Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Ghana

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Ghana. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution around Bawku, Tamale municipality, Yendi district and the area around Bimbilla because of the possibility of outbreaks of violence over disputes within or between local ethnic groups. See Safety and security
  • Avoid any political rallies, protests or demonstrations – and be alert at large public gatherings – as they could become violent. See Safety and security
  • The rainy season is May to October when flooding may occur. Roads may be blocked due to flood waters. Monitor weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See Natural disasters

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

You'll need a visa to travel to Ghana. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or High Commission of Ghana for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

You need a valid yellow fever vaccination to enter Ghana. Some airlines may also require you to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before they will let you board flights out of the country. See Health

Read Yellow fever for information on re-entry to Australia following exposure to yellow fever. Check the yellow fever entry requirements for all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia.

If you'll stay in Ghana for longer than 90 days in a calendar year, you'll need to register for a National Identification Authority Non-citizen Ghanacard. The Ghanacard is needed for transactions that require an identification check.

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

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Ghanaian Cedi (GHS). Declare all GHS or foreign currency equivalent on arrival. Australian dollars cannot be exchanged in Ghana. US dollars and Euros are readily exchanged at commercial banks and exchange bureaux.

ATMs are located in larger towns. It is difficult to find banks or businesses in Ghana that accept credit cards other than Visa. Credit card fraud is common.

  • Keep your card in sight at all times when making purchases.
  • Contact your bank to make sure that your cards will work in Ghana.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Protests, rallies, demonstrations and large public gatherings such as at football matches can turn violent at short notice.

Disputes within and between local ethnic groups can result in outbreaks of violence, especially in Bawku (Upper East region), Tamale municipality, Yendi district and the area around Bimbilla in northern Ghana.

  • Avoid protests, rallies and demonstrations.
  • Be alert to possible unrest at public gatherings – if unrest develops, leave the affected area.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for news of planned and possible civil unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Bawku, Tamale municipality, Yendi district and the area around Bimbilla.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Crime

Thieves target travellers, particularly women on their own, with mugging, bag snatching, petty theft and pickpocketing. These crimes are increasing in Accra and the surrounding areas. Periodic shortages of electricity and blackouts (including street and traffic lights) coincide with greater levels of crime in the evenings and at night.

You could also encounter house invasions, armed robbery and other violent crimes. Some taxi passengers have been robbed by their drivers.

Thieves posing as airport staff operate at Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Legitimate airport staff wear a current identification card bearing their name and photograph. Cards without photographs are not valid.

Thieves posing as police officers demand money from foreigners.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Pay close attention to your personal possessions at all times
  • Avoid travelling or being outside alone in the evening and at night.
  • If you're female, avoid travelling alone.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times, including when moving.
  • Secure your accommodation against intruders, including when you're in it.

Scams

Internet scams come in many forms, including romance, friendship, business and employment opportunities. Victims have suffered financial loss. Victims who travel to West African countries to meet a friend or prospective marriage partner they have met online, or to seek restitution for money they have lost, are at risk of kidnapping, assault and robbery. Some victims have been killed. 

Commercial internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operate from West Africa. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating sites or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, you'll typically be asked by your 'friend' or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable them to travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners are lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of approaches from people you don't know.
  • Don't send money until proper checks are made.
  • If you are the victim of a scam, get legal advice. 
  • Don't travel to Ghana to seek restitution.

More information: Scams

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world, including in Ghana.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

More information: Terrorist Threat Worldwide

Local travel

Road travel

Road travel can be dangerous. Poorly maintained roads and vehicles, aggressive driving practices, insufficient street lighting, roaming livestock, pedestrians and cyclists pose safety risks, especially when driving at night and outside urban areas.

Police road blocks are common throughout the country and you may need to show identity documentation, vehicle registration and ownership papers.

During the wet season, flooding can cause roads to become impassable.

Following traffic accidents, crowds can quickly gather at the scene and become aggressive.

  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Carry photo ID, vehicle registration and ownership papers at all times.
  • Be alert to possible hazards, especially at night.
  • Monitor local weather reports, especially during the wet season, and adjust your plans accordingly. See Additional information
  • Keep valuables out of sight and your vehicle doors locked and windows up at all times, including when driving.
  • Be wary of people who may try to stop your vehicle.
  • If you are involved in an accident, proceed to the nearest police station.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive in Ghana for a period of 12 months with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you are over 18. After that, you will need a local licence. More information: Australian High Commission in Accra.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a correctly fastened and approved helmet.  

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Take care when travelling alone at night.

Public transport

Public transport is limited and safety and maintenance standards can be unreliable.

Boat travel

Ferry travel is risky due to generally low safety standards and adverse weather. Passenger limits are sometimes exceeded and there are often not enough life jackets. Always wear a life jacket, even if others don't.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Ghana. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website. More information: Piracy

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Ghana. More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, including possession, are severe in Ghana and carry mandatory prison sentences. See Drugs

Other laws

Serious offences, including murder can carry the death penalty.

While perhaps legal in some countries, the following activities are illegal in Ghana:

  • homosexuality – more information:  LGBTI travellers
  • possession of pornographic material
  • wearing military-style or camouflage clothing
  • taking photographs of or near government buildings or other infrastructure, including oilfields
  • failing to register for a National Identification Authority Non-citizen Ghanacard. See Entry and exit
  • importing or exporting natural resources such as gold, diamonds and precious metals, without a licence from the Precious Metals and Mining Commission.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Ghana recognises dual nationality but, if you're a dual national and you're arrested or detained, Ghanaian officials may restrict the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to you. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

If you're a dual national, you may be required to fulfil civil or military service obligations in Ghana. Check with the High Commission of Ghana before you travel.

A dual nationality card is available from the Ghana Ministry of Interior.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Ghana. Take care not to offend. If in doubt seek local advice.

Homosexuality is illegal. Avoid open displays of affection, especially in rural communities. More information: LGBTI travellers

Health 

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • you're covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne diseases

The WHO assesses yellow fever is widespread in Ghana. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is preventable by vaccination.

Malaria is common. Other mosquito-borne diseases also occur.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is common. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, meningococcal disease, bilharzia and tuberculosis) are widespread with more serious outbreaks from time-to-time. 

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and other water-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

More information: Cholera (World Health Organization)

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in urban areas are better than in rural areas but facilities are basic and the standard of care available may be below what you would expect in Australia.

Up-front payment may be requested prior to commencing treatment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation costs can exceed $100,000.

Natural disasters

The wet season isfrom May to October when flooding may occur, particularly in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana. Roads can become impassable. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

 

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, 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.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: phone 192
  • Medical emergencies: phone 193 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: phone 191 or visit the nearest police station. Alternative numbers are (0302) 77-36-95, 77-39-06 or 78-73-73 .

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Accra.

Australian High Commission, Accra

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments
Accra, Ghana
Telephone: +233 302 216 400
Facsimile: +233 302 216 410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: ghana.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australian High Commission, Ghana
Twitter: @AusAmbGHA

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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

Additional information