Niger Basics

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The Basics

Time: Local time is GMT +1.

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Two-pinned plugs with round pins are standard.

Money: The West African CFA Franc (XOF) is the currency of Niger. Cash is king as credit cards are very seldom accepted and there are few ATMs. Euros are the best foreign currency to carry, but US dollars are also easy to exchange.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: French is the official language of Niger and is widely spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: Passports must be valid on arrival, visas required for all US citizens.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: Passports must be valid on arrival, a visa required for all UK nationals.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Passports must be valid on arrival, visas required for all Canadian citizens.

Entry requirements for Australians: Passports must be valid on arrival, a visa required for all Australian citizens.

Entry requirements for South Africans: Passports must be valid on arrival, visas required for all South African citizens.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: Passports must be valid on arrival, visas are required for all New Zealand nationals.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Passports must be valid on arrival, visas required for all Irish nationals.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors must have a valid passport. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all travellers in all areas of Niger and a yellow fever vaccination is required for all travellers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, and is recommended for all travel to Niger. A meningococcus vaccination is recommended for travel during the dry season, between November and June. Routine vaccinations and updates for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, varicella, polio, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), tetanus-diphtheria, and typhoid are recommended. Those travellers who may be at risk of animal bites or may be coming into contact with bats should consider a rabies vaccination. Medical facilities are extremely limited in Niger and travellers should ensure that they have comprehensive travel insurance. Bring medication in its original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what each medicine is and why it is required; carry a bag of essential medical supplies as well. Never drink tap water in Niger unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Travellers should be wary of food from street vendors, and should only eat cooked meals while they are still hot. Raw or undercooked meat and fish should not be eaten and fruit and vegetables should be cooked or peeled.

Tipping: Tipping is appreciated in Niger and, while a service charge is generally added to restaurant bills, extra tips are still appreciated. Taxi drivers, tour guides, barmen, and porters all take tips. A 10 percent tip is customary.

Safety Information: Niger is not currently considered safe for touristic travel and most travel authorities warn against travel to the country due to the high threat of terrorism, including kidnapping, and the high crime rate. The UK Foreign Office advises against all travel outside of the capital, Niamey and, even then, that's only for essential travel. The US Department of State similarly warns that travel in Niger is risky. Terrorist groups in the region have grown increasingly bold and there have been large-scale attacks on civilian and government targets, as well as recent kidnappings of foreigners. Official roadblocks are common, especially in and around Niamey, and must be respected. Local authorities may not permit foreigners to travel to certain areas. The crime rate is high, particularly in Niamey, with robbery and residential break-ins the most common criminal activity. Petty, opportunistic crimes like bag-snatching are common day and night in urban areas and armed attacks are not unusual. Banditry is a problem and road travel in remote areas should never be undertaken at night. When driving in urban areas cars should be kept locked, with windows wound up. Precautions must be taken to ensure personal safety and to protect possessions like passports, jewellery, and mobile phones. Foreigners may also experience bribery attempts and extortion by law enforcement authorities in Niger, and should be aware of scams.

Local Customs: Social etiquette and customs in Niger is split roughly in two: the country's French influence dominates in the cities while Muslim values prevail in the more rural areas. Modesty in dress is essential and there have been assaults on women who were deemed to be inappropriately dressed. Make sure to be neat and to always cover the elbows and knees, and refrain from boisterous public behaviour or overt public affection. This is especially the case for same-sex couples as LGBTI rights are not protected. Greetings are important in Niger: be friendly, inquire after the person's health, and refrain from contact with the opposite sex unless it is initiated from the local party. Note that people do drink in Niger, even Muslims, but exercise caution and sensitivity in this regard. In some areas, it is frowned upon for a woman to smoke in public. Always ask permission before taking someone's picture, and do not photograph military personnel or installations, airports, embassies, or any government institutions. Always use your right hand when greeting, eating, or accepting gifts, as the left hand is considered unclean.

Business: Niger's economy is predominantly agricultural, with about 90 percent of the country's workforce engaged in largely subsistence farming. But there is also a growing interest in the region's mineral resources. Doing business in Niger is complicated by the lack of security and infrastructure, as well as by poverty and crime. Business etiquette is formal and dress is conservative and often traditional. Women in particular should ensure that they dress conservatively and should consider a head covering. Most offices operate from 8am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8am to 12pm on Saturday.

Communications: The international dialling code for Niger is +227. Due to poor line quality and limited access, landlines in Niger are unreliable and service is generally better with one of the mobile phone operators; there are multiple cellular service providers in urban areas. Internet use is gradually increasing.

Duty Free: Visitors to Niger aged 18 and older may import the following goods duty-free: 200 cigarettes/100 cigarillos/25 cigars/250g tobacco, one bottle of wine and one bottle of spirits, and 0.25 litres perfume.