Country Facts – Morocco
This information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. Whilst this information has been compiled by the UK FCO and is therefore aimed at UK nationals, the advice may be appropriate to many nationalities looking to find additional information on a particular country.
Morocco is a country of contrast – the Atlantic coastline, the Sahara Desert, the snow-capped mountains – it has a lot to offer and being less than three and a half hours flight time from the UK only adds to the appeal.
One thing that really stands out is how different every city seems to be – life in Rabat differs hugely to that in Marrakech, which differs to life in Agadir… The list goes on. If you are thinking of starting a life in Morocco then take the time to explore different regions and cities to find the place where you think you will be happiest.
The climate is generally good, but it depends where you are. The climate of the northern Moroccan coast and central areas is Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. Further inland temperatures are more extreme, and the weather is cold in winter and very hot in summer, with the Atlas Mountain peaks blanketed with snow most of the year. To the south, temperatures soar during the summer.
The recent crisis in the region may have had some affect on the number of foreigners travelling to Morocco, but numbers are expected to bounce back and there is no reason why people should refrain from travelling to Morocco. Small scale demonstrations have been a regular occurrence in Morocco for years, with unemployed youth gathering outside parliament on an almost weekly basis to demand jobs and better opportunities.
Obviously, recent events have added to this. Demonstrations took place in cities across Morocco calling for reform and naming and shaming key politicians and royal advisers accused of corruption and misuse of power. In response, King Mohammed VI announced a “general reform” of the Moroccan constitution in a speech to the nation on 9 March 2011. This shows that Morocco is not afraid to change and you have to remember that the Parliament and most of the government are in fact democratically elected. There is also a relatively free press.
Living in Morocco
There are some general issues for consideration by anyone thinking of going to live overseas (issues of health insurance cover, taxation, voting, pensions if appropriate etc), and you can find advice on all these issued on our website (fco.gov.uk/travel). Then there are also some specific things to be aware of with regard to living in Morocco. A few are mentioned below:
Buying property: As a foreigner, you can own property in Morocco provided it’s within town boundaries and not on agricultural land. As with buying property anywhere, you should get proper legal advice, and never sign anything if there is anything you don’t understand on it. Pay particular attention if you choose to invest in a property development still undergoing construction – we are aware of people who have had significant problems in these scenarios.
You should always make sure you have the title deeds, as without them no matter how much you may have paid you are not the legal owner. When you have found a property that you like you will need to make a verbal offer. Once this has been accepted you may be asked to sign a preliminary contract, which is legally binding, and pay a deposit, this should be done with your notary. More advice, and a list of notaries, can be found on our website at ukinmorocco.fco.gov.uk/en. Always choose a notary who is fluent in English so that you understand all the legalities.
Driving: If you are a long-term resident in Morocco, you have to take a test locally and obtain a Moroccan driving licence – you can’t just exchange your UK licence. If you enter Morocco with a vehicle, the registration number will be entered in the immigration computer and the vehicle cannot remain in the country for more than six months without being registered. If you do not leave Morocco in the same vehicle in which you entered, you could well be refused exit and even detained.
Language: In many areas there may not be much English spoken and very little English translation. In major towns and cities French is widely spoken. But in more rural areas, one of the Moroccan dialects may be the only language spoken. If you have school age children, there are a range of schools that teach English as part of the school curriculum in the main cities in Morocco (Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangier) – a list of a selection of them is available on the website, although we can’t endorse or recommend any of them specifically.
Safety: Not everyone realises it, but Morocco is in an earthquake zone, and there are occasional minor quakes. The last strong one, in a northern Morocco port town in Feb 2004, killed over 600 people. So anyone setting up home in Morocco would do well to familiarise themselves with at risk areas and general earthquake safety procedures.
Health: You should seek medical advice before travelling to Morocco and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or the NHS at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Henna tattoos are commonplace in Morocco and popular with toursists. However, be aware that some henna tattoos contain the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which can cause a painful allergic reaction including swelling and an itchy rash in some people.
It is worth keeping abreast of the latest news. Events in the wider Arab world (e.g. in Iraq, or between Israelis and Palestinians) can have an impact in Morocco. Avoid public demonstrations and gatherings, and check the FCO travel advice from time to time (www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo). You should also register with the British Embassy in Rabat if you visit or move to Morocco – please refer to the Embassy’s website at www.ukinmorocco.fco.gov.uk.
Of course, if you’re planning on travelling to Morocco please ensure you have adequate expat travel insurance.