Mali Register Travel insurance Destinations
Last updated: ET
Still valid: ET
Latest updates: Safety and security - Removal of information on June 21 demonstrations in Bamako
MALI - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Avoid all travel to Mali (including the capital, Bamako), due to the threat of terrorism and banditry. If the security situation in Mali deteriorates, the ability of the Embassy of Canada to Mali in Bamako to provide consular services may be limited.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Northern Mali remains a safe haven for terrorist groups. They are carrying out attacks targeting mainly the Malian police and members of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The threat has also spread to central Mali, where these groups have fueled inter-community tensions. Ethnic groups clash regularly. On March 23, 2019, more than 150 people were killed in a Peul village.
Bamako and the southern part of Mali are also exposed to these threats but to a lesser extent.
Terrorist groups in the region are intent on increasing their attacks and kidnappings targeting foreigners.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
State of emergency
A state of emergency is currently in effect throughout Mali. Heightened security measures are in place, including random identity checks and roadblocks. Carry identification and follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.
- Remain extremely vigilant
- follow political and social developments carefully
Establishments in Bamako frequented by foreigners and members of MINUSMA have been targeted by attacks, causing deaths and injuries. If you are in Bamako despite the advisory, avoid travelling in urban areas after dark, especially in places frequented by foreigners.
Military clashes with armed rebels persist in Northern Mali. Rebel forces, terrorist groups and criminal networks operate throughout this region and legitimate Malian security forces cannot ensure the safety of foreigners.
Insecurity in Northern Mali is exacerbated due to a lack of:
- reliable transportation
- safe hotels
- emergency services
The ability of the Canadian embassy in Bamako to provide consular services in Northern Mali is severely limited.
Border areas with Côte d’Ivoire
Terrorist and criminal incidents have occurred in border areas with Côte d’Ivoire. Clashes between Malian authorities and other armed groups have occurred in the Misséni and Fakola sectors.
The risk of kidnapping is high throughout Mali, especially in the northern regions and in all border areas. Westerners are specifically targeted. Some hostages have been detained for months before being released, and some have been killed.
When moving from one place to another in these regions:
- use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules
- exercise particular caution when travelling on highways, in rural areas and residential areas, even during daylight hours
- avoid border areas
- exercise particular caution when travelling the access roads to the airport
- avoid travelling after dark
Demonstrations take place from time to time. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Crime is on the rise in Mali, particularly in Bamako, which has seen an increase in armed assaults and robberies. Westerners have been the targets of:
- carjacking, especially in the north
- car theft
- various scams
Roadblocks, which are often set up at night, can lead to travel disruptions and contribute to the heightened threat of crime. Avoid travelling after dark.
Carjackings occur throughout Mali, especially in the north.
Petty crime occurs often. Panhandlers are common. Be careful of scam artists at the Bamako Senou International Airport.
- travel in groups
- remain alert
- ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure
- avoid poorly lit areas after dark
Corruption is prevalent. Police may stop motorists and request payments for unknown reasons.
When shopping, note that food products are sometimes sold past their expiry date and higher prices may be charged for merchandise bought in markets.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Exercise extreme caution when driving. Road conditions off major roads are poor. Driving standards, lack of traffic signals, excessive speed, pedestrians and livestock on roadways, traffic congestion, the absence of sidewalks and poorly lit streets all pose serious risks. Overloaded transport vehicles often break down and cause accidents. Many vehicles lack lights. Roadside assistance is not available. Avoid driving at night.
During the rainy season, some dirt roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Vehicles should be equipped with spare tires and an emergency kit. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Public transportation is unreliable in the capital. Agree on taxi fares before departure.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Malian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Mali.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
You must have a visa to visit Mali. You should obtain prior to arrival.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Africa - May 14, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care professional the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza, Ebola, Lassa fever, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Lassa fever is a risk in this country.
Lassa fever is caused by a virus carried by rodents. Humans get sick when they inhale or come into close contact with feces, saliva, or urine of infected rodents or the blood or bodily fluids of infected humans.
Camping, forestry work, or other outdoor activities can put travellers at a higher risk.
Lassa virus can be very serious. Avoid rodents and rodent-infested areas.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited, especially outside of Bamako. Medical services usually require immediate cash payment.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Illegal or restricted activities
Photography of military personnel and installations is prohibited. Cultural and religious factors influence the interpretation of what subjects may be photographed. Ask permission before taking photographs.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Mali.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Mali, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
The law of Mali doesn’t prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted. LGBTQ2 travellers could face other sanctions.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Mali.
Dress and behaviour
Mali’s customs, laws and regulations closely adhere to Islamic practices. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect Malian religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2020, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around April 23.
You should carry an international driving permit.
Mali restricts the export of certain Malian archaeological objects, particularly those from the Niger River Valley. Under Malian law, visitors seeking to export such items require an export authorization from the National Museum of Mali in Bamako.
The currency is the African Financial Community franc, or CFA franc (XOF). Credit cards are rarely accepted outside a few major hotels. The Central Bank of West African States has a foreign exchange bureau on Koulikoro Road in Bamako, close to the Grand Hôtel. Exchange facilities are often slow and offer rates that are out of date.
Access to ATMs is limited outside of Bamako.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
There are 3 main seasons in Mali:
- the dry and cool season, from November to February
- the dry and hot season, from March to June, where temperatures can reach 45°C
- the rainy season, from June to October
During the rainy season, seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Dust and sand storms are frequent.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 17
- medical assistance: 15
- firefighters: 18
Bamako - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Mali in Bamako and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
- Date modified: