- We strongly advise you not to travel to any part of Mali because of the unpredictable political and security situation following a military coup, ongoing armed conflict with rebel groups in northern Mali, the activities of armed groups(including terrorists and bandits), and the threat of kidnapping.
- Australians in Mali are advised to leave by commercial means. If you remain in Mali, you are advised to remain off the streets where possible, and to avoid all protests and large gatherings. You should avoid areas of sensitivity, such as government facilities and military installations.
- We advise Australians who remain in Mali to maintain several days’ stock of food and water. You should keep a low profile and monitor the media for information. You are advised to review your security arrangements constantly and ensure that you 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.
- On 21 March 2012, elements of the Malian military staged a coup. Although an interim president was sworn in on 12 April 2012 and a transitional government has been appointed, the political and security situation remains unpredictable and could deteriorate with little warning.
- Following the coup, rebel groups effectively took control of the northern provinces of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu as well as parts of Mopti.
- On 11 January 2013, the interim president declared a nationwide state of emergency enabling the transitional government to take extraordinary measures to deal with the crisis in the north of Mali and elsewhere.
- Following a request from the interim government, France deployed troops to Mali on 11 January 2013. A number of African nations have also deployed troops.
- While major northern cities have been liberated from rebel control, there continues to be fighting in northern Mali between rebel groups and the Malian army and international forces, including suicide attacks in northern cities.
- Following French military intervention in Mali, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting Western interests in the region.
- The risk of armed banditry and kidnapping is high and armed extremist groups are active across Mali.
- There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners in the north and west regions of Africa, including throughout Mali and the remote and desert areas of Mauritania, southern Algeria and Niger. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
- Senou International Airport in Bamako is currently operating normally. However, flight schedules may be subject to change or cancellation with little warning. You should check with your airline on flight and seat availability before travelling to the airport.
- Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Mali. The Canadian Embassy in Bamako provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali (except the issue of passports). The Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana can also assist Australians in Mali.
- 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 Mali for the most up to date information.
A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Mali and on exit from the country.
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
Civil unrest/Political tension
We strongly advise you not to travel to any part of Mali at this time because of the unpredictable political and security situation following the military coup, ongoing armed conflict with rebel groups in northern Mali, the activities of armed groups (including terrorists and bandits), and the threat of kidnapping. Australians in Mali are advised to leave by commercial means.
On 21 March 2012, members of the Malian military staged a coup. Although an interim president was sworn in on 12 April 2012 and a transitional government has been appointed, the political and security situation remains unpredictable.
Following the coup, rebel groups effectively took control of the northern provinces of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu as well as parts of Mopti.
On 10 December 2012, the interim Prime Minister was arrested and resigned. A new interim Prime Minister has been appointed but the political situation could deteriorate with little warning.
On 11 January 2013, the interim president declared a nationwide state of emergency enabling the interim government to take extraordinary measures to deal with the crisis in the north of Mali and elsewhere. No curfew has been established, but changes could be announced at any time. Roads may be blocked and flights into and out of Bamako could be disrupted.
Following a request from the interim government, France deployed troops to Mali on 11 January 2013. A number of African nations have also subsequently deployed troops, most under the auspices of the African Lead Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). While major northern cities have been liberated from rebel control, there continues to be fighting in northern Mali between rebel groups and the Malian army and international forces, including suicide attacks in northern cities.
The threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping is high throughout the country.
If you remain in Mali, you are advised to remain off the streets where possible, and to avoid all 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.
We advise Australians in Mali 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.
If you decide to stay in Mali, you should review your security arrangements constantly and ensure that you 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.
The security situation in Bamako remains volatile. We advise Australians who remain in the city to avoid areas of sensitivity, such as government facilities and military installations.
Senou International Airport in Bamako is operating normally. However, flight schedules may be subject to change or cancellation with little warning. You should check with your airline on flight and seat availability before travelling to the airport.
There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners in the north and west regions of Africa, including throughout Mali and the remote and desert areas of Mauritania, southern Algeria and Niger. Al Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners, is active in northern Mali and poses a significant security threat and risk for travellers. Foreigners, Western mining interests and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) may be possible targets.
There continues to be fighting in northern Mali between rebel groups and the Malian army and international forces, including suicide attacks. Rebel activity has also been reported along the Mali-Mauritanian border in Kayes, Koulikoro and Segou provinces. There is a very high risk of kidnapping in these areas. The unpredictable security situation in Mali since the coup has heightened the risk of kidnapping throughout the country, including in Bamako and southern Mali.
On 21 November 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Diéma, east of Kayes, near the Mauritanian border.
A Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu on the 15 April 2012, before being released on 24 April 2012. On 24 November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from the town of Hombori in Mopti province. On 25 November 2011, one western tourist was killed and three others kidnapped in an attack on a restaurant in central Timbuktu.
On 5 January 2011, the French embassy in Bamako was attacked by an individual using explosives and a handgun. No one was killed in the attack. Also in January 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped and killed in Niamey, Niger, near the border with Mali.
Cultural festivals held in north and west Africa are attractive places for terrorists and criminals to identify and target tourists for kidnapping. A number of Westerners were kidnapped in Mali in 2009, including from major cultural festivals in northern Mali. At least one kidnap victim was executed. 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, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.
In planning your activities, you should be aware that terrorist targets could include places frequented by foreigners and identified with Western interests, including embassies and international schools. Following French military intervention in Mali, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting Western interests in the region.
We advise Australians to take increased security precautions when in their homes or cars and watch for any suspicious or unusual activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft are common in urban areas of Mali. Thieves target large public gatherings and are also active on trains, particularly at night.
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.
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
Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in Mali. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Mali. 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.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents 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.
Public transport is limited and unreliable.
Landmines have been used in the north and north east of Mali.
Driving in Mali can be dangerous, especially at night, as most roads are in poor condition or non-existent and vehicle maintenance is poor. Driving conditions deteriorate in the rainy season (June - September). For further advice, see our road travel page.
When you are 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. Following the military coup in March 2012, it is unclear what local laws are being enforced.
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.
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, 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 strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Mali. You should take care not to offend. Typical dress for women includes loose-fitting clothing which covers the arms and legs, and a headscarf.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
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 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 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 yellow fever and 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.
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, polio and, tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. 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
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Mali. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the local Canadian Embassy provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports. The Canadian Embassy has resumed operations. The address is:
Canadian Embassy, Bamako
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)
Telephone: (+233) 302 216 400
Facsimile: (+233) 302 216 410
If you are travelling to Mali, 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 Embassy or High Commission 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.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
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.