Mauritania travel advice
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- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
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Mauritania - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Mauritania due to the threat of terrorism, particularly against Western interests.
Northern and eastern Mauritania - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to northern and eastern Mauritania due to the risk of banditry and kidnapping. This includes the area east of the Zouérat–Ouadane–Tidjikja–Kiffa–Sélibali line, the entire region of Tiris Zemmour, areas within 25 km of the borders with Algeria, Mali and Western Sahara and a military zone with restricted civilian access.
Safety and security
Northern and eastern Mauritania
Extremist groups and armed smugglers are active in Mauritania’s northern and eastern areas and there is a high risk of banditry and kidnapping. Armed rebels are active in the northern area beyond the Oualata–Tichit–Ouadane–Zouérat line. Attacks and thefts of personal belongings and vehicles have occurred.
The Defense Ministry of Mauritania has established a military zone in the north-east of the country where civilian access is forbidden. The military zone is located between Cheggat in the north-east, Ain Bentili in the north-west, Dhar Tichitt in the south-west and Lemreyye in the south-east. The Mauritanian Minister of Defense has publicly warned that any individual who enters the area will be treated as a military target.
There is a threat of terrorism. 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
Western interests may be particularly targeted.
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Stay at hotels that have robust security measures, however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations can’t be considered completely free of risk.
Mauritania’s borders in the Sahel region are porous, and terrorists operate in those border regions and the interior.
There is a high risk of kidnapping in Mauritania, and Westerners are a preferred target. Hostages have been detained for several months before being released. Be particularly cautious in areas bordering Western Sahara and Mali.
To lessen your risk of being kidnapped, travel with a reputable escort familiar with the country. Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when moving from one place to another. Exercise high personal security awareness at all times, and monitor local developments.
Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, theft and residential break-ins occur.
Car theft and assaults also occur.
- Avoid unpatrolled beaches at all times because of the risk of banditry and carjacking
- Avoid the Cinquième (fifth) district in Nouakchott after dark
- Travel in groups
- Remain alert
- Ensure that your belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Demonstrations occur from time to time, particularly on Fridays between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m, after the afternoon prayer. 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, particularly mosques, around prayers on Fridays
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment, verbal abuse and physical assault. Women should travel in groups and avoid travelling alone at night.
Women have been detained when reporting sexual assault, as they must prove that the sex was not consensual to avoid being charged.
If you must travel to remote desert areas, you will experience extreme climate and isolation.
- Travel in convoys
- Be accompanied by an experienced guide
- Remain on well-used tracks
- Carry sufficient supplies
- Seek the advice of local authorities before travelling
- Leave an itinerary with family or friends
There are two main border areas in Mauritania: at the northeastern border with Western Sahara and the southwestern border with Senegal.
The border crossing into Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara leads into a buffer zone, and there is no paved or well-marked road between the two border controls. There are unexploded landmines in the 20-30 km-wide area between Mauritania and Western Sahara. Landmines can shift with the movement of sand and dunes.
The two main land border crossings into Senegal are located at Diama and Rosso. Pedestrians and vehicles cross over the dam at Diama and by ferry at Rosso. The road leading to Diama may be impassable during the rainy season. Long delays at the border are common. Ferry crossings at Rosso are available only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Don’t cross the Senegal River by pirogue (small boat) because it is illegal and dangerous.
Public transportation is generally unsafe and unreliable.
Road conditions are generally fair to poor. There are four major roads in the country from Nouakchott:
- N1 toward Atar
- N2 along the coast toward the north (Nouadhibou, Western Sahara and Morocco)
- N3 toward Néma
- N4 along the coast toward the south (Rosso and Senegal)
Most other roads are unpaved sand tracks.
Drivers don’t respect traffic laws and regulations. Drifting sand and dunes may occasionally force vehicles off the roads. Roaming animals, bush taxis and poorly maintained vehicles frequently cause accidents. Roadside assistance is non-existent. Wear seatbelts at all times. Avoid driving at night.
Rent vehicles with drivers. In the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown, the driver and rental company will be held responsible. If the vehicle is rented without a driver, the person renting the vehicle will be held responsible.
In the event of an accident, a police report must be filed. Should an accident result in injury or death, drivers are detained until a judge determines responsibility.
Police conduct routine roadblocks in major cities such as Nouakchott. They may ask for proof of identity and a driver’s licence.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
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 authorities of Mauritania. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives 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 when you enter Mauritania.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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 foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
You can obtain a visa prior to or upon arriving in Mauritania.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
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 vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
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.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
This destination is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area which has the highest rates of meningococcal disease in the world. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection.
Travellers who are at higher risk should discuss vaccination with a health care provider. 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.
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
The flu occurs worldwide.
- In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to April.
- In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and October.
- In the tropics, there is flu activity year round.
The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.
The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination.
Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:
• Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.
• Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows.
• Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.
• Wear permethrin-treated clothing.
If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
In this destination, rabies is commonly carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.
If you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. In this destination, rabies treatment may be limited or may not be available, therefore you may need to return to Canada for treatment.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified this country as no longer poliovirus-infected but at high risk of an outbreak. Polio can be prevented by vaccination.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
There is a risk of schistosomiasis in this destination. Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by tiny worms (blood flukes) which can be found in freshwater (lakes, rivers, ponds, and wetlands). The worms can break the skin, and their eggs can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, or urinary problems. Schistosomiasis mostly affects underdeveloped and rural communities, particularly agricultural and fishing communities.
Most travellers are at low risk. Travellers should avoid contact with untreated freshwater such as lakes, rivers, and ponds (e.g., swimming, bathing, wading, ingesting). There is no vaccine or medication available to prevent infection.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a 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.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin. In some cases, it can be fatal. It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
- In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- 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.
Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can be fatal. It is spread to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, from the bite of an infected mosquito, or eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from insect bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock, and unpasteurized dairy. There is no vaccine available for Rift Valley fever.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
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 and supplies are extremely limited. Medical services usually require immediate cash payment.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Laws and 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.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
The laws of Mauritania prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
Convicted male offenders can face the death penalty. Female offenders can be punished by 3 months to 2 years in prison and a large fine.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Mauritania.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Mauritania.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Mauritania, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Dress and behaviour
Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. It would be prudent for women to wear a headscarf and cover their arms and legs.
In 2024, the lunar month of Ramadan is expected to begin on or around March 10.
In public, between sunrise and sunset, refrain from:
Adultery, extra-marital sexual relations and prostitution are illegal. Offenders may face strict penalties, including imprisonment.
Children of Mauritanian fathers automatically acquire Mauritanian citizenship at birth, regardless of where they were born.
The father’s permission is required for any child to travel, even if the child is travelling on a foreign passport.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Mauritania.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Mauritania by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Mauritania to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Photographing military installations, airports, government buildings and religious buildings is forbidden.
It is illegal to import alcoholic beverages, firearms and pork products.
Between midnight and 5 am, the Mauritanian authorities prohibit intercity traffic for vehicles transporting passengers and goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.
During this traffic ban period, vehicles are not allowed on national roads. They must be parked at roadside stations or in designated areas in cities.
You must carry an international driving permit.
The currency is the ouguiya (MRO), which is non-convertible and can’t be taken out of the country. Mauritania is a cash-based economy. There is no limit on the importation of foreign currency but it should be declared on arrival. The exportation of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. Exchanges will only accept U.S. dollars and euros. Some hotels in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou accept credit cards.
Natural disasters and climate
The climate in Mauritania is very hot and dry.
The rainy season extends from July to October. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Power and telecommunications may be affected in some areas. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Exercise caution, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 17
- firefighters: 18
Nouakchott - Honorary consul of Canada
Rabat-Souissi - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Morocco in Rabat 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, expressed 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.
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