- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Benin because of the high levels of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
- Opportunistic crime, including muggings and carjackings, occur regularly in Benin, especially in Cotonou and regions bordering Nigeria.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Benin. The Australian High Commission in Nigeria provides consular assistance to Australians in Benin.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Benin for the most up to date information.
Benin is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Benin. See the Health section for more information.
As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for Benin 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
Violent opportunistic crime, such as muggings and carjacking, has occurred in Benin in the past, especially in Cotonou and the area bordering Nigeria. Petty crime, including pick-pocketing, occurs near hotels, ports, railways, in the Dantokpa markets in Cotonou and in areas frequented by international visitors, including all beaches, bars and restaurants. Refrain from displaying signs of affluence and ensure personal belongings and travel documents are secured, particularly in the Dantokpa market. The risk of becoming a victim of crime increases after dark, especially if walking alone in poorly lit areas.
The risk of a carjacking increases at night, both within metropolitan centres, and on highways and rural roads. It is recommended that travellers stay alert for signs of suspicious behaviour, by both motorists and pedestrians, and that vehicle windows are closed and doors locked when driving.
Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries, including Benin. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. If you are a victim of a financial scam, we advise you to obtain legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution. Internet friendship, dating and marriage scams also operate from some African countries, including Benin. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.
There is a general threat of terrorism in West Africa following recent attacks in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. In addition, there is a possibility that Boko Haram militants from neighbouring Nigeria, may make forays into the border areas of northern Benin.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Civil unrest/political tension
Avoid all demonstrations, strikes and political gatherings, as these have in the past been known to turn violent. Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Money and valuables
Benin is a cash-based country and credit cards are not widely accepted. It is also recommended that you avoid using credit cards in Benin because of the high rate of fraud.
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. 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.
Road travel: Driving in Benin can be dangerous due to poor road conditions and overloaded vehicles. Most roads outside of Cotonou are unpaved and poorly maintained, with some unpaved roads impassable during the rainy season. Pedestrians and animals often stray onto roads. You should avoid driving at night because of inadequate street lighting. Police periodically conduct vehicle check at temporary road blocks in an effort to improve road safety and reduce the number of carjackings. You may be asked to show personal identity and motor vehicle registration papers. Fuel shortages are common in rural areas of northern Benin. Witnesses to road accidents have been known to react strongly towards individuals perceived to be at fault.
Overland travel to Nigeria is dangerous near the Benin/Nigeria border due to unofficial checkpoints and highway banditry.
There is no reliable public transportation in Benin. You should avoid taxis and long distance buses as they are poorly maintained and often overloaded.
For further advice, see our road travel page.
Sea travel: Piracy and armed robbery at sea is a problem in the coastal areas of Benin, with incidents against large vessels in waters off Benin and neighbouring countries. See our piracy bulletin for further information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.
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 Benin.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Benin, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, 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 include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. See our Drugs page.
Homosexual acts are not illegal, but the local community is generally intolerant of same sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Photography is illegal around government buildings, military zones, military assets and/or military personnel.
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 Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Benin is a very conservative society and you should take care not to offend. You should ask locals for permission before taking photographs of them.
Requests for ‘gifts’ from officials to facilitate administrative matters should be politely and firmly declined.
Information for dual nationals
Australian/Beninese dual nationals may be required to complete military or civil service obligations if they visit Benin. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Benin well in advance of travel. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities in Benin is poor. Facilities are limited in major towns and basic to non-existent in rural areas. Pharmaceuticals are in short supply and poor quality substitutes are often used. Up-front payment for services is generally required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (to London, Paris or Johannesburg) would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation would be considerable.
People with disabilities will find facilities and accessibility in Benin limited compared to Australia.
Benin is listed by the World Health Organization (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 Benin. See Entry and exit 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 Benin. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, and taking measures to avoid insect bites including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, meningitis, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and chikungunya) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, the national police emergency number is 117. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy in Benin. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian High Commission in Nigeria for consular assistance. See contact details below:
Australian High Commission - Abuja
48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Telephone (234 9) 461 2780 or (234 0) 803 307 3519
See the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Benin, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
In the south, the rainy seasons are from April to July and September to October, while in the north the rainy season is from June to September. During the rainy seasons, flooding may occur, causing severe damage to infrastructure, including bridges and roads, and disrupting traffic.
Benin also experiences the Harmattan, a seasonal wind which blows a large amount of sand and dust into the air from December to March. In parts of Benin visibility may be limited during these times.
There are strong ocean currents along the coast and many drownings occur each year.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in Benin, see the following link: