Niger travel guide
One of the world’s poorest nations, Niger might be a challenging destination to travel around, but rewards abound for those willing to persevere. And with political stability returning to this West African nation, it is slowly opening up to tourists.
A country shaped by Saharan trade routes, visitors came and went through this land for centuries, leaving behind them a wonderful fusion of Arab and African traditions.
Agadez and Zinder sprung up along these now defunct routes and today these cities retain their ancient mercantile charm. Comprised of beautiful adobe dwellings, their labyrinthine streets are home to bustling markets, which sell pottery, leather and other decorative pieces. Zinder is also renowned for its extravagant Ramadan festival, during which horsemen can be seen riding through the streets in the most flamboyant fashion.
Unlike Agadez and Zinder, Niger’s capital, Niamey, was never a site of trans-Saharan trade, and remained relatively unimportant until the 20th century. It continues to be possibly the least-hurried and most relaxed capital in the region. Situated on the lush banks of the Niger River, from which the country takes its name, Niamey is the commercial centre and a great place to delve into local life.
Niger’s biggest cultural event, however, occurs out in the desert town of Ingall. At the end of the rainy season the town’s population of 500 swells to several thousand as Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads attend the annual Cure Salée festival. The centrepiece is the Wodaabe gerewol, during which unmarried men adopt extravagant makeup and sing rhythmic chants in the hope of impressing a future bride.
Naturalists are also well catered for in Niger, which is home to a number of national parks, most famously W Regional Park, a haven for lions, leopards, elephants, baboons and much more. Ultimately, though, it’s Niger’s ancient cities, time-honoured festivals and nomadic culture that make this friendly country so beguiling.
1,267,000 sq km (489,191 sq miles).
20,715,285 (UN estimate 2016).
14.2 per sq km.
President Mohamed Bazoum since 2021 was removed in a military coup in July 2023. General Abdourahmane Tchiani is head of the new National Council for Safeguarding the Fatherland, since July 2023.
Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zène since 2023.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
FCDO advises against all travel to Niger
Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice.
FCDO advises against all travel to Niger, including the capital city of Niamey, for security reasons.
Security situation in Niger
There has been a military takeover in Niger, which has led to protests and unrest.
These protests may be violent and the security situation could change quickly without warning.
Travel within or out of Niger is at your own risk. The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of travelling to any departure point within Niger.
Nigerien airspace has reopened, however there could be disruptions to commercial flights from Niamey’s Diori International Airport at short notice.
Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.
British Embassy in Niger
The British Embassy in Niamey does not offer consular assistance. Consular support is provided from the British Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria. They cannot provide in-person assistance.
Help and support
If you are a British national in Niger and need assistance, contact FCDO’s 24-7 services in Lagos by telephone on +234 (1) 277 0782 and select option 2 for consular services for British nationals.
If you are in the UK and worried about a British person in Niger, you can call FCDO in London 24-7 on 020 7008 5000.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Niger set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Niger Consulate in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Niger.
Passport validity requirements
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity is needed.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You will need a visa to enter Niger. You can apply for a visa from the Nigerien Consulate in Milton Keynes.
Visit the consulate’s website for application forms, payment, and more information on requirements.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Niger guide.
All arrivals in Niger require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Niger. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
Niger is a cash-based society. Credit cards are rarely accepted even in hotels and restaurants visited by international clients. There are few ATMs. Banks accept travellers cheques. You will have to produce your passport and the receipt for the cheques from the issuing bank.
There is a high threat of terrorist attacks globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Niger
Terrorists are very likely to try and carry out attacks in Niger.
There is a heightened risk of attack in Niamey. Attacks could be indiscriminate and occur without warning, including in places visited by foreigners. You should be especially vigilant and where possible avoid places frequented by foreigners, such as:
- diplomatic premises
- conference centres
- locations popular with tourists and foreigners
- sporting and cultural events
- shopping centres
- transport hubs
- religious sites and places of worship, particularly churches
- national parks and nature reserves; including the Parc du W
- foreign, national or local government buildings
- large crowds
There may be a heightened risk of attack during election periods and religious festivals including the month of Ramadan.
You should be vigilant, monitor announcements and local media, and follow the advice of local authorities.
There have been multiple recent attacks in Niger, particularly in the Diffa and Tillabéri regions. Notable recent attacks include:
- on 2 October 2023, terrorists killed around 30 soldiers in Takanamat, Tahoua
- on 30 September 2023, terrorists killed 33 soldiers in Imbalagan, Tillaberi
- on 16 August 2023, terrorists killed 30 civilians in the Kandadji region, Tillaberi
- on 1 February 2023, terrorists killed 18 people in an attack on a refugee camp in Tillia, Tahoua
- in 2022, an IED explosion took place in Bougoum (approximately 5km from Niamey city limits) killing 2 civilians
- in 2022, a Gendarme Post in Bougoum was attacked by armed individuals on motorbikes
British nationals are seen as legitimate targets, including tourists, humanitarian aid workers, journalists and business travellers. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to protect you or secure your safe release.
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 builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There’s a very high threat of kidnapping by AQ-affiliated and other regional Islamist groups. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), who operate throughout Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso; and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram who operate in the Lake Chad Basin. Criminal groups also carry out kidnaps.
Westerners have been kidnapped in Niger and the wider Sahel region, including in Niamey and the north and west of Niger. In October 2020 an American was kidnapped (and rescued shortly after) in Massalata near the border with Nigeria. In September 2018, a Catholic priest was kidnapped in Makolondi, 125km south-west of Niamey. An aid worker was kidnapped in the Tillabéri region of Niger in April 2018.
If you’re working or travelling in Niger, you should be aware of the risk of terrorist kidnapping. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times, including when travelling. You should be particularly vigilant when walking (in Niamey, you should not cross the bridges over the River Niger on foot at any time), in crowded public places, including camps for displaced people, religious gatherings and insecure spaces like places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, night clubs, restaurants, nature reserves and national parks, and transport hubs. You should make sure you have carefully considered the threat and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place.
There has been a military takeover in Niger, which has led to protests and unrest.
These protests may be violent and the security situation could change quickly without warning.
On 26 July, the Conseil National pour la Sauvegarde de la Patrie (CNSP) launched a military coup which has led to protests and unrest.
The President of Niger, His Excellency Mohamed Bazoum of the PNDS political party, has been detained since 26 July.
Protests, marches and demonstrations can occur with little prior notice and can be violent. If you become aware of any protests, marches or demonstrations, you should move away from the area immediately, as the atmosphere can change quickly and without warning.
Levels of crime, especially in the capital Niamey, are high. Thefts, robberies and residential break-ins can occur at any time. Take sensible precautions to keep important items like money, passports, jewellery and mobile phones safe.
The areas around the Gaweye Hotel, National Museum and Petit Marché in Niamey are particularly prone to muggings. Avoid walking alone there, and do not cross the bridges over the River Niger on foot at any time. Be vigilant when walking anywhere in the city. Walking at night is more dangerous as there’s a lack of street lighting.
There have been attacks on people, including westerners, as they are leaving banks and ATMs. Be careful when using ATMs on the street, never do this at night-time, and if possible use the ATMs available in most large hotels.
Car thieves often target 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Make sure car doors are locked at all times.
Banditry, smuggling and other criminal activity is common in border areas (particularly Maradi, Tillabéri and Diffa). You should take special care and avoid crossing borders after dark.
There have also been hold-ups and robberies on public buses between Tahoua and Agadez and between Agadez and Arlit. In some cases people have been killed.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by internet and other scams. The scams come in many forms – romance and friendship, business ventures, or work and employment opportunities. Victims are at great financial risk.
Laws and cultural differences
Niger is a Muslim country. Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. Be aware of your actions and dress in case they offend, especially during the month of Ramadan or if you visit religious areas.
If you commit a crime you will be subject to local law. Local prison conditions are harsh.
You should carry identification at all times. This would normally be your passport or residence permit. If you drive outside the main towns, authorities are very likely to ask you to produce identification.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. The dates vary by year and country. In 2024 Ramadan in Niger is expected to be from 11 March to 9 April. During this time, do not:
- eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public in the daytime
- play loud music or dance
- swear in public
Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.
Using cameras in secure areas
Do not photograph military or government installations.
There is no law criminalising same-sex sexual activity in Niger. However, there are laws under the Penal Code of 1993 covering ‘public outrage against modesty’ and ‘immodest or unnatural acts’. An ‘unnatural act’ with a person of the same sex who is under the age of 21 can be punishable by a fine of up to 100,000 francs and up to 3 years imprisonment. Although we are not aware of any prosecutions under this legislation, attitudes within society towards LGBT+ people can be discriminatory.
There are no laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and no legal recognition of same-sex couples.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
FCDO continues to advise against all travel to Niger. Travel within or out of Niger is at your own risk. The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of travelling to any departure point within Niger.
If you are planning to drive in Niger, see information on driving abroad.
You can drive in Niger using a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to 3 months. If you’re staying longer than 3 months, you will need to get a Nigerien licence.
You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices – find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.
Carry your UK driving licence and car registration documents with you at all times.
The main roads between Niamey and other large towns are generally satisfactory by African standards, but some roads are pot-holed, conditions are often worse during and just after rainy season. Driving standards are poor. Vehicles often drive without lights at night and there is little street lighting.
Travel around Niger can be difficult, and conditions are poor for overland travel. Avoid travelling between towns at night.
Aim to use local travel agents and guides when travelling outside main towns and in desert areas. An approved local travel agent can arrange all the necessary permits for your journey and give details of your itinerary to the local authorities. Travel in convoy and carry an independent satellite phone. Make sure you have a supply of drinking water and food.
There have been reports of landmines being used in Burkina Faso on the road between Ouagadougou and Niamey. Seek local advice before making this journey.
In the case of an accident, you should go immediately to the nearest police station to file a report. Crowds can gather quickly and you may be vulnerable if you remain at the scene. Medical help in the event of an accident is likely to be limited.
Avoid using buses or taxis where possible.
Buses operate on routes between Niamey and other large towns, but distances are long and buses are prone to mechanical failure. There have also been hold-ups and robberies on public buses. See ‘Crime’.
Taxis are available, but are often in poor mechanical condition. Driving standards are poor.
Air space has now re-opened, although flight options may be more limited and could change at short notice. Check with your travel company or airline for the latest information.
Flights within Niger remain limited.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.
Floods and landslides
The rainy season in Niger is from June to October. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. Monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas.
This section has safety advice for regions of Niger. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.
Northern and eastern Niger
Local authorities are extremely sensitive about foreigners travelling out of Tahoua to other parts of Niger in the east and the north.
These roads in northern Niger are permanently closed to tourists, except with special authorisation:
- Chirfa (Djado) / Djanet (Algeria)
- Achouloma (north Djado) / Salvador Pass (Libya)
- Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / Djanet (Algeria)
- Adrar Bous (north Aïr) / In Azawa (Algeria)
- Agadez / Arlit / Iferouane
- Agadez / Tahoua
The MNJ armed group has launched attacks in the north including the use of landmines, and Islamist terrorist groups have previously launched attacks in Agadez, Arlit and against a prison in Niamey. Attacks against tourists are known to take place at El Meki between Agadez and Timia. The Aïr and Ténéré regions are particularly prone to attacks.
An official curfew has been implemented by the authorities in the whole of the Diffa region since 2014. Since 2019 this has prohibited the movement of motorised vehicles from 8pm to 6am. There is also a general curfew from 10pm to 6am.
A state of emergency has been in place in the urban municipality of Tillabéri since 2019. The movement of motorbikes and cars is banned from 7pm to 6am, and the movement of pedestrians is banned from 10pm to 6am. Public meetings are banned, unless expressly permitted by the authorities. Defence and security forces are authorised to carry out searches, and to check IDs, both day and night.
Following an attack in 2020 which killed 6 French nationals and 2 Nigeriens in Kouré, Tillabéri, a state of emergency is in place for the whole of Tillabéri apart from Niamey.
A state of emergency has also been in place in Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilare, Abala and Banibongou (Tillabéri region) and Tassara and Tillia (Tahoua region) since 2017.
A state of emergency is in place in the states of Borno and Yobe in Nigeria, which border Niger. The border areas of the Maradi region are increasingly prone to banditry. Kidnap for ransom and robberies are commonplace.
In 2020 an American was kidnapped (and later rescued in a US military operation in Nigeria) in Massalata near the border with Nigeria.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 15 and ask for an ambulance.
Public emergency services can be slow to respond. Some private medical clinics also have ambulance services.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccination recommendations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Niger guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Niger
Medical facilities are poor, even in Niamey. Serious medical treatment would require evacuation to Europe. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Private hospitals and clinics include:
- Polyclinic Magori (+227 2074 1291, or +227 2074 3347 in an emergency)
- Clinique Gamkalley (+227 9696 4886, or +227 2073 4639 in an emergency)
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Niger
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers
- dealing with a death abroad
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you’re in Niger and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Consulate in Lagos who provide consular assistance for Niger.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)