Mauritania - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

Courtesy is the most important characteristic of Mauritanian business practices.  Prior to the COVID-19 health crisis, a long-held handshake was customary upon initiating and closing a business meeting. Occasionally, one may encounter a conservative Mauritanian who will not shake hands with a person of the other sex, so it is preferable to wait for a cue from him or her.  A polite Mauritanian will ask you several times, possibly in different ways, how you are.  Business encounters normally begin with a significant period of small talk before actual business begins.

Rank and protocol are important to Mauritanians, and they often (mistakenly or not) believe that they need to work directly with a CEO to make business happen.  Business discussions in hotel conference rooms are appreciated.  Mauritanians in general are very hospitable; they often offer a dinner of grilled lamb (mechoui) to their business partners and visitors and would expect to be treated similarly when they are in the United States.  Meals are never shared on a “Dutch treat” basis. Mauritania is a Muslim country, and the consumption of alcohol and pork is forbidden for Mauritanians.  Giving and receiving gifts is a common Mauritanian tradition.  It is an honor for Mauritanians to give a gift to their guests as a souvenir of the country.  Many Mauritanians who have traveled abroad or deal with foreign companies or institutions appreciate business cards.

The work week is Monday – Friday, although most businesses close at noon on Friday.

Travel Advisory

Mauritania is a level 3 travel advisory country. Violent crimes, such as mugging, armed robbery, and assault, are common, and local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crimes.  Mauritania is a very austere country.  Travelers must understand that logistical support is limited outside of the capital. Be particularly vigilant when traveling by road outside of populated areas.  The U.S. Embassy encourages visitors travelling outside of urban areas to do so in a convoy of at least two off-road-capable vehicles accompanied by an experienced driver/guide.  Nighttime driving outside of urban areas should be avoided.  Travel at night between cities in Mauritania is prohibited for U.S. Embassy staff and all driving outside of the capital of Nouakchott requires a minimum two vehicle convoy with the limited exception of travel north or south along the coastal N2 road.  Landmines remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara, and travelers should cross only at designated border posts.

Visa Requirements

Visas are required for all U.S. citizens seeking to travel to Mauritania, which  can be acquired at the airport upon landing in Nouakchott or via the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington, DC.  These requirements are subject to change, and it is best to check directly with the Embassy prior to travel.  Applications can be mailed to the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington, DC:

2129 Leroy Place, NW

Washington, DC 20008

Tel: (202) 232-5700

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


The Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRU) is the official currency of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.  The ouguiya was redenominated in 2017 at a rate of 1:10 due to high inflation.  Many vendors still quote prices in old currency (MRO), so businesspeople should confirm that any business is being conducted in new currency (MRU).  There are a handful of ATMs in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou accepting international bank cards, but travelers should take euros or U.S. dollars as back-up.  Credit cards are accepted only at top-end hotels and larger businesses, and they are not accepted at ATMs.


The internet in Mauritania is primarily accessed over DSL and cellular 4G.  Most U.S. GSM carriers offer roaming in Mauritania, and you can easily buy a local SIM card.   Most hotels have Wi-Fi, although coverage can be spotty with limited bandwidth.  A relatively reliable way to have Wi-Fi is to buy a 4G modem (i.e., “hotspot”) with a local SIM card for your devices to connect to.

In Mauritania, the electricity is 220V and 50Hz.  The electrical plug is Type C, which is also known as the standard “Euro” plug.  The sockets will also accept Type E and Type F plugs.


While Arabic is the official language of Mauritania, Pulaar, Soninke, and Wolof are recognized as national languages. International business beyond the Arab world is often conducted in French. Product literature should be in French, and, if possible, Arabic.  There is a limited-but-growing percentage of the population who speaks English.


There are ten overcrowded government hospitals and 21 private clinics in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. Some private clinics provide health services close to Western standards, but overall, the level of health services available is low by U.S. standards.  Telephone numbers for the hospitals and private clinics are available at the U.S. Embassy website.  Medicines are sold over the counter in drugstores in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. Some of the primary health concerns include malaria, dengue, hepatitis, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, gastrointestinal distress from foodborne illnesses, intestinal parasites, schistosomiasis, rabies, tuberculosis, and HIV and AIDS.  A yellow fever immunization is required, and record of immunization for cholera may also be required for entry.  Recommended immunizations include hepatitis A and B, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria (Td), polio, typhoid, and COVID-19.  Children should be up to date on all immunizations recommended for their age group.

Local time, business hours, and holidays

Mauritania is on Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) and does not observe daylight savings. Businesses hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 p.m.  The observed 2023 holidays in Mauritania are:

January 1 – New Year’s Day

May 1 – International Labor Day

May 3* – Eid Al-Fitr / End of Ramadan

May 25 – Africa Day

July 10* – Eid Al-Adha / Tabaski

July 30* - Muharram 29* – Premier Muharram / Muslim New Year

September 27* – Eid Al-Mawlud / Prophet’s Commemoration

November 28 – National Independence Day

* To be announced based on the local Muslim Lunar Calendar.  Some holidays may last two days, particularly Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Personal effects, including professional equipment, which are carried by hand or in luggage may be temporarily imported into Mauritania free of duties and taxes under the Customs Convention on Temporary Importation of Professional Equipment.  Goods imported for exhibitions may enter under an ATA carnet, which may be obtained from the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.