See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Benin for information on U.S. – Benin relations.
A passport and visa are required. Visas are not available at the airport upon entry. Entry at land borders requires a visa. Visit the Embassy of Benin website for the most current visa information.
The Embassy of Benin is located at:
2124 Kalorama Road, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20008;
Visitors to Benin should also carry the WHO Yellow Card (“Carte Jaune”) indicating that they have been vaccinated for yellow fever. Visit the Center for Disease Control website for more information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Benin.
Public demonstrations, political gatherings, student protests, and strikes are common throughout Benin.
Swimming conditions along Benin’s coastline are dangerous due to strong tides, waves, and rip currents; several people drown each year.
Crime: Street crime is a significant problem in Cotonou. Robbery and muggings occur along the Boulevard de France (the beach road by the Marina and Novotel Hotels), on the beaches near hotels frequented by international visitors, within the Haie Vive and Les Cocotiers neighborhoods (where popular bars and restaurants are located), and in other parts of the city. Most reported incidents involve the use of force, by armed persons, with minor injury to the victim. Travelers should avoid the Dantokpa market between the hours of dusk and dawn.
If you are a victim of crime, you should contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. Report crimes to the local police at +(229) 21-30-30-25 or +(229) 21-30-20-11 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(229) 21-30-75-00.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
U.S. citizens are advised to keep a photocopy of the photo page of their passport (notarized by an official of a local municipality) at all times when traveling in Benin.
The Embassy has received reports of officials requesting a "gift" to facilitate official administrative matters. Such requests should be politely but firmly declined.
Photography of government buildings and official sites is prohibited without the consent of the Government of Benin. You should ask permission before taking pictures of people.
Obtaining customs clearance at the Port of Cotonou for donated items shipped from the United States to Benin may be a lengthy process. In order to obtain a waiver of customs duties on donated items, the donating organization must secure prior written approval from the Government of Benin. Please contact the U.S. Embassy for more detailed information. Please see our Customs Information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Benin. Benin’s laws on sexual morality provide latitude for authorities to prosecute a range of sexual activity, but its penal code does not mention or criminalize same-sex sexual relations. In general, Beninese authorities do not act against those in same-sex relationships. Local social norms favor discretion in sexual relations and are not uniformly accepting of same-sex relationships.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The condition of the sidewalks (when present) is often poor. Wheelchair accessibility is extremely limited.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Medical facilities in Benin are limited and not all medicines are available. Travelers should carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, and a copy of your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: With the exception of the road linking Cotonou in the south to Malanville on the border with Niger in the north, roads in Benin are generally in poor condition and are often impassable during the rainy season. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, dirt roads become impassable. Four-wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended.
Gasoline smuggled from Nigeria is widely available in glass bottles and jugs at informal roadside stands throughout Cotonou and much of the country. This gasoline is of unreliable quality, often containing water or other contaminants that can damage or disable your vehicle. Drivers should purchase fuel only from official service stations. There are periodic gas shortages, especially in the north of the country where there are few service stations.
The U.S. Embassy prohibits travel by diplomatic personnel outside of metropolitan areas after dusk and urges all U.S. citizens to avoid night driving. There have been numerous carjackings and robberies on roads in Benin after dark, several of which resulted in murder when the driver refused to comply with the assailants' demands.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Traffic Laws: Traffic moves on the right. The national police periodically conduct vehicle checks at provisional roadblocks. When stopped at such a roadblock, you must have all of the vehicle's documentation available to present to the authorities.
Public Transportation: Cotonou has a limited public transportation system. Many Beninese people rely on bicycles, mopeds, and motorbikes for hire (known as “zemidjans”). Travelers using zemidjans, particularly at night, are much more vulnerable to being mugged, assaulted, or robbed. Buses and bush taxis offer service in the interior. U.S. Embassy personnel are required to wear safety helmets when on a motorcycle and are prohibited from using zemidjans.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Benin, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Benin’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Benin should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.