Senegal - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

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

Last published date: 2020-10-08

Business Customs

Senegal’s business customs are like French business customs.  Americans should expect a high level of sophistication among Senegalese businesspersons. 

The official business attire is suit and tie, even during the hottest months of the year (June-November). 

The Senegalese concept of “Teranga” is very important in business dealings and contacts.  The concept centers on a philosophy that welcomes other nationalities to share the Senegalese culture.  In a business environment, Senegalese are welcoming and don’t usually say no, even though they may not be able to deliver what they have promised. 

Travel Advisory

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov.  Messages for U.S. citizens traveling to Senegal are flagged on the U.S. Embassy website at https://sn.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/security-and-travel-information/.  For the latest COVID-19 information affecting U.S. citizen travelers to Senegal, including COVID-19 testing requirements, please consult https://sn.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.

Visas

Short-term visas are available on arrival in Senegal.  U.S. citizens must present a passport valid for at least 90 days.  Please see the Centers for Disease Control Traveler Information for Senegal regarding recommended vaccines and malaria prevention:

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/senegal.

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

Senegal is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) which uses the Franc CFA, a convertible currency pegged to the Euro.

Transportation

The country code for Senegal is +221. 

Air Transportation: Dakar’s Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS) is Senegal’s main airport.  28 airlines are operating out of Blaise Diagne.  Dakar is linked to numerous African cities by air, and daily flights go to Europe.  Delta Airlines flies nonstop from New York to Dakar.        

Port:  Dakar has one of the largest deep-water seaports along the West African coast.  Its deep-draft structure and 640-foot-wide access channel allows round-the-clock access to the port.  Current infrastructure includes tanker vessel loading and unloading terminals, a container terminal with a storage capacity of 3000 20-foot-equivalent units, a cereals and fishing port, a dedicated phosphate terminal, and a privately-run ship repair facility.  U.S. company Senegal Minergy Port (SMP) was awarded a 35-year concession for the design, build, operation, and ownership of a multi-commodity dry and liquid bulk port in Bargny-Sendou, Senegal. The facility will be a deep-water port that will be able to handle petroleum products as well as dry bulk volume.   Located in Bargny, the new port will relieve pressure from downtown Dakar’s port. Construction of the port has started.  Dubai Ports World (DP World) has taken over management of Dakar’s container terminal.  The port’s location at the extreme western point of Africa, at the crossroad of the major sea-lanes linking Europe to South America, makes it a natural port of call for shipping companies.  Multiple shipping companies sail to Dakar from U.S. ports, usually by transshipment from Europe.  The main direct-call U.S/West Africa carriers are Wilhelmsen Lines, Torm Line, America Africa Delmas Line, and Atlantic Container Lines.  In addition, Maersk Line offers weekly sailings from the United States to Dakar with transshipment in Algeciras in southern Spain.  Grimaldi offers bi-monthly sailings from the United States direct to Dakar.  Transit time from Houston, New Orleans, and Miami is 34, 36, and 40 days, respectively.  Total freight traffic averages 10 million metric tons.   

Ground Transportation: Black-yellow taxis are cheap, numerous, and available everywhere in Dakar.  It is customary to negotiate the fare since most meters installed in the taxis are broken or missing.  For travel outside Dakar, public transportation is available but often unreliable and uncomfortable.  Unlike Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, Senegal has yet to open its market for Uber-type ride sharing solutions.

U.S. visitors who plan to stay in Dakar a few days may want to hire a car and driver.  Numerous car rental agencies offer first-class service and have a desk at the airport and in hotels.  Credit cards are accepted for payment.  Visitors should note that the charge for service from the airport is a flat rate, and the taxi driver will not use the meter. Check if your hotel has an airport shuttle, as this can be the most convenient means of transport to and from the airport.

Language

The official languages of Senegal are French and Wolof.  Additional local languages are also spoken.  English is not widely spoken.  Firms seeking to visit Senegal for market or partner research should consider deploying French-speaking staff and/or hiring an interpreter.

Health

Medical Facilities

U.S. visitors are advised to consult the Center for Disease Control’s page on Senegal prior to their travels.  There are several hospitals and clinics in Dakar which can treat major and minor injuries and illnesses.  There is inadequate inpatient psychiatric care, though there is very good office-based psychiatry.  There are no facilities in Senegal that are at the level of Western European hospitals or U.S. community hospitals, but there are some that are good and can be used in case of an emergency.  The Embassy maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals, although the Embassy does not guarantee their services or recommend physicians.  Medical facilities outside Dakar are limited.

French medications are far more readily available than American drugs, and the limited selection of American drugs in stock are often listed under the French trade names.  Medications may be obtained at pharmacies throughout Dakar and in other areas frequented by tourists and are usually less expensive than those in the United States.  Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.

Medical Insurance

Travelers should be strongly urged to purchase evacuation insurance prior to traveling abroad.   Medical facilities in Senegal will only accept cash and will not accept medical insurance or even credit cards.  U.S. medical insurance may cover overseas medical expenses on a pay-and-claim basis, but this is not guaranteed. 

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

Other Health Information

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC Internet site at www.cdc.gov/travel.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s website. Further health information for travelers is available at https://www.who.int/.

Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Senegal.  Chloroquine resistant P. falciparum malaria is a severe form of the disease that is found in many parts of West Africa, including Senegal.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that a traveler on an appropriate anti-malarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease.  Other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk.  Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial medication they have been taking.  For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites and anti-malarial medication, visit the CDC Travelers Health website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.  Other vaccines may be recommended for travel to Senegal.  Please visit the CDC’s website for additional information on COVID-19 travel.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Dakar is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), four time zones ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).  Daylight Savings Time (DST) is not observed in Senegal, thus there is a five-hour time difference during DST in the United States.  Business Hours are typically from 0800 to 1800, with a long lunch break (2 hours) typical for government offices. 

Holidays

January 1 (New Year’s)

April 4 (Independence Day)

May 1 (International Labor Day)

August 15 (Assumption Day)

November 1 (All Saints Day)

December 25 (Christmas Day)

The following holidays are observed according to the religious calendars: Tabaski, Mawlud, Easter Monday, Ascension and Pentecost.

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Several types of items — including computers and computer parts, video cameras and players, stereo equipment, tape players, auto parts, and various tools and spare parts — can be brought into Senegal without clearance by Senegalese customs officials.