Gambia, The - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel. 

Last published date: 2020-09-17

Business Customs

Business attire in is a combination of traditional dresses and western business-casual outfits.  The Gambia is a conservative country, but the mode of dressing is a mix between conservative and liberal.  Mr., Ms. and Madam are the most common titles used when meeting people in a business setting. When giving and receiving business cards, it is always advisable to do so with the right hand. Meetings with local government officials and/or NGO employees begin when everyone gets there.  If you show up on time, expect to wait an hour.  It is proper to greet the entire room first.  Then greet the highest ranking individual and from there go around the room.  Some men and women do not shake the hands of individuals of the other gender. Bargaining is a big part of the culture.  The software mobile application What’s App is very common as a mode of communications. It is not uncommon to receive business calls until 11 pm.  Gift exchanges among business partners or acquaintances are also common.

Travel Advisory

Travelers are recommended to consult with the U.S. Embassy Banjul for the latest travel advisories, and the

Department of State’s Country-Specific Information for The Gambia.  

Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens need a visa to travel to The Gambia. The Gambia has an Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Information on visa and entry requirements can be found below at website of The Embassy of The Gambia in the United States.

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following link(s):  State Department Visa Website.

Currency

The Gambia’s local currency is the Dalasi (GMD), and it is the only currency used in day-to-day transactions. International transactions are usually quoted in U.S. dollars. The dalasi is not a fully convertible currency. Most local ATMs accept U.S.-issued credit and debit cards with Visa and MasterCard logos, but only dispense cash in the local currency and only dispense small amounts of cash (usually $50 or less) at a time. Travelers’ checks are rarely used, and it is not recommended for travelers to rely on them.

Telecommunications/Electronics

Internet connection in The Gambia has been improving. The country recently connected the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, which has significantly improved internet connection speeds. Mobile penetration rate is high (over 100 percent), and there are 4 mobile phone operators (Africell, Gamcel, Qcell and Comium). Direct international telephone calls can be made on all phone lines. The country code is 220. All major mobile phone companies provide data services (3G at minimum) that allow reasonably good internet connection. All major hotels have internet connections and wifi access. It is becoming increasingly common for restaurants and cafes to also provide free wifi access. 

The electric current in The Gambia is supplied at 220-240 volts, and the primary socket type is the British BS-1363. However, adaptors are easy to find at local electronic stores.

Transportation

Air Transport:  Banjul International Airport (BJL) has limited facilities, and most flights do not run daily. The main direct flights are to Accra, Brussels, Casablanca, Dakar, Istanbul, Lisbon, London, Lagos and Nouakchott. During the tourist season (November to April), several chartered flights from Europe serve the country multiple times per day. There are no direct flights to the U.S.

Sea Port:  The Port of Banjul is serviced by several major lines including CMA-CGM/Delmas, Maersk, MSC and Grimaldi. The majority of ships that dock at the port are smaller vessels arriving from major transshipment ports such as Casablanca and Malaga.

Ground Transport:  The quality of roads is low. An increasing number of roadway construction projects have begun since the change of government in January 2017. In addition, the River Gambia bisects the country.  One bridge that permits car traffic is in operation. The lack of multiple bridges that accommodate trucks is a major source of delay in traveling across the country. Small taxis operating within the major towns are painted in yellow, with green stripes on the sides. These taxis do not have meters and run on fixed routes with fixed fares, but fares for specific destinations can be negotiated. Several car rental agencies operate in the country, and an arrangement with one of these is recommended for extensive local travels.

Language

The official language in The Gambia is English, and it is spoken by a large number of people in urban areas.  The other major common languages are Wolof, Mandinka, and Fula.  Almost all signs are written in English.

Health

While the country has many hospitals and clinics, none meet U.S. or basic international standards, nor provide access to state-of-the-art facilities. None will accept international or foreign health insurance cards, and will therefore require cash payment upfront. There are a large number of small pharmacies that sell medications (mostly generics), with or without prescriptions. Malaria is endemic in the country and it is therefore recommended that U.S. travelers bring prophylactics. Travelers are recommended to travel with their yellow fever vaccination cards; while the document is not always required upon entry, it is occasionally requested.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

The Gambia is under the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone.  The Gambia does not observe daylight savings time; therefore, the time difference with U.S. time zones fluctuates throughout the year. Public sector business hours are from Monday to Thursday, 8:00am to 4:00pm and Fridays from 8:00am to 12:30pm during a normal week. Most private businesses operate from Monday to Saturday.

The national holidays are:

New Year’s Day      

January 1

Independence Day

February 18

Good Friday

Friday before Easter

Easter Monday

Monday after Easter

Labor Day

May 01

Africa Liberalization Day

May 25

Eid el Fitr

No fixed date (1st day of 10th month of the Islamic Lunar calendar)

Eid el Adha

No fixed date (10th day of 12th month of the Islamic Lunar calendar)

Revolution Day

July 22

Assumption Day

August 15

Yoamul Ashora

No fixed date (10th day of 1st month of the Islamic Lunar calendar)

Mawlud Nabi

No fixed date (12th day of the 3rd month of the Islamic Lunar calendar)

Christmas

December 25

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

With the exception of goods on transit, the requirements for the entry of temporary goods are the same as goods being brought in permanently.