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Travel Security Advice for Nigeria

Nigerian_National_Flag2

nigeria_mapNigeria_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

Nigeria is a developing country in western Africa that has experienced periods of political instability.  It has the largest population on the continent, estimated at 147 million people, and its infrastructure is not fully functional or well maintained.  Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Nigeria for additional information.



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

A passport and visa are required.  The visa must be obtained in advance from a Nigerian Embassy or Consulate.  Visas cannot be obtained on arrival at the airport.  Promises of entry into Nigeria without a visa are credible indicators of fraudulent commercial schemes in which the perpetrators seek to exploit the foreign traveler's illegal presence in Nigeria through threats of extortion or bodily harm.  U.S. citizens cannot legally depart Nigeria unless they can prove, by presenting their entry visas, that they entered Nigeria legally.  Entry information may be obtained at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 3519 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone: (202) 822-1500, or at the Nigerian Consulate General in New York, telephone: (212) 808-0301.  Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Nigerian embassy or consulate.

Visit the
Embassy of Nigeria website at for the most current visa information.

Information about
dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:  

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria.  The Department of State continues to recommend avoiding all but essential travel to the Niger Delta states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers because of the risks of kidnapping, robbery, and other armed attacks in these areas, especially against oil-related facilities and other infrastructure.  (Please also see the Crime Section below.)  The U.S. Mission requires advance permission for U.S. government travel to the following states: Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom in the Niger Delta, and Edo and Imo in the south.  Since January 2008, over 44 foreign national oil workers or business people in parts of the Niger Delta region have been kidnapped from off-shore and land-based oil facilities, residential compounds, and public roadways. 

The Nigerian government considers militant camps and surrounding areas in the Delta region states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers to be conflict areas.  Travel by foreigners to these areas without prior consultation and coordination with local security authorities is not recommended, as the Nigerian Government may see this activity as inappropriate and potentially illegal and may detain violators.  Nigerian authorities detained six American citizens, including journalists, on six separate occasions in this same region in 2008.  The Nigerian government questioned these Americans for lengthy periods without bringing formal charges, and ultimately deported them.  Journalists, film-makers, and other professionals involved in the creation of news or information products require special accreditation from the Nigerian Ministry of Information for all film and media activities in the Niger Delta prior to entering the area. This special accreditation is in addition to the general press accreditation and valid Nigerian visa required to conduct such activities elsewhere in Nigeria.  Moreover, foreign visitors are not allowed to take photographs or videotape of any government buildings, airports, or bridges.  Individuals may be questioned, detained or arrested when near these sensitive sites without evidence of permission from the Nigerian government or for carrying electronic equipment such as cameras, recorders, etc.

Periodically, travel by U.S. mission personnel is restricted in certain parts of Nigeria based on changing security conditions, often due to crime, general strikes, or student/political demonstrations or disturbances.  For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s information on A Safe Trip Abroad.



CRIME: 

Violent crime committed by individual criminals and gangs, as well as by some persons wearing police and military uniforms, is a problem, especially at night.  Crime is particularly acute in Lagos. Some visitors and resident Americans have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglary, carjacking, kidnappings and extortion, often involving violence.  Home invasions remain a serious threat in Lagos, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by following, or tailgating, residents or visitors arriving by car into the compound, subduing guards and gaining entry into homes or apartments.  Armed robbers in Lagos also access waterfront compounds by boat.  U.S. citizens, as well as Nigerians and other expatriates, have been victims of armed robbery at banks and grocery stores, and on airport roads during both daylight and evening hours.  Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all, and provide little or no investigative support to victims.  U.S. citizens, Nigerians and other expatriates have experienced harassment and shakedowns at checkpoints and during encounters with Nigerian law enforcement officials.  Traveling outside of major cities after dark is not recommended due to both crime and road safety concerns.

Nigerian-operated fraud scams, known as 419s, are noted for their cleverness and ingenuity.  These scams target foreigners worldwide, posing risks of both financial loss and personal danger to their victims.  Scams are often initiated through internet postings or from internet cafes, by unsolicited emails, faxes, and letters, or can involve credit card use.  As anywhere else, no one should provide personal or financial information to unknown parties or via Nigerian telephone lines.  The expansion of bilateral law enforcement cooperation has resulted in numerous raids on commercial fraud premises and the return of some assets to fraud victims.  New types of sophisticated scams, however, are introduced daily.

American citizens are very frequently the victims of Nigerian confidence artists offering companionship through internet dating websites.  These confidence artists almost always pose as American citizens visiting or living in Nigeria who unexpectedly experience a medical, legal, financial or other type of “emergency” that requires the immediate financial assistance of the American citizen in the United States.  In these cases, we strongly urge the American citizen in the United States to be very cautious about sending money to any unknown person purportedly acting on their behalf, or traveling to Nigeria to meet someone with whom their sole communications have been via the internet.  Other common scams involve a promise of an inheritance windfall, work contracts in Nigeria, or an overpayment for goods purchased on-line.  For additional information on these types of scams, see the Department of State's publication,
International Financial Scams.

Commercial scams or stings that targets foreigners, including many U.S. citizens, continue to be a problem.  One needs to be alert to scams that may involve U.S. citizens in illegal activity, resulting in arrest, extortion or bodily harm.  These scams generally involve phony offers of either outright money transfers or lucrative sales or contracts with promises of large commissions or up-front payments, or improperly invoke the authority of one or more ministries or offices of the Nigerian government and may cite, by name, the involvement of a Nigerian government official.  In some scams, government stationery and seals are also improperly used to advance the scam.  The ability of U.S. consular officers to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals or scams and their subsequent consequences is extremely limited.  U.S. citizens have been arrested by police officials and held for varying periods on charges of involvement in illegal business activity or scams.  Nigerian police or other law enforcement officials do not always inform the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately of the arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen.  The U.S. Department of Commerce has advisories to the U.S. business community on a variety of issues that should be seriously reviewed with respect to doing business in Nigeria.  To check on a business’s legitimacy while in the United States, contact the Nigeria Desk Officer at the International Trade Administration, Room 3317, Dept. of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230, telephone: 1-800-USA-TRADE or (202) 482-5149, fax: (202) 482-5198. If you are abroad, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

A
mericans living or traveling in Nigeria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Nigeria.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.



INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: 

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and can provide a list of attorneys, if needed, but cannot provide legal advice.

The nationwide equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Nigeria is 199, which connects the caller to emergency medical and police response services.

Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



CRIMINAL PENALTIES: 

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Nigerian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Nigeria are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. 

Please see our information on
Criminal Penalties.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:  

Permission is required to take photographs or videotape any government buildings, airports, and bridges, and throughout the country in areas where the military is operating.  These sites include, but are not limited to, Federal buildings in the Three Arms Zone of the capital of Abuja (Presidential Palace area, National Assembly, Supreme Court/Judiciary), other government buildings around the country, and foreign Embassies and Consulates.  Many restricted sites are not clearly marked, and these restrictions are subject to interpretation by the Nigerian security services and can result in detention.  In recent months, several U.S. citizens, including American officials, have been detained by Nigerian authorities for several hours for taking photos in Abuja around these sites.  Permission may be obtained from Nigeria's State Security Services, but even permission may not prevent the imposition of penalties or detention by other security officials.  Penalties for unauthorized photography or videography may include confiscation of the still or video camera, exposure of the film or deletion of digital footage, a demand for payment of a fine or bribe, and/or detention, arrest, or physical assault.  For these reasons, visitors to Nigeria should avoid taking still photos or videotaping in and around areas that are potentially restricted sites, including any government sites. 

The Nigerian currency, the naira, is non-convertible.  U.S. dollars are widely accepted.  Nigeria is a cash economy, and it is usually necessary to carry sufficient currency to cover the expenses of a planned visit, which makes travelers an attractive target for criminals.  Credit cards are rarely accepted beyond a few upscale hotels.  Due to credit card fraud in Nigeria and by cohorts in the United States, credit card use should be considered carefully.  While Citibank cashes some traveler’s checks, most other banks do not.  American Express does not have offices in Nigeria; however, Thomas Cook does.  Inter-bank transfers are often difficult to accomplish, though money transfer services such as Western Union are available.  For further information, visitors may contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

Please see our
Customs Information sheet.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

While Nigeria has many well-trained doctors, medical facilities in Nigeria are in poor condition, with inadequately trained nursing staff.  Diagnostic and treatment equipment is most often poorly maintained, and many medicines are unavailable.  Caution should be taken as counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications.  This is particularly true of generics purchased at local pharmacies or street markets.  Hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the
Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Nigeria.  For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on tuberculosis.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Nigeria.  Nigerian authorities have the discretion to deny entry to foreigners who are “undesirable for medical reasons” and may require HIV tests for foreigners marrying Nigerian citizens.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Nigeria before you travel.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the
CDC’s websiteFor information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) websiteFurther general health information for travelers is available from the WHO.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 

Roads in many areas are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions.  There are few working traffic lights or stop signs and few traffic control officers to manage the flow of traffic during power outages.  Additionally, some traffic control officers may occasionally seek to obtain bribes when citing drivers for traffic violations.  The rainy season from May to October is especially dangerous because of flooded roads and water-concealed potholes.

Excessive speed, unpredictable driving habits, and the lack of basic maintenance and safety equipment on many vehicles are additional hazards.  Motorists seldom yield the right-of-way and give little consideration to pedestrians and cyclists.  Gridlock is common in urban areas.  Chronic fuel shortages have led to long lines at service stations, which disrupt or block traffic for extended periods.

Public transportation vehicles, such as buses and motorbikes, are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speeds and overcrowding.  Motorbike taxis, known in Nigeria as "okadas," are a common form of public transportation in many cities and pose particular danger to motorists, their own passengers and pedestrians.  Motorbike drivers frequently weave in and out of traffic at high speeds and observe no traffic rules.  Motorbikes are banned within Abuja's city limits and throughout Lagos after 10 p.m.  Passengers in local taxis have been driven to secluded locations where they were attacked and robbed.  Several of the victims required hospitalization. The U.S. Mission recommends avoiding public transportation throughout Nigeria.

It is recommended that short-term visitors not drive in Nigeria.  A Nigerian driver's license can take months to obtain, and international driving permits are not recognized.  Major hotels and the customer service centers at the airports in Lagos, Abuja, and Kano offer reliable car-hire services complete with drivers.  Inter-city roadside assistance is extremely scarce, and medical facilities and emergency care are poor, so a traffic incident might result in a lack of available medical facilities to treat either minor or life-threatening injuries.

All drivers and passengers are reminded to wear seat belts, lock doors, and keep windows closed.  It is important to secure appropriate automobile insurance.  It is also important to be aware that drivers and passengers of vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injury or death have experienced extra-judicial actions, i.e., mob attacks, official consequences such as fines and incarceration or involvement with the victim's family.  Driving between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. should be done with extreme caution, as bandits and police roadblocks are more numerous at night.  It is not uncommon for automobiles, trucks or okadas to drive on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks.  These vehicles are difficult to see at night because streets are very poorly lit, and many vehicles are missing one or both headlights, tail lights, and reflectors.

The Nigerian Federal Road Safety Commission provides maps and public information on specific road conditions. The Federal Road Safety Commission may be contacted by mail at: Ojodu-Isherri Road, PMB 21510, Ikeja, Lagos; telephone [243] (1) 802-850-5961 or [234] (1) 805-684-6911.

Please refer to our
Road Safety page for more information.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: 

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Nigeria, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.  Further information may be found on the FAA's website.

Nigeria’s aviation safety record has improved since the period of October 2005 to October 2006, during which Nigeria experienced four fatal crashes and a number of non-fatal air incidents that apparently occurred due to weather or mechanical problems.  International carriers operating direct flights to and from Nigeria have experienced far fewer incidents than domestic or regional airlines. 



CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:  

Americans living or traveling in Nigeria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Nigeria.  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.  The U.S. Embassy is located at 1075 Diplomatic Drive, Central Area, Abuja. American citizens can call [234] (9) 461-4176 during office hours (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). For after-hours emergencies, call [234] (9) 461-4000. The email address for the Consular Section in Abuja is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The U.S. Consulate General is located at 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos. American citizens can call [234] (1) 460-3600 during office hours (Monday through7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). For after-hours emergencies, call [234] (1) 460-3400 or 0805-301-0268. The e-mail address for the Consular Section in Lagos is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Visit the Embassy and Consulate website.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Nigeria dated June 2, 2008, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Aviation Safety Oversight.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has information regarding Nigeria HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

There is also a Malaria Warning for Nigeria HERE....

There is also a Travel Warning for Nigeria HERE....

Regards

The SW Team.....

 

Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts