Senegal

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 20 June 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Where to get help (the Canadian Embassy in Senegal can provide consular assistance to Australians). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Senegal because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, criminal activity and civil unrest.

Senegal overall

Casamance region of southern Senegal

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Senegal because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, criminal activity and civil unrest.
  • Public demonstrations are relatively common in Senegal. You should avoid large gatherings and political rallies as they may turn violent. Likely places for demonstrations, including government buildings and other public areas, should be avoided.
  • There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Senegal following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. There is an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Dakar.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Australians are urged to avoid unnecessary travel, especially at night, to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Casamance region of southern Senegal because of the risk of clashes between separatist rebels and government forces, the presence of landmines in some parts of the region, and the unpredictable security situation. Armed bandits also operate in this area. If you do decide to travel to the Casamance region, you should exercise extreme caution.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Senegal. The Canadian Embassy located in Dakar provides consular assistance to Australians in Senegal. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana can also assist Australians.
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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 Senegal for the most up to date information.

Senegal 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 Senegal. Failure to present a certificate can result in detention in a quarantine facility and/or mandatory vaccination at the point of arrival, at the expense of the traveller.

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

Terrorism

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Senegal due to the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.

There is a risk of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Senegal following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013. Terrorist groups in the region have declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners.

There is an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Dakar.

Westerners have been kidnapped in countries bordering Senegal. While no Westerners have been kidnapped in Senegal, you should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times and avoid unnecessary travel in remote areas. 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.

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

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Senegal because of the risk of civil unrest and criminal activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Public demonstrations are relatively common in Senegal. You should avoid large gatherings and political rallies as they may turn violent. Likely places for demonstrations, including government buildings and other public areas, should be avoided.

We advise you to avoid unnecessary travel to the border with Guinea due to conflict and military activity in this region and the presence of military activity, displaced persons and refugees.

Casamance region: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Casamance region of southern Senegal because of the unpredictable security situation. Armed clashes between separatist groups and Senegalese Government forces have occurred. Landmines have been used in the region and the ongoing conflict has resulted in displaced people and the loss of lives. Armed bandits are known to operate in the area and travellers have been attacked. We recommend that you reconsider your need to travel in the Casamance region except direct air or sea travel to Cap Skirring. If you do decide to travel to the Casamance region, you should only do so during daylight hours and exercise extreme caution.

Crime

Pickpockets, bag snatchers and scam artists are active in large crowds. Muggings and robberies are common in the restaurant district of Dakar (La Petite Corniche), Dakar's Leopold Senghor International Airport and the restaurant area of St Louis. Criminals are known to target foreigners.

Australians are urged to avoid unnecessary travel, especially at night as the risk of becoming a victim of crime increases at night.

Commercial and internet fraud: 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

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 overseas.

Credit cards are accepted at major hotels in Dakar and travellers' cheques can be exchanged at most banks. There are ATMs in Dakar but credit card fraud is prevalent.

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.

Local travel

The standard of public transport is poor. Ferries, in particular, are often dangerously overcrowded.

Driving in Senegal is dangerous due to poor driving standards and vehicles that are not roadworthy. Overland travel is unsafe due to poor roads and inadequate lighting, especially at night. Pedestrians and animals on the road pose additional safety risks. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Landmines are a danger in the Casamance region, including along the border with Guinea-Bissau.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Senegal, 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.

Senegalese authorities can ask to see personal identification at any time. Failure to produce identification when requested may result in detention. You should carry personal identification at all times.

Possession or trafficking of illegal drugs can result in severe penalties, including long jail sentences.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are severe and include imprisonment.

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include fines and imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.

There are strict customs regulations and clearance required for bringing in items such as auto parts, computers and computer parts, stereo equipment and video cameras. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Senegal for more information.

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 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.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around 28 June 2014 and finish on or around 27 July 2014. 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 the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Senegal.

Information for dual nationals

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

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

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.

Medical facilities in Senegal are limited, especially outside the capital, Dakar. Most doctors and hospitals will expect immediate cash payment for medical care. 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 endemic throughout the year in Senegal. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever) also occur in the region. We encourage you to take prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Senegal 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 Senegal. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry. 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, typhoid, hepatitis, leptospirosis, meningitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. 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 Senegal. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy located in Dakar, provides consular assistance to Australians in Senegal. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The address is:

Canadian Embassy, Dakar

Corner of Gallieni and Amadou Cisse Dia Streets
Dakar
Senegal
Telephone: (221) 33 889 4700
Facsimile: (221) 33 889 4720
E-mail: dakar@international.gc.ca
Website: www.canadainternational.gc.ca/senegal/index.aspx

You can also obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission 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

If you are travelling to Senegal, 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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is July to September when flooding may occur and road conditions deteriorate.

For parents

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



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.