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: 2022-08-30

Business customs are based on the western business dress code and local traditional clothes. The Gambia is a conservative country, but the mode of dressing is a mix between conservative and liberal. It is courteous to greet people when you meet with them and address them by their professional titles. Mr., Ms. and Madam, Alhaji 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.  Gambians are not always punctual at meetings and events do not always start on time. It is proper to greet the entire room first.  Meetings in The Gambia usually starts with prayers. Some men and women do not shake the hands of individuals of the other gender. The software mobile application WhatsApp is very common as a mode of communications. It is not uncommon to receive business calls until 11 pm. Business appointments can be made through personal calls, emails, cell phone conversations, text messages, or even hand delivered notes.  It is also advisable to confirm appointments well before attendance. Gift exchanges among business partners or acquaintances are also common. Bargaining is a big part of the culture. 

English is the official administrative language in The Gambia. All correspondences are prepared in English. Business cards are welcome.  An umbrella is necessary during the June to October rainy season. Gambians do not show up if it rains.

Travel Advisory

It is recommended to visit the U.S. State Department website (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/TheGambia.html) for updates before planning a business trip. For more information on health issues for travel to Gambia, visit: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/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.

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 $150) at a time or ($450) daily limit. Travelers’ checks are rarely used, and it is not recommended for travelers to rely on them.

Telecommunications/Electronics

Internet connection in The Gambia can be unreliable but has been improving. The country recently connected the Africa Coast to Europe submarine cable, which has significantly improved internet connection speeds. 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 Wi-Fi access. It is becoming increasingly common for restaurants and cafes to also provide free Wi-Fi access. Facebook and WhatsApp Mobile social media platforms are important communication tools. Several data transfer companies have established networks and are serving banks and other institutions.

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

Transportation

Air Transport: Banjul International Airport (IATA: BJL) has limited facilities and does not have direct flights to the United States. Regularly serviced destinations are Abidjan, Brussels, Casablanca, Dakar, Freetown, Istanbul, Lisbon, and Lomé. From November to April, European destinations often service multiple flights per day to service the higher tourist demand. Flights are also consistently chartered to Dakar, which services a wider array of destinations than Banjul. Sea Port:  The Port of Banjul is serviced by several major lines including CMA-CGM/Delmas, Maersk, MSC and Grimaldi. Most ships that dock at the port are smaller vessels arriving from major transshipment ports such as Casablanca and Malaga.

Ground Transport:  There has been progress made in the country’s road network, however more highways and feeder roads need to be upgraded to provide convenient and safe access to major towns and villages. 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.  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. Privately operated public transportation vehicles, known as “Gelleh Gelleh,” are frequently dangerous and overcrowded, and should be avoided. Buses, vans, taxis, tricycles (also known as tuk-tuks), and ferries are some of the passenger transit choices. Several car rental agencies operate in the country, and an arrangement with one of these is recommended for extensive local travels. Most hotels offer airport pickups and drop offs. Fares from the airport to the city range from about $25.

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 many small pharmacies that sell medications, 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 depends on whether it is daylight savings time or not. 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.

Table: National Holidays

New Year’s Day 

January 1

Independence Day      

February 18

Good Friday

Friday before Easter

Easter Monday

Monday after Easter

Labor Day

May 01

Eid el Fitr (Koriteh)

May 3

Africa Liberalization Day

May 25

Eid el Adha (Tobaski)

July 20 TBD

Assumption Day

August 15

Yoamul Ashora

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

Mawlud Nabi

No fixed date (Predicted August 19)

Christmas

December 25

Boxing Day

December 26

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

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