Handy tips for visitors travelling to Morocco

 

LANGUAGE: While classical Arabic and Amazigh are Morocco’s official languages, the most commonly spoken is the local dialect, Darija. French is also spoken in business, government circles, schools and universities. It is frequent to hear people mixing Arabic and French when speaking. Different Berber dialects are spoken in the Atlas Mountains (Rif, Middle Atlas, Anti-Atlas, High Atlas). In the north, Spanish is widely spoken, particularly around Tangiers and Tétouan. English is becoming more common among businesspeople and government officials, and can be used in most hotels and tourist accommodations.

VISA: Most visitors do not need a visa and are allowed to remain in the country for 90 days. It is advisable to check the updated visa requirements prior to travel, as some exceptions exist. A 90-day single-entry tourist visa costs $22. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry.

CURRENCY: The dirham (Dh) is the local currency. ATMs can be used to withdraw cash using internationally accepted cards. Some local banks only accept withdrawals that amount to of a minimum of Dh500 (46€). As a rule, people use coins and bills with denominations up to Dh200 (€19).

DRESS: As Morocco is a Muslim country, visitors are advised to dress discretely. However, in major urban centres and tourist areas people can dress more liberally. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques. When entering a mosque, shoes should be removed and women should cover their heads.

ETIQUETTE: During greetings it is typical to inquire about family and health. In business settings, a handshake is usually the first introduction. Once a relationship is established, it becomes more common to kiss on both cheeks, starting with the left, and shake hands. In a greeting between a man and a woman, the woman must be the first to extend her hand. If she does not, a man should just bow his head in greeting. Avoid offering items with the left hand.

BUSINESS HOURS: Business hours run from 9.00am to 6.00pm, although public sector institutions normally close at 5.00pm. Ramadan should be taken into consideration when planning meetings, as normal business hours are likely to change. Daylight saving time is observed between the last Sunday of March and the last Sunday of October, with the exception of the month of Ramadan.

COMMUNICATION: Mobile phone use is widespread and it is advisable to buy a local SIM card on arrival, which typically costs around €2. The connection may not always be optimal, but wireless internet is widely accessible and 4G is available in the largest cities.

TRANSPORT: Morocco has an efficient public transport system, connecting the main urban centres and points beyond. Domestic flights are available daily, and recommended for destinations like Agadir, Ouarzazate or Dakhla. In Rabat and Casablanca, trams are widely available, as well as buses and taxis. “Petits taxis” are used for short distances, are usually shared and have an initial fee that is typically Dh2 (€0.19). “Grands Taxis” are used for longer distances, such as the trip from Mohammed V Airport to downtown Casablanca, with a general fee of Dh300 (€28). Uber and Careem are also now available in major cities.

ELECTRICITY: Standard electrical outlets of the 220-V/50-Hz AC type C or F are the same as in most European countries. Bringing an adaptor is advisable, however, as these are sometimes not readily or easily available outside of the major urban centres or districts visited by tourists.

TIPPING: A 10% service charge on top of 10% tax is added in hotels. Some restaurants add a charge of 5-15%. Where this is not applied, it is advisable to add 10-15% to the bill. For taxis and services it is common to round up to the nearest Dh5 (€0.46).

HEALTH: Pharmacies are widespread and high-quality health care is available at private facilities. Typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations are recommended.

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