Local laws and customs

In many parts of Madagascar, aspects of daily life are regulated by taboos, known as ‘fady’. These vary from one region to another. Fady can range from forbidden foods to restrictions on clothing. Some areas subject to fady may be forbidden to foreigners. If you intend to visit remote areas, seek advice either locally or from your tour operator and respect local fady to avoid causing offence.

If you plan a longer stay in a village, ask to pay your respects to the head of Fokontany (administrative subdivision), the head of the village or ‘Ray aman-dreny’ (wise man).

Due to random police checks, you should carry your passport with you at all times. Always keep a photocopy of your passport, visa and insurance details somewhere safe, and leave further copies with family or friends in the UK.

Drug smuggling is a serious offence. Punishments can be severe.

Although homosexuality is not prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Paying for sex is punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment and / or a fine of €1,500 to €7,000. The campaign against sexual abuse of under age children (under 18 years) is strictly enforced with particular regard to foreign tourists. Identity cards of women are often faked.

The import and export of foodstuffs (including fruit), protected plants and animal products without prior permission is illegal. Removing protected plants (especially rosewood) and animals and animal products is illegal.

When leaving you make take:

  • Up to a maximum of 2kg of vanilla.
  • Jewellery: for residents, max 250g (hallmarked); for non-residents, max 1kg subject to presentation of currency exchange receipts.
  • 400,000 Ariary.
  • 1kg of pepper.
  • Some other plant and animal products may be exported if permission is obtained.

Full details of export allowances and requirements can be found on the website of Madagascar Customs.