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Summary

  • Reconsider your need to travel to Nigeria due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the high threat of kidnapping, the unpredictable security situation, the possibility of violent civil unrest and the high level of violent crime.
  • Terrorists may launch attacks to coincide with religious festivals, national holidays, significant dates and anniversaries, especially during the Ramadan, Christmas and Easter periods. In early June 2017, Boko Haram militants staged multiple attacks in Maiduguri Borno State.
  • On 9 May 2017, the UK Government warned that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap western foreign workers in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state. Exercise vigilance in crowded public places including bars, hotels, restaurants, shopping mall, markets, places of worship, transport hubs and camps for displaced persons. The high threat of kidnapping remains in Northern and Middle Belt states, such as Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.
  • Aid workers in the region should exercise heightened vigilance and review personal security plans.
  • If you do decide to travel to Nigeria, exercise extreme caution. The security situation could deteriorate without warning and you could be caught up in violence directed at others.
  • Bombings have occurred across Nigeria, including in Abuja. Militant groups have threatened to carry out further attacks against government facilities and personnel, hotels, educational facilities (including international schools), places of worship, media offices, markets and mass transit facilities.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to Anambra, Cross-Rivers (non-riverine areas), Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states due to an increase in attacks by militants, including kidnappings. 
  • We strongly advise you  not to travel to Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna and Yobe states because of the ongoing very high threat of terrorist attack, the threat of kidnapping and the volatile security situation. If you are in these states you should leave immediately.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the riverine areas (river or swamp areas on or close to the coast) of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Rivers states in south-eastern Nigeria because of the very high risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks especially against foreign oil facilities and personnel.
  • If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to these regions, ensure you have appropriate close personal protection from a professional security service. The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in these areas may be severely limited.
  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the states of Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.
  • Given the unpredictable security situation in Nigeria, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria or visit the Nigeria Immigration Service website. Visa on arrival services are generally not available.

HIV/AIDS related entry restrictions may apply to visitors and foreign residents of Nigeria. Nigerian authorities may deny entry to foreigners with HIV/AIDS and may require HIV tests for foreigners intending to marry Nigerian citizens.

The Nigerian immigration authorities have introduced registration requirements for all resident expatriates who are not nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). If you hold a valid Nigerian Residence Permit (CERPAC or Green Card) you will not require a visa to visit Nigeria. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria for details.

In March 2017, the US government announced new restrictions on carrying electronic devices for passengers travelling from or through Nigeria to the US. See the US Department of Homeland Security website for further details.  

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, check the yellow fever entry requirements for Nigeria and all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

There is a high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent civil unrest and crime across much of Nigeria. Exercise extreme caution. Consider obtaining professional security advice. The security situation could deteriorate without warning and you could be caught up in violence directed at others.

Terrorism

In recent years Nigeria-based militant groups, including Boko Haram (also known as Islamic State West Africa Province), have carried out large scale and often simultaneous attacks against a range of targets in Nigeria. Attacks, which can include the use of explosive devices (including suicide bombers) and gun fire, have been most frequent in the north eastern states to which we advise against all travel.

However, terrorist attacks can occur anywhere in Nigeria. Locations frequented by foreigners have been attacked in the past and may be targeted in the future. Attacks may be indiscriminate and target public places where large crowds tend to gather.

Terrorists may launch attacks to coincide with religious festivals, national holidays, significant dates and anniversaries, especially during the Ramadan, Christmas and Easter periods. In early June 2017, Boko Haram militants staged multiple attacks in Maiduguri Borno State killing at least 11 people.

On 9 May 2017 the UK Government warned that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap western foreign workers in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state. Exercise vigilance in crowded public places including bars, hotels, restaurants, shopping mall, markets, places of worship, transport hubs and camps for displaced persons. The high threat of kidnapping remains in Northern and Middle Belt states, such as Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.

Aid workers in the region should exercise heightened vigilance and review personal security plans.

Exercise heightened vigilance near Nigerian government and security institutions, internally displaced persons’ camps, international organisations, police stations, diplomatic premises, financial institutions, oil facilities and infrastructure as well as public areas including markets, hotels, licensed premises, restaurants, venues broadcasting international sporting events, shopping centres, places of worship, cinemas, educational institutions (including schools, colleges and universities), airports and transport infrastructure, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas.

Security has been tightened at many buildings across Nigeria. A heavy security presence often indicates a location of particularly high risk, but less security does not necessarily mean a lower risk.

Avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack. Secondary attacks have occurred targeting those attending to the victims of a primary attack.

Curfews can be imposed, amended and lifted at short notice. Obey all curfews and monitor the local media for the latest information on possible restrictions on movement and the overall security environment.

Anambra, Cross-Rivers (non-riverine areas), Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states: Reconsider your need to travel to Anambra, Cross-Rivers (non-riverine areas), Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states due to an increase in attacks by militants, including kidnappings. 

Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna and Yobe states: We strongly advise you not to travel to the states of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe and Adamawa where Boko Haram remains active. Attacks by Boko Haram aimed at spreading terror and taking territorial control of large parts of north eastern Nigeria have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, over a thousand kidnappings and the displacement of over two and a half million people in recent years. Affected areas have been pillaged, buildings burnt and crops destroyed. Two foreign nationals were kidnapped in Kaduna state in late February 2017. Military operations continue in parts of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where areas remain under Boko Haram control.

Recent attacks on public areas have largely been in retaliation to military advances.

Riverine areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Rivers states: Do you not travel to the riverine areas (i.e. the river and swamp areas on or close to the coast accessible by boat, but not by road) of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in south-eastern Nigeria because of the very high risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks by militant and criminal groups, often directed towards foreign oil facilities and personnel. A number of attacks on oil facilities have been carried out across the region by the Niger Delta Avengers group. If you are in these areas, you should consider leaving.

The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in these areas may be severely limited.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Kidnapping

Be aware that there is a high threat of kidnapping across the country. While kidnappings largely target local people, a number of kidnappings involving Westerners, including Australians, have occurred across Nigeria, especially in those areas where we advise Australians not to travel. Most recently two foreign nationals were kidnapped in Kaduna state in late February 2017. Westerners have also been kidnapped in other parts of Nigeria, including Abuja and Lagos.

Kidnappings in the south are typically financially motivated, with the victims being held by criminal groups for ransom. Kidnappings in the north are generally politically motivated and undertaken by terrorist groups. In the past victims of kidnapping have been executed.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. See our Kidnapping threat bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

Ongoing risk of political and inter-communal violence across Nigeria: There is an ongoing risk of serious inter-communal violence and unrest in many parts of the country, particularly in the central and northern regions of Nigeria. Thousands of civilians have been killed in serious violence and unrest related to long-standing tribal, religious, political and community based grievances in these areas.

Avoid all protests, rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent at short notice.

Since November 2015, a number of protests have taken place in the south-east of Nigeria, led by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra group. One protest in Onitsha (Anambra State) turned violent on 2 December resulting in nine deaths. The group is protesting the arrest of its leader and calling for Biafran independence.

Be alert to changes in the security environment and monitor the local media and other sources of information for developments that may heighten existing inter-communal tensions. While foreigners are generally not targeted, you could be caught up in violence directed at others.

Crime

There is a high level of serious and petty crime throughout Nigeria. Kidnapping, violent assault, armed robbery, banditry, home invasion (including in walled and guarded compounds), and carjacking, committed both by individuals and gangs, are prevalent across Nigeria. Petty crime often occurs in crowded public places. Expatriates are frequently targeted due to their perceived level of wealth. Pay strict attention to your personal safety and security at all times. Do not leave valuables or bags unattended.

Crime increases at night in most areas, particularly in major cities and on highways. Police can be slow to respond to reports of criminal activity, and sometimes do not respond at all. Little or no investigative support is provided to victims.

There is a high incidence of crime on and around the main roads to and from international and domestic airports in Lagos, Abuja and other urban centres. Prearranged collection/drop off at airports and hotels by someone who is known to you or whose identity you can verify will help to minimise the risk. Criminals have been known to pose as police, military personnel and bogus greeters or company representatives at airports and hotels. Ensure that you can verify and identify who you are meeting and where.

 Assaults and robberies are common on public transport and when travelling unaccompanied in taxis.

Avoid meeting in places on the outskirts of urban centres. Question any last minute changes in arrangements.

Due to the relatively high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states: The security situation in these states is relatively stable and facilities are well developed compared to other parts of the country. However, there remain high levels of criminality, including petty crime, assaults and armed attack. Avoid unnecessary travel after dark.

Commercial and internet fraud: Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in Nigeria. Scams come in many forms, including romance, friendship, business ventures and employment opportunities. Victims have  suffered financial loss. Some who travel to Nigeria have had their lives endangered.

If you are the victim of a scam, obtain legal advice. Do not to travel to Nigeria to seek restitution. Closely scrutinise all approaches originating in Nigeria from people unknown to you. Do not send money to anyone in Nigeria until proper checks are made.

If you are travelling to Nigeria, your relatives and friends may receive bogus phone calls and emails from Nigeria claiming that an Australian traveller is in distress legally, financially or subject to a medical emergency and money is required to assist them. Any requests for money should be treated with caution. If friends and family are unsuccessful in attempts to contact you directly and remain concerned, they should then contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consular Emergency Centre (see Where to Get Help for contact details). Be careful about disclosing personal information and disposing of personal documents while in Nigeria.

Some scams may involve requests to transfer money or details though the Australian High Commission in Abuja or involve communication from persons claiming to work at the High Commission itself. Verify any requests of this nature with the High Commission before responding. See Where to Get Help.

See our international scams page for further information.

Money and valuables

Nigeria is predominantly a cash economy. The local currency is the Naira. The Naira is rarely found outside Nigeria. The acceptance of non-Nigerian debit and credit cards is extremely limited. Use of local cards is increasing in larger cities, however they are rarely accepted elsewhere and there is a high risk of fraud associated with their use. Travellers should exercise caution when visiting banks or using ATMs. Carefully consider when and where to access internet banking. Facilities for changing travellers' cheques and Australian dollars are very limited. US dollars are widely accepted at major hotels, banks and foreign exchange bureaus.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. Keep a photocopy of the ID page and any other important documents, including visas, in a separate location. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Road Travel: Heightened security arrangements, including authorised and unauthorised police and military roadblocks, vehicle checkpoints, traffic diversions and parking restrictions, are in place throughout Nigeria, particularly in major cities and especially after dark. Expect delays. You may be expected to show identity documents, car registration and ownership papers. Failure to do so may result in having to pay an on-the-spot fine or being subjected to an attempt to extort a small payment of money. Motorbikes are banned in some urban centres. International Driving Permits are not recognised in Nigeria.

Driving in Nigeria can be dangerous due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles, poor local driving habits, unpredictable pedestrians, poor signage, a lack of working traffic lights and inadequate road lighting. Avoid unnecessary travel after dark when the risks are significantly amplified. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are four times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Nigeria than you are in Australia. Roadside assistance is poor to non-existent. Nearby crowds have been known to react strongly to people believed to have been at fault in road accidents.

Be vigilant in traffic jams and at traffic lights. Wear a seatbelt, keep car windows up, doors locked and ensure any valuables are kept out of sight.

Nigeria’s borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger can be closed at short notice.

Fuel shortages are common and motorists should ensure they have adequate fuel for their journey, particularly in the northern regions. Long lines at service stations often disrupt and block traffic in urban centres.

When travelling outside major cities increased personal security measures should be taken. Travel in convoy where possible, carrying bottled water, a full first aid kit and multiple forms of communication. Ensure others are aware of your travel plans. Armed robbery of vulnerable travellers has been known to occur on highways, with victims stopped by methods including nails and branches on the road, as well as fake breakdowns and injured persons.

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Public Transport: Public transport is often unsafe due to unqualified and uninsured drivers, poor vehicle maintenance, high speed driving and overcrowding. Regular and motorcycle taxis are common, however, they can pose a serious danger to passengers, other road users and pedestrians. Use car hire services which include a local driver. These services are available at most major hotels.

Sea Travel: Piracy, hijacking, kidnapping from and armed robbery of ships at anchor has increased significantly in the coastal areas of the Gulf of Guinea, including near Lagos and the Niger Delta. Criminals with speed boats and high calibre weapons are common in these areas. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea. See our page on piracy for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its web site.

Airline safety

     

Airline and air charter safety and maintenance standards vary throughout the world. It is not known whether maintenance procedures and safety standards on aircraft are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by airline insurance. Concerns over the safety and reliability of some airlines operating domestic flights remain.

Domestic and international flights are often overbooked, delayed or cancelled at short notice. During Harmattan, when dust storms are common, flights can be rerouted due to poor visibility.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Nigeria.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws in Nigeria, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, you can ask officials to notify the High Commission immediately. The Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and may include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.

The death penalty may be imposed for serious crimes such as murder and armed robbery.

Sharia Law has been introduced in 12 states in northern Nigeria (Bauchi, Bomo, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara) and is increasingly being enforced. Offences such as stealing and adultery may attract strict penalties in these northern states.

Homosexuality is illegal and socially unacceptable in Nigeria. It is an offence to enter into a same-sex marriage or civil union. Penalties include imprisonment of up to 14 years. It is also an offence to be a witness to or aid in the planning of a same-sex marriage, register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or make any public show of a same-sex relationship. Penalties for these offences include imprisonment for up to 10 years. Cross-dressing is also prohibited. In Nigerian states that have adopted Sharia laws, adults convicted of engaging in homosexual activity may be subject to the death penalty. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Taking photographs or video in the vicinity of government buildings, military installations, diplomatic premises, airports and bridges is illegal and can lead to confiscation of the camera and/or a fine or detention. Restricted areas may not be well defined.

Smoking is banned in public places.

It is illegal to export African art, particularly antiques, from Nigeria without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.

It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textiles, jewellery and precious metals into Nigeria.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Nigeria is ethnically and religiously diverse. It has over 400 ethnic groups, the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa and a large Christian community. Behave and dress conservatively, especially outside of large urban areas.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in late May 2017. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information, see our Ramadan bulletin.

Information for dual nationals

Australian-Nigerian dual nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 may be required to undertake the National Youth Service Corps program. Dual nationals may also be required to carry a Nigerian passport for travel to and from the country. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria for further information.

See also our Dual nationals page.

Health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities are limited in Nigeria. The standard of heath care can vary in major centres, but is very basic in rural areas. Pharmaceuticals are often in short supply and poor quality substitutes or counterfeit drugs are often used. Upfront payment for services is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation may be necessary, and costs would be considerable.

Services and accessibility for people with disabilities are not up to the standards you would expect in Australia.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Nigeria is relatively high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Nigeria is listed by the WHO as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Nigeria. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in West African countries, including Nigeria. Consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, schitsosomiasis, dengue fever, tuberculosis, lassa fever, rabies, measles and meningitis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes, avoid eating wild animals and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Nigeria is listed by the WHO as endemic for polio.

If you are travelling to Nigeria and staying for periods greater than four weeks remain vigilant to the risk posed by polio and are up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against it, including a booster dose, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook, prior to departure.

See your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Further information is available from the Australian Government Department of Health polio website.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour provider, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the Nigerian police service. The national emergency numbers in Nigeria are 199 and 112 (however, reliability and nationwide coverage are not guaranteed).

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Abuja:

Australian High Commission, Abuja

5th Floor, Oakland Centre
48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama, Abuja
NIGERIA
Telephone: +234 (0) 9 461 2780
Office mobile: +234 (0) 803 307 3519
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Nigeria.

See the High Commission website for information about opening hours.

Australian Consulate, Lagos
8th Floor Union Marble House
1 Alfred Rewane Road (formerly Kingsway), Falomo
Ikoyi Lagos, NIGERIA
Telelphone: +234 (0) 803 300 7291
Email: alan.davies@jamescubittgroup.com

The Australian Consulate in Lagos, headed by an Honorary Consul, provides limited services. For consular and passport assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Abuja as detailed above.

The High Commission and Consulatedo not process visa requests; for all visa enquiries please visit the Visa and Migration website.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season extends from May to October when localised flooding may occur and some roads may become impassable.

The dry season extends from November to April when temperatures may exceed 40 degrees Celsius for consecutive days, especially in the north of the country. During this period, central and northern Nigeria may be affected by Harmattan, a seasonal wind which blows a high amount of sand and dust in the air. Visibility may be severely limited.

There are strong ocean currents along the coast of Nigeria. Conditions can change quickly and several drownings occur each year.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: