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!

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