Ghana

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 03 October 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Ghana overall.

Ghana overall

Bawku, Tamale municipality, Yendi District and Bimbilla area in northern Ghana

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Ghana. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • You should avoid all political rallies, protests, demonstrations and exercise caution at large public gatherings, as they may become violent.
  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution around Bawku in the Upper East region, Tamale municipality, Yendi district and the area around Bimbilla in northern Ghana because of the possibility of outbreaks of violence over disputes within or between local ethnic groups.
  • An outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Ghana on 31 July 2014. The majority of cases have been reported in Accra and the Eastern Region, with a significant number of deaths.
  • The outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continues to worsen. There have been no confirmed cases of EVD in Ghana and local authorities continue to enforce a range of precautionary measures. For more information, see the Ebola outbreak in west Africa travel bulletin.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Australians require 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 the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ghana for the most up-to-date information.

Ghana 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. A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Ghana.

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for 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. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Ghana overall. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/Political tension

You should avoid all political rallies, protests, demonstrations and exercise caution at large public gatherings, including football matches, as they may become violent.

Bawku (Upper East region), Tamale municipality, Yendi district and area around Bimbilla in northern Ghana: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in these areas because of the possibility of outbreaks of violence over disputes within or between local ethnic groups.

Crime

Conspicuous travellers, particularly women on their own, are the target of opportunistic crimes such as muggings, bag snatching, petty theft and pickpocketing. These crimes have been increasing in Accra and the surrounding area, and are common at markets, tourist attractions and beaches.

Armed robberies and other violent crimes, including rape and house invasions have occurred. There have been reports of passengers in taxis being robbed by drivers.

Thefts by individuals posing as airport staff have occurred at Kotoka International Airport in the capital Accra. Legitimate airport staff wear a current identification card which bears their name and photograph. Cards without photographs are not valid.

There have been reports of individuals fraudulently posing as police officers and demanding money from foreigners.

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 information on International Financial Scams provides more detail on these types of scams.

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

Money and valuables

Australian currency is not an accepted means of foreign exchange in Ghana. It is difficult to find banks and/or businesses in Ghana which accept credit cards other than Visa. Credit card fraud is common. You should try to keep your card in sight when making purchases.

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.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

For visits to Ghana of up to 12 months, an international driving licence or international driving permit is accepted. After 12 months a Ghanaian licence is required to drive in Ghana. For more information, see the website of the Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana.

Poorly maintained roads, aggressive driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles, insufficient street lighting, roaming livestock, pedestrians and cyclists pose safety risks, especially when driving at night and outside urban areas. For further advice, see our road travel page.

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

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Ghana. See our piracy bulletin for further information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Airline safety

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 Ghana.

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

Laws

When you are in Ghana, 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. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Serious offences, including murder, carry the death sentence.

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

Homosexual activity is illegal and criminalised as a misdemeanour in Ghana, punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. Same sex marriages are not recognised by law. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Possession of pornographic material is illegal.

Wearing military-style or camouflage clothing is prohibited.

Taking photographs of or near government buildings or other infrastructure, including oilfields, can lead to detention.

Australians residing in Ghana need to register for a National Identification Authority Non-citizen Ghanacard. The Ghanacard is needed for transactions which require an identification check.

Only agents licensed by the Precious Metals and Mining Commission may handle import-export transactions of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and precious metals. Transactions without the Commission's endorsement are illegal and/or fraudulent. Penalties include imprisonment.

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

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

Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware that homosexual acts are illegal in Ghana. Open displays of affection by same sex couples, especially in rural communities, should be avoided. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Information for dual nationals

While the government of Ghana recognises dual nationality, officials may place restrictions on the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to Australian/Ghanaian dual nationals if they are detained or arrested.

Australian/Ghanaian dual nationals may be liable for civil/military obligations. Before travel, Australian/Ghanaian dual nationals should check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Ghana. A dual nationality card is available from the Ghana Ministry of Interior.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

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.

Although medical facilities in urban areas are better than in rural areas, all facilities are basic and the standard of care available may be below what you would expect in Australia. Up-front payment can be requested prior to commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with suitable facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could exceed $A100,000.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, bilharzia and 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.

An outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Ghana on 31 July 2014. The majority of cases have been reported in Accra and the Eastern Region, with a significant number of deaths. For further information about cholera see the World Health Organization website.

Ghana 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 Ghana. 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 Ghana. We recommend that you talk to your doctor about taking a prophylaxis against malaria, and also take measures to avoid insect bites including using insect repellent, wearing long loose-fitting light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) centred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continues to worsen. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ghana and local authorities continue to enforce a range of precautionary measures. For more information, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police on 191 (country-wide) or (0302) 77-36-95, 77-39-06, or 78-73-73.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, 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, see contact details below:

Australian High Commission

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: www.ghana.highcommission.gov.au

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

If you are travelling to Ghana, 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 High Commission 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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The wet season extends from May to October when flooding may occur, particularly in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana. Roads can become impassable. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. 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:



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.