MOROCCO

Country Description: Morocco's constitution provides for a monarchy with a parliament and an independent judiciary. Ultimate authority rests with the King. Morocco has a mixed economy based largely on agriculture, fishing, light industry, phosphate mining, tourism, and remittances from citizens working abroad. Modern tourist facilities and means of transportation are widely available, but may vary in quality depending on price and location. The workweek in Morocco is Monday through Friday.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Passports are required and must be valid for at least 6 months. Visas are not required for American tourists traveling in Morocco for less than 90 days. For visits of more than 90 days, Americans are required to obtain a residence permit and return visa should they wish to return to Morocco for extended periods. A residence permit and return visa may be requested and obtained from immigration (Service d'Etranger) at the central police station of the district of residence. For additional information concerning entry requirements for Morocco, travelers may contact the Embassy of Morocco at 1601 21st St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 462-7979 to 82. The Moroccan Consulate General is located at 10 E. 40th St., New York, NY 10016, telephone (212) 758-2625.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The sparsely-settled Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara) was long the site of armed conflict between the Polisario Front which has demanded independence. A cease-fire has been in effect since 1991 in the UN administered area. There are reports of thousands of unexploded mines in the Western Sahara and in areas of Mauritania adjacent to the Western Sahara border. Exploding mines are occasionally reported, and have caused death and injury. Transit to the Western Sahara remains restricted; persons planning to travel in the region may obtain information on clearance requirements from the Moroccan Embassy.

Medical Facilities: Adequate medical care in Morocco is available, although not all facilities meet high quality standards and specialized care or treatment may not be available. Medical facilities are adequate for non-emergency matters, particularly in the urban areas, but the medical staff will most likely be unable to communicate in English. Travelers planning to drive in the mountains and other remote areas may wish to carry a medical kit and a Moroccan phone card for emergencies. In the event of car accidents involving injuries, immediate ambulance service is not guaranteed or provided. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including a provision for medical evacuation, may prove useful. The beaches as well as the ocean in the immediate vicinity of Casablanca are polluted and considered unsafe for swimming, although other coastal areas are safe. Specific health questions may be addressed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline telephone (404) 332-4559, and on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Morocco has a moderately high crime rate in urban areas. Criminals have targeted tourists for assaults, muggings, thefts, pickpocketing, and scams of all types. Commonly-reported crimes include falsifying credit-card vouchers, and shipping inferior rugs as a substitute for the rugs purchased by the traveler. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate have also received reports of thefts occurring in the vicinity of ATM machines. Some travelers have been befriended by persons of various nationalities who have offered them food, drink, or cigarettes which are drugged. Harassment of tourists by unemployed Moroccans trying to be "guides" is a common problem. Prudent travelers hire only official tour guides through hotels and travel agencies. Traveling alone in the Rif Mountain area is risky, as tourists have fallen victim to schemes involving the purchase of hashish. Unescorted women in any area of Morocco may experience verbal abuse. Thieves sometimes bump cars from behind and rob their victims when they get out of the car to inspect the damage.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Traffic accidents are a significant hazard in Morocco. Driving practices are poor and have resulted in serious injuries and fatalities. Drivers may be pulled over for inspection by Moroccan police officers, within the city and on highways. In the event of a traffic accident, including accidents involving injuries, the parties are required to remain at the scene until the police have arrived and all necessary information documented. Ambulance services are not guaranteed. The roads in Morocco can be hazardous, particularly during the rainy season (November-February) when flooding is frequent and sometimes severe. Driving on the highway at night is dangerous. In Casablanca, persons have thrown large rocks at cars from overpasses. These incidents have led to several accidents and at least one death.

Child Custody/Dual Nationality: The government of Morocco considers all children born to Moroccan fathers to be Moroccan citizens. Even if the children bear American passports, immigration officials may require proof that the father approves their departure before the children will be allowed to leave Morocco. Although women are normally granted custody of their children in divorces, regardless of nationality, the children's departure from Morocco must be approved by the father. Women must also obtain permission to move the children more than 100 kilometers from their last residence before the divorce. American women married to Moroccans do not need their spouse's permission to leave Morocco. Regardless of which passport is used to enter Morocco, persons with dual nationality are normally treated as Moroccan citizens. U.S. consular protection to such persons can be difficult to assure.

Currency Regulations: Travelers checks and credit cards are accepted at some establishments in Morocco, mainly in urban areas. Travelers checks may be cashed at most banks, although some require the bearer to present both the check and the receipt. ATM machines are available in Casablanca and Rabat, and some American bank cards may be used to withdraw local currency for an account in the United States.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration/U.S. Embassy and Consulate Locations: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. Updated information on travel and security within Morocco may be obtained at the Embassy or Consulate.

The U.S. Embassy is located at 2 Avenue de Marrakech in the capital city of Rabat, telephone (212) (7) 76-22-65. The American Consulate General in Casablanca is located at 8 Boulevard Moulay Youssef, telephone (212) (2) 26-45-50.

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