Niger

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Monday, 18 May 2015.   This advice has been reviewed and updated. Since early 2015, the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram has undertaken a series of attacks in Diffa (see Safety and security). There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping of westerners in Niger. The level of advice has not changed. We continue to advise against all travel to Niger, except for the capital, Niamey, and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi where we continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel.

Niger overall

Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi

Summary

  • We strongly advise you not to travel to Niger, except for the capital, Niamey, and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi, due to the high threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack, crime and the unpredictable political and security environment.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorist attack and crime.
  • Since early 2015, the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram has undertaken a series of attacks in Diffa region, close to the border with Nigeria. Further attacks are likely.
  • Australians in Niger should have appropriate personal security measures in place. You should monitor local information sources for details about the safety and security environment.
  • There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping of westerners in Niger. If you do decide to travel outside the area in the southwest corner, you should travel in daylight, in convoy and with a reputable local guide. Foreigners have been kidnapped from their vehicles in the past. Hostages have been killed.
  • Cultural festivals held in north and west Africa are attractive places for terrorists and criminals to identify and target tourists for kidnapping.
  • In mid-January 2015 there were violent protests in a number of cities across Niger in response to cartoons in the French publication, Charlie Hedbo. Avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Niger as they may become violent.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Niger. Australians can obtain assistance from the Australian High Commission in Nigeria.
  • Given the volatile security situation in Niger, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us so we can contact you in an emergency.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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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 Niger for the most up to date information.

Niger 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 Niger.

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.

Safety and security

We strongly advise you not to travel to Niger outside Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi, because of the high threat of kidnapping, the unpredictable political and security situation and high rate of crime. Australians in Niger should have personal security measures and contingency plans in place. You should monitor local information sources for details about the safety and security environment.

Terrorism

Since early 2015, the Nigeria-based militant group Boko Haram has undertaken a series of attacks in Diffa region, close to the border with Nigeria, resulting in more than 100 deaths. Further attacks are likely.

A series of attacks occurred in the northern part of the Tillaberi region in October 2014. A security post at a refugee camp in Mangaize, a prison in Ouallam and a military patrol in Bani Bangou were all targeted. At least 12 people were killed.

On 23 May 2013, terrorists using suicide bombs attacked a Nigerien military compound in Agadez and a uranium mining facility, operated by a French company, in Arlit. Twenty-six people were killed in the attack.

Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi due to the threat of terrorist attack, the threat of kidnapping and high rate of crime.

On 1 June 2013, militants attacked the main prison in Niamey, killing three guards and freeing 22 suspected terrorists. There is a heightened presence of security forces in Niamey.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information.

Kidnapping

There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against Westerners in Niger, including Niamey, but particularly in the north of the country. If you do decide to travel to the north, you should travel in daylight, in convoy and with a reputable local guide. Foreigners have been kidnapped from their vehicles. Foreign workers, tourists and expatriates have been targeted and hostages have been killed.

Militant groups, including Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), are active in Niger and neighbouring countries including Algeria, Libya, Mali, Mauritania and Chad, and have been known to execute kidnapped foreigners. The terrorist group Boko Haram is known to cross the border from Nigeria into Niger, particularly in the south-eastern Diffa region.

In October 2012, six aid workers were kidnapped in Daroko in south-central Niger. Five were released in November 2012 and one was killed in captivity.

Cultural festivals held in north and west Africa are attractive places for terrorists and criminals to identify and target tourists for kidnapping. These festivals bring people to predictable locations along unsecured routes. We strongly advise Australians not to attend major festivals.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place. See our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

In mid-January 2015 there were violent protests in a number of cities across Niger in response to cartoons in the French publication, Charlie Hedbo. Ten people were killed in the protests. Demonstrations occur regularly and spontaneously in Niger often in the vicinity of government buildings, universities and public parks. You should avoid political rallies and demonstrations as they could turn violent.

Armed groups operate in the north and west. Clashes between security forces and armed groups have occurred in the regions of Agadez, Diffa, Zinder, and Maradi, and north of the city of Abalack in the region of Tahoua.

Crime

There is a high prevalence of crime throughout Niger, including in Niamey. Foreigners are frequently targeted by criminals, who often work in groups. Armed home invasions, kidnapping, carjackings and muggings occur. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are a particular target for thieves. When travelling by road, you should keep the doors locked, the windows up and valuables out of sight.

Petty crime, including pickpocketing, is common in the capital city, Niamey, and muggings occur frequently around the Gaweye Hotel, the National Museum, the Kennedy Bridge and the Petit Marche. Criminal activity throughout Niger can occur at any time but the risk of being a victim increases at night. Because of the absence of street lighting it is recommended you do not walk about at night.

Outside Niamey, the threat of violent crime increases significantly. Armed bandits and smugglers target travellers on roads in the northern parts of the country and in border areas.

Fraud: 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.

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.

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.

Money and valuables

Niger is a cash-based society. There are no ATMs and credit cards are rarely accepted, even in major hotels and restaurants. Travellers' cheques can be cashed at banks on production of the original purchase receipt and your passport. You should only change money at reputable exchange bureaux.

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.

Local travel

Road travel

If, despite our advice, you choose to travel to the north and east of Niger, all road travel should be in daylight, in a convoy and with a local guide. You should prepare well in advance, ensure vehicles have been well maintained and carry a satellite phone, sufficient supplies and a first aid kit. Travelling at night is especially dangerous due to the risk of banditry.

Local authorities are sensitive about foreigners travelling out of Tahoua to the east or north of Niger.

You may risk arrest or deportation travelling in the Agadez region.

A curfew from 20.00 to 06.00 on the use of motorised vehicles is in place in Diffa. Several roads in the north are closed to tourists except with special authorisation.

Unexploded munitions, including landmines, are found throughout the country, including in Niamey and other major cities. The situation is particularly dangerous throughout the Talak Plains and the sparsely inhabited regions of the Agadez region, including the Djado Plateau, the Mangueni Plateau, and Air Massif.

Except for a few main routes, roads in Niger are in bad condition, the standard of vehicle maintenance is low and street lighting is poor. Dangerous local driving habits as well as mixed traffic, including bicycles, pedestrians, animals and tractors can make driving hazardous. Travel outside the capital requires the use of a four-wheel drive. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

You may be asked for vehicle registration and ownership papers by authorities at any time, especially on journeys outside of the main towns. Travellers are advised to carry photographic identification at all times. Foreign drivers’ licences are not recognised in Niger.

Public transport

The use of public transport is not recommended. Taxis are generally old and in poor condition. Robbery and murders have been reported on inter-city buses. You should consider hiring a private car with a professional driver.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Niger.

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

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Niger, 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 possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment. See our Drugs page.

The death penalty exists in Niger for serious crimes such as murder.

Homosexual acts are not illegal in Niger, however the law states that an "unnatural act" with a person of the same sex who is under 21 is punishable by six months to three years imprisonment and a fine of between 10,000 and 100,000 CFA. The local community is generally intolerant of same sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is illegal to photograph around military zones, military assets, diplomatic premises, radio and television stations, airports, the Presidency Building and the Kennedy Bridge in Niamey. It is also illegal to photograph political demonstrations or military personnel.

You should carry some form of identification at all times, either a passport with a valid visa or a residence permit.

Non-government organisations must be registered with the Government of Niger and inform the authorities of their missions prior to their commencement. Persons found to be conducting work without permission can be detained and expelled from Niger.

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

Niger is a conservative Islamic society and you should dress and behave so as not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice. Women are advised to wear a headscarf and loose fitting clothing that covers the arms and legs.

You should ask permission before taking the photograph of a local.

The consumption of alcohol is tolerated.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

Information for dual nationals

The Government of Niger does not recognise dual nationality. Australian travellers entering Niger with a Nigerien passport will be treated as Nigerien citizens by local authorities. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Nigerien dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

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.

Medical facilities in Niamey are very limited and of poor quality, and outside the capital they are inadequate. Emergency assistance is limited, even in Niamey. Up-front payment is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

Niger 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 Niger. 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 Niger. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, and to take precautions against mosquito bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, rabies, hepatitis, meningitis, polio 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. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

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. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. You should attempt to phone local police on “17” on Nigerien phones or +227-20-72-25-53. However, be aware that these numbers often go unanswered, especially outside of normal working hours. There is no national emergency number in Niger.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Niger. You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian High Commission in Nigeria:

Australian High Commission

48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama
Abuja, Nigeria
Telephone: (234 9) 461 2780
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Web: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Nigeria

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

If you are travelling to Niger, 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 Embassy or High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The rainy season is from June to October when flooding and landslides may occur and some roads may become impassable. 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 link:



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.