Country guides Africa
Electrical outlets in Burkina Faso usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs with round pins are standard.
About 69 languages are spoken in Burkina Faso, but the official language is French.
The West African CFA franc (XOF) is the official currency of Burkina Faso. It is technically divided into 100 smaller units called centimes, but no centime denominations have been issued. Burkina Faso is largely a cash economy and credit cards are seldom accepted, but cash can be withdrawn with a card at certain banks in the big cities. Banks that will change money for travellers include Banque Internationale du Burkina (BIB), Ecobank and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce, l'Industrie et l'Agriculture du Burkina (Biciab).
A 10 to 15 percent service fee is usually included in restaurant bills, but it is customary to tip taxi drivers, porters, and hotel staff.
Malaria occurs in Burkina Faso and some form of prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers in all areas of the country. A yellow fever vaccination is required for all visitors who are over the age of nine months. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, and meningococcus are recommended; those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors and are at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination.
Visitors should also be up to date on vaccinations for polio, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and tetanus-diphtheria; all visitors who are older than 16 should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Travellers should drink only bottled or filtered water and avoid ice in drinks; all meals should be eaten while hot and uncooked fruit and vegetables avoided.
Medical facilities are very limited and of poor quality, particularly outside of the capital city, so comprehensive travel insurance is required. In many areas of the country, emergency medical services are non-existent, and the supply of medication is often very limited. Travellers who require specific medications should bring along sufficient supplies, accompanied by a signed and dated note from a doctor detailing what the medications are and why they are needed.
Visitors are advised to exercise caution and maintain a high level of security, as theft and banditry occur in certain parts of the country. The northern Sahel regionis too remote for the local government or foreign embassies to provide much assistance in the event of an emergency, and its considered dangerous, especially near the borders with Mali and Niger. There have been no documented terrorist attacks directed against foreigners in Burkina Faso, but there is often concern that conflict in neighbouring countries may spill over, and some governments, including the British Foreign Office, advise against all but essential travel to the Sahel region. Crime is a problem and incidents of robbery, sexual assault and rape against foreigners have been reported. Most crime, however, is petty, and bag-snatchers, pickpockets and scam artists operate in cities.
Hospitality and politeness are very important, and elders are to be treated with respect. Locals rarely engage in direct conversations, so visitors should stick to general issues as a way to put people at ease. Visitors should also ask permission before photographing local people, and should never attempt to take a picture of a military or government building. Women should dress modestly and keep shoulders and legs fully covered to avoid unwanted attention, and should refrain from smoking in public. Shaking hands is an appropriate way to greet a person regardless of sex; greetings should always be returned. Homosexuality is not generally accepted in Burkina Faso. Eating, touching another person, and giving someone money with the left hand is considered offensive.
Burkina Faso is a poor country that doesn't rank highly for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank. Business etiquette is fairly standard, with lightweight suits or traditional African dress the norm for meetings, and handshakes and business cards exchanged upon greeting. Business hours vary, but most offices are open from 7.30am to noon, and from 3pm to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Some shops and businesses are also open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
Visitors to Burkina Faso may import up to 200 cigarettes, or up to 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco. One bottle of spirits and one bottle of wine are permitted, as are 500ml of eau de toilette and 250ml perfume.
Communications in Burkina Faso are limited, even in major cities, due to the low penetration of electricity. The international access code for Burkina Faso is +226. Landline use is extremely low, but mobile phones are widely used; internet use is low but on the rise.
Passport & Visa
It is recommended that all travellers ensure their passports have six months validity remaining. Tourist are required to have proof of sufficient funds for stay and a ticket for onward travel.
A valid US passport and visa are required.
A valid UK passport and visa are required.
A valid Canadian passport and visa are required.
A valid Australian passport and visa are required.
A valid South African passport and visa are required.
A valid Irish passport and visa are required.
A valid New Zealand passport and visa are required.
Useful contacts1010 (police, fire and rescue, medical emergencies)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Embassy of Burkina Faso, Washington, D.C. United States: +1 202 332 5577
Burkinese Honorary Consulate General, London, United Kingdom: +44 0 7771 984 680
Embassy of Burkina Faso, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 4796
Embassy Of Burkina Faso, Pretoria, South Africa: 012 346 6205
Embassies / consulates in Burkina Faso
Embassy of the United States, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: +226 70 19 19 39
British Honorary Consulate in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: +226 25 30 88 60
Embassy of Canada, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: +226 61 36 76 09
Embassy of Australia, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: +225 226 311 894
Embassy of South Africa, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: +226 253 760 98