Visa des Pays de l'Entente

The Visa des Pays de l'Entente is a multicountry visa that covers travel in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Togo. If you've never heard of it, don't be surprised – it's so poorly publicised that most travellers never learn of its existence. Implementation of this relatively new visa is also still patchy, which significantly diminishes its appeal. In remote border crossings there is also the danger that officials won't recognise the visa and will force travellers to purchase a new individual country visa.

Before you go rushing off to your nearest West African embassy to ask for this visa, you need to learn how it works. For a start, it is only obtainable within these five West African countries, which means that you must initially obtain a visa for the first of these countries and, once there, apply at the immigration or visa extension office (or neighbouring country's embassy) in the capital city. To get the Visa des Pays de l'Entente, which is valid for two months, you'll need to take along CFA15,000 to CFA25,000 depending on the country, and up to two passport photos. It usually takes 24 to 72 hours for the visa to be issued.

Although the Visa des Pays de l'Entente may work out to be more convenient in some cases, it's worth remembering that it's only valid for one entry into each country: ideal for overlanders, less so for those who plan to visit countries more than once.