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SENEGAL - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Senegal due to crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Casamance (see Advisory)
The current security situation in the Casamance region is highly unstable due to the threat of armed attacks and highway robbery. The situation is exacerbated by the persistent risk of clashes between Senegalese forces and rebels of the MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance). Anti-personnel mines remain a danger in Basse-Casamance, where incidents are regularly reported. South of Ziguinchor, near the border with Guinea-Bissau, demining zones have been identified and demining operations are under way. The entire region remains affected by incidents involving presumed separatist groups and armed gangs.
In general, travel on all roads in the region west of the city of Kolda is not recommended, with the exception of the road between Ziguinchor and Cap Skirring. Travel to the north around the Gambian border and to the south around the Guinea-Bissau border is very dangerous and is not recommended. DFAIT advises maintaining a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness when travelling by road east of Kolda. Any overland travel within or to these exceptional areas should be undertaken strictly on main roads during daylight hours only, ideally in convoy and with reputable carriers or tour operators.
Guinean border area
Exercise caution in the Guinean border area as the Senegalese authorities may at any time implement stricter controls in this area, including roadblocks at which travellers will be required to identify themselves.
Border areas with The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau
Roads near the border with The Gambia are not safe. Armed attacks on travellers have occurred, including in the Sedoba region. There is also tension near the border with Guinea-Bissau, in the areas of Ziguinchor, Nyassia and Niagha.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, natural resource, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners. Areas close to the borders with Mauritania and Mali, where jihadist groups are active, are at risk.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places. Stay at hotels that have robust security measures; however, keep in mind that even the most secure locations cannot be considered completely free of risk.
Violent robberies may occur in the main cities, particularly Dakar. Remain vigilant when travelling, protect travel documents, avoid displays of affluence, and stay away from isolated places, particularly at night.
Exercise caution in the arrivals and departures areas at the airport, especially after dark. These areas are often crowded, and travellers are regularly approached or get rushed by strangers. Many hotels offer a free shuttle service. Ensure that you confirm the identity of the person welcoming you at the airport to confirm that he or she was sent by the hotel.
The Gorée pier is a favourite spot for pickpockets. Avoid displaying valuable items on your person. Keep your bags close to you, remain vigilant and do not stop to talk with people who call out to you.
Home robberies occur frequently. In Dakar, armed robberies and purse snatching by individuals on a motorcycle are increasing. In general, assaults take place early in the morning and after dusk. Avoid walking alone. Avoid walking on the Corniche road in the evening, especially on the east Corniche (Petite Corniche) and on the west Corniche. Avoid lingering along the beach at the end of the day.
Demonstrations and strikes
Country-wide strikes and demonstrations are common and can suddenly turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings and demonstrations. Stay away from places where these could occur and follow the advice of local authorities at all times. Monitor the local media and other sources of information to keep abreast of any security threats, demonstrations, public gatherings or labour strikes.
You are advised always to carry photo identification, as well as a certified copy of your passport. The authorities may conduct checks at any time.
Main roads are in good condition, but travel after dark can be difficult because of poor lighting. Most secondary roads require a four-wheel-drive vehicle, particularly in the rainy season.
The presence of pedestrians and animals, combined with bad driving habits and poorly maintained vehicles, makes local driving conditions difficult.
It is advisable to report a road accident as soon as possible to the nearest police station, in order to avoid any conflict between the parties involved.
Avoid using public transportation if the vehicle appears overcrowded or poorly maintained.
Taxis are often badly driven and can be poorly maintained. Use regulated taxis only, and agree on the fare beforehand.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Learn more about foreign domestic airlines.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Senegal. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
General safety information
Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators, and choose well-established accommodations. Visits to wildlife parks should also be arranged only through reputable tour operators. Ensure that you always follow park rules.
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 Senegalese 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 six months beyond the date you expect to leave from Senegal.
Official Canadian Passport
Different entry rules may apply.
Learn more about official travel.
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.
Learn more about Canadian passports.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days)
Business visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days)
Student visa: Not required (for stays of less than 90 days)
Foreign national identity card
If you will be staying in Senegal for more than three months, you must apply for a foreign national identity card. For more information, contact the Embassy of Canada in Dakar.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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 provider 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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
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 or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- 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 provider.
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.
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!
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 for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider 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.
- 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.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at 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. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- See a health care provider 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, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
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 provider.
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 adequate in the capital, Dakar, but are limited elsewhere.
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.
Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may result in long jail sentences, heavy fines or both.
It is prohibited to photograph government buildings, airports or other official facilities.
It is illegal and dangerous to cross the Senegal River by private pirogue
The laws of Senegal prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Senegal.
Dress and behaviour
Exercise common sense and discretion in dress and behaviour. Respect 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 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 15.
Some items, including auto parts, computers and computer parts, stereo equipment, tape players, tools, and video cameras and players, are subject to strict customs regulations and cannot be brought into the country without clearance by Senegalese authorities. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Senegal for further information on customs requirements.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Senegal.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Senegal, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Learn more about travelling as a dual citizen.
The currency is the African Financial Community CFA franc (or XOF bank code).
Avoid exchanging large quantities of CFA francs for foreign currency from other than reputable exchange bureaus.
Automated banking machines are widespread and reliable in Dakar, although withdrawal limits may be quite low.
Credit cards are rarely accepted except by major hotels, travel agencies and airline companies. Credit card cash advances can be obtained, but are time-consuming to complete.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy seasons extend from August to September in the western, northwestern and northern regions and from July to September in the central and eastern regions. Heavy rains and tropical storms during these periods can make roads impassable. Follow regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 17
- medical assistance: 15
- firefighters: 18
Dakar - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Dakar 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.
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