Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
IAM Note: ECOWAS is an acronym denoting the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Economic Community of West African States.
Local laws reflect the fact that The Gambia is an Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan started on 23 April and finished on 23 May. See Travelling during Ramadan
You must carry ID with you at all times. Carry a photocopy of your passport and keep the original locked away.
It hasn’t always been possible for the British High Commission to gain early access to detained British nationals in The Gambia. If you’re living in The Gambia, you should contact the British High Commission who will be able to advise on how to contact consular staff in the event of an emergency.
Although the law stipulates that detainees can’t be held for longer than 72 hours without charge, this is regularly exceeded.
The death penalty applies for a number of crimes including arson, murder and treason. The Gambia resumed executions in 2012. In February 2018, President Barrow announced a moratorium on the death penalty.
There is a zero tolerance towards illegal drugs. The Gambian authorities will take strong action against anyone importing, exporting or found in possession of drugs. Don’t accept packages on behalf of anyone without knowing the contents.
Sentences for those found in possession of drugs can be up to £200,000 or 15 years in prison. Westerners carrying a minimal amount of cannabis have been sentenced to ten years in prison. Cases of entrapment by Gambian authorities are not uncommon.
Recent amendments to the Gambian criminal code have criminalised a range of behaviour including causing a public nuisance, which can carry a 5-year prison term and/or a fine of 250,000 Dalasi.
There are heavy penalties for any form of sexual offence against a child. There are reports of increased child sex tourism. Report any incidences to police officials.
There is a zero tolerance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in The Gambia. The Gambian criminal code states that any person who has or attempts to have ‘carnal knowledge’ of any person ‘against the order of nature’ is guilty of a crime and could face 14 years’ imprisonment. The criminal code was amended in October 2014 to include Section (144A) entitled Aggravated Homosexuality which sets out 7 specific categories, including being “a serial offender”, where a person is “liable on conviction to imprisonment for life”. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Gambian law criminalises the act of men dressing as women with a 5-year jail term.
a. for passengers of 18 years or older:
b. a bottle of eau de toilette or perfume;
c. personal effects.
Plants: Permit from the Director of Agriculture is required.
The import of certain endangered species of plant, live animals and their products is prohibited or restricted under CITES.
Cats and dogs must be accompanied by a veterinarian’s health certificate issued at point of origin. The day after the arrival of the pets, they have to be registered at the Gambian Veterinary Department to obtain an import permit. Tel: 220 472727.
Baggage is cleared at Banjul (BJL).
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside of Gambia.
Local currency (Gambia Dalasi-GMD): no restrictions.
Foreign currencies: no restrictions, but the currency from Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tunisia will not be accepted and cannot be exchanged.
Local currency (Gambia Dalasi-GMD) and foreign currencies: up to the amounts imported. Maximum currency (cash): GMD 75.- or equivalent in GBP plus the equivalent of GMD 250.- in other currency.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
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.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Commercial flights to and from The Gambia remain very limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information. The land border with Senegal is open.
To enter The Gambia, you will need to show a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before you arrived in The Gambia to Ministry of Health officials upon arrival. You will be transported to a government mandated quarantine facility by Ministry of Health officials and tested. You will be quarantined at your own cost pending a negative COVID-19 result.
Failure to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before you arrive in The Gambia to Ministry of Health officials will result in you being tested and quarantined for 14- days at your own cost.
Additional surveillance and detection mechanisms have been put in place at Banjul International Airport and various points of entry along The Gambia’s border.
For visits of less than a month, you don’t need to get a visa before you travel. British nationals are given a 28 day stamp in their passports on arrival. You can get further 28-day extensions from the Immigration Office in Banjul or the Tourist Police Stations in the Tourism Development Area.
If you’re planning to enter The Gambia for a period longer than 3 months, check entry requirements with the Gambian High Commission in London.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.
A compulsory Airport Development Fee must be paid on exiting the country. The fee is 20 euros, or equivalent in local currency. Visa credit card is accepted, but no others. Passengers in transit and infants under 2 years old are exempt. Check with your travel company whether this fee has been included in your air ticket.
A compulsory Airport Security Fee must be paid upon entering and exiting the country. The fee is 20 dollars, or equivalent in euros, sterling or local currency. This will be collected via marked kiosks in Banjul International Airport. Visa credit card is accepted. Children below 2 years of age and passengers in transit are exempt.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are valid for entry and exit at Banjul airport.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
In January 2017, The Gambia experienced a peaceful handover of power to President Adama Barrow and his coalition government.
There were a series of political protests in The Gambia in December 2019 and January 2020, primarily in the Kombo districts. You should avoid large gatherings and protests in public areas, and follow the advice of local authorities.
Attacks on tourists are increasing, particularly the theft of passports and other valuables from hotel rooms. Don’t take valuables or large sums of money to the beach, or display them in public. Take particular care when visiting isolated beaches and markets.
Both male and female visitors should be particularly cautious of young men locally known as ‘bumsters’ who approach tourists, particularly on beaches, offering help or to act as local guides. Be polite but firm in refusing unwanted help or attempts at conversation. Visitors should also be wary of offers, usually from ‘bumsters’, to take them on tours into Senegal. It is unlikely that the correct immigration procedures, which might include getting a visa for Senegal, will be followed. This could result in detention by immigration authorities.
Don’t leave valuables in unattended vehicles. Take particular care in unlit areas or in places away from the Tourist Development Area.
Corruption is endemic at all levels.
Travel in The Gambia is reasonably safe as long as you take sensible precautions to safeguard your personal possessions.
There are a number of checkpoints operating in and around the capital Banjul. Expect your vehicle to be searched if you’re stopped by security forces.
You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 3 months upon your first entry into the Gambia. After 3 months you can apply for a Gambian driving licence using your UK driving licence as proof of driving competence. You should apply to the Gambia Police Force Licensing Department. The documents required for the application include proof of residency in the Gambia, your valid UK driving licence and a copy of your passport.
If you’re a diplomat then you can channel your application through the Gambia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they will advise you on what you need to provide to facilitate this process. They will process your application on your behalf. The same procedure is also applicable for International Non-Governmental Organizations, United Nations Agencies, and other diplomatic missions in the Gambia.
Driving standards are bad and roads severely potholed. Driving after dark carries added hazards because of poor road and vehicle lighting. In the event of an accident, emergency medical facilities are very limited. Security checkpoints are common on all major routes in The Gambia. They are not always well sign-posted and you should take care when approaching them.
Rainfall occurs in The Gambia between June-October. Heavy rainfall can create localised flooding. Take care if you’re going up-country or travelling on non-paved roads during this period.
Some local taxis are not roadworthy.
Take care when using the ferry between Banjul and Barra. It can be very crowded and safety measures are not up to European standards. When using the ferry get out of your vehicle quickly after parking to avoid becoming trapped inside for the duration of the journey. Don’t use the ferry after dark.
Pirogues (wooden dug-out canoes) operate in The Gambia. These can be overloaded and safety measures are not up to European standards. They are not recommended for long journeys and you should make sure they have life jackets.
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