Visiting Morocco

The following was accurate at the time of publication. It is recommended that before traveling you verify through U.S. State Department (www.travel.state.gov) and Moroccan Government websites, or communicate with the Moroccan Embassy in Washington DC . Note that other sources of information have been incorporated and credited. Some topics are from multiple sources.

ENTRY, EXIT AND VISA REQUIREMENTS

Passports and Visas

  • You must have a valid passport with at least one blank page.

  • Visas are not required for visits lasting less than 90 days. Contact the Embassy  of the Kingdom of Morocco for the most current visa information.

  • If you remain in Morocco beyond 90 days without having requested an extension of stay, you will need to appear before a judge prior to departing Morocco. Please contact the immigration office at your local police station for details. Clearance may include the payment of a fine.

  • Securely carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times to have proof of identity and U.S. citizenship readily available.

Safety & Security

Refer to U.S. State Department website.

The US Government recommends enrollment in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to keep up to date with important safety and security announcements.

CUSTOMS

Travelers must declare large quantities of U.S. dollars brought into the country at the port of entry. 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.

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 located in Washington, D.C. or Consulate General in New York for specific information concerning customs  requirements.

 

Regulations

Free import by adults only of:

  • 200 cigarettes (or cigarillos) or 50 cigars or 400 grams of tobacco;

  • 1 liter of spirits and 1 liter of wine;

  • 150 milliliters of perfume and 250 milliliters of eau de toilette.

 

Arms and Ammunition Regulations 

Sporting guns and ammunition: special permit, obtainable upon arrival from the Police Authorities. Passenger must hold a permit issued in the country of origin.
All other arms and ammunition are not allowed.

 

Baggage Clearance regulations

Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Morocco.

MEDICATIONS

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Morocco Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure the medication is legal in Morocco. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

HEALTH

The U.S. Mission in Morocco is unable to pay your medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

INSURANCE

Purchasing travel insurance, trip cancellation and medical is a good idea for travelers coming to Morocco. In particular, coverage for lost luggage and medical expenses and emergencies.

Medical Insurance

Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.You may also be required to pay a deposit before being admitted for treatment.See webpage: www,state.travel.gov  for more on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

WATER                                            Much of Morocco's water is potable but may upset Westerners' stomachs. To stay on the safe side, drink bottled water and even use it to brush your teeth. Avoid ice.  

Pack Immodium                             No matter how strong you think your stomach is, you should pack Immodium in case. 

CURRENCY RULES

Export Regulations

  • Unused currency (Moroccan Dirham MAD) may be re-exchanged into foreign currency up to a maximum of:

    • 50% of total amount exchanged on arrival if stay in Morocco has been longer than 48 hours;

    • 100% of total amount exchanged on arrival if stay in Morocco has been less than 48 hours.

  • Foreign currencies: amounts exceeding the equivalent of MAD 100,000.- up to the amount declared on arrival.

 

Embassy of the

Kingdom of Morocco 

1601 21st Street NW            

Washington DC 20009

www.embassyofmorocco.us                   

T 202 462 7979 

F 202 462 7643 

Consular T 202 499 1046 

 

US State Department      

www.travel.state.gov

BUSINESS HOURS                       

The Moroccan work day is a combination of both Western and Eastern cultures.

  • Average work day is from 9am to 7pm, with short breaks during the day to pray and an extended lunch break. 

  • Shops in the medina normally open at 8 or 9am and stay open until 8 or 9pm. 

Business /Banking Hours             Monday to Friday

8:15am to 3:45pm

Government Departments         Monday - Thursday

8:30am to noon & 2:00 - 6:30pm   Fridays 8:30 - 11:30am &

3:00 - 6:30pm.

Fridays are Holy Days                   Prepare for Holidays. Keep in mind that it is a Muslim country and important to be aware of holidays. Most shops and attractions are closed on Friday since it’s their Holy day. 

TIME                                                  Morocco Daylight Savings 2019:    31 March - 4 May, which equates to 4 hours ahead of Eastern USA. 

Standard Time:                                5 May - 8 June                      

Daylight Savings 2019:                    9 June - 26 October

It is assumed that the changes between Standard and Daylight Savings in Morocco is related to Ramadan. Most Islamic countries do not have Daylight Savings at all.

LANGUAGE                             

Moroccans speak a mixture of Arabic, Berber, English, and French. English is fine in most of the larger cities, but most likely, a translator would be required in the rural parts of the country. Since our tours are fully guided, language should not be a problem. Also, it is in the larger cities where independent excursions take place.

Basic Arabic Words

  • Hello                                      (Peace Be With You)                 Salam Alikome                  (salaam a eleikum)

  • Thank You                                   Shukran

  • No, thank you                             La shukran                           This is useful when you have a bunch of street vendors hassling you to buy something.

  • Watch Out!                                  Balak!                                          Although you won’t use this word yourself, it will be heard in the medinas and souks. It will be said by locals coming by with a mule, motorcycle, or cart and is a warning to move to the side or get run over.               

TIPPING                                            Tipping is expected by Moroccans for every service provided to you, whether you requested the service or not. 

Sometimes those asking for a tip are bordering on begging, considering the assistance or service—if any—that was given. However, it's best not to fight this national habit and rather enjoy your time with no hassle.        

 

The expected minimum tip for any meal or drink is 10%. For informal services such as parking attendants and luggage porters, 5dh to 10dh. 

If asked to tip when taking a photo, pay 10dh to 20dh. 

For guiding services it depends on how much guidance was given and whether it was any good or not. For official guides, budget on a 10% tip per person. 

 

For faux guides who have perhaps assisted with a small navigational problem, 5dh to 10dh is enough. For other services such as gas (petrol) attendants and taxi drivers, round up to the nearest 5 dirham. These are relatively small amounts and are worth shelling out to both create harmony between Moroccans and tourists and save one from continuous hassle and agitation.

Local Guides                                     Be aware that local tour guides have built relationships with many different stores, and they are most likely getting a cut of the sales. It is best to do your own haggling. 

Learn to Haggle                              When shopping in the markets or medinas, it is important to be able to haggle over the price. Selling is like a national sport and haggling is an integral part of their culture. More likely than not, they will still get the better deal, but keep in mind that willingness to spend the time, the items may be had for at least   25-50% of the starting price. Determine the price willing to be paid before starting the process and walk out if there is no agreement. However, you may be called back in multiple times.

 

When looking to buy a carpet or anything with a higher price tag, do research before arriving in Morocco. People get into buying  as “an investment” to sell later all the time. Don’t fall for the sales tactics and the local guide’s added pressure to buy.

ALCOHOL

Contrary to preconceived notions, liquor is available throughout much of Morocco. Many Moroccans—mainly men—drink, but do so privately. The legal drinking age for Moroccans is 18, but for visitors this is a gray area, as most establishments will serve you no matter what the age (within reason, of course). Moroccan bars, called brasseries, are usually smoky, dingy drinking dens to be avoided.  

 

Most top-end restaurants and many maisons d'hôte also offer alcohol, as will nightclubs in the resorts of Agadir and Marrakech. 

The business hours of these establishments vary from town to town, but you'll find most restaurants are closed by 11pm and local brasseries by midnight, while nightclubs and hotel bars may stay open until 4 or 5am, especially in tourist areas. 

 

To find a shop selling alcohol, it's best to ask at your hotel reception desk, or locate a branch of the national supermarket chains Acima and Marjane. 

NO Drinking OF ALCOHOL IN PUBLIC 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities. a general rule, travelers should not photograph palaces, diplomatic missions, government buildings, or other sensitive facilities and when in doubt should ask permission from the appropriate Moroccan authorities.

Stay Away from Strangers Offering Free Tours or Directions              

During times of independent excursions, there will be a lot of locals offering tours while you’re walking around the markets and medinas. Going with one of them you may end up completely lost and pressed to spend money. Most of the time they will ask for a tip afterward. 

Watch Your Pockets   

Most Moroccans are friendly and honest, but be careful about pickpockets in any major city especially in crowded places; particularly the medinas.

INTERNET

Internet access is very good throughout Morocco.

ELECTRICITY

Electricity is generally reliable and available throughout Morocco, barring obvious places such as the top of Jebel Taoubkal or in the dunes of central Morocco.

  • You need a power plug adapter in Morocco.

  • You also need a voltage converter.

  • Be extra careful with certain appliances because of the difference in frequency.

  • In Morocco the power sockets are of type C and E. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Power Plugs and Sockets             In Morocco the power sockets used are of type C and E. Check out the following pictures.

Type C Socket

This socket works with plug E (above) and F.

 

 

 

 

Type E Socket

This socket works with plug C. Plug F will work if it has an additional pinhole.

  • Traveling from the USA you will need a POWER PLUG (TRAVEL) ADAPTOR for sockets type C and E. 

 

Find travel adapters at AMAZON.COM

 

Voltage and Frequency                 To use your electric appliances in  Morocco buy a VOLTAGE CONVERTOR, because the standard voltage in Morocco (220) is higher than in the United States (120). Appliances can be seriously damaged. Voltage converters are also available at Amazon. Because you also need a power plug adapter, you should consider a combined plug adapter/voltage converter.

 

Find voltage converters at               AMAZON.COM

Find combo plug adapters/converters at AMAZON.COM

Additionally, the frequency in Morocco (50) differs from the frequency in the USA (60). You should use a voltage converter which also changes the frequency, but these are hard to find. If your converter cannot change the frequency, be warned! Be especially careful with moving, rotating and time related appliances like clocks and shavers.

 

To be sure, check the label on the appliance. Some appliances never need a converter. If the label states 'INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz' the appliance can be used in all countries in the world. This is common for chargers of tablets/laptops, photo cameras, cell phones, toothbrushes, etc.

Combination converter and adapter set. LiteFuze 200W International Travel Power Voltage Converter with Worldwide UK/US/AU/EU Plugs - 220V 50 Hz to 110V 60 Hz 

MOROCCAN WEATHER

As in any country, there is no hard and fast rule about weather. Temperatures and precipitation levels vary greatly depending on region and altitude. 

However, there are some universal truths - starting with the fact that Morocco follows the same seasonal pattern as any other northern hemisphere country. Winter lasts from November to January, and sees the coldest, wettest weather of the year.

 

Summer lasts from June to August, and is often scorching hot. The shoulder seasons of fall and spring usually offer the best weather, and are generally some of the most pleasant to travel.

 

Along the Atlantic coast, the difference between summer and winter is relatively minimal, thanks to cool breezes that temper the summer heat and prevent the winters from becoming too cold. Seasons have a much greater impact in the interior. In the Sahara Desert, summer temperatures often exceed 104ºF/ 40ºC in summer, but may fall to near freezing during winter nights.

 

In terms of rainfall, the northern part of Morocco is considerably wetter than the arid south (especially along the coast). Located roughly in the middle of the country, the Atlas Mountains have their own climate. Temperatures are consistently cool due to elevation, and in winter, there's enough snow to support sports like skiing and snowboarding.

 

VISITING MOSQUES                        Most mosques are off-limits to non-Muslims, with the exception of the massive Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. They are still beautiful to take photos from outside though.

SMOKING                                         

Smoking is common and an accepted part of the Moroccan lifestyle and thus there aren't many designated nonsmoking areas to be found. This isn't so much of an inconvenience at the outdoor cafés and restaurants, but if you are sensitive to smoke, then it's worth checking out the haze in an indoor cafe or restaurant before you sit down. 

                                   

It is considered impolite to smoke inside public transport.

Do’s & Don'ts    Avoid Feet Faux Pas  "Don't show anyone the bottom of your shoe (unless you want to send that person a negative message). Also, take off your shoes when you're invited into someone's home."                  – Dan Austin, 

    Lehman Adventures

2  Dress Appropriately

"Girls, take a shawl/scarf in case you visit any mosques. You need to be suitably dressed/wear something on your head."                          

- Lucy White,

  Rough GuidesTravel Editor

Reduce the Hassle of Haggling 

"Haggling in Morocco is a pretty over-rated experience and you're unlikely to get a good price, especially in the hot spots Marrakesh and Fès.

It's probably better to decide what you want and the price you're prepared to pay in advance - you may then be able to save some hassle by picking it up from one of the fixed-price shops."               

- James Rice,

  Rough GuidesTravel Editor

4 Watch the Water

"Wash your hands often with soap and water, watch out for ice, drink bottled water (brush your teeth with bottled water), eat cooked food including fruits and vegetables to avoid being ill while traveling in Morocco."  

 -Akim Elanbassi, Tripbod

Things to keep in mind:

  • Most shops and museums are closed on Friday afternoons. It's their Holy day.

  • Almost all Moroccans are friendly and honest, and violent crime is very rare. However, it is wise to be careful about pickpockets and petty thievery, in the major cities.

  • Make sure you have small change with you to tip at restaurants. For example: $1 per person at local places, and $3 to $5 per person if you're at an expensive restaurant.

  • The Atlas Mountains get really cold at night - so pack warm clothing if you're hiking there.

Things to Know 

before visiting Morocco

source: localadventurer.com

Dress Appropriately                      Although you see many tourists wearing whatever they want, choose to cover up as much as possible to avoid unwanted attention. Even if you’re traveling with a group of guys, there may be some harassed by old men and in crowded places. When visiting mosques, cover down to your wrists and ankles. It is helpful for women to carry a shawl or large scarf.

(SEE SECTIONS ON "DRESS CODE" & "VISITING MOSQUES".)

ATMs Can Be Hit or Miss              

Exchange enough money when you get your chance. The front desk at your hotel may have money to exchange, but may run out when an entire group is seeking exchange.

ATMs are known to be out of cash as well and the bank charging for every attempt. 

Plastic Cards

source:wikitravel                                

Most businesses in Morocco’s big cities  accept credit cards. Those that do are most likely to accept Visa or MasterCard; however, often there will be a surcharge to cover the cost of processing your transaction.

 

Advise your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on the usage of your credit or ATM cards. Notify the issuer and give them a phone number where you can be contacted abroad.

Before traveling, be sure to make a note of all credit card numbers and associated contact numbers for card issuers in case of difficulty. The numbers are usually free to call as you can reverse the charges, make it clear to the operator at your hotel, riad etc. that you wish the call charge to be reversed. Preferably get a pre-paid card, with good exchange rates and low withdrawal fees.

When making payments with a credit card, for example at a hotel for services, it is vital to memorize the PIN as signatures may not be accepted. Many people now use a prepaid FairFX or Caxton card. These offer good exchange rates, are safe and money is protected if the card gets lost or stolen.

These are accepted in Moroccan ATMs anywhere you see the MasterCard logo and in some shops too.

MAIL                                                  The Moroccan postal service (Maroc Post) is fairly reliable, with postcards and letters taking between 1 and 3 weeks to international destinations, depending from where you post.

 

Post offices are open                       Monday - Friday 8am - 4:15pm, and Saturday 8 - 11:45am. 

Stamps (timbres) may be purchased from post offices and sometimes from souvenir shops and tabacs, sell cigarettes and sometimes newspapers. 

Separate parcel counters are found in all post offices, and all packages need to be inspected beforehand. DHL and FedEx are located at various cities within the country.

Newspapers & Magazines            All major newspapers and magazines in Morocco are in either Arabic (MSA) or French. 

Weekly international editions of The Guardian, Herald Tribune and sometimes, Time magazine may be found at newspaper vendors in the major cities.

What to Wear & Not Wear

source: plan-it-fez.com

 

  1. Do not wear tops that reveal your cleavage. Wear sleeveless T-shirt but it’s preferable to put a scarf on your shoulder.

  2. Do not wear shorts and skirts that are above the knee or shorter.

  3. Should a “Djellaba” be worn it may appear that although a foreigner, it may be assumed that you have been in the country for a long time and may deter lewd comments.

  4. For added modesty, wear a headscarf. Though not necessary, this can help you blend in with local women. Modern Moroccan women wear fashionable headscarves in a variety of patterns and colors that complement their outfits; mix and match offers a fashionable look. 

  5. Dress for the weather. Temperatures in the winter are comfortably mild, typically between 40 and 60 degrees F. Take a light jacket or loose-fitting sweater to keep off the winter chill.

  6. In the summer, temperatures can rise to almost 100 degrees F. Long skirts, lightweight pants and T-shirts (see #1 above) keep one comfortable without sacrificing modesty. 

  7. Wear lightweight walking shoes that you’ve broken in before the trip. Though sandals are smart choices for hot weather, the streets are sometimes unclean, making shoes that cover your toes advisable.

  8. Tie  hair up for optimal modesty and comfort in the heat. Though loose-flowing hair is acceptable, unwanted attention will be received if hair is tied back.

  9. When visiting religious sites, wear loose clothes with a headscarf to show respect of the Moroccan culture.

DRESS CODE

Morocco is a Muslim country and like in any other Muslim Country, showing respect as a visitor to the locals in the way that one dresses is always a good idea. The following gives you some insight into dress codes and some tips on what is considered appropriate clothing for both men and women.

Dress code in Morocco depends on the city/countryside being visited because Morocco is a diverse country. Some areas are very westernized but others are conservative.

 

In larger cities, attire of visitors and expatriates may be rather informal; i.e., women wearing tight jeans, sleeveless T-shirts, or skirts. Others may be wearing loose clothing and headscarf but in the rural area/countryside, you will notice that the majority of women are dressing in a traditional way. The traditional dress of Morocco is “Djellaba”, a long, loose, hooded garment with full sleeves and it’s for both men and women.

As a male tourist, wearing anything that can be perceived as underwear or tight swim/beach clothes in public will always cause uninvited stares. Always keep shirts on, except of course in the beach or swimming pool. Walking around and showing a bare chest is considered offensive.

In the rural areas/conservative areas, men wear “Djellaba” more than the western clothes but the “Sahara” is different, the majority of men usually wear long, loose tunic and a head wear to cover up their faces whenever there is a sandstorm.

As a female tourist, be aware that you are drawing attention to Moroccan males. Women must dress in a respectable and modest way to avoid added attention.

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