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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Morocco

Morocco - Consular Information Sheet
July 17, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament and an independent judiciary. Ultimate authority rests with the King. The capital is Rabat. Morocco has a mixed economy based largely on agriculture, fishing, light industry, phosphate mining, tourism, and remittances from citizens working abroad. Modern tourist facilities and means of transportation are widely available, but may vary in quality depending on price and location. The workweek in Morocco is Monday through Friday.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Travelers to Morocco must bear a valid passport. Visas are not required for American tourists traveling in Morocco for less than 90 days. For visits of more than 90 days, Americans are required to obtain a residence permit and return visa should they wish to return to Morocco for extended periods. A residence permit and return visa may be obtained from immigration (Service d'Etranger) at the central police station of the district of residence. For additional information concerning entry requirements for Morocco, travelers may contact the Embassy of Morocco at 1601 21st St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 462-7979 to 82. The Moroccan Consulate General is located at 10 E. 40th Street, New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 758-2625.

The government of Morocco considers all children born to Moroccan fathers to be Moroccan citizens. Even if the children bear American passports, immigration officials may require proof that the father approves their departure before the children will be allowed to leave Morocco. Although women, regardless of their nationality, are normally granted custody of their children in divorces, the father must approve the children's departure from Morocco. Women must obtain permission to move the children more than 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) from their last residence before the divorce. American women married to Moroccans do not need their spouse's permission to leave Morocco.

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.

DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all Moroccan laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Moroccan citizens. For additional information, see Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Area of Instability: The sparsely-settled Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) was long the site of armed conflict between Government forces and the Polisario Front which has demanded independence. A cease-fire has been in effect since 1991 in the UN administered area. There are thousands of unexploded mines in the Western Sahara and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the Western Sahara border. Exploding mines are occasionally reported, and have caused death and injury. Transit to the Western Sahara remains restricted; persons planning to travel in the region may obtain information on clearance requirements from the Moroccan Embassy.

Although rare, security personnel in Morocco may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. There is no ongoing terrorist threat in Morocco, but the potential for transnational terrorism remains high in the region, and appropriate precautions should be taken. When tension rises in the Middle East region, the U.S. Embassy sometimes receives threatening calls and letters. Travelers should be cognizant of the current levels of tension in the region and remain alert to their surroundings.

CRIME: Morocco has a high crime rate in urban areas. Criminals have targeted tourists for robberies, assaults, muggings, thefts, purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and scams of all types. Most of the petty crime occurs in the medina/market areas, parks and beaches. Commonly reported crimes include falsifying credit-card vouchers, and shipping inferior rugs as a substitute for the rugs purchased by the traveler. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate have also received reports of thefts occurring in the vicinity of ATM machines. Aggressive panhandling is common.

Some travelers have been befriended by persons of various nationalities who have offered them food, drink, or cigarettes that are drugged. Harassment of tourists by unemployed Moroccans posing as "guides" is a common problem. Prudent travelers hire only official tour guides through hotels and travel agencies. Traveling alone in the Rif Mountain area is risky because tourists have fallen victim to schemes involving the purchase and/or trafficking of hashish. Unescorted women in any area of Morocco may experience verbal abuse. The best course of action is to ignore such abuse because women who have responded have come under physical attack. Thieves sometimes bump cars from behind and then rob their victims when they get out of the car to inspect the damage. Taxis and trains in Morocco are generally crime-free; buses are not.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail 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, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care in Morocco is available, particularly in Rabat and Casablanca, although not all facilities meet high quality standards, and specialized care or treatment may not be available. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in the urban areas, but the medical staff will probably not be able to communicate in English. Travelers planning to drive in the mountains and other remote areas may wish to carry a medical kit and a Moroccan phone card for emergencies. In the event of car accidents involving injuries, immediate ambulance service usually is not available.

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 a 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. 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: Visitors to Morocco should exercise common sense and caution when purchasing food from street vendors or stalls. The beaches as well as the ocean in the immediate vicinity of Casablanca are polluted and considered unsafe for swimming, although other coastal areas are safe.

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 CDC's Internet 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 provided below concerning Morocco is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Traffic accidents are a significant hazard in Morocco. Driving practices are poor and have resulted in serious injuries and fatalities to U.S. citizens. This is particularly true at dusk during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when adherence to traffic regulations is lax, and from July to September, when Moroccan residents abroad return from Europe by car in large numbers. Urban driving is characterized by congested streets. Traffic signals do not always function and are sometimes difficult to see. Modern freeways link the cities of Tangier, Rabat, Fez and Casablanca. Other major cities are linked by two-lane highways.

Secondary routes in rural areas are often narrow and poorly paved. Roads through the Rif and Atlas Mountains are steep, narrow, winding, and dangerous. Maximum caution should be exercised when driving in the mountains. During the rainy season (November-March), flash flooding is frequent and sometimes severe, washing away roads and vehicles in rural areas.

Pedestrians, scooters, and animal-drawn conveyances are common on all roadways, including the freeways, and driving at night should be avoided, if possible. Moroccan police officers often pull drivers over for inspection within the city and on highways. In the event of a traffic accident, including accidents involving injuries, the parties are required to remain at the scene and not move their vehicles until the police have arrived and have documented all necessary information. This procedure may take several hours.

While public buses and taxis are inexpensive, drivers typically exhibit poor driving habits, and the buses are frequently overcrowded.

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. For specific information concerning Moroccan driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Moroccan Embassy or Consulate General.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Morocco's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Morocco's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site 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 the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Moroccan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Morocco of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, business equipment, and large quantities of currency. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, D.C. or the Moroccan Consulate General in New York for specific information concerning customs requirements.

Moroccan customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

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 Moroccan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Morocco are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Proselytizing: Islam is the state religion of Morocco. The Moroccan Government does not interfere with public worship by the country's Christian or Jewish minorities. However, while Christians are allowed to practice freely, some activities, such as proselytizing or encouraging conversion to the Christian faith--both considered legally incompatible with Islam--are prohibited. It is illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity. In the past, American citizens have been detained or arrested and expelled for discussing or trying to engage Moroccans in debate about Christianity.

CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers' checks and credit cards are accepted at some establishments in Morocco, mainly in urban areas. Travelers' checks may be cashed at most banks, although some require the bearer to present both the check and the receipt. ATM machines are available in Casablanca and Rabat, and some American bankcards may be used to withdraw local currency from an account in the United States. Current Moroccan customs procedures do not provide for the accurate or reliable registration of large quantities of American dollars brought into the country by tourists or other visitors. As a result, travelers encounter difficulties when they attempt to depart with the money. In particular, American citizens with dual Moroccan nationality have been asked to provide proof of the source of the funds and have incurred heavy fines. Moroccan currency cannot be converted back into U.S. dollars prior to departure.

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.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/U.S. EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Morocco are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca and obtain updated information on travel and security within Morocco.

The U.S. Embassy is located at 2 Avenue de Marrakech in the capital city of Rabat, telephone (212)(37) 76-2265. The American Consulate General in Casablanca is located at 8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef, telephone (212)(22) 26-45-50. Please note that all consular matters are handled at the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. The Consular Section's American Citizens Services hotline is (212)(22) 43-05-78. The fax number is (212)(22) 20-41-27. The Internet web site is http://www.usembassy-morocco.org.ma/.

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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for Morocco issued September 6, 2000 to update the section on Medical Insurance.



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