- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Nigeria due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, the high risk of kidnapping, the unpredictable security situation, the possibility of violent civil unrest and the high level of violent crime.
- If you do decide to travel to Nigeria, you should exercise extreme caution. The security situation could deteriorate without warning and you could be caught up in violence directed at others.
- The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in west Africa, centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (WHO Disease Outbreak News). A limited outbreak has been confirmed in Nigeria. As a measure to control the disease, Nigeria has introduced health screening measures for passengers arriving and departing at all airports in Nigeria. For more information, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.
- A number of bombings occurred in different parts of Nigeria, including in Abuja, in May and June 2014. The terrorist group Boko Haram is considered responsible for a bombing attack on an oil depot in Lagos on 25 June.
- In the past extremists have targeted venues broadcasting international sporting events and may do so again.
- You should be aware that terrorists may launch attacks during religious festivals and holidays, significant dates and anniversaries. Places of worship have been targeted during the Christmas and Easter periods in recent years.
- Nigeria-based militant groups have threatened to carry out attacks against government facilities and personnel, hotels, educational facilities (including schools attended by children of prominent as well as foreign individuals), churches and other places of worship, media offices, markets and mass transit facilities.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Yobe and Adamawa states because of the ongoing very high threat of terrorist attack, very high threat of kidnapping, the volatile security situation, including ongoing inter-communal tensions, and frequent violent attacks on public places. If you are in these states you should leave immediately.
- We strongly advise you not to travel to the riverine areas (river or swamp areas on or close to the coast) of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in south-eastern Nigeria because of the very high risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks especially against foreign oil facilities and personnel.
- If, despite our advice, you decide to travel to these dangerous regions, you should ensure you have adequate and continuous close personal protection from a professional security service. The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in these areas may be severely limited.
- General elections in Nigeria are scheduled for February 2015, with campaigning likely to commence in November 2014. You should avoid political events, rallies and protests during this period given the potential for violence.
- Given the unpredictable security situation in Nigeria, 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 and living and working overseas.
- 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. Up-to-date information is available from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria.
The Nigerian immigration authorities have introduced registration requirements for all resident expatriates who are not nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria for details.
Nigeria 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. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Nigeria (see Health section).
As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for Nigeria and 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.
In response to the Ebola outbreak, Nigeria has introduced health screening measures for passengers arriving and departing at all airports in Nigeria.
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
There is a very high threat from terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent civil unrest and crime in Nigeria. If you do decide to travel to Nigeria, you should exercise extreme caution. The security situation could deteriorate without warning and you could be caught up in violence directed at others. You should be aware that the security environment in central and northern Nigeria has deteriorated sharply since 2011.
Australians in Nigeria should exercise heightened vigilance and personal security awareness, particularly in and around Abuja, near Nigerian government and security institutions, international organisations, diplomatic premises, financial institutions, oil facilities and infrastructure as well as public areas including markets, hotels, licensed premises, shopping centres, places of worship, residential areas, cinemas, schools, airports and transport infrastructure, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and densely populated urban areas Security has been tightened at many public buildings in Abuja. A heavy security presence often indicates a location of particularly high risk, but less security does not necessarily mean a lower risk.
Locations frequented by foreigners have been attacked in the past and may be targeted in the future, including in Abuja.
You should be aware that terrorists may launch attacks during religious festivals and holidays, significant dates and anniversaries, especially in northern Nigeria during the Christmas and Easter periods.
In recent years, Nigeria-based militant groups, including Boko Haram and Ansaru, have carried out attacks against government facilities and personnel, hotels, educational facilities (including schools attended by children of prominent as well as foreign individuals), churches and other places of worship, media offices, markets, mass transit facilities and venues broadcasting international sporting events, killing and injuring hundreds of people.
In the past extremists have targeted venues broadcasting international sporting events and may do so again.
Recent examples of significant terrorist attacks include:
- On 23 July 2014, two explosions in Kaduna killed at least 82 people.
- On 25 June 2014, a large explosion close to Emab Plaza in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja caused more than 20 deaths and a large number of injuries..
- On 25 June 2014, an explosion at a fuel depot in Lagos killed two people.
- On 17 June 2014, a bomb attack on a venue screening a live football match in Mamaturu killed over 20 people.
- A series of attacks on northern villages in early June 2014 in the Gwoza and Goshi areas resulted in around 300 deaths.
- On 20 May 2014, two car bombs at a market in Jos, Plateau state, killed at least 118 people and injured many more.
- On 14 April 2014, a bomb attack at a bus station in the Nyanya suburb of Abuja reportedly killed 71 people and injured dozens more. A further bombing in the same location on 1 May 2014 killed 19 people and injured many.
- A series of attacks on civilians by gunmen in Borno state in mid-April 2014 reportedly killed more than 130 people.
- On 1 April 2014, car bombings near a petroleum installation in Maiduguri, Borno state, killed at least 15 people.
- On 1 March 2014, at least 50 people were killed in bomb attack on a market in Maiduguri, Borno state
- On 25 February 2014, an extremist attack on a school near Damataru, Yobe state killed 29 students.
Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Yobe and Adamawa states
We strongly advise you not to travel to Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Yobe and Adamawa states because of the ongoing very high threat of terrorist attack, very high threat of kidnapping, the volatile security situation, including ongoing inter-communal tensions, and frequent violent attacks on public places. If you are in these areas you should leave immediately.
Large-scale, coordinated attacks occur regularly in Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe and Adamawa states. A number of Westerners have been kidnapped in these areas and many victims have been killed (see under Kidnapping for more information).
Curfews can be imposed, amended and lifted at short notice. You should obey all curfews and monitor the local media for the latest information on possible restrictions on movement and the overall security environment.
Recent terrorist attacks in these areas have focused on public places, where large crowds have gathered, including bars, markets, hotels, restaurants and places of worship, resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries.
State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states:
In May 2013, in response to escalating violence, Nigerian authorities declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. This allows for additional security forces in these areas and the temporary closure of the international land borders of these states.
Riverine areas of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states
We advise you not to travel to the riverine areas (i.e. the river and swamp areas on or close to the coast accessible by boat, but not by road) of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in south-eastern Nigeria because of the very high risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks, especially against foreign oil facilities and personnel. If you are in these areas, you should consider leaving.
Criminals or militants have kidnapped expatriate oil workers and foreign businessmen in the Niger Delta region, including from land-based and offshore oil facilities, ships, roads and housing compounds.
Elements formerly associated with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) remain active in the Niger Delta region and continue to issue threats against oil industry infrastructure and personnel, despite agreed ceasefires and amnesty programs.
Australians in Nigeria should be aware that there is a high threat of kidnapping across the country. Kidnappings involving Westerners have occurred frequently in certain parts of the south-eastern and northern states where we advise Australians not to travel.
Westerners have also been kidnapped in other parts of Nigeria, including Abuja and Lagos. Kidnappings in the south-east are typically financially motivated, with the victims being held for ransom. In March 2013, an expatriate was kidnapped by a criminal network from the suburb of Victoria Island in Lagos. In March 2014 an armed group stopped a car in the Abuja suburb of Waru, in an apparent attempt to kidnap an expatriate worker. The vehicle travelled a regular route through the suburb and usually carried expatriate passengers.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.
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 do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Nigeria at this time due to the unpredictable security situation and the heightened risk of violent political demonstrations and civil unrest. The situation could deteriorate without warning.
Ongoing risk of political and inter-communal violence across Nigeria:
There is an ongoing risk of serious inter-communal violence and unrest throughout the country, particularly in the central and northern regions of Nigeria. This includes the states of Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa and Benue in the central region and Bauchi, Borno, Katsina, Sokoto and Kano states and the cities of Kaduna, Jos, Kano, Maiduguri, Bauchi and Katsina in the north. In recent years, thousands of civilians have been killed in serious inter-communal violence and civil unrest in these areas.
You should avoid all protests, rallies and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
The next general election is scheduled for February 2015 (14 February, Presidential and General Assemby; 28 February, State Governship and Houses of Assemby) with the campaign period starting on 16 November 2014. While elections in Nigeria are generally peaceful, violent incidents have occurred in the past during campaigns and following the announcement of results. You should avoid political events and polling booths during the election period.
Be alert to changes in the security environment and monitor the local media and other sources of information for developments that may heighten existing inter-communal tensions. You could be caught up in violence directed at others.
The ability of the Australian Government to provide consular services to Australians in these areas may be severely limited.
There is a high level of serious crime throughout Nigeria. Kidnapping, violent assault, armed robbery, banditry, home invasion, and carjacking are prevalent across Nigeria. You should pay strict attention to your personal safety and security at all times.
Crime increases at night in most areas, particularly in major cities and on highways. We strongly advise you not to travel after dark. The number of authorised and unauthorised checkpoints in city centres also increases at night and requests to pay on-the-spot fines are not uncommon.
There is a high risk of crime in and around the international airport in Lagos, on the roads between the airports in Lagos, Abuja and other urban centres. Assaults and robberies are common on public transport and when travelling unaccompanied on taxis. Prearranged collection/drop off at airports and hotels by someone who is known to you or whose identity you can verify will help to minimise the risk. Criminals have been known to pose as police or military personnel and bogus greeters at the airport.
Visitors have been abducted and robbed when collected from their hotel by criminals claiming to represent a company where the visitor has an appointment. Ensure that you can verify and identify who you are meeting and where. Avoid meeting in places on the outskirts of urban centres. You should question any last minute changes in arrangements and should not disclose personal information unnecessarily. To minimise the risk, you should make your own arrangements with a reputable hire car company or hire cars with drivers available at most major hotels.
Due to the relatively high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.
Commercial and internet fraud: Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in Nigeria. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some have been killed. You should closely scrutinise all commercial ventures and job offers that originate from Nigeria from people unknown to you and not send money until proper checks are made. 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 Nigerian government contract or to supply crude oil and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Nigeria for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a Nigerian financial scam, we advise you to obtain legal advice and not to travel to Nigeria to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our information on international scams provides more detail on these types of scams.
If you are travelling to Nigeria, you should inform relatives and friends that they may receive phone calls and emails from bogus hospitals or doctors in Nigeria claiming that an Australian traveller has been injured and money is required to be sent for medical treatment. Your relatives and friends in Australia should treat any requests for money with caution and ensure that the contact is genuine, including emails purportedly sent by you, as this is a common method of extorting money. If they have been unsuccessful in attempts to contact you and remain concerned, they should then contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consular Emergency Centre (see Where to Get Help for contact details). To minimise the risk, you should be careful about disclosing personal information and disposing of personal documents while in Nigeria.
An increasing number of Australian citizens have also been defrauded or had their lives endangered by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating out of Nigeria. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Scammers will often spend months developing an online relationship before asking for money, for example, to enable travel to Australia or for medical costs. Each request is followed by another for ever increasing amounts. When the money is received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely. In some instances, foreigners who have travelled to Nigeria to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner have been kidnapped and held to ransom, assaulted and robbed.
Money and valuables
Nigeria is a cash economy and the use of ATM and credit cards is not recommended due to the prevalence of fraud. You should carefully consider when and where to use your cards or access internet banking. Facilities for changing travellers' cheques and Australian dollars are limited.
Australians should review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe abroad.
Heightened security arrangements, including roadblocks, vehicle checkpoints, traffic diversions and parking restrictions, are in place throughout Nigeria, particularly in major cities. You may be expected to show identity documents, car registration and ownership papers or to pay an on-the-spot fine. You should expect delays as a result of security checks.
Driving in Nigeria can be dangerous, especially at night, due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles, poor local driving habits, unpredictable pedestrians and inadequate road lighting. You should avoid unnecessary travel after dark.
Be vigilant in traffic jams and at traffic lights. Keep car windows up, doors locked and ensure any valuables are kept out of sight.
Nigeria’s borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger can be closed at short notice.
Fuel shortages are common and motorists should ensure they have adequate fuel for their journey, particularly in the northern regions.
For further advice, see our road travel page.
Piracy and armed robbery of ships at anchor occurs in the coastal areas of the Niger Delta near Lagos and in the Gulf of Guinea. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea. See our travel bulletin on piracy for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its web site.
Airline and air charter safety and maintenance standards vary throughout the world. It is not known whether maintenance procedures and safety standards on aircraft used on internal flights are always properly observed or whether passengers are covered by airline insurance.
Following a number of crashes over the last several years, there are also concerns about the safety and reliability of some airline companies operating domestic flights within Nigeria.
On 3 June 2012, a Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed in the outskirts of Lagos killing all 153 people on board.
Domestic flights are often delayed or cancelled at short notice.
See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation incidents in Nigeria.
Please also refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
If you choose to travel to Nigeria, 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. Conditions of detention in Nigeria can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. 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 drug offences are severe and may include lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.
The death penalty may be imposed for other serious crimes such as murder and armed robbery.
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria. It is an offence to enter into a same-sex marriage or civil union and penalties include imprisonment of up to 14 years. It is also an offence to register, operate or participate in gay clubs, societies or organisations, or make any public show of a same-sex relationship. Penalties for these offences include imprisonment for up to 10 years. Twelve northern Nigerian states have adopted Islamic Sharia laws, criminalising sexual activities between persons of the same sex. Adults convicted of engaging in homosexual activity in these states may be subject to the death penalty. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Taking photographs of government buildings is illegal and can lead to detention.
Smoking is banned in public places.
Offences such as stealing and adultery may attract strict penalties in the northern states that impose Sharia Law.
It is illegal to export African art, particularly antiques, from Nigeria without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities.
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.
Travellers should behave and dress conservatively outside large urban areas, especially in the central and northern regions of Nigeria.
Islamic Sharia Law has been introduced in some states in the north and is being increasingly enforced.
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.
Information for dual nationals
Australian-Nigerian dual nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 may be required to undertake the National Youth Service Corps program. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nigeria for further information.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information.
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 are limited in Nigeria. The standard of heath care can vary in major centres, but is very basic in rural areas. Pharmaceuticals are often in short supply and poor quality substitutes are often used. Upfront payment for services is usually required and the inability to pay will often delay treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (usually to London, Paris or Johannesburg) would be necessary, with costs ranging from $A13,000 to $A200,000 depending on circumstances.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Nigeria is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in west Africa, centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (WHO Disease Outbreak News). A limited outbreak has been confirmed in Nigeria. As a measure to control the disease, Nigeria has introduced health screening measures for passengers arriving and departing at all airports in Nigeria. For more information, see the Ebola outbreak in West Africa travel bulletin.
Nigeria 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 Nigeria. 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 Nigeria. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
On 5 May 2014 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the recent international spread of wild poliovirus a “public health emergency of international concern” and has issued temporary recommendations that may affect your travel to Nigeria.
It is recommended that Australians travelling to Nigeria are up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including a booster dose, as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook, prior to departure.
Australian travellers planning to visit Nigeria, and staying for periods greater than four weeks, are encouraged to carry documented evidence of having received a dose of polio vaccine within 12 months prior to departure from Nigeria. If you do not have documented evidence of polio vaccination within this 12 month period, you may be encouraged to be vaccinated prior to departure from Nigeria.
Please see your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Further information is available from the Australian Government Department of Health polio website.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, lassa fever, measles and meningitis) 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 Health Organization (WHO) confirmed a human death from avian influenza in Nigeria. Australians intending to travel to Nigeria should discuss the risk of avian influenza with their doctor as part of their routine pre-travel health checks. See our health page and Avian Influenza bulletin for further information on influenza.
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 provider, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the Nigerian police service. The national emergency number in Nigeria is 199.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
To contact the Australian Government for consular assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, which outlines what we can and cannot help you with, see contact details below:
Australian High Commission, Abuja
48 Aguiyi Ironsi Street
Maitama Abuja NIGERIA
Telephone: (234 9) 461 2780
Office mobile: (234) (0) 803 307 3519
Facsimile: (234 9) 461 2782
Website: www.nigeria.highcommission.gov.au/. See the High Commission website for information about opening hours.
The Australian Honorary Consulate in Lagos provides limited consular assistance (not including the issuing of passports):
Australian Honorary Consulate, Lagos
8th Floor Union Marble House
1 Alfred Rewane Road (formerly Kingsway), Falomo
Ikoyi Lagos, NIGERIA
Telelphone: (234 1) 8179492
Facsimile: (234 1) 8935409
Mobile: +234 803 300 7291
If you are travelling to Nigeria, 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.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The rainy season extends from May to October when some roads may become impassable.
The dry season extends from November to April. During this period, central and northern Nigeria may be affected by Harmattan, a seasonal wind which blows a high amount of sand and dust in the air. Visibility may be severely limited.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.