Nigeria travel guide
From the loud laughter of traffic-choked Lagos to the green-fringed villages that line rivers and streams, Nigeria is one of the most exciting places to visit in Africa.
Once known only for oil and chaos, the country is changing rapidly. It has a rising middle class, a dynamic arts scene and more miles of golden sand than you can shake a bucket and spade at. Its national parks are home to some of the last remaining endangered species in West Africa, while its mountains offer a cooler climate and spectacular views of the most populous country in Africa.
Those 177 million people are as diverse as the nation itself; in the north, you'll see men in colourful Muslim dress lining prayer mats on Fridays, while their southern counterparts play checkers before church. The cuisine too is varied; there are hot and spicy dishes, fresh fish and meat, fast food and imported fare.
But Nigeria's greatest asset – its wealth of native races and religions, its vibrant population – have also proven its downfall on countless explosive occasions, and military overthrows, coups and assassinations have been numerous. The situation is particularly fraught in northern Nigeria, which is home to the jihadist group, Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is forbidden”).
For all its domestic difficulties, Nigeria remains a major regional power and lays claim to the biggest economy in Africa – if you want to feel the excitement of an emerging country, this land will blow you away.
It’s full of surprises, too. Visitors can find themselves dancing the night away at a Nigerian wedding party, sipping champagne with supermodels, haggling for art in Lagos’ hipster district, Yabi, and swimming beneath cascading waterfalls in the mountains.
Though Nigeria is a loud and brash destination, it also has a quieter, more reflective side that deserves to be seen. In fact it has so many faces that at times it feels more like a continent than a country.
923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles).
181,526,056 (UN estimate 2016)
204.2 per sq km.
President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Nigeria on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
International commercial flights resumed in Abuja and Lagos on 5 September 2020, following a postponement from the original date of 29 August. Contact your airline for the latest information.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Nigeria.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Nigeria
Passengers will be asked to follow a number of additional health procedures, including the following:
- you must wear a mask or face covering
- all passengers’ temperature will be taken on arrival at the airport
- you are required to observe social distancing measures
- you will be asked to use hand washing facilities installed outside the airports
- your bags will be sprayed with decontamination fluids
The Nigerian government strongly encourages travellers to re-consider all non-essential travel (domestic and international), during the holiday season to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
Most states in Nigeria have introduced their own restrictions on movement. All travellers and residents in Nigeria are encouraged to monitor announcements by the Nigerian authorities on further restrictions, which may be introduced at short notice.
The Federal Government has relaxed the lockdown restrictions in place in Abuja and Lagos and replaced them with new requirements, including a nationwide daily night time curfew between midnight and 4am and the mandatory use of face masks in public.
Public spaces and services
Gatherings of over 50 people outside of work places are prohibited, including all weddings, conferences and sporting events. Bars, restaurants other than in hotels, events and recreational centres are currently closed. Places of worship are permitted to hold services, subject to limitations set by state authorities.
Visits to public institutions, including government buildings, have been limited.
Additional measures include a mandatory requirement to wear face masks in public spaces. Check the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control website for updates on further guidance on the implications of the lockdown restrictions.
Healthcare in Nigeria
Pharmacies are classified as an essential service, and will remain open. Most medicines that require a prescription from a doctor in the UK will require one in Nigeria. If necessary, you should get an electronic prescription from your medical practitioner to enable a local doctor to write one.
Unlike in the UK, you will need to go to a pharmacy or chemist to obtain most over-the-counter medicines. Only a very limited selection are available at supermarkets or other stores. Pharmacies are widely available. They will accept prescriptions from the UK.
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Nigeria
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Nigeria announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Nigerian national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. British nationals resident in Nigeria are eligible for vaccination. Health workers (and other front line staff) will be prioritised in the first phase. This will be followed by phase 2 (people aged 50 and above) and phase 3 (people with co-morbidities).
The vaccine registration e-portal is now open on the NPHCDA website. Nigerians and residents of Nigeria will be eligible according to priority. You should upload your National Identity Number (NIN), passport or other forms of ID as advised on the portal in order to register. You can get further information on registration from the NPHCDA on 00 234 (0) 803 123 0415/0416.
You can also obtain further information from National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) or contact individual State Health authorities who will be responsible for the vaccine roll out in each State.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Nigeria, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
- The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has a 24 hour, toll free number for advice: (+00234) (0) 800 970 000010.
- SMS: (+00234) (0) 809 955 5577
- WhatsAapp: (+00234) (0) 708 7110839
- Mobile: (+00234) (0) 703 670 8970 0010.
There have been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South East and South South regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi. Some of these attacks have been on isolated roads and in remote locations, but there is a chance that they could occur in metropolitan areas. There is also a heightened risk of indiscriminate attacks on police and security infrastructure, which may inadvertently affect bystanders. A number of states have imposed curfews. Travellers to these regions are advised to exercise caution if travelling in remote areas at night and follow local news and information outlets for further information, including on local curfews.
On 5 April, Owerri prison in Imo State was attacked. Reports suggest over 1,800 prisoners escaped. You should be extra vigilant if in the area.
The Nigerian police launched ‘Operation Restore Peace’ on 19 May to deal with the recent increase in insecurity in South South and South Eastern states. This may lead to an enhanced security presence on the ground. There is no indication as to how long this operation will last. You should exercise caution whilst travelling in the region.
During October 2020, there were a number of large-scale protests (known as #EndSARS protests) in Abuja, Lagos and other locations across Nigeria. Strikes over workers’ rights in Kaduna State started on 17 May 2021. Protests have occurred and disruptions to transport and utilities have been reported. You should remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations, protests or large gatherings and pay attention to local media and social media reports on protest locations.
In January 2020, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan, better known as Ansaru, claimed to have killed at least six people, kidnapped dozens, and destroyed several vehicles during an ambush along the Kaduna-Zaira highway in Kaduna State. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement, and aim to only travel during daylight hours. See Terrorism.
Since January 2018, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has protested regularly in central Abuja and other cities. These protests, particularly in Abuja, have the potential to turn violent. Local media reported a fatality on 21 January 2020 when police allegedly fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse protesters near the Berger roundabout in Wuse, Abuja. Tensions remain heightened. You should monitor local media, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow any instructions from local police and security forces.
Incidents of inter-communal violence occur frequently throughout Nigeria, particularly in the middle belt states. Attacks can occur without warning. Although foreign nationals are not normally targeted, there is a risk you could be caught in an attack. You should be alert to local government announcements and media reporting.
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.
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.
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.
The FCDO advise against all travel to Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State, Gombe State, Kaduna State, Katsina State, and Zamfara State. Violent attacks are frequent and there is a high threat of kidnap. There is a threat from extremists linked to Boko Haram or ISWA in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in particular. See Criminal kidnaps and Terrorism.
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to: Bauchi State, Kano State, Jigawa State, Niger State, Sokoto State; and within 20km of the border with Niger in Kebbi State. There is a high risk of violent attacks and inter-communal tensions can lead to outbreaks of violence. There is also a threat of kidnap. See Criminal kidnaps.
If you travel to areas to which the FCDO 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. Make sure they regularly review security arrangements and familiarise yourself with those plans. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement, and aim to travel only during daylight hours. 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.
There has been an increase in insurgent attacks in Borno State. Since October 2019, there has been an increasing trend of terrorist groups constructing illegal vehicle checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes in Northern Nigeria and attacking vehicles travelling on major roads into Maiduguri, Borno State, including the A3 Maiduguri-Damaturu road. These attacks have directly targeted civilians, security forces and aid workers. Furthermore, 2020 has seen increased activity by terrorist groups and related violent incidents in the immediate vicinity of humanitarian hubs. A humanitarian hub was targeted during an attack on Monguno town on 13 June 2020. This was followed by negative propaganda about humanitarian activity in the North East. In July 2020, shots were fired at a UN humanitarian helicopter in the region. Local humanitarian staff were executed in an unrelated event.
If you’re in the North East against FCDO advice, keep in touch with the authorities and the wider community on the security situation and make sure your procedures and contingency plans are up to date. If you are working in the North East of Nigeria you should be fully confident in your employer’s ability to extract you from the North East in the event of any emergency.
The Niger Delta States
The FCDO advise against all travel to the riverine areas (ie the river and swamp locations accessible by boat, but not by road) of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.
The FCDO 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 region 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 region.
Additional checks are in place at the Nigeria-Benin, Nigeria-Niger and Nigeria-Cameroon land borders. If you’re planning to make a land crossing from Nigeria, check with the local authorities for the latest information before travelling.
There’s a high threat of terrorist and criminal kidnaps in Nigeria. Since 2019, there has been an increase in kidnaps for ransom by criminal gangs in Northern Nigeria.
Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business are viewed as legitimate targets. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as protection or secure your safe release. Incidents of criminal kidnap can occur in any part of the country, at any time, with an increased risk in:
- the northern and Middle Belt states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara
- the Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Rivers
- Edo State
Criminal groups target whole communities or individuals, sometimes along major highways. Since 2019, this has been particularly prevalent on the Abuja – Kaduna highway. It also occurs along the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha expressway in Anambra.
Travellers wishing to travel to any of the locations above should be alert to the threat if kidnap, and pay attention to local government announcements and media reporting.
British nationals may be targeted. In the past 5 years several foreign nationals, including British nationals, have been kidnapped and in some cases killed. Most of these kidnaps occurred in the Niger Delta region. 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 facilities at sea. 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.
The great majority of kidnapping victims remain ordinary Nigerians. Foreigners as well as Nigerian businessmen, traditional rulers and politicians are often targeted in the expectation of a high ransom reward. 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. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There have been a number of attacks and targeted killings in the South East and South South regions of Nigeria, including in the states of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo and Ebonyi. A number of states have imposed curfews. Travelers to these regions are advised to exercise caution if travelling in remote areas at night and follow local news and information outlets for further information, including on local curfews.
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.
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.
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.
There are reports of criminal intent to target areas around international hotels in Abuja. It is likely that these potential attacks would be carried out by armed gangs. At this time of heightened threat, avoid loitering outside hotel security cordons and be extra vigilant when travelling in their vicinity.
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.
A British national was tragically killed in Kaduna on Friday 19 April 2019. The FCDO advises against all travel to Kaduna. You should exercise additional vigilance in crowded public places.
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 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 can drive in Nigeria with a valid UK driving licence for up to 3 months. If you’re staying longer, you will need to get a Nigerian Driver’s Licence. You can contact the Federal Road Safety Corp on their website.
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.
Since October 2019, there has been an increasing trend of illegal vehicle checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes in Northern Nigeria. This includes attacks on major roads into Maiduguri, Borno State, including the A3 Maiduguri-Damaturu road. These attacks have directly targeted civilians, security forces and aid workers.
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.
You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCDO 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.
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.
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Party was democratically re-elected for a second term in February 2019.
Before President Buhari took office, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party was President from 2010 – 2015.
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.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests, as well as places visited by tourists. Most attacks are conducted by Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) and occur in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the North East.
Humanitarian staff and assets have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including in garrison towns and on roads. Humanitarian sites have also been targeted. There is a continued threat from extremist groups operating in the region. The al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan, better known as Ansaru, has previously carried out attacks and kidnappings, including that of westerners, across northern Nigeria. The most recent attack was in mid-January 2020 when Ansaru claimed to have killed at least six people, kidnapped dozens, and destroyed several vehicles during an ambush along the Kaduna-Zaira highway in Kaduna State. Details remain unclear.
Most attacks take place in northern and North East Nigeria; there has been an increase in insurgent attacks in Borno State. However, there have been a significant number of attacks elsewhere. Significant attacks have occurred in Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and Bauchi States and in the Federal capital, Abuja. Further attacks are likely. Public places where crowds gather have been targeted, including places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, 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 as well as during election periods.
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 particularly 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. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement, and aim to only travel during daylight hours.
Recent attacks have included:
- 28 November 2020 – at least 70 civilians were killed and others wounded and abducted in Jere Local Government Area, Borno State, by insurgents.
- 22 July 2020 – 5 aid workers, including staff from Action Against Hunger, the International Rescue Committee, ACTED and the REACH initiative and the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, were executed by Islamic State West Africa (ISWA)
- 02 July 2020 - Shots were fired at an UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) flight in Damasak Borno State.
- 13 June 2020 – Insurgents attacked Monguno town, killing at least 38 civilians, and targeting the humanitarian hub located in the town
- 9 June 2020 – Insurgents are reported to have killed around 81 civilians in Felo village, Gubio LGA
- 9 February 2020 – Insurgents are reported to have killed at least 30 people and abducted women and children. Victims were killed and abducted while sleeping in their vehicles during an overnight stop in Auno town, on a major highway near Maiduguri
- 14-15 January 2020 - The al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan, better known as Ansaru, killed at least six people and destroyed several vehicles during an ambush along the Kaduna-Zaira highway in Kaduna State
- 13 December 2019 - 4 aid workers from Action Against Hunger (AAH) were executed by Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). Another was reportedly killed in September 2019
- 17 June 2019 - 3 suicide bombers detonated their devices outside a hall in Konduga, Borno State, where football fans were watching a match on television. At least 30 people were killed and 40 injured
- 23 February 2019 – ISWA conducted an indirect fire attack against Maiduguri, focused on the west of the city, in the area around the airport and the military cantonment
- 16 February 2019 – JASDJ conducted a complex attack on a mosque in southern Maiduguri, killing up to 20 people
- 18 November 2018 - ISWA conducted an attack against a military base in Metele and a significant number of soldiers were killed. The group has undertaken similar raids in 2018 with considerable loss of life
- 31 October 2018 - Boko Haram conducted a raid on Dalori IDP camp and surrounding communities near Maiduguri where at least 8 people were killed and a number of women were reportedly abducted from the camp. Hundreds of people were displaced as a result
- 1 March 2018 - Boko Haram, armed with small arms, anti-aircraft weapons and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), conducted a well-organised attack against a military base in Rann, Borno State. Nine members of the Nigerian security forces and 3 UN consultants were killed. Six members of the Nigerian security forces and at least 4 other humanitarian workers were injured, and a further 3 humanitarian workers were abducted
Methods of attack have included coordinated armed assaults, rocket attacks, assassinations, kidnapping, use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), bombings (including by child and female bombers), car bombings and arson. Use of military uniforms and vehicles have been used as a tactic to get close to the intended target.
Since October 2019, there has been an increasing trend of terrorist groups constructing illegal vehicle checkpoints on major supply and commercial routes in Northern Nigeria and attacking vehicles travelling on major roads into Maiduguri, Borno State, including the A3 Maiduguri-Damaturu road. These attacks have directly targeted civilians, security forces and aid workers.
There have been a number of actual and attempted attacks against internally displaced persons, camps, markets, places of worship, security force installations, government and educational facilities in Borno and Adamawa. There has also been an increase in suicide attacks in central Maiduguri, Borno State since October 2016.
There’s 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.
The risk of further terrorist kidnaps is high across Nigeria. This is particularly acute in the North East of the country. Kidnaps have included humanitarian and private sector workers.
Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) have previously shown intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Nigeria. Foreign nationals, including humanitarian workers, are likely to be considered valid targets for kidnap. Since September 2019, there has been an increasing number of attacks on Humanitarian actors in North East Nigeria. Areas of particular concern include northern and north eastern borders with Niger and Chad as well as more widely across Borno, Yobe, Gombe and Adamawa states in north east Nigeria, and some northern and middle belt states including Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Kogi and Niger.
Ansaru, Boko Haram and ISWA have carried out a number of kidnaps in Nigeria. Kidnappings could occur anywhere in areas where terrorist groups have a presence. In the past five years several foreign nationals and humanitarian workers have been kidnapped in the north of Nigeria, including in Adamawa state, Bauchi state, Katsina state, Kano state and Kebbi state. Some, including two British nationals, have been killed by their captors. In December 2019, four Nigerian aid workers who had been held hostage since July were reportedly killed. In July 2020, a further five Nigerian aid workers were killed following their abduction in June 2020, in Borno state.
British nationals are viewed as legitimate targets, including those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release. You should exercise vigilance when travelling, when 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. You should avoid regular patterns of travel or movement, and aim to travel only during daylight hours.
Boko Haram have also taken hostages from neighbouring Cameroon and the Diffa region of Niger, and continue to maintain an intent and capability to conduct kidnaps in Chad.
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.
Terrorist groups operating in Nigeria
Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA)
Boko Haram or 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, de-stabilise 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. ISWA have launched a series of successful attacks against Nigerian military locations, increased their freedom of movement across Borno and Yobe states, and taken multiple hostages.
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.
The terrorist threat in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin
There is a very high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region. A number of western nationals including tourists, NGO workers and diplomats have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last ten years, and several are still being held. Some, including several British nationals, have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism, government or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
There are a number of terrorist groups active in the region. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoun, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. These groups are capable of carrying out attacks and kidnaps over long distances. Kidnapping for ransom is the primary source of finance for Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). Criminal gangs also carry out kidnapping for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards.
Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.
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. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
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. Also see Travelling during Ramadan.
Photography of government, military buildings and airports may lead to arrest.
The Nigerian High Commission have announced the resumption of all Immigration Services from 13 April. You should continue to monitor their website for further announcements.
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.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Nigeria
International commercial flights resumed in Abuja and Lagos on 5 September 2020, following a postponement from the original date of 29 August. Contact your airline for the latest information.
The Nigerian Immigration Service announced the resumption of passport and migrant registration on 1 July.
The Nigerian authorities have advised that British nationals who exceed their authorised visa stays because of travel restrictions linked to coronavirus, will not be penalised for overstaying when they depart. If your visa expired before the start of the lockdown, you will be penalised, for the period up to the start of lockdown.
Testing / Screening on arrival
From 2 July there will be no entry permitted for any non-Nigerians/non holders of permanent residence permits who have visited Brazil, India, Turkey or South Africa in the 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria. This does not apply to transit passengers. Nigerians and permanent residence card holders who have travelled to Brazil, India, Turkey or South Africa in the 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria will be required to undergo 7 days mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility at the point-of entry city and at cost to the passenger. In addition such passengers will also face the following requirements (i) within 24 hours of arrival shall take a COVID-19 PCR test (ii) if positive, the passenger shall be admitted to a government-approved treatment centre, in line with national treatment protocols (iii) If negative, the passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day 7 of their quarantine.
For travel from all other countries, prior to departure, passengers travelling to Nigeria must complete the on-line pre-boarding health declaration at the Nigeria International Travel Portal. They must also have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure to Nigeria, and have uploaded their PCR test certificate to the on-line Travel Portal. Passengers must also carry evidence of the test and result when they travel. Only a COVID-19 PCR test is acceptable to the Nigerian authorities. Also before travel, passengers must book and pay for a repeat PCR test for day 7 of their arrival in Nigeria at the Nigeria International Travel Portal– evidence of the booking will be required on arrival. On arrival all passengers will be screened by Port Health Officials and be required to provide full contact details, including their address in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has said it will closely monitor whether passengers are following the quarantine measures and conducting the repeat PCR test. On 21 December, the Federal Government announced that it would impose sanctions on travellers to Nigeria who fail to take the repeat PCR test on day 7.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.
All new arrivals are expected to self-isolate at one location in the city of their arrival until the result of their second PCR test (which should be taken on day 7 of arrival) is known. If the second test is negative individuals can exit self-isolation from day 8 onwards. Anyone that has developed symptoms of coronavirus during their travel or later tests positive will be managed according to national guidelines for COVID-19 treatment. This may require quarantine at a government-monitored treatment centre.
Regular entry requirements
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.
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
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Nigeria on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Nigeria.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
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.
Other health risks
Serious tropical illnesses like malaria, typhoid, Lassa fever and yellow fever occur in Nigeria. There has been an outbreak of Lassa fever in 2020. For further information and advice, see the TravelHealthPro website.
There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season (June to October).
There have been multiple outbreaks of cholera in Central and North Nigeria in 2021. You can find more information on the TravelHealthPro website.
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.
On 1 August 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo government confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu province, originating in Beni territory. The latest updates can be found on the World Heath Organisation (WHO) website. This outbreak could result in some additional checks taking place at international airports in Nigeria. There are no direct flights from the Democratic Republic of Congo so these checks could be in place for any flight. This is a standard precaution and no a cause for alarm.
The World Health Organisation declared Nigeria free of Ebola on 20 October 2014, following 20 confirmed cases earlier in the year.
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.
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, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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.
The FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
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.