Pick pocketing and street crime, including in taxis and occasionally violent, are common in parts of Dakar, particularly around Place de l’Independence, the central area of the Plateau, the Western Corniche, and at the airport. This type of crime is especially common in the run up to religious festivals. Recent examples have included attackers grabbing bags whilst driving scooters or motorbikes. You should take sensible precautions, avoid walking alone in the late afternoon and after dark, and avoid carrying valuables in public.
If you’re expecting a greeter or driver to collect you at the airport, make sure they properly identify themselves before you set off. Fake greeters are known to operate at the airport.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms (romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities) and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should be cautious about requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa, including from people who claim to be victims of various Western African conflicts (notably refugees from Sierra Leone) or relatives of present or former political leaders.
The Casamance region of south-western Senegal (between the southern border of Gambia and the northern border of Guinea-Bissau) remains affected by a small number of incidents involving armed separatist groups and banditry.
There have been periodic clashes between the Senegalese army and suspected elements of the armed separatist group MFDC (Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance) over the last few years resulting in injuries and deaths. However these types of attacks are infrequent and where they have occurred, have not been aimed at foreigners.
You should be vigilant when travelling in the Casamance region to the west of Kolda. Where possible you should avoid travelling at night and stick to the main road from Ziguinchor to Cap Skirring (which is often used by groups of tourists during daylight hours) and the main road north of the Guinea-Bissau/ Senegal border, from Sao Domingos to Ziguinchor (N4 bis (Route National 4 bis). You should monitor the local security situation before travelling. The N4 and N5 roads in the Casamance region are closed each night from 6pm to 6am.
Land mines remain a problem in Casamance. De-mining operations are ongoing. Organisations operating in Casamance have recorded several hundred deaths from land mines since 1990. You should take local advice and stick to paved roads.
While some main roads are of good quality, other roads can be poor especially during the rainy season from June to September. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling during the rainy season.
Driving standards are unpredictable. Some taxis and public mini-buses (‘car rapide’) are not roadworthy by UK standards. The government is planning to phase out car-rapides by 2018 because of their age and the need to have buses that can hold more passengers.
Traffic in the Dakar area is heavy and you should take particular care and attention to avoid accidents. Driving after dark is more dangerous because of poor street and vehicle lighting. If you do have an accident you must contact the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene. In more remote areas you may need to go directly to the nearest police station to report the incident there.
Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
The French Embassy provides important security updates to French and other EU nationals, including British nationals. If you would like to take advantage of this service, please contact the British Embassy, Dakar.
There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Take particular care in remote areas of Senegal near the border areas with Mauritania and Mali, and to the east of the city of Podor as far as Kidira.
Terrorist groups in West Africa have recently demonstrated their capability and intent by mounting attacks in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali, targeting beach resorts, hotels, cafes and restaurants visited by foreigners. Be especially vigilant in these locations.
There is a threat of kidnapping in the wider Sahel region. You should take particular care in remote regions and border areas. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking and finances terrorist activity. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws reflect the fact that Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions so that they don’t offend others, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan
You should dress and behave modestly in public outside the main tourist areas. Bars and restaurants usually serve alcoholic drinks but drunkenness is considered offensive. Kissing as a greeting is acceptable but kissing romantically in public is not.
There is no gay scene in Senegal and article 319 of the penal code states that “an indecent or unnatural act with an individual of the same sex is punishable by 1-5 years imprisonment”.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
You don’t need a visa to travel to Senegal. If you intend to stay in Senegal for longer than 3 months, you’ll need to register with the local authorities in order to obtain a ‘Carte d’Etranger’.
Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry into Senegal.
You may be refused entry if you don’t have evidence of return or onward travel.
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry into, transit through and exit from Senegal.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Health facilities in Dakar are reasonable but are limited in the rest of Senegal. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in Senegal, especially during the rainy season (June-September).
There are occasional outbreaks of cholera.
The UNAIDS 2014 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that around 44,000 adults aged 15 or over in Senegal were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.5% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.25%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
Credit cards are accepted in larger establishments that cater for tourists. Commission is added for their use. There are ATMs in Dakar, but banking facilities are sporadic in the rest of the country.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.