Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions may vary throughout the country. Major urban and intercity roads are paved, but can be narrow and full of potholes. Rural roads outside of major arteries are often in poor condition and roadside assistance is not available.
- Dirt roads are common, even in large cities.
- Vehicles will often enter oncoming traffic to pass or maneuver around obstacles.
- Broken-down vehicles may be abandoned on the road.
- The police rarely enforce traffic laws and there is virtually no police presence on rural roads.
- Emergency services in case of accidents are scarce, underequipped, and nonexistent in most rural areas.
Traffic Laws: In addition to regular traffic, there are large volumes of mopeds, bicycles, pedestrians, donkey carts, hand-cranked wheel chairs and push-carts present on main thoroughfares. Drivers must exercise defensive driving to avoid accidents. The law requires moped operators to carry driver?s licenses and wear helmets, but it is not well-enforced.
Roadways are poorly lit, making travel at night especially dangerous. Many cars, mopeds and bicycle riders do not use headlights and are very difficult to see on the roads at night. Flooding is a major problem during the rainy season in parts of Burkina Faso, causing severe damage to roads and buildings.
Public Transportation: Avoid using buses and local (green) taxis. Buses have been involved in catastrophic accidents and been targeted by roadside criminals. Green taxis are often mechanically unsafe, pick up multiple passengers in asingle taxi, and have been connected to criminal activity involving its passengers. There are a handful of yellow taxi cab services that are acceptable and utilize centralized dispatchers, fare meters, seatbelts, and well-maintained automobiles. Exercise caution and remain aware of your personal belongings at all times.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burkina Faso, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Burkina Faso?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Burkina Faso to ensure the medication is legal in Burkina Faso. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Follow CDC recommendations to prevent malaria when traveling in Burkina Faso.
There is a risk of Zika infection in Burkina Faso. Follow CDC recommendations for travelers to Zika areas, especially if you are pregnant.
HIV infection is common throughout the country. Follow CDC recommendations for reducing your risk of contracting HIV.
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Meningococcal meningitis
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Fever is a risk in Burkina Faso, CDC reccomends this vaccine for travelers who are 9 months of age or older. You can get hepatitis A and typhoid through contaminated food or water in Burkina Faso, make sure to stay up-to-date on vaccinations.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State?s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Burkina Faso. However, LGBTI persons are at times threatened and face societal discrimination. Same-sex civil unions or marriages are not recognized by the government, nor do LGBTI organizations receive official recognition by the government.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Accommodation and accessibility for individuals with disabilities is limited in Burkina Faso. Access to buildings, pedestrian paths, and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. Most caf?s, restaurants, hotels, and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance without wheelchair ramps. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.
Women Travelers: Although the law prohibits violence against women, domestic violence, including spousal abuse, is widely reported. Wives have limited legal recourse in cases of abuse. There is no reliable data on the extent of sexual assault though it is a problem. Rape cases are usually not sent to trial. Police generally investigate reports of rape, but victims often do not file reports due to cultural barriers and fear of reprisal.
The law prohibits Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, but it is practiced widely, particularly in rural areas, and usually performed at an early age.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Early Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 17 for girls and 20 for boys, but child marriage is a problem. The law prohibits forced marriage. Polygyny is permitted, but a woman must agree to it prior to marriage.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Violent extremist elements, remain active in Bukina Faso and throughout the region. They have specifically targeted Westerners in attacks and kidnappings. Since January 2016, extremist groups have conducted numerous cross-border attacks in the Sahel region. In addition to attacking police stations, customs offices, military posts, and schools in the Sahel region, extremists have attacked Ouagadougou three times since Janaury 2016.
On March 2, 2018, extremists attacked the French Embassy and Burkina Faso?s military headquarters in downtown Ouagadougou. Eight security force personnel, including soldiers and police officers, were killed, and over 80 others were injured. In August 2017, a small group of armed men attacked the Aziz Istanbul Caf?, a restaurant in downtown Ouagadougou, and killed approximately 19 people.
Civil Unrest: Demonstrations may occur throughout Burkina Faso with little or no advance warning. Maintain a surplus of supplies including food, water, fuel, and medical supplies in case you need to shelter-in-place.
U.S. citizens should remain vigilant and utilize appropriate personal security practices, including:
- avoiding large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations;
- maintaining situational awareness and exercise good judgment;
- remaining alert and aware of your surroundings;
- staying abreast of current events through media outlets.
Crime: Street crime is prevalent in major cities and foreigners are often directly targeted. Cellular telephones, jewelry, laptops, money and other items of value are the frequent targets of thieves. The majority of street crime is committed after dark and is often perpetrated by one or two individuals on motorbikes. Street crime typically increases in Ouagadougou around the holidays, the bi-annual West African Movie Festival (FESPACO), and the bi-annual Regional Craft Festival (SIAO).
Remain vigilant in crowded areas and secure your personal belongings are at all times. Avoid traveling alone after dark as security risks increase at night. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, travel with a group of people if possible, and avoid poorly lit streets and narrow alleys. Criminals in urban areas may carry a knife or sharp weapon in order to cut the straps on bags, purses, or backpacks and can become violent if the victim resists. Ordinarily, thieves do not threaten victims with weapons, although there have been thefts and attempted thefts involving firearms and knives.
Residential thefts/home invasions occur occasionally in the Ouagadougou expatriate community centered in Ouaga 2000, Koulouba, and Zone du Bois, and in other parts of Ouagadougou. Thieves enter residences at night but generally avoid direct confrontation with the occupants. Most perpetrators exploit an unlocked door or window.
Travel in convoys when outside of major urban areas to deter roadside crime. Robberies can take place anwhere along the country?s roads, but local police cite the Eastern Region beyond Koupela, toward Fada N?Gourma due to its isolated location and intermittent cell phone coverage. According to police statistics, more than half of all reported roadside robbery incidents occurred in the this area. Criminals often use spotters at highway checkpoints and bus stations to identify potential victims. While criminals mainly steal valuables, they may physically harm victims during the course of a robbery.
Exercise caution when traveling along the northern areas of the country near the Mali and Niger borders. The Government of Burkina Faso and the U.S. Embassy have limited ability to provide assistance in the Sahel Reserve region. The U.S. Embassy has placed restrictions on official government travel to Dori, Djibo, the east-west road that connects these cities, and all areas north of that road. U.S. citizens are encouraged to follow the same guidance.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 10-10 and contact the U.S. Embassy. The national emergency telephone number, 10-10, will connect a caller to the Ministry of Security who can then dispatch the appropriate law enforcement or emergency assistance entity.
Within Ouagadougou, emergency services numbers are as follows:
- Fire Department:
- Dial 18 for emergencies.
- Dial 25-30-69-47 or 25-30-69-48 for administrative issues.
- Ambulance Service:
- Dial 18 for emergencies.
- Dial 25-30-66-44 or 25-30-66-45 for administrative issues.
- Dial 17 or 25-30-63-83, or 25-30-71-00 for emergencies.
- Dial 25-36-44-42 or 25-32-60-69 for administrative issues.
- Gendarmerie (Military Police):
- Dial 16 or 25-30-62-71 for emergencies.
- Dial 25-30-32-71 or 25-31-33-40 for administrative issues.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Visit the Embassy of Burkina Faso website for the most current visa information.
We strongly urge U.S. citizens to acquire visas for Burkina Faso before traveling.
U.S. citizens traveling to Burkina Faso can apply for a visa by mail, in person, or at the Embassy of Burkina Faso, where they can receive a five-year multiple-entry visa.
- Single-entry and multiple-entry visas with a maximum validity of three months are available upon arrival in Burkina Faso.
- Five-year multiple entry visas must be applied for once in Burkina Faso at the Visa Office of Ouagadougou located in Gounghin.
- Several companies that offer visa services, but have no affiliation with the Government of Burkina Faso, have set up sites to resemble the Embassy of Burkina Faso. The correct web address for the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Washington DC is www.burkina-usa.org; the site for Burkina Faso?s Permanent Mission to the UN is www.burkina-onu.org).
- Travelers older than nine months should have proof of yellow fever immunizations, or you may be denied entry
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burkina Faso.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Burkina Faso for information on U.S. ? Burkina Faso relations.