Morocco travel guide
Known for its incredible cultural riches, Morocco has fascinated travellers for centuries. The name usually conjures up images of sprawling souks, walled medinas and towering minarets calling Muslims to prayer.
Morocco's biggest drawing card is Marrakech (also spelt Marrakesh), a vibrant city that Winston Churchill once described as "simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon." This sentiment still rings true for many travellers today.
But Morocco is more than just Marrakech. Tangier, in the north, sits just 13km (8mi) away from Gibraltar and is characterised by its whitewashed buildings and sandy beaches. Further down the Atlantic coast, you will soon come across Morocco's capital city Rabat, cosmopolitan Casablanca, atmospheric Essaouira, and the lively beach resort of Agadir, the latter is a firm favourite among sun-seekers and surfers. Inland, Fes (also spelt Fez) is a well-preserved medieval city famed for its high-walled medina. Talking about medinas, which essentially mean old walled towns, it is worth mentioning that the medinas of Essaouira, Fes, Marrakech and Tétouan are all on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Beyond the cities, awesome landscapes await. Like an elongated spine, the Atlas Mountains run from the southwest to the centre of Morocco, before extending eastward to Algeria and Tunisia. These rugged landscapes offer spectacular scenery from deep gorges, verdant valleys to snow-capped peaks. People come here to trek, bike, or scale Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. The areas are also home to the Berber people, whose unique culture, crafts and costumes make for a fascinating visit.
While Morocco is generally a safe country to visit, travellers interested in the disputed territory of Western Sahara should seek the latest travel advice from their own government before departing. This sparsely-populated territory, which sits in the south of Morocco and northwest of Mauritania, is partly controlled by Morocco, a claim that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), whose government is in exile in Algeria, disagrees. The sovereignty issue remains a sensitive subject.
716,550 km sq (including disputed Western Sahara).
36.47 million (2020).
83 per km sq.
King Mohammed VI since 1999.
Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch since 2021.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Earthquake in Morocco
An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 hit Morocco near Marrakesh on 8 September. Further aftershocks are possible. Follow the advice of local authorities, and the local media.
If you need help
If you are in Morocco and you need consular assistance call our 24-hour helpline and select the option for ‘consular services for British nationals’:
- For domestic calls from Morocco, call British Embassy Rabat +212 (0) 537 63 33 33
- For international calls to the UK , call +44 (0) 207 008 5000
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Morocco set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Morocco’s embassy in the UK.
Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel company or airline for changes.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Visit TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre) for general COVID-19 advice for travellers.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 status
Morocco accepts the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccination record at the border. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres cannot be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
Passport validity requirements
The embassy of Morocco in the UK advise that your passport should be valid for at least 3 months on your date of entry to Morocco. If your passport does not meet this requirement, you may face difficulties and you should check with the Moroccan authorities and your travel provider 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.
British nationals don’t need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism for up to 90 days. British nationals who stay longer than 90 days need to go to a local police station to request an extension.
When entering the country, make sure your passport is stamped. Some travellers have experienced difficulties leaving the country because their passport has no entry stamp.
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 is illegal.
Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and vaccination certificates you may need on TravelHealthPro.
Taking money into Morocco
Most major credit cards are accepted in larger towns. ATMs are widely available in cities and most main towns. There is no limit on the amount of foreign cash you can bring into the country. You won’t be able to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes. It’s 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.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Morocco
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Morocco.
Two tourists were murdered while hiking near Mount Toubkal in 2018. Moroccan authorities arrested four individuals in connection with the murders, including one who had links to “an extremist group”.
There is an increased threat linked to the number of Moroccans sympathetic or belonging to Daesh (formerly ISIL) and other extremist groups. Authorities regularly disrupt terrorist cells.
Places at higher risk of attack include:
- crowded areas
- government installations
- transportation networks
- businesses with Western interests
- areas where foreign nationals and tourists are known to gather
Be vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice of the local security authorities.
Protective security measures, including security guards, may be present in areas, including hotels and sites popular with tourists.
While there have been no recent kidnappings of foreign nationals in Morocco, it cannot be ruled out. There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from:
- groups originating in the Sahel
This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel illegally across the border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in the border and remote desert areas of North Africa. This has been done for financial gain and for political leverage.
Terrorist groups have kidnapped:
- government officials
Those working in the tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
The policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There is a currently a heightened chance of demonstrations and protests occurring across the country. You should avoid these gatherings, and be aware of the potential for protests to occur spontaneously. Protests can happen at short notice and are generally heavily policed. Demonstrations are mostly peaceful but there has been isolated violence. Demonstrations and protests may lead to increased travel disruption in affected areas.
Follow any media reporting and instructions from local security authorities. Avoid political gatherings and demonstrations.
See our travel advice for Western Sahara if you plan to travel to this disputed territory.
It is illegal to cross an international border without authorisation. The land and maritime border between Morocco and Algeria is closed. The border is patrolled and monitored closely by the authorities. Do not attempt to cross the border.
If you are in a boat or jet ski, ensure you know where the maritime border is and remain clearly within Moroccan waters. Ensure you have enough fuel to return to shore. As happened in August 2023, individuals entering Algerian waters illegally are likely to be intercepted and investigated.
Protecting your belongings
Incidents of violent crime occasionally happen. There have been incidents involving the use of knives against tourists in street attacks, thefts and burglaries in major cities and along beaches. Avoid quiet areas, 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 (historical district) of towns/cities and on beaches. Crimes include:
drive-by motorcycle theft of visible jewellery and handbags
Be vigilant when asking for directions and using ATMs as crime and aggressive begging can happen. Credit card fraud and scams like substituting inferior goods for those that were bought are common. Remain alert to potential confidence tricks.
Harassment of tourists
Harassment of tourists by people posing as official tourist guides is common.
When visiting the medina quarter (historical district) 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.
Be cautious when travelling to Morocco for a relationship, or to meet someone you met on the internet. There have been incidents of marriage fraud and attempted extortion affecting British nationals. Make sure you keep your return ticket, passport and personal belongings safe.
Laws and cultural differences
Islamic laws and customs
Morocco is a Muslim country, which follows Islamic laws and customs. You should:
- 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 (see below)
- respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions
- avoid public displays of affection, particularly outside the main tourist areas and near religious places
Sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by law. Hotels can ask couples to show evidence of marriage while checking-in and, if you don’t have proof, they can insist on separate rooms.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country, check when Ramadan is in Morocco before you go. During this time, do not:
- eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime, including in your car
- play loud music or dance
- swear in public
Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.
You should also:
- check opening hours of shops and restaurants
- be aware that if hotels and restaurants are providing food or drink in fasting hours, they may separate you from Islamic guests, for example with screens
- follow local dress codes – clothing that doesn’t meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time
- be aware that driving may be erratic, particularly when people are trying to get home at dusk
Homosexuality is illegal in Morocco. Be sensitive to local laws and customs and avoid public displays of affection. Complaints can lead to prosecution. See FCDO advice for LGBT+ travellers .
Women, especially when travelling alone, may receive unwanted attention from men. Consider wearing loose-fitting clothing which cover the arms, legs and chest. See our FCDO advice for woman travellers.
Alcohol laws and bans
Alcohol is served in licensed hotels, bars and in tourist areas. Drinking alcohol in the street and anywhere other than a licensed restaurant or bar is illegal and can lead to arrest.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in a lengthy prison sentence and a heavy fine.
Sending passports in the post
In Morocco, it’s illegal 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.
Bibles and religious literature
It is illegal 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.
It’s illegal to possess pornographic material. Possession of recorded writings, printed matter, cassettes and videocassettes and any type of material contrary to morality and public order are prohibited in the Moroccan territory.
You’ll need permission from the authorities to fly a drone. Contact the Directorate General for Civial Aviation (in French) for more information about the rules.
If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.
Many taxis bookable via mobile phone apps may be unregulated and unlicensed. Drivers may not be registered with the authorities and their vehicle may not have the appropriate levels of insurance for carrying passengers. Such taxis may at times be stopped by the police, who may ask you get out of the car.
- think carefully before using such unregulated or unlicensed taxis
- use normal ‘Petits’ or ‘Grands Taxis’ where possible
- avoid sharing taxis with other passengers that you do not know
- insist against sharing if your driver tries to pick up other passengers during your journey
International Driving Permit
You need either a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence to drive in Morocco for up to one year. 1949 IDP is not accepted anymore. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices - find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.
If you are staying in Morocco for longer than one year, you need to apply for a Moroccan Driving License.
A green card, which can be obtained from your car insurer, is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to prove you have the minimum insurance cover in Morocco.
Drive carefully, especially when:
- driving at night, which be particularly dangerous due to poor lighting
- the weather conditions are poor on secondary routes and mountain roads
- overtaking lorries and trucks that are overloaded and when there is no hard shoulder
If you’re involved in a road accident, complete a form (‘constat amiable’), 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 motor insurance to border control when entering and exiting Morocco. Always carry your insurance, license and registration documents with you.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Morocco is in an earthquake zone. Minor earthquakes happen occasionally. The last major earthquake was in 2023, which killed almost 3000 people. Familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and take note of any instructions in hotel rooms.
There is more information on what to do during an earthquake on the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Heavy rain can cause flash flooding in some areas, particularly in the mountains or near rivers during winter months. Walking and driving can be dangerous in flooded areas. If flooding does happen in your area, follow local media and instructions of the local authorities.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 150 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on health risks and find out what vaccinations you need for Morocco on TravelHealthPro
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
TravelHealthPro explains best practice when travelling with medicines.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Pharmacies and prescriptions
Contact the nearest pharmacy if you have a British issued medical prescription and would like to get medication in Morocco. If the medication is not available in Morocco, the pharmacy will ask you to get another prescription from local doctors to provide you with an alternative medication. Pharmacies are available 24/7 in every city and district.
Healthcare facilities in Morocco
View a list of English speaking doctors in Morocco.
Travel and mental health
Henna tattoos are common but some can contain the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which can cause a painful allergic reaction including swelling and an itchy rash in some people.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Morocco
Local Gendarmerie: 177
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.
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO provides guidance on how to help yourself stay safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Morocco
- dealing with a death in Morocco
- being arrested in Morocco
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you are affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Find more support for British nationals abroad.
Find more support for British nationals abroad.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)