Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Port Louis does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PORT LOUIS AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Mauritius-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Mauritius is one of the safest countries in the region for resident and visiting Americans.
Crime rates have remained relatively flat in recent years. Crime in Port Louis (population of approximately 150,000) remains lower than in most U.S. cities of similar size. Port Louis and the areas of Flic en Flac, Grand Baie, or any place frequented by tourists are likely to have higher petty crime rates, especially at night. The crime rate on the rest of the island is generally lower than in Port Louis. Most criminal activity directed against foreigners is non-violent. Neither Americans nor foreigners, generally, are known to be singled out for criminal activity but may become targets of opportunity. Crimes are predominantly motivated by economics (pickpocketing, purse snatchings, petty thefts) and often occur in crowded outdoor shopping areas, including areas that cater to the robust tourist industry, and have occurred near ATMs. Tourists should be alert for petty scams by street venders and inflated “tourist prices” in markets.
Violent crimes (serious assaults, murder, rape) occur, but are uncommon in Mauritius when compared to other African countries. Violent crime involving tourists or business travelers is not common. Women walking by themselves may be at greater risk for verbal harassment and criminal targeting, including groping and other forms of sexual assault.
Public beaches are generally safe and often crowded on weekends and holidays. Thefts do occur. While all beaches are public by law, hotel beaches are accessed mainly by guests.
Hotel room thefts can occur. Residential break-ins occur with some frequency, but most burglars are keen to avoid confrontation, and break-ins do not typically involve violence. However, some burglars have brandished weapons (knives, machetes) when confronted.
Mauritian economic success over the last several decades has come from the establishment of offshore banking and financial services sectors. Mauritius is a low-tax, high “ease of doing business” jurisdiction that markets itself as a platform for investment in Africa. While relatively well-regulated, there are some concerns that the financial sector could be used to launder financing for terrorists and transnational criminal organizations as more traditional illicit routings come under tighter control.
Instances of serious cybercrimes are low. The Mauritius Police Force (MPF) has a capable Cyber Crime Unit, which has received U.S. government training. Organized hacking operations by indigenous criminal groups are very limited, although the extent of hacking operations conducted by external actors is unknown.
Police have disrupted a handful of ATM skimming operations. Most of these have been detected before ATM users sustained loses.
Other Areas of Concern
Individuals should exercise caution when walking alone at night outside hotel grounds and in unknown areas. It is not common for people, especially foreigners, to walk alone in urban areas after dark. Most shops and businesses are closed by 1700 weekdays and by 1300 on Sundays.
Prostitution and drug activity are prevalent in downtown Port Louis and in tourist areas after dark.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Mauritius and the U.S. have a driver’s license reciprocity convention in place, allowing visitors to operate a motor vehicle with a valid driver’s license. Motor vehicles are right-side drive, and traffic moves on the left side. The use of turn indicators does not always follow international conventions. Roads are generally narrow with cars commonly parked in the roadway, making traffic accidents a constant concern. Most streets outside of the capital are two lane roads. Truck and bus traffic is heavy, and safe passing opportunities can be few (though that does not stop vehicles from passing).
Poor civil planning adds another complex variable to the driving experience. The vast majority of roads predate automobile traffic. They can be very narrow and generally have deep unmarked open gutters or walls/hedges line them instead of a shoulder, resulting in no visibility and no room to maneuver. Construction crews often do not provide adequate advanced notice of lane/road closures, and it is common for traffic traveling in both directions to be funneled to a single lane without traffic controls.
Sidewalks are not common outside of urban centers, and there is often little/no shoulder for vehicles. Despite this, animals, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorbikes regularly use these limited shoulders and pose safety hazards to vehicular traffic. Sidewalks are overcrowded, and pedestrians often walk in the streets, competing for space with vehicles.
Traffic in Port Louis is very heavy on weekdays during the main commuting hours and often congested throughout the day. Motorcycles and scooters move between and around traffic, often disregarding traffic laws. Motorcycles and scooters should pass in the far right lane, but they commonly drive in between lanes and pass on the left.
Driving at night brings additional challenges. Street lighting is poor, and in many locations there is no lighting. Headlight use varies; it is common to see cars with no lights or constantly running high beams, either scenario making it difficult for oncoming traffic to see. Motorcyclists must wear reflective safety vests at night.
Collisions among vehicles, motorcycles/scooters and/or pedestrians are frequent and, when combined with the higher speeds on country roads, can be serious. Motorists must have auto insurance. Host country laws regarding vehicle accidents allow motorists involved in an accident where no injury has occurred to exchange information and report details to the authorities. For minor accidents that meet certain criteria (i.e. no injuries and no third party property damage, etc.), motorists may choose to come to a mutual agreement with the other parties involved. This legal remedy is often encouraged by law enforcement and can be handled by completing the Constat a l’Amiable (Friendly Agreement). However, for foreigners involved in vehicular accidents it is recommended to not move the vehicle from the accident and to request local law enforcement to assist. If an individual involved in a motor accident is in fear of personal safety, s/he may depart the area but should proceed immediately to the nearest police station to report the incident. Motorists involved in more serious accidents are encouraged to not admit fault (insurance companies and/or courts will decide fault) and only to sign statements to the police that the motorist has written in their own words.
Police enforce traffic laws randomly. Typical enforcement focuses on making sure that all vehicles have the appropriate registration and insurance stickers on their vehicle. Speed traps are set up around construction, towns, and city speed zones. Police personnel wear official uniforms and use clearly identifiable police vehicles at speed traps and check points. Numerous fixed and portable speed cameras are in use, but they are always preceded by clearly marked signs. Police have also increased the use of DUI checkpoints as part of a campaign to reduce drunk-driving related accidents.
For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices” or “Road Safety in Africa.”
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transportation is relatively safe, inexpensive, and reliable.
Bus schedules vary, but major routes are well-served, especially during commuting hours.
Taxis are affordable, safe, and available at identified taxi stands, including near most hotels. Taxis are not metered. Passengers should negotiate the fare in advance. Hotel concierge staff is a good resource to gauge an appropriate price. Note also that taxis do not routinely circulate to be hailed on the street. “Gypsy” taxis are not recommended, as higher fares are frequently charged to unsuspecting visitors.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) new passenger terminal was officially opened in late 2013 and is a state-of-the-art international airport with many modern security technologies. Airport and aviation safety and security concerns have not seriously impacted individual travelers’ welfare or safety.
- In December 2015, an Air France flight departing Mauritius made an emergency landing in Kenya due to a suspicious package found in a lavatory. The suspicious package was found to be a hoax, and an investigation determined that there were no security lapses at MRU related to the incident.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PORT LOUIS AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The Mauritian government and community leaders have publicly stated their support for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and Mauritius has not been affected by any terrorist incidents. There are no known terrorist organizations operating in Mauritius.
- In May 2016, unidentified vandals tagged the French Embassy in Port Louis with pro-ISIS graffiti and fired two bird shot cartridges at the building in the middle of the night. The vandals also fired a rifle round at a nearby hotel when the night guard appeared to investigate the noise. There were no injuries. The French Embassy dubbed the incident “an act of vandalism and intimidation.” No one claimed responsibility; no suspects have been arrested. There have been pro-ISIS graffiti incidents at Hindu and Tamil temples with no claims of responsibility or arrests. No ISIS link has been established for any of the incidents.
- In January 2016, unspecified threats to locations on the island were e-mailed to the Prime Minister’s Office. While the sender has not been identified, the episode lacked credibility and had the hallmarks of a hoax.
- In December 2015, the press reported extensively on a Mauritian supporter of ISIS who had posted a recruitment video on YouTube encouraging Mauritians to travel to Syria.
- In February 2015, several Mauritians attempted to illegally cross into Syria from Turkey, purportedly to fight with ISIS. They were deported to Mauritius.
There have been few indicators of anti-American or anti-Western sentiment. Anti-American demonstrations have not resulted in violence. U.S. recognition of UK sovereignty over the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago) during the automatic rollover of the Diego Garcia base agreement led to a peaceful demonstration in front of the British High Commission, drawing approximately 150 people. A few signs at a December 2016 demonstration criticized U.S. policy.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED PORT LOUIS AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Political violence and civil unrest have occurred but are not common. Most protests, both scheduled and spontaneous, end peacefully. There are occasional tensions between unlicensed street venders and police, particularly around Christmas, but these tensions have not turned violent since 2012. Police response is appropriate. Embassy personnel are advised to avoid large crowds and gatherings that appear to be political. American citizens are encouraged to follow this same guidance.
Former inhabitants from the British Indian Ocean Territory (islands that include Diego Garcia), known as Chagossians, conduct occasional demonstrations directed against the Mauritian government and the British High Commission. These demonstrations have been non-violent. Chagossians have also peacefully delivered petitions to the U.S. Embassy to gain attention and garner support for their cause.
Mauritius is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith nation that has managed its diversity well when compared to other African countries. However, there are underlying socio-economic tensions related to this diversity that occasionally manifest themselves. These tensions were apparent in September 2015 when acts of vandalism at a temple and a mosque stoked suspicions and inflamed tempers but did not result in violence. The situation was astutely handled, with senior members of the government and of the religious communities calling for calm and the police responding in a measured way.
Cyclones are the biggest environmental hazard. The core cyclone season lasts November-April, although off-season cyclones can occur. Persons traveling during these months are cautioned to remain aware of weather and traveling conditions. Travelers can stay informed on weather conditions through television stations, radio, hotels and police stations.
Low-lying coastal areas can be affected by sporadic flooding if there is heavy rain or storm surge due to large and localized weather events.
Intellectual property theft is a concern. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws are selectively enforced. Counterfeit goods and the unlicensed sale of name-brand products manufactured in Mauritius are often available in markets, especially in Port Louis, and little effort is made to stop the sale of such items. Clothing items, jewelry, watches, and software are commonly in violation of IPR laws.
Personal Identity Concerns
While there is an LGBT community in Mauritius, LGBT rights are generally ambiguous and same-sex couples are not legally recognized. Discrimination against the LGBT community is prevalent, though open hostility is not common.
Persons with disabilities should be aware that infrastructure does not meet Western access and accommodation standards.
The police have a limited capacity to secure their borders due to the expansive coast line and proliferation of small water craft that move without impediment. Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Mauritius. Heroin is the second most widely used drug and has become heavily trafficked since small amounts can provide significant cash flow. Synthetic drugs made by combining commonly available chemicals have also commanded the attention of police, political leaders, and the media due to some high profile cases; however, it is difficult to measure the extent of synthetic drug use. Mauritian laws are very strict for drug possession, and prison sentences of up to 35 years are possible if convicted.
The Mauritius Police Force is a well-trained, professional, and generally responsive national police force by regional standards. The MPF has provided excellent protection to the U.S. Embassy and has responded positively to the needs of the U.S. community. Foreigners can expect to be treated with courtesy, and petty corruption does not plague the public’s daily interaction with police as it does in other African countries, though it does exist. Most police officers speak English reasonably well. An MPF "Tourist Police" unit patrols resort hotels and tourist areas.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Any Americans arrested, detained, or victimized by police harassment are reminded to contact the U.S. Embassy American Citizen Services (ACS) section by calling (230) 202-4400 or 202-4432 during business hours or the U.S. embassy duty officer phone (230) 5253-3641 after hours. More information can be found at the U.S. Embassy’s ACS webpage.
Crime Victim Assistance
Mauritius Police Force
Line Barracks (Police Headquarters)
Port Louis, Mauritius
Emergency Number: 999
Main Number: (230) 208-1212
Mauritius has no military but has a paramilitary unit and coast guard within the MPF.
Medical attention is adequate at major hospitals, and private clinics staffed by foreign-trained doctors also exist. Emergency ambulance service can be obtained by dialing 114 or 118.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam National Hospital (SSRNH) (government hospital)
Pamplemoussses (north of the island) with 100 beds.
Tel: (230) 246-4669
Fax: (230) 243-8965
Jeetoo Hospital (government hospital)
Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: (230) 208-7095
Apollo Bramwell Hospital (private hospital)
Moka (south of Port Louis), Mauritius, with 200 beds.
Tel: (230) 605 1000
Fax: (230) 605 1100
The Fortis Darné Clinic – North (Fortis Clinique Darné) (private hospital)
La Croisette Mall - Office C, CO - 05A & C2 - 204
Grand Bay (north of the island) 24/7 emergency and ambulance services.
Tel: (230) 601-2300
Fax: (230) 269-6224
The Fortis Darné Clinic - Central (Fortis Clinique Darné) (private hospital)
Georges Guibert Street
Floréal (center of the island), Mauritius with 50 beds.
Tel: (230) 601-2300
Fax: (230) 696 3612 (admin)
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
It is recommended to drink filtered bottled water. Storms can stir up the fresh water reservoirs significantly enough that the government issues a boil notice for drinking water that often remains in place for a few days. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “I’m Drinking What in My Water?.”
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers coming from infected areas.
Visitors from malaria-stricken areas are noted upon entry and may be tested by local mobile health officials.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Mauritius.
OSAC Country Council Information
There are plans to launch an OSAC Country Council in Mauritius in 2017. In the meantime, the Regional Security Office (RSO) can be contacted by calling (230) 202-4470. The RSO provides country briefings for representatives of American businesses and organizations upon request. Please contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis is located on the fourth floor of Rogers House, President John Kennedy Blvd.
Working hours: 0730-1630 Mon-Thurs, or 0730-1200 Fri
Embassy Contact Numbers
The U.S. Embassy main phone line during working hours 0730-1630 Monday-Thursday, or 0730-1200 Friday is (230) 202-4400.
For emergencies outside of normal working hours, call (230) 5253-3641 to reach the U.S. Embassy Duty Officer.
Consular Office: (230) 202-4432
Economic/Commercial Office: (230) 202-4400
Regional Security Office (RSO): (230) 202-4470
Consular coverage for multi-post countries
Consular coverage also includes Seychelles and La Reunion.
Travelers should stay informed of the security situation in Mauritius through the media and the U.S. Embassy's website and should register with the Embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Mauritius Country Information Sheet