FAQ for Morocco

Money

Guichets automatiques (ATMs) are now a common sight across Morocco and many accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank systems. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the main tourist centres, although their use often attracts a surcharge of around 5% from Moroccan businesses.

American Express, Visa and Thomas Cook travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange by banks. Australian, Canadian and New Zealand dollars are not quoted in banks and are not usually accepted.

Tipping and bargaining are integral parts of Moroccan life. Practically any service can warrant a tip, and a few dirham for a service willingly rendered can make life a lot easier. Tipping between 5% and 10% of a restaurant bill is appropriate. A supply of small coins is vital for the payment of taxis, tips and guides. It is a good idea to load up at a bank when you arrive so you are well prepared.

Be Aware

Morocco’s era as a hippy paradise is long past. Plenty of fine kif (marijuana) is grown in the Rif Mountains, but drug busts are common and Morocco is not a good place to investigate prison conditions.

A few years ago the brigade touristique (tourist police) was set up in the principal tourist centres to clamp down on notorious faux guides (false guides) and hustlers. Anyone convicted of operating as an unofficial guide faces jailtime and/or a huge fine. This has reduced – but not eliminated – the problem. You’ll still find plenty touts hanging around the entrances to medinas and outside train stations, especially atTangier port and near Bab Bou Jeloud in Fès. If you end up with one of these people remember their main interest is the commission gained from certain hotels or on articles sold to you in the souqs.

Official guides can be engaged through tourist offices and hotels at the fixed price of US$14 per half-day (plus tip).

Female Travellers

Women can expect a certain level of sexual harassment when travelling in Morocco. It comes in the form of nonstop greetings, leering and other unwanted attention, but it is rarely dangerous. It is best to avoid overreacting and to ignore this attention. In the case where a would-be suitor is particularly persistent, threatening to go to the police or the brigade touristique is amazingly effective. Women will save themselves a great deal of grief by avoiding eye contact, dressing modestly and refraining from walking around alone at night.

Visas

Most visitors to Morocco do not require visas and are allowed to remain in the country for 90 days on entry. Exceptions to this include nationals of Israel, South Africa and Zimbabwe; these people can apply for a three-month, single-entry visa (about £50). In all cases, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your date of entry.

As visa requirements change, it’s a good idea to check with the Moroccan embassy in your country or a reputable travel agency before travelling.

The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have the same visa requirements as mainland Spain

Visa extensions

If 90 days is insufficient, the simplest thing to do is to leave (eg travel to the Spanish enclaves) and come back a few days later. Your chances improve if you re-enter by a different route.

Visas for onward travel

AlgeriaAlthough Algeria has now emerged from over a decade of civil war, the border with Morocco remains closed and visas are not being issued.

MaliVisas are required for everyone except French nationals and are valid for one month (US$27), but are renewable inside Mali. Two photographs and a yellow-fever vaccination certificate are required and the visa is usually issued on the spot. Malian visas are available at Malian border posts, but by no means count on that if you’re crossing at a remote desert crossing.

MauritaniaEveryone, except nationals of Arab League countries and some African countries, needs a visa, which is valid for a one-month stay. These can be issued the same day at the Mauritanian Embassy in Casablanca if you apply between 9am and 10am (get there by 8.30am). Visas cost £40 and you need two photos and an onward air ticket. They can also be obtained at the border for approx £40.