Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Benin International Travel Information
Travelers to Benin must present a valid passport and visa to enter the country. Visas are not available upon entry at the airport or at any land or sea arrival point.
Benin offers an eVisa for tourism, business, and transit travelers. An application for an eVisa can be made online between 7 and 90 days before you travel. The eVisa is generally valid for 30 or 90 days. However, U.S. citizens can extend the validity to 36 months without additional costs by presenting a valid eVisa and a U.S. passport to the nearest Beninese embassy or consular office. While in the United States, requests for this extension can be made at the Embassy of Benin, located at:
2124 Kalorama Road NW
Washington, DC 20008
Visit the website of the Embassy of Benin for contact information and for details on the most current visa and entry requirements.
As of 2019, visitors to Benin must receive a yellow fever vaccine and must present a World Health Organization Yellow Card (Carte Jaune) at entry to document that the vaccine was administered. Visit the World Health Organization for more information on the Yellow Card and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about obtaining a yellow fever vaccine.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Benin.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected and focused on vulnerable targets, such as:
Extremist groups have carried out attacks in areas of Burkina Faso adjacent to Benin’s northern border, near Park Pendjari, Park W, and adjacent hunting zones. Attacks may occur with little or no warning. Western tourists have been kidnapped in Park Pendjari in northern Benin. U.S. government employees are restricted from personal travel to Park Pendjari, Park W, other areas within 50 km of Benin’s northern border with Burkina Faso, and areas north of the RNIE 7 route from Banikoara to the Nigerian border (not including the cities of Kandi and Segbana). The U.S. Department of State recommends tourists reconsider travel to these areas.
For more information, see our terrorism page.
Crime: Street crime is a significant problem in urban areas. Robbery and muggings occur on major thoroughfares and in neighborhoods, including those where expatriates and diplomatic staff live, where popular bars and restaurants are located, and on the beaches near hotels frequented by international visitors. Most reported incidents involve the use of force, by armed persons, with minor injury to the victim. There have been reports of individuals impersonating police officers.
Travelers should avoid the Dantokpa Market between the hours of dusk and dawn.
Demonstrations occur occasionally. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Benin. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at +(229) 21-30-30-25 or +(229) 21-30-20-11, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(229) 21-30-75-00. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Those who witness or are victimized by police fraud and/or corruption can call the “Green Line” of the Beninese Police at 166 to report what they have experienced.
The U.S. Embassy can:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is limited. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. Depending on the nature of an injury or illness, appropriate medical treatment may not be available in Benin. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance.
See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Beach Safety: Swimming conditions along Benin’s coastline are dangerous due to strong tides, waves, and rip currents, and several people drown each year. Some private beaches offer increased protection, such as sea walls. Always learn about the water conditions at any beach before attempting to swim.
Maritime Security: Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue to trend upwards. Pirates/armed groups operating in the region typically carry out attacks on vessels using automatic weapons. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom, and robbery of crew, passengers, and ship’s property continue to be common occurrences.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities prior to practicing or operating a business.
U.S. citizens have been arrested and imprisoned for failing to pay debts.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTQI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations; however, LGBTQI+ lifestyle and rights are not widely accepted and confined to urban centers. LGBTQI+ travelers may face discrimination in both private and public forms. The organization of private LGBTQI+ events in Benin has no legal restrictions. However, public events of any nature require prior governmental approval.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Most buildings, businesses, government offices, and medical facilities do not provide special features accommodation for persons with mobility issues. Public transportation catering to those with mobility issues is almost non-existent. Many roads are unpaved and lack usable sidewalks.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
For emergency services in Benin, dial 116.
Ambulance services are:
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on types of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Ministry of the Interior of the Government of Benin.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health Facilities in General:
Water Quality: In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
Adventure Travel: Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
The following diseases and illnesses are prevalent:
Road Conditions and Safety: Motorbikes and motorcycles are extremely prevalent on the roads in Benin and will unexpectedly appear or switch lanes. Traffic signals are rare and may not be operational or followed. Pedestrians, non-motorized carts, broken-down vehicles, and debris are often present in even the busiest of roads.
Roads in Benin are generally in poor condition. During the rainy season (from mid-June to mid-September), dirt roads become impassable. Four-wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended.
Gasoline smuggled from Nigeria is widely available in glass bottles and jugs at informal roadside stands throughout Cotonou and much of the country. This gasoline is of unreliable quality, as it often contains water or other contaminants that can damage or disable your vehicle. Drivers should purchase fuel only from official service stations. There are periodic gas shortages, especially in the north of the country where there are fewer service stations.
The U.S. Embassy prohibits travel by diplomatic personnel outside of metropolitan areas after dusk and urges all U.S. citizens to avoid night driving due to road safety and crime concerns.
Traffic Laws: Traffic moves on the right. In traffic circles, vehicles inside the circle must yield to those entering. Many drivers do not follow traffic laws.
When stopped by the police, you must have all of your vehicle’s documentation available to present to the authorities.
Public Transportation: Cotonou has a limited public transportation system. Many Beninese people rely on bicycles, mopeds, and motorbikes for hire (known as “zemidjans”). Travelers using zemidjans, particularly at night, are much more vulnerable to being mugged, assaulted, or robbed. Buses and private taxis offer service in the interior. U.S. Embassy personnel are required to wear safety helmets when on a motorcycle and are prohibited from using zemidjans.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Benin, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Benin’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Benin should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.