Nigeria Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +1

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round and square three-pin plugs are used.

Money: Nigerian currency is the naira (NGN), which is divided into 100 kobo. Approved exchange facilities include major hotels and the airport, but official rates are very high. It is illegal to change money on the street. Credit card fraud is a problem, and visitors are advised to exercise caution when using credit cards. Credit card facilities are also limited outside of the major cities. Prior to travel, visitors should ensure they have a variety of currency options available to them (pounds, US dollars, or euro) in cash. Travellers should be aware of the prevalence of commercial fraud in Nigeria.

Currency Exchange Rates

NGN100.00 = USD 0.28GBP 0.22CAD 0.36AUD 0.41ZAR 4.01EUR 0.25NZD 0.42
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: English is the official language in Nigeria and is widely used, though many other languages are also spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a passport valid for six months after date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport valid for six months after date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must have a passport valid for six months after date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a passport valid for six months after the date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a passport valid for six months after date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for six months after the date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport valid for six months after date of arrival. A visa is required. However, no visa is required for former nationals of Nigeria with a valid foreign passport and an expired Nigerian passport.

Passport/Visa Note: Nationals of virtually all countries require a visa to enter Nigeria, the few exceptions are mainly neighbouring African states. Visas must be obtained in advance and all visitors require a return ticket, documents for onward travel and sufficient funds. Those entering for business reasons must also have a letter of invitation and verification from Nigerian representatives abroad stating purpose of entry. Passports must be valid for at least six months after arrival. Visas can be obtained on arrival. E-visas can be obtained before departure at www.portal.immigration.gov.ng/visa/freshVisa. Passengers must have a printed e-visa confirmation.

Travel Health: Because Nigeria still struggles with diseases such as cholera, yellow fever and polio, so vaccinations are recommended. Visitors should drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Repellent, antimalarial meds, and netting will come in handy too because of malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. TB inoculations are also recommended. Visitors should seek the latest medical advice on vaccinations at least three weeks prior to departure. Private hospitals offer good facilities in major cities, although travellers requiring specialised treatment will likely be evacuated to Europe or South Africa. Comprehensive travel insurance is strongly advice and should include evacuation. Pharmacies are widespread but might not always have reliable drug supplies. So travellers should bring special or prescription medication with them.

Tipping: In restaurants, a 10% tip is adequate if a service charge hasn't already been added. Negotiate taxi fares before embarking on a journey; remember that fares are usually increased for tourists so tipping isn't necessary. Porters should be tipped accordingly.

Safety Information: While most visits to Nigeria are trouble free, there are a few issues that travellers should be aware of. Watch out for false greetings at the airport and avoid freely giving out your details as the country is notorious for money scammers. Muggings and carjackings are prevalent so visitors should stay vigilant, while also letting their host, family, and friends know their travel arrangements. Saying this, big cities like Lagos and Abuja are generally fine, but travel to northern Nigeria is quite risky due to the presence of ethnic clashes and threats of terrorism. So it's wise to research the latest government advice if travelling through these regions. Public transport is potentially dangerous with poorly maintained buses and taxis, and fraud and criminal activity rife among drivers. The reliability of domestic airlines has also been questioned after numerous accidents. Fuel shortages often occur and road travel can be dangerous, particularly in traffic jams and rural areas. Visitors should avoid travelling at night, and should consider driving in a convoy through rural areas.

Local Customs: Nigeria has a relatively formal society and it is appropriate to address Nigerians by their surnames until you know them very well. Beachwear is only appropriate for the beach. Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in Africa, concentrated mainly in the north. Women should dress modestly, and avoid wearing trousers, and all visitors should exercise discretion in behaviour and dress, especially when visiting religious sites and during the holy month of Ramadan. Time is a different concept in West Africa than in Europe or North America. Being 'on time' to a Nigerian could easily be a couple of hours after an agreed start-time. Evening social events tend to start late and often continue into the small hours. Photography in airports may lead to arrest. Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria.

Business: Those looking to do business in Nigeria, and especially those who've never done business on the African continent before, will certainly have to prepare themselves to face unique challenges. Although great strides have been made within Nigeria's corporate landscape, the country still suffers from massive corruption and a debilitating lack of infrastructure, which can make doing business there difficult. The management style typically found in Nigeria is extremely hierarchical. The boss - invariably male, and always of an older generation - will expect and will receive respect from all those working beneath him, and will never be publicly criticised. However, this does not necessarily mean that all decisions are made on this authority-figure's whim; business relationships are extremely important in Nigeria, and often, compromises can be reached. In general, Nigerian business leaders will lead firmly, giving their employees instructions that are expected to be followed closely. Teamwork, and the ability to work together toward clearly-defined goals, is considered a more valuable asset than independent thinking or individualistic efforts. Business meetings in Nigeria are very social occasions, providing the framework within which solid interpersonal connections are to be made. Bear the following in mind: respect for elders is huge in Nigeria; even if one is more qualified than older colleagues, there is no surer way to cause offence in Nigeria than by disrespecting members of the older generation. In Nigeria, especially for men, it is important that business dress reflects status; men tend to wear dark, stylish suits and a tie, and don't hold back on the accessories. Dressing for work in Nigeria can be trickier for female expats, especially those used to the more relaxed dress codes of the UK or America. Nigeria is a very traditional country, and therefore, skirts above the knee and cleavage-revealing tops are unacceptable in the office environment, as is the exposure of too much skin around the collarbone and shoulder area. There is no specific protocol for the exchanging of business cards in Nigeria - although it is considered rude not to study the card in the presence of the person who gave it to you. Make sure any tertiary education or qualifications you have received are printed on your card, and that your title is prominently displayed. In a country of so many different ethnic groups and dialects, English has emerged as the de facto language of business in Nigeria. Business hours are generally from 8am (or 8.30am) to 5pm, from Monday to Friday. In the northern (predominately Muslim) part of Nigeria, Friday is a day of rest.

Communications: The country code for Nigeria is +234. Full international direct dialling is available. Free wifi is available in many cafes, restaurants, and hotels in tourist areas. A local prepaid SIM card can be purchased to avoid paying high international roaming charges.

Duty Free: Travellers to Nigeria over 18 years old do not have to pay duty on 200g of tobacco products, 1 litre of spirits and 1 litre wine, perfume or eau de Cologne for personal use and gifts to the value of NGN 50,000 (excluding jewellery, photographic equipment, electronics and luxury goods). Prescription medication and pharmaceutical products should be accompanied by a letter from your GP as well as the original prescription, and should not be carried in your checked luggage. The following items carry substantial duty levies: cameras, projectors and other electronic goods, unless visitors can provide proof of possession for at least three years or can submit a certificate of re-importation. Prohibited items include beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fresh fruit and vegetables, textiles, mosquito netting, jewellery and precious metals, cereals, and eggs. Flowers, plants and seeds often need permits and the rules regarding specific species often change, so it is best to check the situation as close to your time of travel as possible.