Fire and rescue services
Call 69, or go to the hospital.
Call 117, or go to the nearest police station.
We haven't changed our overall level of advice:
Exercise a high degree of caution in Benin overall.
Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.
Reconsider your need to travel to border areas with Niger and 70km of the border with Nigeria in Alibori and Borgou regions.
Reconsider your need to travel to border areas with Niger and 70km of the border with Nigeria in Alibori and Borgou regions, due to the high rate of violent crime and the risk of terrorist attack and kidnapping. See Safety
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Violent crime is common, especially in Cotonou and regions bordering Nigeria.
Crimes include robberies and carjackings. Carjacking occurs more often at night.
Petty crime, like pickpocketing, is common in the Dantokpa markets in Cotonou, and near:
Criminals also target beaches, bars, restaurants and tourist spots.
To stay safe:
Scammers usually operate in one of two ways.
They may ask their friend or prospective marriage partner to send them money to travel to Australia. After they get the money, they end the relationship. Victims rarely get their money back.
Commercial internet fraud is common in West African countries.
Internet scams may offer romance, friendship, business or job offers.
Scam victims often lose money. If you travel to the scammer's country to meet someone or get money back, you risk kidnapping, assault and robbery. Sometimes scam victims are killed.
Friendship, dating and marriage scams often start in internet dating sites or chat rooms.
To avoid scams:
If you're the victim of a scam, get legal advice.
Don't travel to Benin to get your money back.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
In recent years, terrorists have attacked Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
A terror attack could happen anywhere, including places foreigners go.
To stay safe from terrorism:
If an attack happens, leave the area as soon as it's safe. Avoid the affected area because further attacks may follow.
Terrorist activity in Mali, Niger and eastern Burkina Faso may spill over into northern Benin.
Large-scale armed theft occurs in this area.
Terrorists in Mali and Nigeria have carried out several recent kidnappings in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
In Pendjari National Park, 2 French tourists and their Beninese guide were kidnapped on 1 May 2019. The guide was killed.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't make payments or concessions to kidnappers.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To reduce your risk:
Strong ocean currents occur along the coast. Many people drown each year.
Get advice from locals before swimming. Don't swim alone.
If a natural disaster occurs:
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
In the south, the rainy seasons are April to July and September to October. In the north, the rainy season is June to September.
During rainy seasons, severe weather and flooding can damage bridges and roads.
Benin experiences a seasonal wind called the Harmattan from December to March. This wind blows sand and dust into the air, which may limit what you can see.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Benin. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Medicine is in short supply in Benin. People often use poor-quality substitutes. Carry enough for your entire stay.
Yellow fever is common in Benin. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal virus spread by mosquitoes. It's prevented by vaccination. Get vaccinated before you travel.
Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in Benin and other West African countries.
To protect yourself from disease:
Consider taking medicine to prevent malaria.
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
The HIV/AIDS infection rate is high. Take precautions before you do anything that puts you at risk of infection.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases occur in Benin. These include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
In 2016, there were 100s of cases of cholera, mostly in Cotonou.
To protect yourself from illness:
If you swim in fresh water, you may be exposed to waterborne diseases.
Get medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
The standard of medical facilities is poor. Medical facilities in major towns are limited. Rural areas may have basic care, or none at all.
Doctors and hospitals usually need you to pay before they will treat you. If you can't pay, they'll often delay your treatment.
If you are seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to somewhere with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
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.
Penalties for drug offences include long prison sentences and heavy fines.
It's illegal to take photos of:
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
If you hold an Australian passport, you need a visa to enter Benin.
You can apply online for a short stay single or multiple entry e-visa.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of Benin for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Central African Franc (CFA Franc or XOF).
Benin's economy is cash-based. ATMs are rare outside major centres. Many businesses don't accept credit cards.
It's hard to exchange Australian dollars in Benin. You can exchange US dollars and euros at commercial banks and exchange bureaus.
Plan ahead and take enough cash to meet your needs.
Contact your bank to check you can access your money in Benin.
Credit and debit card fraud is common.
Benin's border with Nigeria can close at short notice. Check with local authorities before travelling.
You can drive in Benin with:
Get your IDP before you leave Australia.
You're 5 times more likely to die in a road accident in Benin than in Australia.
Driving hazards include:
Criminal activity happens, especially near the Benin-Nigeria border. Unofficial checkpoints and highway bandits are common.
Most roads outside of Cotonou are unsealed and poorly maintained. Some unsealed roads are unusable during the rainy seasons.
Fuel shortages are common in rural areas of northern Benin.
Police sometimes check vehicles at temporary road blocks. They may ask for your ID and vehicle registration papers.
Witnesses to road accidents can react strongly towards people who they think are at fault.
To stay safe on the road:
Don't travel overland to or from Nigeria.
If you travel to rural areas, take extra fuel, drinking water and first aid supplies.
Make sure your travel insurance covers you when using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Only use registered taxis and limousines. It's best to arrange them through your hotel.
There is no reliable public transport in Benin.
Avoid long-distance buses. They're poorly maintained and often overloaded.
Travel on river craft is dangerous. They can be overloaded and may not have lifesaving equipment.
Always wear a life jacket, even if others don't.
The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Benin's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 69, or go to the hospital.
Call 117, or go to the nearest police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia doesn't have an embassy in Benin.
You can access limited consular services from the Australian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.
Contact the High Commission for an appointment.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.