Burkina Faso: How to Navigate the Local Laws & Customs

West Africa is a hot-bed of culture and chaos.

West Africa is a hot-bed of culture and chaos. Simple laws, which are commonplace, may look absurd to travellers.

But ignorance to laws may not be a good excuse when approached by local police, so it's good to get up to date with a few of the local customs.

So here goes…Law and customs West Africa style.

Imports and Exports

Burkina Faso is a usual path for overland trucks and intrepid travellers.
Many love to pick up a few things to take home, but be careful. Burkina Faso authorities don't take kindly to precious things being removed from their country if they are important.

Customs authorities enforce strict regulations on exports. Items like masks, religious materials and antiquities won't be released easily. So before you invest your money into a priceless bargain, make sure it's a legitimate sale.

The Director of the National Museum has stated that all exportation of objects of art is subject to the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture.

So don't invest in anything illegal…it will come back to bite you if you get caught.

Passports and Credit Cards

Like most African countries it's not unusual to be asked to identify yourself. And when you are asked this you should be quick to hand over your papers/passport.

Of course, be confident the people asking you are legitimate authorities.

Because some people aren't keen to carry around a passport and give it to police, always carry photocopies. Photocopy your passport details and your visa. This will keep everyone happy including the officials questioning you.

When it comes to money in Burkina Faso, try and use cash. Credit cards aren't the best option and can leave you stuck with a bill.

Credit cards are only accepted at high-end establishments in the capital, Ouagadougou. So don't assume your street stall is going to accept your Visa or Amex.

When it does come to cash, be prepared to have to carry a bit. ATMs aren't the most common sight in Burkina Faso, and outside the major towns they are relatively non-existent.

The age-old problem still exists, that not all cards are accepted, although Visa and Mastercards should be okay.

This can be a headache when travelling. So maybe stock up in Ghana or Mali before you enter the country…and always keep a few dollars stashed away safely.

Snap Away

One old custom has recently been dissolved to the cheers of travellers.
Tourists used to need a photo permit to take a picture…aimed directly at anyone travelling, these permits were usually a huge hassle.

But the Tourist Office has finally done away with the permit idea, but there are still buildings and areas you can't photograph…these are usually military or government buildings.

Be smart and keep away from a jail cell.

Sex in Burkina Faso

One last law that most African countries impose is a ban on homosexuality.
Basically, it's illegal and you will do jail time if you are caught.

Africa isn't known for its acceptance to sexual lifestyles, so be warned. Police are very serious when it comes to outlawing the practice.

Burkina Faso is a usual path for overland trucks and intrepid travellers.

Customs authorities enforce strict regulations on exports. Items like masks, religious materials and antiquities won't be released easily.

So before you invest your money into a priceless bargain, make sure it's a legitimate sale.

The Director of the National Museum has stated that all exportation of objects of art is subject to the prior approval of the Ministry of Culture.

Like most African countries it's not unusual to be asked to identify yourself. And when you are asked this you should be quick to hand over your papers/passport.

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