COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament and independent judiciary; historically, the king has been the dominant authority. The population is estimated to be almost 34 million. While Morocco has a developing economy, modern tourist facilities and means of transportation are widely available, though the quality may vary depending on price and location. Read more about U.S. relations with Morocco for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Morocco, please take the time to tell our Embassy or Consulate about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Embassy and Consulate information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy in Rabat
2 Avenue de Mohamed El Fassi (formerly Avenue de Marrakech), Rabat
Telephone: (212) (537) 76-22-65, Fax: (212) (537)76-56-61
For emergency services after-hours, please call the Duty Officer cell phone at (212) (661)13-19-39.
U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca
8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef, Casablanca
Telephone: (212) (522) 26-45-50, Fax number: (212) (522) 20-80-97For emergency services after-hours, please call (212) (661) 13-19-39
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: U.S. citizens traveling to Morocco must have a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. citizen tourists traveling
to Morocco for fewer than 90 days. For visits of more than 90 days, U.S. citizens are required to apply for an extension of
stay (providing a reason for the extension) and should do so as far in advance as possible. No vaccinations are required to
enter Morocco. Travelers who plan to reside in Morocco must obtain a residence permit. A residence permit may be requested
and obtained from immigration authorities (Service Etranger) at the central police station of the district of residence. U.S.
citizens who wish to apply for long-term or permanent residence in Morocco should thoroughly research Moroccan residency requirements
and have all the required documentation before coming to Morocco. The U.S. Consulate in Casablanca cannot assist U.S. citizens
with fingerprinting, obtaining FBI background checks, copies of birth certificates, or police records. 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 is readily available.
Children born to a Moroccan father may experience difficulty leaving Morocco without the father's permission. Under Moroccan law, these children are considered Moroccan citizens. Even if the children bear U.S. passports, immigration officials may require proof that the father has approved 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. U.S. citizen women married to Moroccans do not need their spouse's permission to leave Morocco.
Visit the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco website for the most current visa information. The Embassy is located at 1601 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009, telephone
(202) 462-7979 to 82, fax 202- 265-0161. There is a Moroccan Consulate General in New York at 10 E. 40th Street, New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 758-2625, fax 212-395-8077
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Morocco.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens remains high in Morocco. Moroccan authorities continue to disrupt groups seeking to attack U.S. or Western-affiliated and Moroccan government targets, arresting numerous individuals associated with international terrorist groups. With indications that such groups still seek to carry out attacks in Morocco, it is important for U.S. citizens to be keenly aware of their surroundings and adhere to prudent security practices such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile.
Establishments that are readily identifiable with the United States are potential targets for attacks. These may include facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate, including clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, movie theaters, U.S. brand establishments and other public areas. Such targets may also include establishments where activities occur that may offend religious sensitivities, such as casinos or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.
All U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and be vigilant regarding their personal security and report any suspicious incidents or problems immediately to Moroccan authorities and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Demonstrations occur frequently in Morocco and are typically focused on political or social issues. During periods of heightened regional tension, large demonstrations may take place in the major cities. During most of 2011, many large cities in Morocco had weekly demonstrations ranging in size from several hundred to tens of thousands of demonstrators. In September 2012, demonstrations took place near the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca, as well as other cities in response to a YouTube video. By law, all demonstrations require a government permit, but spontaneous unauthorized demonstrations, which have greater potential for violence, can occur. In addition, different unions or groups may organize strikes to protest an emerging issue or government policy. Travelers should be cognizant of the current levels of tension in Morocco and stay informed of regional issues that could resonate in Morocco and create an anti-American response. Avoid demonstrations if at all possible. If caught in a demonstration, remain calm and move away immediately when provided the opportunity.
The Western Sahara is an area where the legal status of the territory and the issue of its sovereignty remain unresolved. The area was long the site of armed conflict between government forces and the POLISARIO Front, which continues to seek independence for the territory. A cease-fire has been fully 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 Saharan border. Exploding mines are occasionally reported, and they have caused death and injury. There have been sporadic reports of violence in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla stemming from sporting events and from political demonstrations.
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CRIME: Crime in Morocco is a serious concern, particularly in the major cities and tourist areas. Aggressive panhandling, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, theft from occupied vehicles stopped in traffic, and harassment of women are the most frequently reported issues. Criminals have used weapons, primarily knives, during some street robberies and burglaries. These have occurred at any time of day or night, not only in isolated places or areas less frequented by visitors, but in crowded areas as well. It is always best to have a travel companion and utilize taxis from point to point, particularly at night and when moving about unfamiliar areas. Residential break-ins also occur and have on occasion turned violent, but most criminals look for opportunities based on stealth rather than confrontation.
Women walking alone in certain areas of cities and rural areas are particularly vulnerable to assault by men. Women are advised to travel with a companion or in a group when possible and to ignore any harassment. Responding to verbal harassment can escalate the situation. The best course of action is generally not to respond or make eye contact with the harasser. Travelers should avoid soccer stadiums and environs on days of scheduled matches as large groups of team supporters have been known to become unruly and harass and even assault bystanders.
Joggers should be mindful of traffic and remain in more heavily populated areas. It is always best to have a jogging companion and avoid isolated areas or jogging at night. The use of headphones while jogging is discouraged for personal safety reasons.
Taxis in Morocco are generally crime-free, although city buses are not considered safe. Trains are generally safe, but theft, regardless of the time of day, sometimes occurs. Avoid carrying large sums of cash and be particularly alert when using ATM machines. In the event you are victimized by crime or an attempted crime, or experience any security-related incident during your stay in Morocco, please report the incident to the local police and the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca as soon as possible.
Fraud in Morocco may involve a wide range of situations from financial fraud to relationship fraud for the purpose of obtaining a visa. If you believe you are the victim of a fraudulent scheme, you may wish to consult with an attorney to best determine what your options are under Moroccan law. Since fraud can involve a wide range of circumstances, it is difficult to provide general guidelines on how to pursue criminal charges in these issues.
There have been instances in which a U.S. citizen has met a Moroccan online and come to live with or visit him or her in Morocco and found themselves in financial or otherwise difficult situations while in country. If you are concerned about a family member or friend who is visiting someone he or she met online, you can contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca at 212-522-26-71-51.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Morocco is 190. Please note that emergency operators rarely speak English. Most police and other officials speak Arabic; some may speak French depending on their location and education.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Morocco you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Morocco your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
Arrest notifications in Morocco: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Citizenship: The Government of Morocco considers all persons born to Moroccan fathers to be Moroccan citizens. In addition to being subject to all U.S. laws, U.S. citizens who also possess the nationality of Morocco may be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Morocco. Recently, Morocco has begun allowing Moroccan mothers of children born outside Morocco to petition for their children’s citizenship. For further information on that process, please contact the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, D.C., or the Moroccan Consulate General in New York.
Foreign Currency: Current Moroccan customs procedures do not provide for accurate or reliable registration of large quantities of U.S. dollars brought into the country by tourists or other visitors. As a result, U.S. citizens may encounter difficulties when they attempt to depart with large amounts of cash. In particular, U.S. citizens with dual Moroccan nationality have been asked to provide proof of the source of the funds and have incurred heavy fines. The export of Moroccan currency (dirhams) is prohibited; however, Moroccan currency can be converted back into U.S. dollars prior to departure only if the traveler has a bank or money transfer receipt indicating he or she exchanged dollars for dirhams while in Morocco.
Import Restrictions: 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.
Please see our information on Customs and Import Restrictions.
Religion and Proselytizing: Islam is the official religion in Morocco. However, the constitution provides for the freedom to practice one's religion. The Moroccan government does not interfere with public worship by the country’s Jewish minority or by expatriate Christians. Proselytizing is, however, prohibited. In the past, U.S. citizens have been arrested, detained, and/or expelled for discussing or trying to engage Moroccans in debate about Christianity. In March 2010, several U.S. citizens were expelled from Morocco for alleged proselytizing. Many of those expelled were long-time Moroccan residents. In these cases, U.S. citizens were given no more than 48 hours to gather their belongings or settle their affairs before being expelled.
Property: U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law and regulation from accepting personal property for safekeeping regardless of the circumstances involved.
If there is concern over the protection of property left behind in Morocco due to confiscation or deportation for political, legal, or other reasons, U.S. citizens should take every precaution to ensure that available legal safeguards are in place either before or immediately after purchasing property in Morocco or taking up residence there.
Consultations with local attorneys concerning property rights and available protections are a prudent way of attending to these concerns. A list of attorneys who have expressed a willingness to represent U.S. citizen clients is available from the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca; the U.S. Embassy in Rabat does not offer consular services. The U.S. Consulate cannot vouch for the reliability of attorneys on this list. They were selected for their English-speaking abilities and willingness to take on cases involving American citizens. U.S. citizens are also encouraged to consider assigning a Power of Attorney, or Procuration, to be used in Morocco if necessary. Information and sample Power of Attorney forms are available on the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in New York website.
Although rare, security personnel in Morocco may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.
Photographing Sensitive Locations: Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities. As a general rule, travelers should not photograph palaces, diplomatic missions, government buildings, or other sensitive facilities and, when in doubt, they should ask for permission from the appropriate Moroccan authorities.
Internet Romance and Marriage Fraud: Many U.S. citizens befriend Moroccans through Internet dating and social networking sites and these relationships often to lead marriage or engagement. While many of the marriages between U.S. citizens and Moroccans are successful, the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca warns against marriage fraud. It is not uncommon for foreign nationals to enter into marriages with U.S. citizens solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are especially susceptible to manipulation. Often, the marriages end in divorce in the United States when the foreign national acquires legal permanent residence (“green card”) or U.S. citizenship. In some cases, the new U.S. citizen or permanent resident then remarries a wife he divorced before, around the same time as entering into a relationship with a sponsoring U.S. citizen.
Some of the signs that an Internet contact may be developing a relationship with a U.S. citizen in order to obtain an immigrant visa through marriage are:
While chat rooms, dating and social networking sites are great ways to make friends across international borders, the U.S. government urges U.S. citizens who meet foreign nationals on the Internet to keep in mind the signs noted above. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is against U.S. law and can result in serious penalties, including fines and imprisonment for the U.S. citizen and the foreign national involved.
Accessibility: While in Morocco, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Morocco does not have any significant legislation that guarantees access to public transportation, buildings, and public places.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Adequate medical care is available in Morocco’s largest cities, particularly in Rabat and Casablanca, although not all facilities meet high-quality standards. Specialized care or treatment may not be available. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in the urban areas, but most medical staff will have limited or no English skills. Most ordinary prescription and over-the-counter medicines are widely available. However, specialized prescriptions may be difficult to fill and availability of all medicines in rural areas is unreliable. Travelers should not ask friends or relatives to send medications through the mails or FedEx or UPS since Moroccan customs will impound the delivery and not release it to the recipient. Emergency and specialized care outside the major cities is far below U.S. standards, and in many instances may not be available at all. 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 vehicle accidents involving injuries, immediate ambulance service usually is not available. The police emergency services telephone number is 190 (See Traffic Safety and Road Conditions section below).
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, including Morocco, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Morocco, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Morocco is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic accidents are a significant hazard in Morocco. Driving practices are very poor and have resulted in serious injuries to and fatalities of 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 Moroccans resident abroad return from Europe by car in large numbers.
Congested streets are characteristic of urban driving. Drivers should also exercise extreme caution when driving at night due to poor lighting systems along roads. Traffic signals do not always function, and are sometimes difficult to see. Modern freeways link the cities of Tangier, Rabat, Fez, Casablanca, and Marrakesh. Two-lane highways link other major cities.
Secondary routes in rural areas are often narrow and poorly paved. Roads through the Rif and Atlas mountains are steep, narrow, windy, and dangerous. Maximum caution should be exercised when driving in the mountains. Pedestrians, scooters, and animal-drawn conveyances are common on all roadways, including the freeways, and driving at night should be avoided, if possible. During the rainy season (November - March) flash flooding is frequent and sometimes severe, washing away roads and vehicles in rural areas. Often Moroccan police officers pull over drivers for inspection within the city and on highways. Confiscation of a driver’s license is possible if a violator is unable or unwilling to settle a fine at the time of a traffic stop.
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 documented all necessary information. The police emergency services telephone number is 190.
While public buses and taxis are inexpensive, drivers typically exhibit poor driving habits, and buses are frequently overcrowded. The train system has a good safety record. Trains, while sometimes crowded, are comfortable and generally on time.
Foreign driver’s licenses are valid for use in Morocco for up to one year. After that, foreign residents must pass the Moroccan driver’s test and obtain a Moroccan driver’s license.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government ofMorocco’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Morocco’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
* * *This replaces the Country Specific Information for Morocco dated December 16, 2011, to update the sections on Threats to Safety and Security and Victims of Crime.