Young, American female traveling to Lagos alone...tips/advice?
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Dec 14, 2012 5:36 PM Last Post By: beibolugo
Dec 10, 2012 5:05 PM
In about a week I will be heading to Lagos, alone. I have close friends that have moved back home to Nigeria (mostly for business) whom I will be visiting and staying with. I've asked my Nigerian friends for advice on staying problem-free at the airport, and they seem to think that the airport in general is problem free......but I've heard otherwise. So, I would like to ask other Western travelers for tips/advice on maneuvering through the airport without getting mugged or conned!! Once I leave the airport with my friends I will feel much more comfortable. Until then, I'll be a bit anxious. It's just the getting through immigration and customs part that I'm nervous about. I've heard some pretty ugly stories. And, apparently I look much younger than I actually am (I still get carded at movie theaters and I'm 30), so I suspect will be a decent target for someone preying on innocent/naive looking people traveling alone. Any and all advice welcome, things to look out for, etc...
P.S. I am very familiar with Nigerian culture. So, the aggressiveness and the sometimes pushy attitudes will not shock or intimidate me. I'm just afraid of being led astray by someone in the airport who is trying to "help" me.
Dec 10, 2012 5:50 PM
1My last trip to Nigeria was relatively easy and the only real issue with immigration was the length of the line and then the final exit. The line to the first officer was probably around 40 minutes and then to the next 'officer' was another 25 minutes, And as usual, it was pretty stuffy and warm in the terminal.
The only issue I encountered was after exiting from the immigration and walking through the baggage section, I was just getting ready to exit the building itself with the outside world only feet away, and here is where the attempt at trickery occured. There were airport staff standing at this door (2 of them at 2 doors) and they were asking for Yellow Fever Cards. The only flight at this time was the flight from the USA and as the USA is not a Yellow Fever Zone there is not a requirement to have one upon arrival. They approached me and another colleague asking to see it. I answered that it was not required arriving from the USA and I was then told to produce it or they'd put me on the next fight back, which is not an easy undertaking and involves plenty of paperwork. They were looking for money and I watched as two groups of 2 caucasians paid a bribe. This was 1.5 years ago and still happens. Not a big deal at all. Just relaying my story.
I looked at the ground, smiled, waited for about 2 minutes, smiled again and then walked right out past her.
Have fun in the wonderful and warm Lagos!
Dec 11, 2012 12:06 AM
2The immigration has changed a lot, fr the best that is, since recent.
1. Try to be on of the first people of the plane. Fill the arrival card in the plane. Make sure you have the FULL address and the TELEPHONE NUMBER of where you will be staying. Head down to immigration.
2. Queue will be aywhere between 10 min and 1 hour, but they are getting quicker. No bribes etc required.
3. Go wait for your luggage. Here, obviously, ignore anyone trying to talk to you.
4. Proceed to the customs officers. They will want (a) your luggage stab (have it handy!) and (b) yellow fever. For yellow fever, be friendly and polite, yet very firm. They will try to intimidate you, thats the Nigerian way. Do check, however, that it is true you do not need the yellow fever from an official website or so and have it printed. Do have some dollars ready just in case.
5. Go to the arrival door. Again, ignoring anyone trying to talk to you, unless in uniform.
Dec 12, 2012 1:48 PM
3I had more problems exiting Nigeria than entering Nigeria (both at Lagos and Kano). If you buy souvenirs (masks, crafts and stuff like that) perhaps somebody at customs will ask you to provide a written proof that those objects are not antiques nor national artworks. For example, they can ask for an export certificate from the National Museum, or anything else impossible to obtain at the last minute. They just want bribes, of course. So remain firm... or just pay something.
Dec 14, 2012 5:19 PM
4Thanks! I appreciate your replies. Entry (and exit) sounds fairly straight forward - people may try to bribe you, stand firm. I do have my Yellow Fever vaccine card from another recent trip, so hopefully that will eliminate the unnecessary discussion about that.
@Beibolugo - is there anything I can get from the vendor at the time of purchase to make this process easier? Or, will this just be something I'll likely deal with, regardless?
Dec 14, 2012 5:36 PM
5I guess you can ask the vendor for a receipt (even handwritten) but that will not stop any Nigerian customs official with bad intentions. If you take crafts with you and the official asks for an export certificate (or tells you that you are "stealing" a piece of Nigerian heritage), just show the receipt and/or tell him that the crafts were made recently for tourists and are not "old art". Deep inside they know you are right, so stick to your story, remain firm, look the official at the eyes and smile. Good luck!
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