Foreign travel advice

Nigeria

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • Borno State
  • Yobe State
  • Adamawa State
  • Gombe State
  • riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States
  • within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: 

  • Bauchi State
  • Zamfara State
  • Kano State
  • Kaduna State
  • Jigawa State
  • Katsina State
  • Kogi State
  • within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi States
  • Non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State
  • Abia State

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno (including central Maiduguri and along access routes connecting the city to other major towns), Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe States. There have also been significant attacks in Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi States and in the capital Abuja.

Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests as well as places visited by tourists. Major towns and cities remain particularly at risk, including Kano, Kaduna and Abuja as the federal capital. You should avoid places where crowds gather, including religious gatherings and insecure spaces like places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people.

There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Recent terrorist kidnaps have occurred mostly in northern Nigeria, but could occur anywhere. There are reports that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap foreigners, including in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state, along the Kumshe-Banki axis.

There’s a high threat of terrorist kidnapping in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence or Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). As well as north east Nigeria, this is believed to include some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.

If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnap. There is a high threat of criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta region and Kogi state. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism.

You should be aware of your surroundings and avoid large crowds and public demonstrations as they can turn violent unexpectedly and at short notice. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby unrest or disturbances, you should leave the area immediately. Violent crime is common.

UK health authorities have classified Nigeria as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Before considering travel to areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel you should take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. If you’re working in Nigeria you should follow your employer’s security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly. The level of consular assistance available to British nationals in areas to which the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel is limited.

Flash flooding can occur during the wet season (June to October). There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks take place in northern and north east Nigeria. However, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere. Further attacks could be indiscriminate, and could target places visited by foreigners, like restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship.

Attacks have targeted public places where crowds gather, including places of worship, markets, football viewing centres, displacement camps, transport terminals, government buildings, security and educational institutions (schools, further education colleges and universities are all regular targets), and international organisations. Attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays in public or crowded places, including places of worship.

You should avoid places where there are political or other large public gatherings. Be vigilant, remain alert and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. You should follow local news reports and be alert to developments and you should be particularly vigilant around religious and public holidays. A heavy security presence often indicates areas of particularly high risk. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

Significant attacks have included:

  • December 2016 – 2 suicide bombers attack the town of Madagali, Borno State, killing at least 57 people and injured 177

  • February 2016 – 2 female suicide bombers detonated themselves in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Dikwa, Borno State, killing more than 70 and injuring 78 others

  • January 2016 – Boko Haram attacked the village of Dalori, near Maiduguri, Borno State, killing at least 86 and injuring more than 100 others

  • 25 June 2014, an explosion occurred in the Apapa area of Lagos killing 5 people

  • in August 2011, a Boko Haram attack against the United Nations building in Abuja killed 23 people

Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings (including by child and female bombers), car bombings and fire bombings.

Since September 2015, there have been a number of actual and attempted suicide attacks against IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) facilities in Borno and Adamawa. There has also been an increase in suicide attacks in central Maiduguri, Borno State since October 2016.

On 7 June 2017, Boko Haram launched co-ordinated attacks in the south-west and eastern areas of Maiduguri, Borno State, targeting mosques, residential areas and educational institutions. Initial reports indicated that at least 14 people were killed and a further 40 injured.

Terrorist kidnaps

Ansaru and Boko Haram have carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Recent attacks have occurred in the north, but could occur anywhere. There are reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are actively planning to kidnap foreigners, including in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state, along the Kumshe-Banki axis. There’s a high threat of terrorist kidnapping in areas where there is a Boko Haram or ISWA presence. As well as north east Nigeria, this is believed to include some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa states.

If you’re working or travelling in areas where there is a Boko Haram presence, especially in the north-east of Nigeria, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping. You should exercise vigilance in crowded public places, including religious gatherings and insecure spaces like places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, transport hubs and camps for displaced people.

On 25 July 2017, a group of civilians with military escort were ambushed in Magumeri LGA. At least 30 people were killed and hostages were taken.

Boko Haram have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon.

  • a German national was kidnapped in Adamawa State in July 2014 by Boko Haram; he was subsequently released

  • a British construction worker was kidnapped and murdered along with 6 colleagues in Bauchi State. Ansaru claimed responsibility on 16 February 2013

  • in December 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Katsina State, reportedly from a residential compound; Ansaru claimed responsibility for the attack; he subsequently escaped on 17 November 2013

  • in January 2012 a German national was kidnapped in Kano and killed in the city on 31 May 2012

  • in May 2011 a British national and an Italian national were kidnapped together in Kebbi State both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012; Ansaru are believed to have been responsible for their deaths

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
For information on criminal kidnaps see Safety and Security.

The main terrorist threat in Nigeria comes from Islamist extremist groups Boko Haram, ISWA and Ansaru.

Military operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) are ongoing but both groups remain a threat to security in the region. Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger have contributed troops to a Multi-national Joint Task Force to combat the terrorists.

Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA)

Boko Haram or Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JASDJ) is an Islamist terrorist group operating in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The group aspire to establish a Sharia State in Nigeria and West Africa, destabilise the Nigerian government and remove western influence from the country.

The group was formerly linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On 12 March 2015, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) accepted a pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram. In August 2016, the group split into 2 factions: Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and JASDJ or Boko Haram. ISWA is affiliated with ISIS core in Iraq and Syria and has expressed an intention to target Nigerian government, Christian and western interests.

Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa) (Ansaru)

Ansaru is an Islamist terrorist organisation based in northern Nigeria, and is proscribed by the UK. It emerged in 2012 and is motivated by an anti-Nigerian Government and anti-Western agenda.

Ansaru is broadly aligned with Al Qaeda. Since 2012, the group has kidnapped at least 8 hostages, mainly Europeans. They are believed to have killed a number of hostages, including 2 British nationals.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Safety and security

Local travel

Violence can erupt quickly and without warning in Nigeria. You should follow local news reports and be alert to developments that might trigger civil unrest.

If you’re working in Nigeria, you should follow your employer’s local security guidelines. You are strongly advised to take professional security advice, be vigilant at all times and review your security measures regularly. Keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. Make sure your accommodation is secure and consider pre-deployment training or travelling under close protection.

Inter-communal violence can occur throughout Nigeria, particularly in the central belt states. You should be alert to local government announcements and media reporting, and seek advice before travelling to the affected areas.

Political rallies, protests and violent demonstrations can occur with little notice throughout the country. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations. There is the potential for increased tension on Fridays. Keep yourself informed of developments and if you encounter a threatening or intimidating situation, don’t try to make your way through it. Turn round and move to safety.

On 12 December 2015 a clash in Zaria, Kaduna State between Nigerian security forces and The Islamic Movement in Nigeria resulted in a number of deaths. There have been subsequent lower level clashes in Kano State. Be vigilant and take local advice on areas to avoid.Take particular care if you’re visiting crowded public places or attending events which attract large crowds. Criminals often use these situations as cover for robbery and theft.

Swimming off the coast of Nigeria is dangerous due to rip tides and undertows, drownings occur each year. You should take care and seek local advice.

Northern Nigeria

The FCO advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State and Gombe State where there are frequent violent attacks. The main threat is from extremists linked to Boko Haram and ISWA.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, Kogi State, Jos City, and the Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas in Plateau State where there is a high risk of violent attacks and inter-communal tensions can lead to outbreaks of violence.

If you travel to areas to which the FCO advise against travel, you’re particularly at risk and will need a high level of security. If you’re working in northern Nigeria you should make sure your employers provide an adequate level of security where you live and where you work and make sure they regularly review security arrangements. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement. Westerners have been kidnapped from protected compounds.

Regular military operations are ongoing in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. If you live or work in Nigeria you should monitor developments in these states and announcements by the state governments as there is an increased threat of retaliatory attacks elsewhere in Nigeria as a result of these military operations.

The Niger Delta States

The FCO advise against all travel to the riverine areas (ie the river and swamp locations on or close to the coast accessible by boat, but not by road) of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Abia State and non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.

Militant groups are active across the Niger Delta area and have carried out a number of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure. There’s a high risk of armed robbery, criminality and criminal kidnap in the Niger Delta area.

Political rallies and violent demonstrations can occur at short notice. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately.

Criminal kidnaps

There’s a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region and Kogi State. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, or can be motivated by criminality

There is a high threat of kidnapping and other armed attacks targeting oil and gas facilities and workers in the Niger Delta region. This also applies to ships and oil rigs at sea off the coast of the Niger Delta. British nationals of Nigerian origin visiting friends and relatives are often perceived as being wealthier than locals and are at particular risk of kidnap for ransom.

When arranging meetings in Nigeria make sure those who attend are known to you and hold the meeting at a secure location.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.

Since 2013 at least 6 British and dual British nationals, and many other foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta region. One British national has been killed.
In 2015, several foreign nationals were kidnapped in Kogi State. In June 2016, 7 people, including 5 foreign nationals, were kidnapped near Calabar, in Cross Rivers State. In February 2017 two German nationals were kidnapped in Kaduna State.

There have been a number of robberies and kidnappings in Abia, Edo and Anambra States, particularly along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra State.

Curfews

There are often curfews in parts of Maiduguri, Borno State and Adamawa State. Curfews and restrictions on the movement of vehicles, can be imposed, amended and lifted at short notice throughout Nigeria.

Failure to comply with all curfews and movement restrictions could put you at significant risk. You should check with the local authorities or someone with local knowledge for up to date information on curfews and restrictions before you travel.

Maritime security

There have been armed robberies and incidents of piracy in Nigerian waters, the wider Gulf of Guinea, and on the rivers and harbours in the Niger Delta area. Mariners should seek professional security advice, be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Crime

Throughout Nigeria there are high levels of violent street crime including muggings, kidnappings, car-jackings and armed robbery.

Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals as their perceived wealth makes them an attractive victim.

You should be vigilant at all times, even if staying with friends and family, follow the security guidance offered by employers or hosts and limit road travel at night as far as possible. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear valuable watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. If you suspect danger, move to a safer area.

If you’re caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough.

Scams

British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms including romance and friendship, business ventures and work or employment opportunities. Scams can pose great financial risk to victims. You should be very cautious about any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa. You can read more about scam or ‘419’emails and letters on the Action Fraud website.

If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Nigeria you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.

People have received scam e-mails claiming to be from a British High Commission office in Nigeria. If you receive an email that appears to be from any British High Commission office in Nigeria asking for bank details or money, you should immediately contact the Consular Section of the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.

If you’re considering fertility treatment in Nigeria, you should be cautious. There have been a number of staged fake births (commonly called ‘miracle babies’) which result in visitors being falsely led to believe they have given birth. You should be aware of the risks associated with bringing a child who is not biologically related to you into the UK without following appropriate legal procedures.

Road travel

Road travel across Nigeria can be chaotic and slow moving. You should take a mobile telephone and a supply of bottled water with you when travelling by car.

You should limit travel after dark outside city centres as far as possible; and avoid quiet and poorly lit roads. You should be particularly vigilant when sitting in traffic jams or at traffic lights. Keep car windows up and doors locked, and make sure valuables are out of sight. If you feel your vehicle is being followed, drive to the nearest place of safety (eg the nearest police station).

You should take particular care when driving outside cities and consider travelling in convoy and avoid travel after dark.

In Lagos, eating, smoking or using a mobile phone while driving and riding a motorcycle without a helmet are prohibited. Motorists face fines or imprisonment for violations.

There are authorised and unauthorised vehicle checkpoints throughout Nigeria. Some are for security checks, others to extort small payments of money. You should slow down at any type of checkpoint and use common sense at all times.

There are frequent reports of robberies and car-jackings, some involving armed gunmen, on Nigeria’s urban and rural road network.

Public transport throughout Nigeria is dangerous. Taxis and long distance buses are often poorly maintained, uninsured and driven by unqualified drivers. Most major hotels offer cars for hire with drivers. You should use these where possible.

If you are expecting a greeter or driver to collect you at any of Nigeria’s international airports, make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. Bogus greeters are a problem.

Air travel

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Nigeria.

Med-View airline has been refused permission to operate services to the EU due to safety deficiencies. However, Med-View airline may continue to operate services to the EU using aircraft leased from other airlines. You can find a full list of airlines banned from operating within the EU on the European Commission website. Refusal of permission to operate is often based on inspections of aircraft at EU airports. The fact that an airline isn’t included in the list doesn’t automatically mean that it meets the applicable safety standards. British government employees travelling within Nigeria have been advised to use carriers that aren’t subject to the EU operating ban.

Arik Air has suspended a number of flights due to operational difficulties. If you have a booking with Arik Air, check with the airline or your travel company in case your flight is affected.

Airlines flying between Nigeria and London can occasionally become overbooked.

Political situation

President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party was democratically elected in March 2015. He was the first opposition candidate to win an election in Nigeria. The elections were widely considered to be free and fair.

Before President Buhari took office, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party was President from 2010 – 2015. The next Presidential elections are due in 2019.

The current Nigerian Constitution was enacted in 1999 and restored democratic rule to Nigeria, bringing an end to 30 years of military rule.

Nigeria’s National Day falls on 1 October, and marks the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960.

Local laws and customs

Homosexuality is generally viewed as unacceptable in Nigeria. The ‘Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill’ allows lengthy prison sentences for those entering into a same sex marriage, those witnessing, aiding or abetting a same sex marriage, the operation and support of gay clubs, societies and organisations and the public display of same sex relationships.

Possession, use of or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offence and can result in lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines.

It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, textile fabrics, jewellery, and precious metals. It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorisation from the Department of Antiquities. Contact the Nigeria High Commission in London for more information about customs requirements.

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. You should behave and dress modestly, particularly in the north and when visiting religious sites.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June.

Photography of government, military buildings and airports may lead to arrest.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You should get a valid visa before travelling.

Some business travellers might be eligible to apply for a visa on arrival. Applications for a visa on arrival must be made in advance and applicants must obtain a pre-approval letter from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) before travelling. Guidance on applying for a visa on arrival is available on the NIS website.

If you have a valid Nigerian residence permit (CERPAC or Green Card) you don’t need a visa to enter Nigeria.

For further information on entry requirements, contact the Nigeria High Commission in London.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Nigeria.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK ETDs are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Nigeria providing they are endorsed with the appropriate visa.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Medical facilities in some parts of Nigeria may only be very basic. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. The British High Commission publishes a list of medical providers.

You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Serious tropical illnesses like malaria, typhoid, Lassa fever and yellow fever occur in Nigeria. There are continuing reports of Lassa fever in several states. You should monitor local media for updates.

UK health authorities have classified Nigeria as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

The World Health Organisation declared Nigeria free of Ebola on 20 October 2014, following 20 confirmed cases earlier in the year.

Money

Nigeria is mainly a cash economy although the use of credit and debit cards is increasing – especially in the big cities. If you intend to use cash, make sure you bring enough foreign currency to cover costs. It is illegal to change money on the street and travellers cheques are difficult to cash. Credit card fraud is common, so take care if using your card. You should take advice from your card issuer before travelling if you intend to use your credit or debit card in Nigeria.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.