Benin Travel Information

Last modified: September 1, 2023
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Street crime such as robbery and mugging is a problem in Cotonou. You should avoid travelling alone and maintain a high level of vigilance, especially at night and in isolated areas, including beaches. Do not walk on the beach alone, at any time of day.

Pickpocketing occurs in areas visited by international travellers (hotels, ports, railways, beaches, bars and restaurants). Avoid Dantokpa market after dark. Be alert to the risk of carjacking both in Cotonou and on roads outside towns and cities. When you’re driving, lock vehicle windows and doors.

In general, it’s better not to resist armed attack. The national police emergency number is 117 and fire is 118. You should get a police report if you report a crime.


British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms: romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face-to-face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.

Voodoo day

Voodoo day is an annual public holiday celebrated by the majority of Benin’s population in early January. Make sure you’ve arranged suitable travel and accommodation as options are limited during the festival and watch out for pickpockets.

Local travel

Northern border regions

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to:

  • the Parc du W National Park and the contiguous hunting zones of Meêkrou and Djona. The Parc is tri-national and shares an open border with Burkina Faso and Niger. There is a risk of terrorist attacks throughout the Parc
  • the area between the Parc du W and the border with Niger
  • the Pendjari National Park and adjacent hunting grounds
  • all other areas within 5km of the border with Burkina Faso

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in the region. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in Benin’s northern border region. On 1 May 2019, 2 French tourists and their Beninese guide were kidnapped from Pendjari National Park. Local authorities confirmed that a body found on 4 May 2019 was that of the guide. On 11 May 2019 the hostages were rescued in Burkina Faso.

You should be aware of the risk of kidnapping and should ensure you have carefully considered the threat.

You should remain alert to the risk of changes in the security situation. In the early hours of 9 February 2020, a police outpost at the edge of the W Park and Mekrou river was attacked and set alight by a group armed with machetes and firearms. Remain vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities.

Road travel

You can drive in Benin with an International Driving Permit (IDP). You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. Conversion to a local Benin driving licence is not required, although it is possible.

Driving standards and road conditions in Benin are poor. Avoid driving outside towns and cities at night as roads are poorly lit. During the rainy season (April to mid-July and mid-September to October in the South, and from June to September in the North) there are potential rain bouts which cause flooding, particularly in rural areas. Fuel shortages are common in rural areas of northern Benin. Police sometimes carry out vehicle checks at temporary road blocks in an effort to improve road safety and reduce the number of car-jackings.

There’s no reliable public transport in Benin. Take care when using public transport; driving standards and vehicle maintenance are poor. Avoid taxis and long distance buses as they’re poorly maintained and often overloaded.

Sea travel

There have been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against large vessels in waters off Benin and neighbouring countries. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.


Avoid swimming in the sea as ocean currents are very strong along the coast. Many drownings occur each year.

Air travel

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Benin.

Political situation

You should avoid any political gatherings or demonstrations and listen to advice from the media and local authorities. There were violent protests and at least two deaths related to the legislative elections which took place in April 2019.

Entry to Benin

Entry visas are restricted. Entry and exit at border crossings is limited to “extreme necessity” and authorised in liaison with bordering countries.

The land border with Togo is closed.

Regular entry requirements


British passport holders need a visa to enter Benin. You should get a short stay or multiple entry e-visa by applying and paying online. The visa will then be issued on arrival at the airport in Cotonou.

Visas for Nigeria, Ghana and Togo

Non-resident British nationals in Benin who wish to travel to Nigeria and Ghana cannot get entry visas in Benin. You should apply for these before travelling to Benin. You can get a visa for Togo at the Togolese Embassy in Cotonou or at the Togo/Benin border.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, and exit from Benin.

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