common in West African countries, including Mali. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito-proof.

Mali is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a country at risk 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 Mali. 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, hepatitis, meningitis and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and 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

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. Malian authorities have provided the following numbers for emergency assistance: 80 00 11 14, 80 00 11 15, 20 22 13 35, 20 23 95 15, 20 23 95 11.

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 Mali. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Bamako provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Embassy, Bamako

Immeuble Semega
Route de Koulikoro
Bamako, Mali
Telephone: (+223) 20 212 236
Facsimile: (+223) 20 214 362
Email: bmakog@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/mali/index.aspx

You can also obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in Accra, Ghana:

Australian High Commission, Accra

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments, Accra
Ghana
Telephone: (+233) 302 216 400
Facsimile: (+233) 302 216 410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.ghana.highcommission.gov.au

See the High Commission website for more information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Mali, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we also 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 Embassy or High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is June to September when flooding may occur. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following link:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.