- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
- Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Benin. The Australian High Commission in Nigeria provides consular assistance to Australians in Benin.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Benin for the most up to date information.
Benin is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. If in doubt, check with your airline.
If you have visited Benin in the last six days prior to your return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate upon entry into Australia.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Benin. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
Criminal violence, such as armed hold-ups and carjacking, is a problem throughout Benin, especially in Cotonou and the area bordering Nigeria. Petty crime, including muggings and robberies, occurs near hotels, railways, Dantokpa markets in Cotonou and beaches frequented by international visitors. Even during daylight hours robberies are common on the beaches of Cotonou. The risk of crime increases after dark, especially in tourist areas and on highways and rural roads. Avoid walking alone, particularly after dark.
Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. 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. 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 as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.
Some Australian citizens have also been defrauded or had their lives endangered by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from West African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely. In some instances, foreigners who have travelled to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner have been kidnapped and held to ransom.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. It is recommended that you avoid using credit cards in Benin because of the high rate of fraud.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Driving in Benin can be dangerous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles, and overloaded vehicles. You should avoid driving at night because of inadequate street lighting. Pedestrians and animals which often stray onto roads are additional safety hazards. For further advice, see our road travel page. There are often fuel shortages in rural areas of northern Benin.
There are strong ocean currents along the coast and many drownings occur each year.
There is no reliable public transportation.
Please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
When you are in Benin, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Penalties for drug offences include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.
Homosexual acts are illegal.
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, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian 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.
Benin is a very conservative society and you should take care not to offend.
Information for dual nationals
Australian/Beninese dual nationals may be required to complete military/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 brochure provides further information for dual nationals.
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.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities is limited in major towns and basic 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 required, costing up to $A200,000.
Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in West African countries, including Benin. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling, 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, yellow fever, meningitis, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis) 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.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.
Where to get help
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Benin. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in Nigeria:
Australian High Commission
48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Telephone (234 9) 461 2780 or (234 0) 803 307 3519
Facsimile (234 9) 461 2782
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.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
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. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.