Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
French is the official language in Mali. It’s widely spoken and understood in the major towns and cities, whereas English is not. Elsewhere in the country, local languages are normally used.
Mali is a secular country, but predominantly a Muslim country and the country’s laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. 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. See Travelling during Ramadan
Don’t photograph military or government installations; ask permission before taking photographs.
Carry some form of identification at all times. This would normally mean your passport or residence permit. If you drive outside the main towns, the likelihood of having to produce some form of identification is high.
Women are expected to dress modestly.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Mali, but discrimination is widespread. Arrests have been made for ‘immoral behaviour’. LGBTI individuals have experienced physical, psychological, and sexual violence, which society views as corrective punishment and police frequently refuse to intervene. There have been incidences of homophobic attacks, and arrests targeting the LGBT community in Bamako. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Home computers are not accepted as personal effects and are subject to duties and import taxes.
Narcotics and foreign products labeled as originating in Mali are prohibited imports. The following products require prior approval from the relevant ministry: medicines, veterinary products, vehicles larger than sedans, arms and ammunition, tobacco products, and fishing nets with holes less than 50 millimeters in diameter.
To exit a sanitary certificate from the Veterinary Department (see entry ) and a rabies vaccination certificate are required.
Baggage is cleared at the first point of entry in Mali.
Exempt: baggage of passengers in transit to African states.
Currency Import regulations:
RESIDENTS: local currency (CFA Franc-XOF) and foreign currencies: no restrictions. NON-RESIDENTS: local currency and foreign currencies: no restrictions, if declared when the amount exceeds XOF 25,000.- in order to facilitate re-exportation.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (CFA Franc-XOF): unlimited; foreign currencies: equivalent of XOF 25,000.- in banknotes. NON-RESIDENTS who made a declaration on entry may re-export all their currencies less a reasonable amount equivalent to their expenses in Mali. No restrictions on foreign currencies in the form of cheques or letters of credit.
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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)
You should check with your travel provider before going to the airport.
You need a visa to enter Mali. You can apply for single and multiple entry visas from the Embassy in Paris. There is no consulate in London.
To enter Mali you will either need to present a negative COVID test certificate less than 72 hours old or be tested on arrival at the airport. While waiting for the test results, you will either have to quarantine at home or in a hotel. If you test positive, you will be made to go to a government designated facility. Even if a negative test is presented on arrival but you show symptoms, you will be made to quarantine until a negative result is obtained.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
If you do not present a negative test that is less than 72 hours old on arrival, you will be tested and will be made to quarantine at home or in a hotel while waiting for the test results. If you are showing symptoms, or test positive on arrival, you will be made to go to a government designated facility, until a negative result is obtained.
You are required to present a negative COVID test certificate less than 72 hours old to exit Mali. It is likely that the Government will implement temperature checks on departure.
British citizens need a visa to enter Mali, available from the nearest Malian Embassy or Consulate. There is a Malian Honorary Consulate in London.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
UK Emergency Travel Documents are not valid for entry into, or transit through, Mali.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website. There are often checks in Bamako airport for evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination.
There have been incidents of armed banditry, car-jacking and kidnap in northern and central Mali. Bandits and smugglers are present along Mali’s northern borders and pose a risk to travellers, especially after dark.
In case of emergency, you can contact the Malian authorities on +223 80 00 11 15 or +223 20 23 95 11.
The FCDO advise against all travel to the provinces of Tombouctou, Kidal, Gao and Mopti, as well as parts of the provinces of Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso and Segou. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Mali, including Bamako.
Following the military coup on 18 August 2020, the situation in Bamako is calm. You should remain vigilant and monitor local media for any developments.
There are an increasing number of inter and intra-communal security incidents in many parts of the country, notably in Mopti and Segou regions. In March 2019, 160 villagers were killed by masked gunmen in a single attack in Ogossagou in central Mali. In February 2020, 35 villagers were killed in the same location. Landmines are used by groups operating in Centre, North and North East Mali.
There have been recent changes in the security situation in parts of Segou province/region. It remains fluid. On 26 January 2020, terrorists attacked a Malian military camp in Sokolo, killing 20 soldiers. On 17 February 2020, armed elements attacked a checkpoint of Bla, approximately 70 km south-east of Ségou town. On the 6 June 2020, terrorists conducted an attack in the area of Sarakala in Markala commune resulting in Malian Army vehicles and weapons being stolen. On 14 June 2020, terrorists attacked a Malian military convey approximately 160km north of Segou town, killing 24 soldiers. If you’re in or travelling to rural areas outside the town of Segou, you should regularly review risks, and your resultant security arrangements, consider additional security measures and keep up to date with developments.
Travel in Mali can be difficult and conditions are poor for overland travel. You should take all necessary safety precautions, especially outside of main urban areas, have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance.
Starting on 10 July 2020, large-scale political protests have taken place in Bamako and some other regional towns. These have turned violent resulting in burning of tires, clashes with the police, blockage on the roads and bridges, the deployment of tear gas, and small arms fire. There have been reports of several deaths and injuries. Protests and civil disobedience have increased in frequency. You should avoid large gatherings, remain vigilant and monitor local news.
On 19 August 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) announced his resignation following a military coup. Following this, a transition government was appointed in September 2020 for a period of 18 months.
Protests, marches and demonstrations can occur with little prior notice and may see a heavy police and security presence. Protests have taken place recently in Bamako and other cities across Mali. If you become aware of any nearby protests, marches or demonstrations, you should leave the area immediately, remain vigilant, and follow the local news as the atmosphere can change quickly and without warning. You should stay away from any blockades set up by the police and security forces.
There was a coup in Mali in 2012 following armed conflict in the north. Following a French-led military intervention, democracy was restored in 2013. A peace agreement has been signed by most parties to the earlier conflict and a process of reconciliation is continuing.
Night-time checkpoints operate in Bamako at various locations. Checkpoints are in place from approximately 9pm until dawn.
Keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times while travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions given. There have been incidents late at night where people dressed as policemen have demanded money from drivers in Bamako. Ask to see identification. Don’t resist if the person is armed.
Road conditions off the main roads are often poor, especially in the rainy season (June to October). Other road users may drive dangerously. You should take particular care and attention when driving in urban centres.
In the case of a vehicle accident, go to the nearest police station to file a report immediately. If you remain on the spot you may be vulnerable. Medical help in the event of an accident is likely to be limited.
Regional and international borders have re-opened. For latest information, check with your travel provider before going to the airport.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list isn’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.
You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
Foreign nationals are targets for online scams. Treat with considerable caution any 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 operates in West Africa.