Morocco travel guide
Morocco is a heady mix of languages, cultures, religions, ancient traditions and modern sensibilities. It conjures up images of mint tea and tagine, date plantations and minarets, labyrinthine medinas and pungent spice stalls. Jimi Hendrix, Jack Kerouac and Winston Churchill were all drawn to this enticing North African nation, which continues to pique the interest of curious minds today.
One of the more liberal countries in North Africa, Morocco’s biggest drawing card is Marrakech, a giddying and grandiose city that Winston Churchill described as “simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon.” This sentiment rings true for many travellers today.
Each city has a distinctively different character. Tangier, in the north, is the gateway to Africa, and is characterised by its white-washed buildings, sandy beaches and burgeoning cultural scene. Further down the coast lies cosmopolitan Casablanca, the faded coastal town of Essaouira and the lively beach resort of Agadir, favoured by sun-seekers and surfers. Inland lies spell-binding Fez, with its dusty souks, high-sided streets and maze of stunning riads (traditional houses built around a central courtyard).
The blend of ancient and colonial architecture that characterises Morocco’s main cities makes them beautiful propositions: Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez and Tetouan are all on UNESCO’s World Heritage list and are home to an increasing collection of cultural attractions. And when sightseeing begins to pall, visitors can retreat to a traditional hammam, sample the country’s delectable cuisine or barter for bargains in the souks.
Beyond the cities, awesome landscapes await. Carving Morocco in two are the Atlas Mountains, home to the monumental gorges of Todra and Dades, the palmeries of Tinerhir and the beautiful Berber city of Ouarzazate. You can even ski. Then there’s Merzouga, famous for camel-trekking and birdwatching, and Toubkal, North Africa’s highest mountain.
The epic waves of Western Sahara prove an adventure too far for most travellers, alas. Government forces continue to occupy this disputed territory, even though Moroccan sovereignty is not recognised by the United Nations. The issue remains a sensitive subject, tread carefully.
710,850 sq km (274,461 sq miles, including Western Sahara).
35,121,465 (UN estimate 2016).
46.9 per sq km.
King Mohammed VI since 1999.
Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani since 2017.
127/220 volts AC, 50Hz, depending on age and location of building. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 19 September 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Around 600,000 British nationals visit Morocco every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
Morocco is a Muslim country which follows Islamic laws and customs. You should respect these at all times.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Morocco. You should be vigilant at all times.
Demonstrations take place occasionally across the country. Most of these are peaceful, but you should take sensible security precautions and avoid all demonstrations.
Morocco has a poor road safety record.
If you’re travelling to Western Sahara, you should read our travel advice for this disputed territory.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Safety and security
Demonstrations and protests can occur at short notice across the country. In general, demonstrations are peaceful but there have been isolated incidents of vandalism and looting.
A series of demonstrations has taken place since October 2016 in northern Morocco, mainly around the town of Al Hoceima. There have been some reports of limited violence during these protests. There have also been a number of smaller scale protests in other cities. These have remained peaceful to date. Demonstrations around Al Hoceima occur almost daily. More demonstrations are planned, and a heavy security presence remains in place.
You should follow local and international developments in the media and take sensible security precautions. Avoid political gatherings and demonstrations. Always observe instructions given by the local security authorities.
Incidents of violent crime occasionally occur. There have been recent incidents involving the use of knives against tourists in street attacks, thefts and burglaries in the major cities and along beaches. Avoid quiet areas and be vigilant at all times, particularly after dark. Don’t carry large amounts of money or valuables around with you.
Petty crime is common, especially in tourist areas like the medina quarter of towns/cities and on beaches. Crimes include pick-pocketing, bag snatching and drive-by motorcycle theft of visible jewellery and handbags. Be vigilant when asking for directions and using ATMs as crime and aggressive begging can occur. Credit card fraud and scams like substituting inferior goods for those that were actually bought are common. You should remain vigilant and alert to potential confidence tricks.
When visiting the medina quarter of a town or city, make sure any guide you use is operating with the agreement of the local tourist authorities, and displays an official badge. Harassment of tourists by people posing as official tourist guides is common.
Women should exercise caution particularly when travelling alone as they could be vulnerable to unwanted attention or harassment.
Exercise caution when travelling to Morocco for a relationship initiated via the internet. There have been incidents of marriage fraud and attempted extortion affecting foreign nationals. When travelling for a first visit, make sure you keep your return ticket, passport and personal belongings safe in case problems arise.
Morocco has a poor road safety record. Figures from 2014 showed that 3,489 people were killed and over 101,242 injured as a result of traffic accidents.
Drive carefully, especially in poor weather conditions, on secondary routes and on mountain roads. Driving at night can be particularly hazardous due to poor lighting. It’s common to encounter pedestrians crossing motorways. You should take extra care when overtaking, particularly where there is no hard shoulder. Leave plenty of time to reach your destination and respect speed limits.
If you’re involved in a road accident, you should complete a ‘Constat Amiable’ form, to be signed by both parties. Blank forms are available on arrival at Tangier port from the insurance company booths and from tobacconists in all cities.
If you’re involved in a road accident resulting in a fatality and the Moroccan authorities consider you responsible, you may be detained pending a trial hearing.
If you enter Morocco with a vehicle, the registration number will be recorded. If you’re not in possession of the same vehicle when leaving Morocco, you’ll be refused exit and detained. You’ll need to provide evidence of adequate motor insurance. You should always carry your insurance, licence and registration documents with you.
If you’re planning to hike on Mount Toubkal or on other mountains in Morocco, seek local advice and take necessary precautions. Trekking alone can be dangerous, consider joining a group or hiring a guide.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Morocco. You should be vigilant at all times.
The Moroccan authorities have warned of an increased threat linked to the growing number of Moroccans sympathetic or belonging to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) and other extremist groups, and regularly report the disruption of terrorist cells, some of which have intended to carry out attacks in Morocco against government installations, public spaces and tourist sites.
In late January 2017, the Moroccan authorities reported the disruption of a terrorist cell and the arrest of several of its members the coastal town of El Jadida. The cell was operating in several cities and aiming to produce explosive devices to attack political and public figures, diplomatic premises and tourist sites in Morocco.
Attacks could be indiscriminate and could target foreigners. In April 2011, 17 people were killed and 25 injured in a large explosion caused by a bomb in Marrakech at the Argana Restaurant in Djema el-Fna Square.
Protective security measures, including security personnel, may be visible in certain areas including hotels and sites popular with tourists.
There’s considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Morocco is a Muslim country which follows Islamic laws and customs. Be aware of your actions to ensure they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times.
In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June.
Avoid public displays of affection, particularly outside the main tourist areas and near religious places.
Sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by law. It’s not uncommon for hotels to ask couples to show evidence of marriage at the time of check-in, and if such evidence is not available, to insist on separate rooms.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Morocco. Be sensitive to local laws and customs and avoid public displays of affection. Complaints can lead to prosecution.
Women, especially when travelling alone, may receive unwanted attention. To minimise hassle, you may choose to wear clothes which cover the arms, legs and chest.
Alcohol is served in licensed hotels, bars and in tourist areas. However, drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar isn’t allowed and can lead to arrest.
Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in a lengthy prison sentence and a heavy fine.
If you’re travelling to Morocco to marry a Moroccan national, make sure you have the correct documentation.
It’s illegal in Morocco to send passports through the post. British passports sent to or through Morocco by post or courier companies will be confiscated by the Moroccan authorities.
It is against the law to carry bibles in Arabic, to attempt to distribute any non-Muslim or evangelical literature, or to be involved in any such activity.
Avoid taking any photographs near sensitive political or military sites.
You’ll need permission from the authorities to fly a drone. Contact the Moroccan Civil Aviation Authority for more information about the rules. In 2016, a number of British nationals were fined and had their passports confiscated for flying drones without permission.
It’s illegal to possess pornographic material.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism for up to 3 months.
When entering the country, make sure your passport is stamped. Some tourists have experienced difficulties leaving the country because their passport bears no entry stamp.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay in Morocco. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
Before travelling, make sure your passport isn’t damaged. Some travellers have been refused entry when travelling on damaged passports.
Moroccan citizens who reside in the UK and travel to Morocco, may not be allowed to return to the UK unless they present evidence of their UK immigration status. This can include their UK biometric residence permit card or a valid UK entry clearance.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry to, airside transit, and exit from, Morocco.
Moroccan Customs don’t have a list of prohibited products, but they do advise anyone travelling with prescription medication to make sure they have a copy of the doctor’s prescription which covers the medication and quantity carried.
See our travel advice for Western Sahara if you plan to travel to this disputed territory.
The land border between Algeria and Morocco is closed. Don’t attempt to cross it.
Arriving by private boat
If you’re arriving by private boat, you must enter the country at a recognised port of entry. Entry through other ports will be considered illegal.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 150 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Henna tattoos are common in Morocco. Some henna tattoos contain the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which can cause a painful allergic reaction including swelling and an itchy rash in some people.
Morocco is in an earthquake zone. Minor earthquakes occur occasionally. A strong earthquake hit northern Morocco around the port town of Al Hoceima in 2004, killing more than 600 people. Familiarise yourself with general safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and take note of any instructions in hotel rooms.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Heavy rain can cause flash flooding in some areas, particularly in the mountains or near rivers. Walking and driving can be dangerous in flooded areas. If flooding does occur in your area, listen to local media and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
Most major credit cards are accepted in the larger towns. ATMs are widely available in cities and most of the main towns. There is no limit on the amount of foreign cash you can bring in to the country. You won’t be able to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes and it‘s very difficult to exchange travellers’ cheques.
The Moroccan Dirham (MAD) is non-convertible. You can import or export up to a maximum of 2,000 MAD to or from Morocco.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.