Still current at: 05 November 2009
Updated: 05 November 2009
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary (informing of political instability and the threat of abduction), and the Terrorism and Crime sections (kidnaps). The overall level of the advice has not changed.
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Travel advice for this country
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There is no British Embassy in Niger. The British Ambassador to Niger resides in Accra, Ghana. We are unable to provide you with formal consular assistance in Niger. The Consular Section in the British High Commission in Accra can only offer limited consular assistance in an emergency. See the General (Consular assistance) section of this advice for more details.
We advise against all travel to the following: all areas of the country north of the city of Abalak including the Aïr Massif region; the province of Talak, Agadez and the road linking Assamaka, Arlit and Agadez; the province of Tahoua; and the area of Niamey province north of Niamey and east of the Niger River, including the road from Niamey to Gao and the road from Niamey to Menaka. Armed groups are operating in the North and are known to be using land mines. Extreme caution should be exercised when travelling to the following areas: the Ténéré and Kaouar regions; the Azawagh area, particularly the area between the Malian and Algerian borders and the east of the Aïr Massif.
Following a referendum in August 2009 (on a constitutional change to Presidential terms in office) there were political rallies and demonstrations in the main urban areas throughout Niger, but particularly in Niamey, and more of these are likely to occur. You should avoid large public gatherings such as political rallies which may appear peaceful but could have the potential to turn violent or develop into wider civil unrest. You should monitor developments through the local media.
We advise caution when travelling out of Niamey by road. Armed bandits are believed to operate outside of Niamey and have kidnapped Westerners in the past (two Canadian diplomats were abducted 25 miles outside of Niamey on 14 December 2008). Foreign nationals have been kidnapped before in Niger,, mainly in the north and east of the country and in the border region with Mali (where a British national was abducted in January 2009). As with travel in other parts of Niger you should travel in convoy and with a local guide. You should seek advice from the police for all travel out of Niamey. See guidance below on travel and security within Niger.
There is a high threat of kidnapping in Niger particularly outside the main urban areas and it has been reported that criminals have kidnapped on behalf of Al Qaeda. Travel in Niger can be difficult and conditions are poor for overland travel. You should take all necessary steps to protect your safety, especially outside of main urban areas, and you should have confidence in your individual security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance. See the Terrorism and Local Travel sections of this advice.
- Due to the presence of armed bandits, you should avoid all travel between towns by road at night. You should always use local guides and seek local advice when travelling outside of the main towns and in desert areas. See the Crime and Local Travel sections of this advice for more details.
There were two cases in 2008 of British nationals who required consular assistance in Niger. You should take precautions to keep safe important items such as money, passports, jewellery and mobile phones. See the Crime section of this advice for more details.
There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
- We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.
Safety and security
There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. For further and advice information see Terrorism Abroad.
There is a high risk of kidnap in Niger, particularly in the border areas outside the main urban areas. You should be aware that 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.
A group of European tourists were kidnapped in the area of the Mali-Niger border on 22 January. A British national who was part of this group was later executed.
We advise increased caution when travelling out of Niamey by road. Armed bandits are believed to operate outside of Niamey and have kidnapped Westerners in the past (two Canadian diplomats were abducted 25 miles outside of Niamey on 14 December 2008). Foreign nationals have been kidnapped before in Niger, mainly in the north and east of the country and in the border region with Mali (where a British national was abducted in January 2009). As with travel to other parts of Niger (see Local Travel below) you should travel in convoy and with a local guide. You should seek advice from the police for all travel out of Niamey.
Caution should be taken when travelling in Niamey at night. On the night of 8 January 2008, a car was blown up by a landmine, killing one person and seriously injuring another. It is not known who was responsible. A second, unexploded landmine, was also recovered.
Banditry, smuggling and other criminal activity remains in border areas (e.g. Algeria-Mali-Niger, Nigeria-Chad-Niger) and can constitute a real risk to travellers, especially after dark.
Bandits are thought to be operating in the border area with Nigeria south of Zinder. You should take special care and avoid crossing the border with Nigeria during the hours of darkness.
In August 2006, a group of tourists, including 21 Italians, was kidnapped in the desert area of south east Niger, near Lake Chad and the border with Chad. Most were freed shortly afterwards, but the remaining two were not released until 12 October 2006.
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. Whenever possible, you should travel in a convoy of at least two vehicles accompanied by a local guide and a member of the security forces. (See also ‘Local Travel’). There have also been incidents of Nigeriens being killed in the course of hold-ups and robberies on public transport buses travelling between Tahoua and Agadez and between Agadez and Arlit.
In January 2007, three people, including members of the security forces, were reported to have been killed and several more injured when bandits attacked a convoy of trucks between Aneye and Seguedine. A number of hostages were held briefly before being released, unharmed, following combined intervention by the Niger and Chad security forces. On 8 February 2007, at least three people were killed when a group of armed assailants attacked a military camp at Iferouane near the Algerian border. Order was subsequently restored by the security forces.
British nationals resident in the UK and European nations are increasingly becoming targets by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms: romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, the facilitation of money (for internet dating scams see below), and can pose great financial loss to victims. Relatives or friends in the UK should first check with the person who has travelled to West Africa before becoming involved in the transfer of money. If you are concerned about a British national who has travelled to Niger you should contact the Consular Section of the British High Commission, Accra. Schemes in operation by West African criminal networks are designed to facilitate victims parting with money.
British nationals are also being targeted by West African scam artists through internet based dating sites. The scam artists assume the false identity of a foreign national (sometimes British) working and living in West Africa. In some instances the impostor has informed their foreign friend that they have been hospitalised or arrested and need money quickly. In other cases foreigners have come to West Africa to meet the person with whom they have been in contact only to be kidnapped and become the victim of financial extortion.
You will wish to treat with considerable caution 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. For further information on advance fee fraud please see Metropolitan Police Service - Fraud Alert.
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.
Niger Country Profile
The political situation is generally stable. In Niamey, demonstrations involving students and public sector workers are fairly frequent. Although these are, for the most part, peaceful, they can on occasion turn violent and you should take care to avoid all crowds and demonstrations.
If you plan to travel within Niger you should be aware that the local authorities are extremely sensitive with regard to foreigners travelling out of Tahoua to other parts of Niger in the East and the North. There is a risk of arrest and deportation for even enquiring about travel to Agadez, given the local security situation in that region.
Due to continued sporadic incidents of banditry, you should avoid all travel between towns by road at night. Following attacks by the MNJ armed groups in the North involving the use of land mines, we advise against all travel to the Aïr Massif region (including Iferouane) and on the road linking Assamaka, Arlit and Agadez. The Governor of the city of Agadez has banned vehicles without a security forces escort from leaving the city after 1600 hrs. Following an attack on Agadez airport in June 2007 and the abduction, south of Agadez, of a foreign engineer by the MNJ armed group (subsequently released) you are also advised against all travel to Agadez and north of the city of Abalack. In addition you are advised against all travel to the provinces of Talak and Tahoua, the area of Niamey province to the north of Niamey and east of the Niger River, including the road from Niamey to Gao and the road from Niamey to Menaka.
We also advise extreme caution when travelling to the following areas:
- the Ténéré and Kaouar regions;
- the Azawagh area, particularly the area between the Malian and Algerian borders and the towns of Tahoua and Ingall;
- the east of the Aïr Massif and the area north of Iferouane up to the Algerian border, an area of 200km deep along the borders with Mali, Algeria/Libya and Chad.
- 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
UK driving licences are not valid. If you plan to drive in Niger, you should obtain an international driving licence. This is valid for a period of three months, after which you need to obtain a Niger licence. To obtain this you are required to hand over your UK (not international) licence, which will be returned to you at the end of your stay. It is important to carry car papers and ID when travelling, especially on journeys outside of the main towns.
The main roads between Niamey and other large towns are generally satisfactory by African standards. Buses operate on routes between Niamey and other large towns, but distances are long and buses are prone to mechanical failure. Other risks include potholes, poorly lit oncoming vehicles and the lack of medical facilities in the case of an accident. In Niamey only main roads are tarmacked and street lighting is poor. Taxis are available but, like other vehicles, are often in unsound mechanical condition. Driving standards are poor.
In the case of an accident, you should go immediately to the nearest police station to file a report: remaining on the spot risks being taken to task, sometimes violently, by the local population.
For more general information see Driving Abroad.
For more general information see Airline Security.
Local laws and customs
For more general information for different types of travellers see Your Trip.
You will require a valid visa to enter Niger. The Consulate of the Republic of Niger is at Bradley House, Locks Hill, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1BB; Telephone: 01702 533 172; Fax: 01702 533 162; email: email@example.com; website: http://www.niger-embassyuk.org/index.html. Office hours are 09.00 - 17.00; the Visa section is open from 09.30 - 12.30.
The Niger Honorary Consulate in Bamako, Mali is no longer authorised to issue visas for Niger. Even if a visa is issued by the Consulate, it is unlikely to be recognised, and travellers will risk being denied entry or deported without a valid visa.
Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
You will require a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate to enter Niger.
Travelling with children
Medical facilities are poor, even in Niamey. Serious medical treatment would require evacuation to Europe. Your health insurance should therefore cover medical evacuation by air ambulance.
Malaria, cholera and other water-borne diseases are common to Niger. Epidemics of this kind are particularly common in the rainy season from July to October. You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Niger you should seek immediate medical attention.
Meningitis outbreaks frequently occur, particularly in the dry season from February to July.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 56,000 adults aged 15 or over in Niger were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.8% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Niger and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
For more general health information see Travel Health and Swine Flu.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed several cases of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in domestic ducks near the border with Nigeria. No human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Flu, which gives more detailed advice and information.
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see Travel Insurance.
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is How We Can Help.
Consular Assistance and Registration in Niger
There is no British Embassy in Niger. The British Ambassador to Niger resides in Accra. The British High Commission's Consular Section in Accra can only offer limited consular assistance in an emergency.
We recommend that British passport holders travelling to Niger register with the British High Commission using our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency. More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
- Submit in person to the Consular Section of the High Commission in Accra; if one week’s prior notice is given before arrival in Accra arrangements can be made for the passport to be issued expeditiously.
- Forward completed application by reputable courier to the Consular Section and send a bank transfer to the value of the passport service required in Ghanaian Cedis to the British High Commission account with Barclays Bank, Accra. Please contact the Consular Section of the British High Commission in advance for guidance on how to do this. This process can be completed within ten working days.
Niger is a cash based society. Credit cards are rarely accepted even in the best hotels and restaurants. There are no ATMs. Banks accept travellers' cheques: you will have to produce your passport and the receipt for the cheques from the issuing bank.
Travel advice for this country
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British High Commission
off Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue
PO Box 296
(00) (233) (21) 221665
(00) (233) (21) 7010650
(00) (233) (21) 7010721 Visa section
(00) (233) (21) 7010655
(00) (233) (21) 221715 Visa Section
Monday to Thursday 07:45 - 15:45 hours
Friday: 07:45 - 13:45 hours
Consular section opening hours:
0800-1400 Mon-Thurs and 0800-1000 Friday
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