Fire and rescue services
Do not travel to the provinces of Tiris Zemmour, Adrar, Tagant, Hidh ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Assaba and Guidimaka.
Health advice due to COVID-19 is continually changing. Rules and restrictions to prevent outbreaks can change quickly. It’s important to regularly check the rules in the destinations you’re travelling to and transiting through.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
You can get a visa on arrival. You must show your hotel booking or a letter from your local host. If you're travelling for business, you must have a letter of invitation. Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mauritania for the latest details
Nouakchott airport is open to international and domestic flights. Contact your travel agent or airline for further information. Land borders in Mauritania are open.
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Terrorists are active in Mauritania.
In October 2016, the US Embassy warned that terrorists may attack places where US citizens gather in Nouakchott.
Terrorists could target places visited by foreigners or places connected to the Government of Mauritania.
Possible targets include:
To reduce your risk of being involved in an attack:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Kidnapping is a risk across Mauritania.
Westerners are mostly kidnapped from remote and desert areas. Some have been killed. Several western hostages are still held in the Sahel region.
Kidnappings happen in the Sahel region, even across national borders.
Kidnappers are particularly active within 25km of the northern border with Western Sahara, and in the eastern provinces.
Foreigners travelling alone or without security are easy targets.
Terrorists and criminal groups carry out kidnappings. Criminals sell their victims to terrorist groups.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn’t make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
If you decide to travel to Mauritania despite our advice:
Armed thieves are active across Mauritania. They've attacked:
Reports of carjackings and theft by people smugglers are increasing. They use Mauritania as a transit point for illegal travel to the Canary Islands.
Pickpocketing and other petty crime occur often.
To avoid petty theft:
Commercial and internet fraud often starts in West African countries, including Mauritania.
If you're a victim of a scam, you could lose your money. Victims who travel to the country where the scam started can be in serious danger. People have been killed.
Fake internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operate from West African countries. These scams usually start via internet dating sites or chat rooms. Scammers build a virtual relationship with you, then ask for money so they can travel to Australia. People have been defrauded or put in danger.
In some cases the relationship ends and your money is gone. In other situations, if you travel to Africa to meet your friend or prospective marriage partner, you may be:
To protect yourself from scams:
If you suspect a scam, get legal advice.
Don't travel to Mauritania to get your money back or to get revenge. You could be in danger.
Local protests and political gatherings take place from time to time, including in Nouakchott.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To reduce your risk during periods of unrest:
Severe weather may affect your travel.
Monitor local media for updates.
If you're visiting an area affected by severe weather:
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave.
Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
You'll probably need a special insurance policy that covers travel to high-risk destinations. Most Australian policies won't cover you for travel to Mauritania.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. Consider whether you may be in a vulnerable category for COVID-19.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
If you have immediate concerns for your welfare, or the welfare of another Australian, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or contact your nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate to discuss counselling hotlines and services available in your location.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Mauritania. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
COVID-19 remains a risk in Mauritania. Face masks are required in public areas and government buildings.
Expect additional screening measures on arrival in the country, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media for further information.
Should you need to take a COVID-19 test while in Mauritania, for example for onward travel, the Mauritanian Ministry of Health has approved the following institutions to carry out COVID-19 testing within Mauritania:
You should consult your local health professional for advice on vaccine options, including assistance that may be available locally. The Australian Government cannot provide advice on the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines that have been approved for use outside of Australia's regulatory process.
Malaria is a year-round risk in most areas, except in the northern regions of Dakhlet-Nouadhibou and Tiris-Zemmour.
There's no vaccination or specific treatment for dengue.
Yellow fever is widespread in Mauritania. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal virus spread by mosquitoes. It's prevented by vaccination. Get vaccinated for before you travel.
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
HIV/AIDS is a risk. Take precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to the virus.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are common, including:
Serious outbreaks can occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical help straight away.
Get urgent medical attention if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
Medical facilities and medicines are limited, particularly outside Nouakchott. The standard of care is below that of Australia.
You'll likely have to pay up-front for medical services.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be medically evacuated to a location with better facilities. Medical evacuations are very expensive. Make sure your travel insurance covers medical evacuations.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for all drug offences can include heavy fines or jail. This includes possessing small amounts of illegal drugs.
The death penalty can apply for treason and murder.
In Mauritania, it's illegal to:
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
The Mauritanian Government doesn't recognise dual nationality.
If you're a dual national, this may limit the consular services we can give if you're arrested or detained.
Always travel on your Australian passport.
The Islamic holiday month of Ramadan will be from late March to late April. Respect religious and cultural customs and laws.
Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public or in front of people who are fasting.
Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative, particularly for women. Dress modestly in public and ensure your legs are covered. Women should also cover their arms, while men may wear short-sleeved shirts.
Take care not to offend.
Avoid physical contact between men and women in public.
Public displays of affection can cause offence, particularly:
Every country or territory decides who can enter or leave through its borders. For specific information about the evidence you'll need to enter a foreign destination, including COVID-19 vaccinations and tests, check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering.
You can get a visa on arrival. You must show your hotel booking or a letter from your local host. If you're travelling for business, you must have a letter of invitation.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Mauritania for the latest details.
Nouakchott airport remains open to international and domestic flights. Contact your travel agent or airline for further information. Land borders are open.
You must provide proof that you have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, of which the last dose was received at least 2 weeks before arrival. If you had the Johnson and Johnson vaccination, you only need proof for one dose received at least 4 weeks before arrival in Mauritania.
A negative COVID-19 (PCR) test is required for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers before arriving in Mauritania. This test must be taken within 72 hours before arrival.
Face masks are required in public areas and government buildings.
For COVID-19 testing while in Mauritania, the Mauritanian Ministry of Health has approved the following institutions to carry out COVID-19 testing within Mauritania:
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRU). You can't import or export ouguiyas.
You must declare any foreign currency on arrival, but there are no limits on how much you can import.
When you leave Mauritania, you can't have more foreign currency with you than the amount you declared on arrival.
Some businesses providing services to foreigners may accept euros.
Most places only accept cash. Most shops and restaurants prefer ouguiyas.
Credit cards aren't widely used. Traveller's cheques aren't accepted.
Several banks in Nouakchott have ATMs. Some ATMs accept foreign credit cards.
Check ATM locations with your bank before you travel.
Only exchange currency at official centres. Avoid exchanging money with street hustlers.
Organise travel with a reputable local company.
If you're travelling beyond Nouakchott, register your plans with the local police or gendarmes.
All travel outside of Nouakchott should be in a convoy with proper security.
Unexploded landmines are a risk near the border with the Western Sahara region. Mines can shift in sandstorms.
If you travel to this area despite our advice, stay on well-travelled roads.
Driving can be dangerous.
The major roads linking Nouakchott with Nouadhibou to the north and Bamako (Mali) to the west are in good condition.
Other roads in Mauritania are in poor condition.
Accident risks include:
If you plan to drive in Mauritania:
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Mauritania's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Most hospitals don't have ambulances for emergency care.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia doesn't have an embassy or consulate in Mauritania.
You can get consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Paris.
4 Rue Jean Rey
75724 Cedex 15
Phone: +33 1 4059 3300
Website: france.embassy.gov.au (French)
Facebook: Australian Embassy, France
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.