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Visas are required for all except nationals of most West African countries. Most Nigerian embassies (including the high commissions in the UK and Australia, and the embassy in Benin) issue visas only to residents and nationals of the country in which the embassy is located. Exact requirements vary, but as a rule of thumb, forms are required in triplicate, along with proof of funds to cover your stay, a round-trip airline ticket, and possibly confirmed hotel reservations.

You also need a letter of invitation from a resident of Nigeria or a business in the country. This must explain the purpose of your visit and, preferably, take immigration and financial responsibility for you during your trip. The cost of a 30-day visa is from US$60 to US$100 according to nationality.

If you’re travelling overland to Nigeria, the embassy in Accra (Ghana) is consistently rated as the best place in West Africa to apply for a visa, as no letter of introduction is required. The embassy in Niamey (Niger) also claims to issue visas the same way.

Visa extensions

Visas can reportedly be extended at the Federal Secretariat in Lagos, but it’s a byzantine process of endless forms, frustration and dash, with no clear sense of success.

Visas for onward travel

One month visas for Chad (N5500), Cameroon (N10, 000), Niger (N5300) and Benin (N3000) can be obtained in Abuja or Lagos. Other convenient consulates for visas are Calabar (Cameroon) and Kano (Niger).

Benin One-month visas cost CFA15, 000, with one photo, and take 24 hours to issue. You can’t pay in naira – although, as the embassy in Lagos carries a bad reputation for asking for dash, don’t be surprised if greasing palms miraculously solves this ‘problem’.

Cameroon A one-month single-entry visa costs CFA50, 000, with one photo, and is issued in a day.

Chad Two photos and N5500 will get you a one-month single-entry visa, which you can pick up the next day.

Niger Best obtained in Abuja, a one-month single-entry visa costs N5300 with two photos, and is issued in 48 hours.