Exercise normal precautions in Benin. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Exercise increased caution in:
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Benin:
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, and assault, is common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crimes.
Violent crime, such as muggings, is common at beaches within Cotonou at any time of day and outside of Cotonou after dark.
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.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A SPECIFIC CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE APPROPRIATE FOREIGN AUTHORITIES OR FOREIGN COUNSEL.
For information concerning travel to Benin, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Benin.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.
Benin is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Benin and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.
Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.
Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Benin and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction. For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child. The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, Floor 9
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Parental child abduction is not a specific crime in Benin.
Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court. Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for more information.
Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country. Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Benin and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.
The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States. Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the U.S. Embassy in Benin for information and possible assistance.
Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Benin are authorized to provide legal advice.
The U.S. Embassy in Cotonou, Benin posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
Under the laws of Benin, mediation is a possible remedy for both abduction and access cases.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.
Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.
Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.
Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).
Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.
Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.
Please check back for update.
Available. The Mayor's office or Prefecture issues birth certificates, at the place of birth.
Available. The marriage certificate is granted either at the applicant's place of birth or the place where the marriage was held, by the Mayor's office or Prefecture.
Available in part. Persons born in countries that use the Casier Judiciaire (a combined prison and police record) may obtain a copy of this record from the competent authorities in their native country. In the case of countries other than Benin, this record should contain the police and prison records from Benin, if any. A native-born Beninese should apply to the Tribunal de Premiere Instance that has his birthplace within its jurisdiction. The document may be obtained by mail. Benin police clearances are valid only for three months from the date of issuance. No such limiting language will appear on the face of the Police Clearance document.
Available in part. See "Police Record".
Available. Documents concerning military service are available from the Prefecture or Mayor's office at the person's place of birth.
Available. A Certificate of Residence is available to residents or former residents from the Mayor's office or Subprefecture of the applicant's place of residence or former place of residence.
Cotonou, Benin (Embassy)
Tel: (229) 21-30-06-50
Fax: (229) 21-30-06-70
All visa categories for all of Benin.