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Burkina Faso

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Summary

  • Reconsider your need to travel to Burkina Faso due to the high threat of terrorism and kidnapping.
  • Do not travel north of the line between Orodara- Salanso-Tougan-Ouhigouya-Djibo-Dori or to any border area with Mali in the south west (including towns of Sindou, Orodara, Salanso and Nouna) due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorist attack. See Safety and security

  • Do not travel to the W National Park on Burkina Faso's south-eastern border with Niger and Benin, and along Burkina Faso’s eastern border with Niger due to the threat of banditry and kidnapping. See Safety and security

  • In recent years, terrorist attacks have caused numerous deaths and several foreigners have been kidnapped in northern Burkina Faso. See Safety and security

  • On 23 September 2018, three Inata gold mine staff were kidnapped when travelling between Inata and Tongomayel (near Djibo).
  • On 17 September, an Italian priest was kidnapped in Bomanga, Niger, approximately 15 km from the Burkina Faso/Niger border.
  • On 11 August 2018, a convoy returning from a Canadian owned mining site in eastern Burkina Faso was attacked using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in a possible terrorist incident.  On 17 August, a second incident targeting the same Canadian mining company occurred near a separate mine site.  Mining companies operating in Burkina Faso are advised to review their security practices and ensure adequate procedures are in place to respond to possible terrorist incidents. See Safety and security
  • In May 2018, terrorist organisations released a statement warning of terrorist attacks targeting westerners and western companies operating in the Sahel.  See Safety and security

  • On 2 March 2018, a series of attacks occurred in central Ouagadougou, killing and injuring a number of people. See Safety and security

  • Be alert to possible security threats. Avoid large crowds and other possible terror targets. See Safety and security

  • You could encounter petty and violent crime, armed banditry and fraud. Security risks increase after dark. See Safety and security

  • Air and land borders can close at short notice. Flights into and out of Burkina Faso are susceptible to cancellation. Consular assistance is extremely limited in these circumstances.

  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Burkina Faso. The Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso and can issue Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Ghana can also assist Australians in Burkina Faso.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Burkina Faso for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Burkina Faso as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Mali and on exit from the country.

Read Yellow fever for information on re-entry to Australia following exposure to yellow fever. See Health

It is illegal to export objects of art, which includes old or traditional artists' works and all old material of national cultural significance, without approval from the Ministry of Culture. See Laws

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Central African Franc (known as the CFA Franc, or XOF). Declare all foreign currency and CFA on arrival. Australian dollars are not easily exchanged in Burkina Faso, though $US and Euro are readily exchanged at commercial banks and exchange bureaux in major centres.

Credit cards are accepted by larger hotels and restaurants in Ouagadougu. Very few commercial establishments outside of the capital accept credit cards. There are few ATMs outside major cities. Plan ahead and take sufficient cash to meet your needs. Contact your bank to make sure that your cards will be accepted.

Safety and security

Terrorism and kidnapping

There is a high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping in Burkina Faso. Extremist militant groups in the region have shown the capacity to conduct attacks in Burkina Faso. The threat of kidnapping is highest in the north of the country.

Recent major terror attacks include:

  • on 23 September 2018, three Inata gold mine staff were kidnapped when travelling between Inata and Tongomayel (near Djibo).
  • on 17 September, an Italian priest was kidnapped in Bomanga, Niger, approximately 15 km from the Burkina Faso/Niger border.
  • on 11 August 2018, a convoy returning from a Canadian owned mining site in eastern Burkina Faso was attacked using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in a possible terrorist incident.  On 17 August, a second incident targeting the same Canadian mining company occurred near a separate mine site. 
  • on 2 March 2018, a series of attacks occurred in central Ouagadougou, killing and injuring a number of people
  • on 13 August 2017, several people died in a terrorist attack on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant in downtown Ouagadougou, which is popular with foreigners
  • in January 2016, at least 30 people were killed, including a number of foreigners, in a terrorist attack at the Splendid Hotel in central Ouagadougou. Terrorist group Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility.

Terrorists could launch an attack at anytime and anywhere in Burkina Faso. Targets could include places identified with foreign interests or that are popular with foreigners, including embassies, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, schools and hotels.  In May 2018, terrorist organisations released a statement warning of terrorist attacks targeting westerners and western companies operating in the Sahel.  Mining companies operating in Burkina Faso are advised to review their security practices and ensure adequate procedures are in place to respond to possible terrorist incidents.

Militant groups in the region pose a serious kidnapping threat in the north, particularly extremists from neighbouring Mali. AQIM, which has stated its intention to target foreigners for terrorism and kidnapping operations, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in the region since 2006. AQIM has taken hostages from remote areas.

In January 2016, two Australian citizens were kidnapped near Djibo in northern Burkina Faso. In 2015, an expatriate worker was kidnapped from the Tambao manganese mine in north-east Burkina Faso.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians.

Australian officials visiting Burkina Faso adopt additional security measures in response to the changing security environment.

  • Do not travel north of the line between Tougan-Ouhigouya-Djibo-Dori or to border areas with Mali in the south west (including towns of Sindou, Orodara, Salanso and Nouna).
  • Do not travel to the W National Park (also known as Parc National du W) on Burkina Faso's south-eastern border with Niger and Benin and along Burkina Faso’s eastern border with Niger.
  • If, despite our advice, you travel to these areas, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. The Australian Government has limited capacity to provide consular assistance in these areas.
  • Be alert to possible threats throughout the country, especially in public places.
  • Avoid hotels, restaurants, bars, churches, crowds and other possible targets for terror attacks.
  • If you must go to a crowded place or other possible terror target, have a clear exit plan for if there is a security incident.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack because of the risk of secondary attacks.

More information:

Civil unrest and political tension

The political situation in the country has stabilised since presidential elections in late 2015. Those elections followed an attempted military coup in September 2015.

You could encounter protests, demonstrations or other civil unrest in Burkina Faso. Political tension or civil unrest could result in airports and land borders being closed at short notice. Consular assistance is extremely limited in these circumstances.

  • Avoid demonstrations, rallies, protests and other large gatherings as they could turn violent.
  • If you are in an area where a protest or similar is occurring, leave if it is safe to do so.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for news of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Crime

Purse snatching, muggings and thefts from hotel rooms are common, particularly in Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. Muggings often occur around the central market and the United Nations traffic circle in Ouagadougou. Thefts are sometimes committed by one or two individuals on a motorbike. Security risks increase after dark.

Armed bandits operate across the country and have attacked vehicles, including buses, on roads connecting major cities within Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries. The main areas affected are the eastern, central, east-central and north-central regions and the central plateau, but incidents can happen anywhere. Bandits have used roadblocks to stop vehicles and have been known to open fire. Bandits sometimes use 'spotters', for example at roadhouses and checkpoints, to identify potential victims. These attacks occur mostly at night but have also occurred during the day.

  • Avoid travelling alone or after dark.
  • Pay close attention to your personal safety and security at all times, particularly in crowds.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Pay close attention to your personal possessions at all times.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times, including when moving.
  • Avoid visiting banks or using ATMs alone. Only use ATMs in banks, hotels and other buildings with security.
  • If you're travelling by car outside of urban areas, travel in convoy.

Scams

Internet scams come in many forms, including romance, friendship, business and employment opportunities. Victims have suffered financial loss. Victims who travel Africa to meet a friend or prospective marriage partner they have met online, or to seek restitution for money they have lost, are at risk of kidnapping, assault and robbery. Some victims have been killed.

Commercial internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas to which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, you'll typically be asked by your friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable them to travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners are lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

  • Scrutinise all approaches originating in Burkina Faso (or other West African countries) from people you don't know.
  • Don't send money to anyone in Burkina Faso until proper checks are made.
  • If you are the victim of a scam, get legal advice. 
  • Don't to travel to Burkina Faso to seek restitution.

More information: Scams

Local travel

Road travel

Driving in Burkina Faso can be hazardous. You are five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Burkina Faso than in Australia. Apart from the national highways, most roads are in poor condition and have insufficient lighting. Many vehicles are in poor mechanical condition. 

Travelling by road outside Ouagadougou at night can be dangerous. Vehicles do not always use or have headlights. Livestock can stray onto roads.

Armed bandits target vehicles across the country. See Safety and security.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover and familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Make sure you have adequate fuel and drinking water for your journey.
  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Drive defensively and legally.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times, including when moving.
  • Don't stray from marked roads.

In addition, when travelling outside Ouagadougou:

  • seek local advice on road and security conditions along your proposed route before you travel
  • leave details of your travel itinerary with a reliable person
  • travel in convoy
  • carry a full first aid kit and multiple forms of communication.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

You can drive in Burkina Faso with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must get your IDP before departing Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

Avoid the use of public transport due to traffic safety issues and the risk of crime. Many public buses are in poor repair and serious accidents occur. Take care to protect your property, especially when travelling overnight.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Burkina Faso.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Other laws

Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, may attract the death penalty.

Photography around military zones, military assets and military personnel is prohibited.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information:

Dual nationals

Read Dual nationals.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Burkina Faso. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Burkina Faso, but the local community is generally intolerant of same-sex relationships.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

The outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in west Africa was the most serious in recorded history. The outbreak has now ended but further cases are possible.

Mosquito-borne diseases

Burkina Faso is listed by the WHO as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination.

Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are common.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, meningitis and measles) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time.

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to as bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and other water-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities and emergency hospital care are very limited, particularly outside Ouagadougou.

Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Costs for a medical evacuation could exceed A$100,000.

Natural disasters

Flooding may occur in the wet season which extends from June to October. Roads may be impassable as result of flooding.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

More information: Severe weather

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: phone 1010
  • Medical emergencies: phone 1010 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: phone 1010 or visit the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. The Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso. This service includes the issuing of Provisional Travel Documents.

Canadian Embassy, Ouagadougou

316 Professeur Joseph KIZERBO Ave.
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
Phone: +226 25 49 08 00
Fax: +226 25 49 08 10
Email: ouaga@international.gc.ca
Website: canadainternational.gc.ca/burkinafaso

Check the Canadian Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

You can also get consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Ghana.

Australian High Commission, Accra

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments
Accra, GHANA
Phone: +233 302 216 400
Fax: +233 302 216 410
Email: Accrahc.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: ghana.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australian High Commission, Ghana
Twitter: @AusAmbGHA

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy or High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information