The Gambia - Consular Information Sheet
April 12, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Gambia is a developing country
in west Africa. Facilities for tourism in the Banjul area are
good; outside the capital, however, tourist facilities are limited
in availability and quality.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required,
as is evidence of yellow fever vaccination. Travelers are urged
to obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements
from the Embassy of The Gambia, Suite 1000, 1155 15th Street,
NW, Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 785-1399 and 1359;
or from the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the U.N. at 820
Second Avenue, Suite 900-C, New York, N.Y. 10071, telephone (212)
949-6640. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian
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 not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although the Gambia completed a transition
from military to civilian rule in 1996, due to the potential for
violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings or street
demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Travelers
should not photograph airports or military installations. There
were a few shootings at Gambian road checkpoints in January 2001.
Therefore, travelers driving a vehicle in the Gambia should stop
at all roadblocks or road checkpoints, and proceed only when instructed
by security personnel. Drivers should not reverse direction to
avoid a road checkpoint, nor make any movements that may be viewed
as suspicious or provocative by security personnel. Drivers should
not proceed through a road checkpoint when signaled to stop.
Americans are advised that crossing the Gambia River via the
Banjul-to-Barra ferry may involve serious safety risks and that
they should avoid using the ferry if possible. This ship is often
overcrowded and does not carry sufficient life preservers for
all passengers. The ferry frequently operates with several of
its engines out of service. Americans who must travel to the north
bank of the Gambia River are advised to inquire about the condition
of the ferry or to consider using the Yelitenda-to-Bambatenda
ferry, 150 kilometers upriver. Americans who use the ferry should
consider carrying their own life preservers.
CRIME: Petty street crime is a problem in The Gambia.
Travelers should be careful of pickpockets in the crowded market
areas and on ferries. Packages or luggage should never be left
unattended, especially in taxis.
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 on
travel 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
some medicines are unavailable. Travelers should bring their own
supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Further
information on prescription drugs is found in the section on import/export
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 whether it will cover emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.
U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred
outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.
Further, 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.
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 U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
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: Malaria prophylaxis and vaccination
against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and meningococcal meningitis
are recommended. 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
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 The Gambia is provided for general reference
only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Travel in The Gambia is difficult because of road conditions,
particularly during the rainy season - June through October. Although
a few main roads are paved in the greater Banjul area, most are
poorly maintained and poorly lit; drivers and pedestrians should
exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents. Almost all roads
outside the capital are unpaved. The U.S. Embassy urges visitors
driving outside the capital to travel with a recognized travel
guide. Travelers should be cautious of individuals who persistently
offer unsolicited help.
For additional general
information about road safety, including links to foreign government
sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Gambia's civil aviation authority
as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for the oversight of Gambia air carrier operations.
As there was no service to the U.S. by Gambian-registered carriers
at the time of the FAA assessment, no service standards for the
oversight of Gambia air carrier operations, they arrange to have
the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting
international safety standards.
In September 2000, Ghana Airways was granted authority by the
FAA to use Banjul as an intermediate stop for service to New York's
JFK airport. The FAA assessed Yundum Airport in Banjul and found
airport security measures consistent with international standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. 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 DOD at (618) 229-4801.
IMPORT AND EXPORT RESTRICTIONS: The Gambia has strict
laws on the import/export of skin-bleaching creams and some medications.
Visitors arriving with substances containing hydroquinone, hydrocortisone,
betamethasone, flucinonide, clobestatol or clobestatone are subject
to fines up to $2,000 and/or three years imprisonment. Airport
police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing
luggage. Travelers in possession of prescription drugs should
carry proof of their prescriptions, such as labeled containers.
Police have been known to arrest foreigners carrying unlabeled
pills. For a complete list of prohibited items, contact the nearest
Gambian Embassy or Consulate.
CRIMINAL 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
Gambian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in The Gambia 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 our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues or telephone (202)
EMBASSY/REGISTRATION LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in
or visiting The Gambia are encouraged to register at the U.S.
Embassy in Banjul upon arrival and to obtain updated information
on travel and security in The Gambia. The U.S. Embassy is located
on Kairaba Avenue in Fajara, a suburb of the capital city of Banjul.
The mailing address is P.M.B. No. 19, Banjul, The Gambia. The
telephone numbers are (220) 392856, 392858 or 391971, fax (220)