Morocco

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 22 October 2014.   This advice contains updated information in the Summary and under Terrorism (Moroccan authorities are concerned of an increased terrorism threat) and Entry and Exit (ensure you have your passport stamped when entering the country to avoid problems when leaving). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Morocco because of the threat of terrorist attack against Western interests.

Morocco overall

Western Sahara

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Morocco because of the threat of terrorist attack against Western interests. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • There is a possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities have warned of an increased threat linked to the number of Moroccans belonging to international terrorist organisations operating in Syria and Iraq.
  • We have received reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by tourists. Tourist areas have been attacked in the past.
  • You should monitor the media for reports of protest activity and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should exercise particular caution on weekends, including in the period surrounding Friday prayers.
  • There is a general threat of kidnapping against Westerners in North Africa. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times and especially when travelling in southern and border areas of Morocco.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the Western Sahara because of the risk posed by landmines. Permission from Moroccan authorities is required before travelling to Western Sahara.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Morocco. The Canadian Embassy located in Rabat, provides consular assistance to Australians in Morocco. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian Embassy in Paris can also assist Australians in Morocco.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers.
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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 Morocco for the most up to date information.

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.
When entering Morocco, make sure your passport is stamped. Some tourists have experienced difficulties leaving the country because their passport bears no entry stamp.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Morocco because of the threat of terrorist attack against Western interests. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

We have received reports that terrorists are planning attacks against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners. Tourist areas have been attacked in the past.

There is a possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Morocco. On 10 July Moroccan authorities warned of an increased threat linked to a number of Moroccans belonging to international terrorist organisations operating in Syria and Iraq.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. These include places frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, embassies, places of worship, outdoor recreation events, markets, transport, cinemas and tourist areas. Targets may also include casinos, venues where alcohol is served or consumed and places and institutions associated with Western interests.

Moroccan security forces have arrested people for allegedly planning assassinations of political figures, military officials and members of the Jewish community, and for planning terrorist acts targeting Moroccan Government facilities and tourist sites.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Kidnapping

There is a general threat of kidnapping against Westerners in North Africa. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times when travelling in southern and border areas of Morocco. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat 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.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Domestic and international political developments may prompt demonstrations and protests.

You should monitor the media for reports of protest activity and avoid all large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent. You should exercise particular caution on weekends, including in the period surrounding Friday prayers.

Security incidents can also occur in the periods surrounding sporting events that attract large crowds.

Crime

The level of crime in Morocco is high. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, continues to increase. There are increasing reports of acts of violence associated with theft. Valuables, including your passport, should be kept out of sight, and you should exercise vigilance in public places. Travellers have been mugged when walking on deserted beaches and poorly lit streets at night.

There are reports of banditry and extortion in the Rif Mountain region and of theft, intimidation and kidnappings in the coastal region around Asilah.

Credit card fraud such as double billing and scams such as substituting inferior goods for those that were actually purchased are common. Keep your credit card in sight when conducting transactions.

Intimidation is sometimes used to force customers to purchase goods. In popular tourist areas, including Tangier, Fez, Marrakech, Agadir and Essaouira, aggressive begging and harassment of tourists by men posing as official tourist guides is common.

Aggressive begging near ATMs is frequent. Thefts have also occurred around ATMs.

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

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.

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

Local travel

The land border between Morocco and Algeria is currently closed. You should not attempt to cross it by land.

Driving practices are poor in Morocco. Travellers should exercise caution when driving, particularly on mountain roads and major highways. You should avoid road travel at night outside urban areas due to the risk of motor accidents with other vehicles and animals. There have been several fatal bus crashes on intercity routes and the number of annual fatalities from road accidents in Morocco remains high.

Travellers should carry ID and vehicle documents at all times as checkpoints are frequent. In the event of an accident, including one involving injuries, parties are required to remain at the scene and not move their vehicles until police have attended the incident.
For further advice, see our road travel page.

Morocco’s rail network is developed and relatively reliable.

Single female travellers may find themselves the object of unwanted attention particularly in markets, beaches and sites associated with tourism. You should avoid walking alone in deserted areas and at night.

Western Sahara: We strongly advise you not to travel to Western Sahara because of the risk posed by landmines. Travel from Morocco to Western Sahara is restricted by the Moroccan Government and you will need to obtain permission from Moroccan authorities before travelling.

There are unexploded landmines throughout the region, especially adjacent to the border with Mauritania. There have been reports of exploding landmines and landmines shifting away from the border area due to the movement of sand dunes.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving or desert excursions, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't.

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 Morocco.

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

Laws

When you are in Morocco, 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 drug offences are severe and can include long prison sentences.

Sentences for serious offences, such as high treason, terrorism, multiple murder and rape, can include the death penalty.

Homosexual acts and heterosexual relations outside marriage are illegal in Morocco and penalties can include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Non-Muslims who attempt to enter mosques in Morocco may be detained for questioning unless the mosque is open to the general public.

Taking photographs of official buildings, government and military installations and other sensitive facilities, or in the vicinity of these places, may result in problems with authorities or even detention.

It is illegal to preach religions other than Islam and to import religious materials other than those relating to Islam. Several individuals have been expelled from the kingdom for carrying such items and preaching other religions.

Possessing pornographic material is illegal.

Acts or statements criticising or denigrating the monarchy are illegal and can result in prosecution and detention.

Travellers should not consume alcohol in public places, particularly in traditional and rural areas.

Be aware that by purchasing pirated or counterfeit items you may be breaking both Moroccan and Australian laws.

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 conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Morocco and you should take care not to offend. It is recommended women wear loose-fitting clothing covering the arms and legs and wear a head scarf. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Physical contact between men and women in public should be avoided. Public displays of affection can cause offence, particularly in rural and traditional areas and near mosques, religious shrines and religious educational institutes.

Couples who cannot provide proof of marriage may be refused accommodation in some rural and traditional areas.

Information for dual nationals

Although Morocco recognises dual nationality, Moroccan citizenship takes primacy over the second nationality, especially concerning issues such as military service and parental custody. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Moroccan dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Children of Moroccan fathers automatically acquire Moroccan citizenship at birth. An amendment to Morocco's 1958 Nationality Code was adopted on 18 January 2007. The amendment allows Moroccan women who are married to foreigners to pass on their Moroccan citizenship to their children. Child custody decisions are based on local law. You should consult a lawyer for advice on custody disputes to find out if you may be prevented from leaving Morocco with your children.

Any Australian citizen wanting to marry in Morocco must apply for a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage and an Attestation of Citizenship from the Consular Section of the Australian Embassy in Paris (see under Where to get help for contact details).

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

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.
While the standard of medical facilities in the major cities is generally good, medical services in smaller cities and rural and remote areas can be extremely limited. Private hospitals can insist on up-front payment prior to admission. Inability to pay may delay treatment.

Insect-borne diseases (including leishmaniasis and typhus) are common in Morocco. Malaria is less common. We recommend you take precautions against being bitten by insects, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Some water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases are prevalent. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis ('bilharzia'). 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.
The local emergency number in Morocco is 190. Please note that emergency operators rarely speak English.
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 Morocco. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy located in Rabat, provides consular assistance to Australians in Morocco. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. Contact details are:

Canadian Embassy, Rabat-Agdal

13 Bis, Rue Jaafa-as Sadik
Rabat-Agdal
Morocco
Telephone (212) 537 68 7400
Facsimile (212) 537 68 7430
Email: rabat@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/morocco-maroc/
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 08:00-11:00 hrs

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in France:

Australian Embassy, Paris

4 Rue Jean Rey
75724 Cedex 15
Paris, France
Telephone (33 1) 4059 3300
Facsimile (33 1) 4059 3315
Website www.france.embassy.gov.au/

If you are travelling to Morocco, 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. We will also be able to inform you when an Australian Consular Officer will be visiting Morocco, for example to conduct passport interviews.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy 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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Parts of Morocco are subject to earthquakes. Flash flooding can occur especially during the November to March rainy season. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.

Additional Resources

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



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.