Advice for Crossing from Benin to Nigeria

After reading countless bits of information regarding the hell that is the Benin to Nigerian border process, I decided to take the advice of others and take the lesser travelled route to the north of the main crossing.  In the end, it was the right decision and the process went incredibly smoothly.  Below is my advice for making the crossing from Benin to Nigeria safely and smoothly.

Skip the Main Border, Head North

According to almost everyone who has ever overlanded between the two countries, the border east of Ketou is easily the best border t cross.  I’ve heard countless numbers of reports that the border that travels to Lagos is full of corruption and issues.  Even people with the proper paperwork have major issues at times.  It is over-policed and full of scammers.

Alternatively, the border east of Ketou is easy-going, and so quiet that you’ll have it to yourself.  Rather than a big military point, this border is just a stick across the road with a stop sign.

The Border Process

It’s not without confusion, to be honest.  Basically, you need to follow certain steps, and some of them might seem strange, but it all makes sense in the end.

One you arrive at the border, there is a yellow building on the left with the Benin flag.  You’ll need to go in there to get your exit stamp.  Next, you’ll want to go up to the actual border and talk to the guy on the Nigerian side.  You can’t just shoot across, instead you have to go to the immigration office to have the formalities looked after.  The guy at the border crossing will give you directions, and it’s not really far.  When you get to the office, you’ll have to answer some questions, fill out some paperwork, and you inevitably be asked for a bribe by the clerk (don’t give one).  If you have a car, you’ll have to also go to the customs office which is in the same compound.

After getting the clearance, you’re good to go.  You can either head back to the main border crossing and go from there, or you there is a short cut that will take you around it as well.  Ask at the office and they’ll point you in the right direction.

What if you use Public Transport?

The process is essentially still the same if you use public transport.  The problem is that transport isn’t super common.  You’ll likely have to go to Ketou and find a vehicle headed for Abeokuta or Ibadan.  Make sure they are going direct across that border and not down via Lagos.   Your best bet is to try the shared taxi park around 8am.

Can I get my Visa at the Nigerian Border?

Absolutely Not.  I’ve heard reports that you can get it done pretty easily in Cotonou.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much a sure bet to get your visa for Nigeria in Bamako, although it’s expensive.

Questions or Advice?

If you’ve had any relevant experience, or have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below!

18 Comments

  1. I will be making this crossing in November. How long ago were you there?

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    • I made it in May 2013. You should still be good though, I got an email 2 months ago from a guy who didn’t hassle-free.

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  2. Hi Brendan! Thanks againg for your posts! They are being so useful form y trip, so similar to yours! I was wondering which route did you take to cross Nigeria? Did you avoid highways? Did you go straight to Cameroon?

    Many thanks in advance

    Cheers from Togo,

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    • I went to Ibidan from Benin because the border is easier to get into Nigeria. Then, I went to Benin City and Calabar. I didn’t avoid the highways all the time, but I should have. They are insane. From Calabar I went up to Afi drill ranch and then crossed into Cameroon from south of Afi. That border is easy, but the road on the Cameroon side was under construction. It was basically mud the whole way, although that might have changed now. Actually, that Camroonian road was a lot of fun for me.

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      • Thanks again Brendan! That’s exactly what I wanted to read 🙂

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  3. Am from parakou and am yet 2 av my passport but intend to go visit a friend in Badagry, Nigeria. Pls how can I cross seme borderto Nigeria

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  4. Thanks Brendan for all these infos. Its been so helpful, just, just one more thing, i intend to travel to abuja soon after crossing the border east of ketou(any idea on how much one need to pay at the exit and entry points)?. Do you by any means have any information that could be of great used to me? Thanks

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    • Hey Philip,
      You shouldn’t have to pay anything. They’ll definitely ask for bribes, but just say no. If you have your paperwork, you don’t have to pay anything to anyone there.

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      • Hello Brendan & thanks for all these infos. I currently have the car in Benin and surely i’ll follow ur suggestion in terms of where to pass the border with Nigeria.
        just a question regarding the highways, why are you saying they are insane? would you not recommend them? My plan is to get to Cameroun as soon as possible & i was exactly thinking to quickly move down by highway…what’s your reco?

        Thanks Stefano

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        • Hi Stefano,
          If you’re in a car you should be OK. Nigerians drive about 200km/h at all times. So, by insane I mean really fast with very little regard for their lives. haha. You should be fine in a car, I was in a scooter, and it was nerve-wracking. Good luck!

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          • Brenden, Eat your words Nigerians always Drive at high Speed…Not 200km/h.I am Nigerian by Birth, So I’am Used to these things.

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  5. Hello Brendan,
    thanks for the very useful informations, i’m preparing for crossing the border around end of the year, surely ill take ketou boarder now! my plan is to cross very quickly nigeria and get asap in cameoun, why are you suggesting to avoid highway? i tough could be faster way to get trough!
    Any delays expected for being in Xmas period ?

    Thanks in advance Stef

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  6. Did you have a visa for Nigeria when you crossed the boarder?

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    • Yes, I did have a visa.

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      • Please u need detailed information on how to Navigate from Cameroon to Benin Republic by road as I would he driving to and fro.
        also. How to navigate by road from Cameroon to Togo

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  7. my travelle to Nigeria accross the border from benin to nigeria was the most distressing adventure of my life even as a Nigerian i swore to hell i will never attempt such an adventure i travelled from france with a French passport and a visa to cotonou intending to take my visa from the Nigeria embassy to nigeria from ctonou but that was tragique mistake that cost me over a £1000 to cross over my wife being a french lady the highly corrupt Embassy officials denied us visa and instigated us to bribry it took three days of exasperating and distressing experience plus a £1000

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  8. Dear, I want to cross to Porto-Novo from Lagos Nigeria. just one day meeting with Partner. I want to go with my Car from Lagos. Apart from My International Passport. what are the require documents need for my car to cross border. Thanks

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  9. I want cross from Nigeria to Benin without any workpapper how can I do it

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