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XYZ Consular Info: Mali
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
For recorded travel information, call 202-647-5225
Internet Address: http://travel.state.gov
For information by fax, call 202-647-3000 from your fax machine
Consular Information Sheet
May 16, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mali is a developing western African nation with
a democratic government. Facilities for tourism are limited. The
capital is Bamako
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. All travelers
must have international vaccination cards with a current yellow fever
immunization. Travelers should obtain the latest information from the
Embassy of the Republic of Mali, 2130 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Internet: http://www.maliembassy-
usa.org. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Malian
embassy or consulate.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the
child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian present. Having
such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Banditry and carjackings have historically
plagued Mali's northern regions and the Mauritanian border. There have
been several carjackings, robberies, and murders in the
Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou regions involving foreign tourists and Non-
Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in Mali. While banditry is
not seen as targeting U.S. citizens specifically, the rise in violent
incidents has greatly increased the risk to all travelers in the
region. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako urges U.S. citizens to avoid all
non-essential road travel to the Tombouktou region and beyond, and to
exercise extreme caution while traveling in northern Mali or to any
isolated area within Mali. Flying or traveling by boat with a local
carrier to Timbuktu and other northern locations is considered to be
safer, as long as the traveler remains in urban areas. Such services
are provided by local carriers.
U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street
demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
CRIME: While the level of violent crime remains low, petty crimes,
such as pickpocketing and simple theft, are common. Occasionally,
female travelers in particular have reported being harassed in public
places. There have been several incidents of carjackings, armed
robberies and banditry in Bamako and in the outlying regions of Gao,
Kidal and Tombouctou. Train travelers are advised to be vigilant for
pickpockets, especially at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain
in groups and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. The pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers
to Sub-Saharan Africa," provide useful information on protecting
personal security while traveling abroad and in the region in general.
Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the
Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of
Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and many medicines
are unavailable. Travelers should carry with them an adequate supply
of needed medicines.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to
consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad
to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover
emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical
insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United
States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. U.S. Medicare and
Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside
the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies
offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred
overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
Travelers should be aware that evidence of and/or assurances from U.S.
insurance companies will not be accepted as settlement of medical
expenses in Mali.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should
consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in
cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the
United States may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars (US).
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face
extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas
healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses
that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for
psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of
Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling
Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or
autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health
precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's hotline for international travelers at
1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299),
or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from
those in the United States. The information below concerning Mali is
provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate
in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Mali has a few paved roads that are in fair condition. U.S. citizens
traveling by road should exercise extreme caution. Poorly maintained,
overloaded transport and cargo vehicles frequently break down and cause
accidents. Undisciplined drivers render traffic movements
unpredictable. Construction work is often poorly indicated. Speed
bumps - commonly used on paved roads in and near villages - are seldom
indicated. Nighttime driving is particularly hazardous because
vehicles frequently lack headlights and/or taillights. Mali's unpaved
roads vary in quality. Deep sand and/or ditches are common. During
the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, dirt roads often
become impassable. Four-wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and
emergency equipment are recommended.
In Mali, one drives on the right hand side of the road. In cities,
speed limits can range from 40-60 kilometers an hour (25-40 miles per
hour), although road conditions often call for lower speeds. On the
roads between cities, the speed limit is 100 km/hr (around 65 mph), but
this is often ignored.
Inter-city travel, if not organized through a tour company, can be
accomplished by public bus, taxi, and, to the western Kayes region of
the country only, by train. There are paved roads to Segou, Mopti and
Sikasso. However, motorized vehicles must share the road with
bicycles, animal-powered vehicles, and herds of animals. Driving at
night between cities is not recommended, not only because many other
vehicles lack head or tail lights, but also because nighttime robbery
can be a problem.
Driving conditions in the capital of Bamako can be particularly
difficult and dangerous. Few traffic signals function regularly, and
drivers often do not follow the rules of the road. In particular, the
small, green, van-like buses called "bashees" do not pay any heed to
oncoming traffic, and bashee drivers are known to changes lanes
unexpectedly without looking. Please exercise extreme caution when
driving in Bamako.
There are local drunk driving laws on the books, but they are seldom
enforced. The same goes for laws regarding seat belts and child car
seats. In case of an accident involving bodily injury, the person at
fault is generally expected to pay all the medical bills to the
injured. If an accident results in death, even if unavoidable or
beyond the driver's control (e.g., if a child runs out in front of
one's car), the police will often keep the driver in jail for several
days to protect the driver against physical harm or other retribution
from the victim's family. Most cases like this are eventually settled
out of court.
There is no Malian equivalent of the 911 eme rgency number, and the job
of transporting accident victims to the hospital is left to passers-by
or the gendarmes/police if they are available. There is no service
that provides roadside assistance in Mali.
The Malian authority for road safety is the Compagnie Nationale de
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air
service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate
such service between the United States and Mali, the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mali's
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation
safety standards for oversight of Mali's air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of
Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or
visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 618-256-4801.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Photography is no longer restricted, except for military
subjects. However, interpretation of what may be considered to be off-
limits for taking photographs varies. Some subjects may be considered
sensitive from a cultural or religious viewpoint. It is helpful to
obtain permission before taking photographs in Mali.
CURRENCY: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out-
of-date rates. The
U.S. Embassy cannot provide exchange facilities for private Americans.
Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, a few travel agencies
and select restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards are performed by
only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and only on a "VISA"
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Mali in
Washington, D.C. or the nearest Malian consulate for specific
information regarding customs requirements. The U.S. Customs Service
may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the
Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. For further
information, please contact the Customs Service at
telephone 202 927-2336 or see their Internet web site at
TELEPHONE SERVICE: International calls are expensive, and collect
calls cannot be made from outside Bamako.
EXPORTATION OF ARTIFACTS: Mali is signatory to the Treaty on Cultural
Property that restricts exportation of certain Malian archeological
objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors
seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to
obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako.
CRIME PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject
to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ
significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the
protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for
breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for
similar offenses. Persons violating Malian law, even unknowingly, may
be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or
trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are strict, and convicted
offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of
children and international parental child abduction, please refer to
the Department of State's Internet site at
http://travel.state.gov/children's issues_html or telephone (202) 736-
EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting
Mali are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Bamako at the
intersection of Rue Rochester NY and
Rue Mohamed V, and to obtain updated information on travel and security
in Mali. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The
telephone number is (223)22-38-33. The fax number is (223)22-37-12.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 3, 2000 to
update the sections on
Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Medical Insurance, Traffic
Safety and Road Conditions, and Aviation Safety Oversight.