Burkina Faso

General Information Entry and Exit Requirements
Banking Intellectual Property
Business Etiquette Tips Legal and Registration of a Business Entity
Embassy Locations and Registration Safety and Crime
Employment-Legal Requirements Taxes

General Information

Burkina FasoBurkina Faso (previously known as the Republic of Upper Volta until 1984) ranks as one of the poorest West African countries on the continent even though the existing government has drastically improved the overall safety and stability of the country following the numerous military coups of the 1980s and 1990s. 

The country has the added misfortune of not only being landlocked but also suffering from extremely arid and poor land that makes it difficult for individuals to cultivate enough crops to support themselves. The majority of trade barriers once in place were lifted, and the country continues to improve its human rights policies, overall infrastructure, and move steadily toward a democratic government.  Still, a large number of Burkinabe continue to move to surrounding countries to find employment to support themselves and their families.

The country is working to improve development of its largely unexploited mineral resources and encourage foreign investment and job growth. Cotton still serves as the main source of income, and a portion of the government's budget comes from international aid.

Despite its impoverished status, individuals traveling throughout the country are often pleasantly surprised to find a land of friendly, welcoming people.

There may be political unrest and/or targeted crime against visitors to the country.  Travelers should check with the U.S. State Department Web site for current travel safety information.

Major Cities Capital: Ouagadougou.
Major cities: Bobo Dioulasso and Koudougou
Official Currency CFA franc
Time Zone Standard Time UTC  0 (7 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time)
French and native African languages (Moré, Fulfulde, and Lobi)


Legal System and Government

Type of legal system: The Burkinese legal system is based on French civil law and customary law. It has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.

Form of Government

Parliamentary republic



Foreign personnel should consider maintaining stateside accounts for their private use.  There is very limited information available on the banking system in Burkina Faso. The information below was gathered from the http://www.buyusa.gov/ Web site, which states that a large portion of the banking system in Burkina Faso is dependent on foreign financing and concessionary loans.

There are few independent or private banks within the country, and the majority of credit financing is limited to only short-term credit.  Historically, interest rates offered on loans have been so high that it discourages most would-be entrepreneurs.  The regional central bank, Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, controls all banking regulations. 

Bank Holidays

New Year's Day
People's Uprise
Prophet's Anniversary/Women's Day
Easter Monday
Labor Day
National Day
End of Ramadan
All Saints Day
Proclamation of the Republic
Christmas Day


Business Etiquette Tips

Business Attire

Men's attire is generally business casual and includes either slacks with a button-down shirt or traditional African print loose-fitting top and pants. Women typically wear conservative clothing or choose traditional African print clothing that includes a long top and ankle-length skirt. 

Business Negotiations

Business transactions tend to be rather formal until a sound business relationship has been established. 

Scheduling Appointments

It is recommended that appointments be scheduled several weeks in advance and reconfirmed closer to the actual date and time. Promptness is recommended in order to make a good impression even if your counterpart makes you wait.


Embassy Locations and Registration

Americans living or traveling in Burkina Faso are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Burkina Faso. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)

Embassy of Burkina Faso
2340 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: 202.332.5577
Fax:  202.667.1882
Web: http://www.embassy.org/embassies/bf.html

U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso
622 Avenue Raoul Follereau
Koulouba, Secteur 4
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Phone: +226-50-30-67-23
Fax: +226-50-31-23-68
Web: http://ouagadougou.usembassy.gov


Employment-Legal Requirements

There is quite a bit of information available on the country and employment in particular, but the majority is in French. As such, the content provided here is somewhat limited.  The resource section at the end of this guide lists Web sites where additional information can be obtained for those conversant in the language. The standard work week is 40 hours for nondomestic workers, but it can extend up to 60 hours for household workers. 

Employment of Foreigners

Burkina Faso's labor code is aggressive, and it protects and guarantees many rights to its workers. In employment situations where there are a number of unemployed citizens it will be very difficult to obtain a job-seeker card for expatriates. All foreign nationals must receive pre-approval from the director of labor prior to employment, though it is easier to receive approval for management-level positions as there is a scarcity of skilled workers. 

Terminating Employees 

Grounds for justified dismissal include gross negligence, theft, or intentional damage to company property. Terminations for reasons other than those listed incur mandatory severance payments. All terminations must be made in writing and include the reason for the termination of employment.

Group dismissals or layoffs require that a minimum 30-day notice be given prior to termination. In such situations, the labor code requires that employees with the lowest level of skills and experience and those hired last be dismissed first. If the economic situation for a company should improve within a two-year period those released must be rehired.

Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave

Maternity leave - 14 weeks (100 percent, paid partially by social security and the employer). Employment is guaranteed against dismissal of an employee during maternity leave.


Entry and Exit Requirements

All U.S. citizens are required to have a passport with six months of remaining validity and a visa for entry into the country. Standard travel visas are valid for a maximum of three months, and they can be issued within 24 to 72 hours. Longer-stay visas can also be issued for 6- and 12-month stays with multiple entries provided the purpose for the stay is outlined and supporting proof documenting the purpose is provided. A business letter explaining the purpose of the visit on letterhead addressed to the embassy will usually fulfill this requirement. It is wise to allow for additional processing time when applying for longer stay or business visas.


Intellectual Property 

Burkina Faso is a member of the African Intellectual Property and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

To obtain specific information on protecting intellectual property within the country, contact: 

The Ministry of Commerce
Bureau of Intellectual Property
Ministry of Commerce 01 BP365
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Phone:  +226-50-32-47-86

Nature of Rights and Available Protection


Patents are protected for a period of 20 years without provision for renewal. 


Trademarks are also protected for an initial 20-year period with a provision for renewal.


Legal and Registration of a Business Entity

The country is very open to foreign investment, and to encourage investment it offers a number of tax exemptions as well as 100 percent ownership of companies by foreign nationals. There is not a tax treaty in place between Burkina Faso and the United States, but check the IRS Web site for the most recent information.

Registration Formalities (Including Timing)

Establishing a limited liability company (Société à Responsabilité Limitée) is a straightforward procedure that takes approximately one to three weeks to complete.  A one-stop business registration center, Centre des Formalités de Entreprise (CEFORE), has been established for that specific purpose to help streamline the entire process. 

The World Bank lists the individual steps that are required for completion.  The first step requires that the capital invested by the shareholders be deposited into a bank. 

The other steps include:

  1. Have a notary public notarize the declaration of capital subscription and deposit the two acts with the notary office.
  2. Register at Centre des Formalités de Entreprise (CEFORE) for company registration, tax number (IFU), labor, and social security.

(Source:  The World Bank, Doing Business - Burkina Faso)

Below are additional resources to assist in establishing an office or hiring employees. 


Safety and Crime

Burkina Faso is a relatively safe country, but travelers are still advised to avoid large public demonstrations and to remain vigilant and cautious when traveling about the country. As in most large cities, crimes such as pickpocketing, muggings, and business fraud do take place.

Travelers outside of the capital have encountered more aggressive incidents that have resulted in injuries and in some instances fatalities. When able, travelers are advised to travel in groups, limit the amount of cash and valuables carried, and be skeptical of all unsolicited business deals.

Health note:  Meningitis is common throughout Burkina Faso, and travelers are advised to confirm that their meningitis A, C, Y, W, and 135 inoculations are up-to-date.



Detailed information in English is difficult to obtain. Please contact the Office of International Compliance for resources on specific tax information and residency requirements.  In addition, a third-party chart that outlines the general current tax rates can be found on the World Bank Web site on Paying Taxes in Burkina Faso.


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