Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 13 July 2018, 10:35 NZST
  • Still current at: 20 July 2018

Extreme Risk

There is extreme risk to your security in Western Sahara (a disputed and non-self-governing territory largely under Moroccan control), within 30 kilometres north and west of the Berm and all areas south and east of the Berm due to the threat posed by unexploded landmines. We advise against all travel to these regions.

Some Risk

There is some risk to your security in Morocco and elsewhere in Western Sahara due to the threat of terrorism. We advise caution.

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Terrorism
There is a heightened threat of terrorism in the Maghreb region of North Africa, which includes Morocco. Terrorist groups, including those based in Syria and Iraq, continue to threaten attacks in Morocco, including plots that may involve foreign fighters returning to Morocco from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

While Morocco has not suffered a terrorist attack since 2011, a number of suspected terrorists have been arrested in recent years and the possibility of future attacks, particularly in areas frequented by foreigners, cannot be discounted. There may be increased security measures in some areas, particularly around tourist sites and border crossings.

New Zealanders in Morocco are advised to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times, particularly in public and commercial areas known to be frequented by Western expatriates or travellers. In the event of an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

Civil Unrest
Protests and demonstrations occur from time to time in Morocco. New Zealanders in Morocco are advised to avoid any protests and demonstrations, as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent. We recommend following any instructions issued by the local authorities and staying informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media for developments. 

Crime
Incidents of violent crime, including theft at knifepoint and armed robbery occurs in Morocco sometimes resulting in death and injuries. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, including from passing motorcycles is common. Tourists have been forcibly taken to stores and intimidated into making purchases in popular tourist areas. Stay on major roads, especially in medinas, and exercise caution.

We advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and take steps to safeguard and secure their personal belongings. Try not to travel after dark or to isolated areas. As victims of robbery are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, it is advisable to avoid wearing or displaying items that appear valuable, such as electronic devices and jewellery.

Credit card, commercial and internet fraud is common in Morocco. New Zealanders should be wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, as they may be a scam. For further information see our advice on Internet Fraud and Internet dating Scams.

Kidnapping
There is an on-going threat of kidnapping in remote regions of Morocco and in border areas. Kidnappers may be motivated by financial gain or terrorism. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.  

Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory and its political and legal status remains unresolved. Most of Western Sahara is under the de facto administration of Morocco. A militarised boundary separates the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara from the rest of the territory, Mauritania and Algeria. It is not possible to corss this boundary. A mostly sand wall (‘the Berm’) separates the areas controlled by Morocco and those controlled by the independence movement. The territory is a former area of conflict that still contains unexpoloded landmines which have caused death and injury, particularly in remote regions and the militarized zone with reports of landmines shifting away from the border area due to the movement of sand dunes.There has been a UN-monitored cease-fire since 1991.

New Zealanders who decide to travel to Western Sahara against our advice should be aware that travel from Morocco to the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara is restricted by the Moroccan authorities.

Borders
A militarized boundary separates the Moroccan controlled part of Western Sahara from the rest of the territory, Mauritania and Algeria. This boundary cannot be crossed, nor can the land border between Morocco and Algeria.

General Travel Advice
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Morocco to avoid offending local sensitivities. Encouraging religious conversion is illegal, as is possession of Arabic-language versions of the Bible. Homosexuality and sexual relations outside marriage are illegal in Morocco. Do not consume alcohol in public places that aren’t licenced, particularly in traditional and rural areas.

You may find hospitals have no English-speaking staff or very limited ability to communicate in English. We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance.  Some private hospitals may insist on payment prior to being admitted.  If you do not have adequate insurance or are otherwise unable to pay your hospital bill, you may not be allowed to leave the country until your account is settled.

Female travellers, especially when travelling alone, may receive unwanted attention. To minimise this, you may choose to wear more conservative clothing.

Photography of sensitive locations, such as anything that could be perceived as a military or security interest, may result in problems with authorities. If in doubt, don’t take a picture.

Carry identification at all times, checkpoints can be frequent. When entering the country, make sure your passport is stamped. You may experience difficulties leaving the country if your passport bears no entry stamp or you have overstayed your visa.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

Morocco is situated in a seismic zone, and minor earthquakes occur occasionally.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Morocco should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Morocco are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand Embassy Madrid, Spain is accredited to Morocco

Street Address Calle del Pinar, 7, 3rd floor, 28006 Madrid, Spain Telephone +34 915 230 226 Fax +34 915 230 171 Email madrid@embajadanuevazelanda.com Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/spain Hours Mon-Fri 0900-1400, and 1500-1730, July and August: Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1400-1630

See our regional advice for Africa

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Spain

Street Address
Calle del Pinar, 7, 3rd floor, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Telephone: +34 915 230 226

Fax: +34 915 230 171

Email: madrid@embajadanuevazelanda.com

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/spain

Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1400, and 1500-1730, July and August: Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1400-1630

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