Niger

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 08 August 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued. We have lowered the level of the advice for areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi. We now advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to this area and to Niamey. We continue to advise Australians not to travel elsewhere in Niger due to the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping, the high rate of crime and the unpredictable political and security environment.

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 terrorist attack and kidnapping, the high rate of 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 terrorist attack and kidnapping, and high rate of crime.
  • If you are in Niger outside the area in the southwest corner, you should consider leaving. Australians who decide to remain should ensure that they have 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.
  • The political and security situation in Niger has improved following peaceful elections in 2011 and the inauguration of the President. However, you should 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 and 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 also our advice for business travellers.
  • 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 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.

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

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 and particularly to the northern areas of the country, because of the very high threat of kidnapping, the unpredictable political and security situation and high rate of crime. If you are in Niger, you should consider leaving. Australians who decide to remain in Niger should take responsibility for their safety and security and ensure they have personal security measures and contingency plans in place. You should monitor local information sources for details about the safety and security environment.

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 east.

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.

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, including 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.

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

Due to the risk posed by AQIM and other militant and criminal groups, travel to Tahoua and northern Tillaberi regions, particularly the border regions with Mali should be avoided.

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.

On 8 January 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped in Niamey and later killed near the border with Mali.

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. Foreigners travelling to and from major cultural festivals were kidnapped in northern Mali in 2009. One hostage was executed. 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.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

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

The political and security situation in Niger has improved following peaceful elections in 2011 and the inauguration of the President. However, demonstrations can occur with little warning. 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.

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Crime

There is a high prevalence of crime throughout Niger, including in Niamey. Foreigners are frequently targeted by criminals. 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 is common in the capital city, Niamey, and muggings occur frequently around the Gaweye Hotel, the National Museum, Kennedy Bridge and 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 potential for violent crimes increases significantly. Armed bandits target travellers on roads in the northern parts of the country.

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.

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.

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

Money

Niger is a cash-based society. There are no ATMs and credit cards are rarely accepted. Travellers' cheques can be cashed at banks on production of the original purchase receipt and passport.

Local travel

We advise against all travel except for in Niamey and areas south of the latitude of Niamey in the regions of Dosso and Tillaberi.

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. Travelling at night is especially dangerous due to the risk of banditry. We recommend you use an approved local travel agent who can arrange all necessary permits and approvals.

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

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.

Roads in Niger are in poor condition, vehicles are poorly maintained and street lighting is poor. 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.

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 the Niger.

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

Laws

When you are in Niger, 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.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs may include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment.

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 and/or military personnel, the Presidency Building and Kennedy Bridge in Niamey, radio and television stations and the airport.

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 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.

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.

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 the capital Niamey are very limited and even more basic in rural areas. 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 could cost in excess of A$200,000.

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 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 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, yellow fever, 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.

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.

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 can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

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
Facsimile: (234 9) 461 2782
Email: ahc.abuja@dfat.gov.au
Web: www.nigeria.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 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 may occur and some roads may become impassable. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.



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.