LANGUAGE: While classical Arabic is Morocco’s official language, its local dialect, Darija, is the most commonly spoken language. French is also widely spoken in business, government circles, schools and universities. In fact, most people mix Arabic and French when speaking. Tamazight, a Berber language, is also an official tongue and can be heard in the Rif region. In the north, Spanish is spoken, in particular around Tangiers and Tétouan. On the other hand, English is becoming more and more common among senior businesspeople and government officials, and can be used in major hotels and tourist accommodations.
VISA: Most visitors do not need a visa and are allowed to remain in the country for 90 days on entry. It is advisable to check the most updated visa requirements prior to travel as some exceptions do exist. The cost of a three-month, single-entry tourist visa is around $26. To be able to enter the country, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry.
CURRENCY: The dirham (Dh) is the local currency. As of May 2014 the currency was at Dh1:$0.12 and Dh1:€0.09. ATMs can be used to withdraw cash using internationally accepted cards. Some local banks only accept withdrawals of a minimum of Dh500 (€44.40). As a rule, people use coins and bills with denominations up to Dh200 (€17.76). However, for small transactions, change is sometimes not available for bills of Dh200 (€17.76). Due to exchange controls, foreign credit cards cannot always be used.
COMMUNICATION: Mobile phone use is widespread and it is advisable to buy a local SIM card upon arrival, which typically costs approximately Dh20 (€1.80). Although the connection may not always be optimal, wireless internet is widely available.
DRESS CODE: As Morocco is a Muslim country, visitors are advised to dress in a modest way. However, in major urban centres and tourist areas, people dress more liberally. When entering a mosque, shoes should be removed and women should cover their heads. As a rule, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques.
ETIQUETTE: During greetings it is generally appreciated to inquire about family. In business settings, a handshake is usually the first introduction. Once a relationship has been established, it becomes more common to kiss on both cheeks, starting with the left, and shake hands, men with men and women with women. In a greeting between a man and a woman, the woman must be the first to extend her hand. In case she does not, a man should just bow his head in greeting. Avoid offering items with the left hand.
BUSINESS HOURS: The country is located in the UTC zone and business hours are similar to those in Western countries, running from 9am to 6pm, although public sector institutions normally close at 5pm. Ramadan should be taken into consideration when planning meetings as these hours are likely to change.
TRANSPORT: In general, Morocco has an efficient public transport system equipped with modern trains and intercity coaches connecting the main urban centres and beyond. It also has a good motorway network, all of which require paying tolls. Domestic flights are available daily, and recommended for destinations like Agadir. In Rabat and Casablanca, trams are available as well as buses and taxis. Drivers drive on the right side of the road and the initial fee for taxis is typically Dh2 (€0.20). The standard fee for taking a taxi from Mohammed V airport to downtown Casablanca is Dh300 (€27).
ELECTRICITY: Standard electrical outlets of 220-V/ 50-Hz AC type C or F, the same as in the majority of European countries. Bringing an adaptor is advisable as they are not readily available outside the major cities.
TIPPING: A 10% service charge on top of the 10% tax is added in hotels. Some restaurants add a service charge ranging from 5% to 15%. In case a service charge is not applied, it is advisable to add 10-15% to the bill. When paying in taxis and other services, it is common to round up to the nearest Dh5 (€0.44).
HEALTH: Pharmacies are widespread and high-quality health care is available in private facilities. Typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended.
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