It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Madagascar in Washington, D.C., or one of Madagascar's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding visas and, especially for those intending extended visits, customs requirements. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. Taking photographs of airports or military installations is prohibited.
Madagascar is renowned for its natural resources. These include a wide variety of gemstones and other precious materials. The Government of Madagascar recently imposed restrictions on the export of precious gems; before purchasing or transporting any gemstones, it is advisable to seek clarification of the applicable laws. Any precious materials should be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and a certificate to allow for exportation from Madagascar.
Madagascar is primarily a cash-driven economy. Although some high-end establishments catering to tourists accept credit cards (normally only Visa-logo cards), most shops and restaurants are cash only. Although the government changed the local currency from the Malagasy Franc (FMG) to the Ariary several years ago, many Malagasy still think in terms of FMG. When talking about prices, it is important to quantify whether the price is in Ariary or FMG (1 Ariary = 5 FMG). ATMs that accept Visa (generally not MasterCard) are available in large cities. Dollars are not widely accepted, and $100 USD bills are frequently refused at banks and local businesses.