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Latest travel advice for Nigeria including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-29T15:07:05.685+01:00: Latest update: this advice has been reviewed and re-issued without amendment

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: 

There is a continuing high threat from terrorism. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes into the city), Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe States. There have also been significant attacks in Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Bauchi, Abuja and Gombe. Further attacks could occur anywhere. Major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano and Kaduna, and Abuja as the federal capital.

Attacks have taken place in public or crowded places, including places of worship, markets and displacement camps. You should avoid public places where crowds gather, including religious gatherings and insecure public spaces like markets and transport hubs. A heavy security presence often indicates areas of particularly high risk. Avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of any attack. See Terrorism

On 12 December 2015 a clash in Zaria, Kaduna State between the Nigerian Security Forces and The Islamic Movement in Nigeria resulted in a number of deaths. Be vigilant and take local advice on areas to avoid within the city.

There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria especially in the Kogi region. Recent terrorist kidnaps have occurred mostly in northern Nigeria, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. See Kidnapping

You should be aware of your surroundings and avoid large crowds or public demonstrations as they can turn violent unexpectedly. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby unrest or disturbances, you should leave the area immediately.

Violent crime is common. See Crime

Demonstrations and civil unrest can occur at short notice. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately. See Political situation

Before considering any travel to areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel, take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. You should follow your employer’s security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly. The level of consular assistance available to British nationals in areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel is limited.

Flash flooding can occur during the wet season (June to October). There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season. See Health

The Nigerian Ministry of Transportation has announced the closure of Abuja airport (Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport) from 8 March to 18 April 2017. This is for essential runway maintenance. You should contact your airline or travel company for further information.

Arik Air has suspended a number of flights due to operational difficulties. If you have a booking with Arik Air, check with the airline or your travel company in case your flight is affected.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers you for the type of travel you’re proposing to undertake.

Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. 

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could target public places where crowds gather, including places of worship, markets, displacement camps, transport terminals, government buildings, security and educational institutions (schools, further education colleges and universities are all regular targets), and international organisations. Attacks can be indiscriminate including in places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship.

There have been regular attacks on churches and mosques in Nigeria at times of worship and at football viewing centres. Many attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays in public or crowded places, including places of worship. Further attacks are likely. A heavy security presence often indicates areas of particularly high risk. Since October 2016, there has been an increase in suicide attacks in central Maiduguri, Borno State.

You should avoid public places and where there are political or other large public gatherings. Be vigilant, remain alert and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

Terrorist attacks occur on a regular basis in northern and north east Nigeria, however, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere and further attacks could occur anywhere. On 25 June 2014, an explosion occurred in the Apapa area of Lagos killing five people. Media reports attribute this to a terrorist attack. The Nigerian authorities have not confirmed this.

In August 2011, a Boko Haram attack against the United Nations building in Abuja killed 23 people. Further attacks against western interests are possible. Boko Haram issued a video on 19 February 2014 threatening to attack oil installations and oil workers in the Niger Delta region of south-east Nigeria.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

The main terrorist threat in Nigeria comes from Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram and Ansaru:

Boko Haram

Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group in Nigeria that has been proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation. The group aspires to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, destabilise the Nigerian government and remove western influence from the country. The group has been linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. On 12 March 2015, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) accepted a pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram.

Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including Maiduguri), Yobe and Adamawa states where Boko Haram has its operating base. Military operations against Boko Haram are ongoing in these states. Retaliatory attacks following these operations have occurred and more are likely. There has been a recent increase in suicide bombings targeting crowded gatherings like markets and places of worship. Since September 2015, there have been a small number of actual and attempted suicide attacks against IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) facilities in Borno and Adamawa.

Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa) (Ansaru)

Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in northern Nigeria, and is proscribed by the UK. It emerged in 2012 and is motivated by an anti-Nigerian Government and anti-Western agenda.

Ansaru is broadly aligned with Al Qaeda; the group have released statements publicly highlighting British and western interests as a priority target for attacks. Since 2012, the group has kidnapped at least 8 hostages, mainly Europeans. They are believed to have killed a number of hostages, including 2 British nationals.

MEND

MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) is a militant group seeking to assume control of Nigeria’s energy resources in the Niger Delta region. MEND periodically issue threats to conduct attacks within Nigeria and they have shown a capacity to operate outside their southern base.

Kidnapping

There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria, especially in Kogi State. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, or can be motivated by criminality

Terrorist kidnaps

Ansaru and Boko Haram have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Boko Haram have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon. Recent attacks have occurred in the north, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria:

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.

For information on criminal kidnaps see Safety and Security.

Safety and security

Local travel

You should follow news reports and be alert to developments that might trigger civil unrest. Violence can erupt quickly and without warning. If you are working in Nigeria, you should follow your employer’s local security guidelines. You are strongly advised to take professional security advice, be vigilant at all times and review your security measures regularly. Keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. Make sure your accommodation is secure and consider pre-deployment training on travelling under close protection.

Inter-communal violence can occur throughout Nigeria. Many incidents occur in the central belt states. You should be alert to local government announcements and media reporting, and seek advice before travelling to the affected areas.

Swimming is dangerous off the coast of Nigeria due to rip tides and undertows, drownings occur each year. You should take care and seek local advice.

Take particular care if you’re visiting crowded public places or attending events which attract large crowds. Criminals often use these situations as cover for robbery and theft.

Northern Nigeria

The FCO advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State and Gombe State where there are frequent violent attacks. Recent attacks have increasingly focused on public places, including churches, mosques, bars and restaurants, resulting in a large number of injuries and deaths.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, Kogi State, Jos City, and the Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas in Plateau State where there is a high risk of violent attacks and inter-communal tensions can lead to outbreaks of violence.

Travelling anywhere in the north of Nigeria is potentially dangerous. You could get kidnapped or find yourself caught up in a terrorist or other violent incident. Taking the right precautions will help reduce the risks, but won’t eliminate them altogether. Make sure you are not the one who gets in trouble. Don’t have regular patterns of travel or movement.

If you live, or work, in the North in areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you’re particularly at risk and will need a high level of security. Are you confident that the security you have in place is adequate? The risks, particularly from terrorism, have grown in the past few years. Westerners have been kidnapped from protected compounds. Good security two years ago is unlikely to be adequate now. Make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security and ask them to regularly review their security arrangements.

Regular military operations are ongoing in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. If you live or work in Nigeria you should monitor developments in these states and announcements by the state governments as there is an increased threat of retaliatory attacks elsewhere in Nigeria as a result of these military operations.

The Niger Delta States

The FCO advise against all travel to the riverine areas (ie the river and swamp locations on or close to the coast accessible by boat, but not by road) of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Abia State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.

Militant groups are active across the Niger Delta area and have carried out a number of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure in 2016. There’s a high risk of armed robbery, criminality and criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta area.

Political rallies and violent demonstrations can occur at short notice. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately. See Local travel and Political situation.

Criminal kidnaps

Since 2013 at least 6 British and dual British nationals, and many other foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta area. One British national has been killed. In 2015, several foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Kogi State. In June 2016, 7 people, including 5 foreign nationals, were kidnapped near Calabar.

There is a high threat of kidnapping and other armed attacks targeting oil and gas facilities and workers. This also applies to ships and oil rigs at sea off the coast of the Niger Delta. British nationals of Nigerian origin visiting friends and relatives are often perceived as being wealthier than locals and are at particular risk of kidnap for ransom.

When arranging meetings in Nigeria make sure those who attend are known to you and hold the meeting at a secure location.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.

Curfews

There are often curfews in parts of Maiduguri, Borno State and Adamawa State. Curfews, and restrictions on the movement of vehicles, can be imposed, amended and lifted at short notice throughout Nigeria.

Failure to comply with all curfews and movement restrictions could put you at significant risk. You should check with the local authorities or someone with local knowledge for up to date information on curfews and restrictions before you travel.

Maritime security

There have been armed robberies against ships at anchor in Nigerian waters and at many of the rivers and harbours in the Niger Delta area. Mariners should seek professional security advice and take appropriate precautions.

Crime

There are high levels of violent street crime (muggings, kidnappings, car-jackings and armed robbery).

Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals as their perceived wealth makes them an attractive victim.

You should therefore limit road travel at night as far as possible. Be vigilant at all times, even if staying with friends and family, and follow the security guidance offered by employers or hosts. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear valuable watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. If you suspect danger, move to a safer area.

There have been a number of robberies and kidnappings in Abia, Edo and Anambra States, particularly along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra State.

Experience has shown that if you’re caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough.

Scams

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 be very cautious about 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.

If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Nigeria you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.

People have received scam e-mails claiming to be from a British High Commission office in Nigeria. If you receive an email that appears to be from any British High Commission office in Nigeria asking for bank details or money, you should immediately contact the Consular Section of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.

You should be cautious if you’re considering fertility treatment in Nigeria. There have been a number of staged fake births (commonly called ‘miracle babies’) which result in visitors being falsely led to believe they have given birth. You should be aware of the risks associated with bringing a child who is not biologically related to you into the UK without following appropriate legal procedures.

Road travel

Traffic can be chaotic and slow moving. Take a mobile telephone with you when travelling by car so that you can stay in touch with others. Keep a supply of bottled water in your vehicle at all times.

Limit travel after dark outside city centres as far as possible; and take care if you do travel after dark. Avoid quieter and poorly lit roads. Be particularly vigilant when sitting in traffic jams or at traffic lights. Keep car windows up and doors locked, and make sure valuables are out of sight. If you feel your vehicle is being followed, drive to the nearest place of safety (eg the nearest police station).

Take care when driving outside cities, consider travelling in convoy, and if possible avoid making journeys that involve travel after dark.

In Lagos, eating, smoking or using a mobile phone while driving and riding a motorcycle without a helmet are prohibited. Motorists face fines or imprisonment for violations.

There are authorised and unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria. Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money. You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times.

There are frequent reports of robberies and car-jackings, some involving armed gunmen, on Nigeria’s urban and rural road network.

Public transport is dangerous. Taxis and long distance buses are often poorly maintained, uninsured and driven by unqualified drivers. Most major hotels offer cars for hire with drivers. You should use these where possible.

If you are expecting a greeter or driver to collect you at any of Nigeria’s international airports, make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. Bogus greeters are a problem.

Air travel

There are concerns about the safety and reliability of some airline companies operating domestic flights within Nigeria. You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

Airlines flying between Nigeria and London can occasionally become overbooked.

Political situation

Political rallies, protests and violent demonstrations can occur with little notice throughout the country. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays. Keep yourself informed of developments and if you encounter a threatening or intimidating situation, don’t try to make your way through it. Turn round and go home.

Since December 2015, four incidents of political violence in Onitsha, Anambra state have resulted in fatalities. The most recent of these occurred on 30th May 2016.

Local laws and customs

Homosexuality is generally viewed as unacceptable in Nigeria. The ‘Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill’ allows lengthy prison sentences for those entering into a same sex marriage, those witnessing, aiding or abetting a same sex marriage, the operation and support to gay clubs, societies and organisations and the public display of same sex relationships.

Possession, use of or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textile fabrics, jewellery, and precious metals. It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities. Contact the Nigeria High Commission in London for more information about customs requirements.

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. You should behave and dress modestly, particularly in the north and when visiting religious sites.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Photography of government, military buildings and airports may lead to arrest.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

All British nationals travelling to Nigeria must hold a valid visa. You can’t apply for a visa on arrival.

If you have a valid Nigerian residence permit (CERPAC or Green Card) you don’t need a visa to enter Nigeria.

For further information on entry requirements, contact the Nigeria High Commission in London.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Nigeria.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK ETDs are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Nigeria providing they are endorsed with the appropriate visa.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Medical facilities in some parts of Nigeria may only be very basic. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. The British High Commission publishes a list of medical providers.

You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Serious tropical illnesses like malaria, typhoid, Lassa fever and yellow fever occur in Nigeria. There are continuing reports of Lassa fever in several states. You should monitor local media for updates.

The World Health Organisation declared Nigeria free of Ebola on 20 October 2014, following 20 confirmed cases earlier in the year.

Money

Nigeria is mainly a cash economy although the use of credit and debit cards is increasing - especially in the big cities. If you intend to use cash, make sure you bring enough foreign currency to cover costs. It is illegal to change money on the street and travellers cheques are difficult to cash. Credit card fraud is common, so take care if using your card. You should take advice from your card issuer before travelling if you intend to use your credit or debit card in Nigeria.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British High Commission Abuja

    Title:British High Commission Abuja
    Email:PPAInformation.abuja@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    19 Torrens Close, Mississippi, Maitama Abuja
    Abuja
    Nigeria

    Contact: Telephone: +234 (9) 4622200
    Fax: +234(9) 4622263
    Visiting:Opening Hours:
    Monday - Thursday: 8am-4pm.
    Friday: 8am-1pm
    Services:
  • Department for International Trade Nigeria

    Title:Department for International Trade Lagos
    Email:Trade.Nigeria@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Deputy High Commissions
    11 Walter Carrington Crescent
    Victoria Island
    Lagos
    Nigeria

    Contact: General enquiries: +234 (0) 812 810 8845
    Financial services enquiries: +234 (0) 812 810 8741
    ICT, healthcare or security enquiries: +234 (0) 812 810 8742
    Education and training enquiries: +234 (0) 812 810 8744
    Oil and gas enquries: +234 (0) 812 810 8655
    Agriculture enquries: +234 (0) 812 810 8658
    Visiting:Office hours
    Monday to Thursday, 7:30am to 3:30pm
    Friday, 7:30am to 12:30pm
    All times are in local time (GMT +1)
    Services:
  • DFID Nigeria

    Title:DFID Nigeria
    Email:enquiry@dfid.gov.uk
    Address:

    10 Bobo Street (Off Gana Street)
    Maitama
    Abuja
    Nigeria

    Contact: Tel: +234 (0) 9 4602930 - 59
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • British Deputy High Commission Lagos

    Title:British Deputy High Commission Lagos
    Email:consular.lagos@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Consular, and Visa Sections
    11 Walter Carrington Crescent
    Victoria Island
    Lagos
    Nigeria

    Contact: Telephone: + 234 (1) 277 0780/0781/0782
    Visiting:Opening hours to the public:

    Monday to Thursday: 8.30 am to midday; Friday: 8.30 am to 11 am (GMT +1)
    Services:
  • UK Science & Innovation Network in Nigeria

    Title:
    Email:
    Address:
    Contact:
    Visiting:
    Services:

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