Visas are required for all travellers, except nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). If flying into Cotonou, you will require a visa before arrival. A 30-day, single-entry visa costs UK£55 from the Beninese consulate in the UK; the embassy in the USA charges less.
If crossing overland, it’s far easier to get a visa at the border, where the 24-hour posts issue 48-hour transit visas (CFA10, 000).
You can then obtain a 30-day, single or multiple-entry visa (CFA12, 000) in Cotonou. The Direction Emigration Immigration (21 31 42 13; Ave Jean Paul II, Cotonou; 8-11am & 3-6.30pm) accepts applications between 8am and 11am Monday to Friday. These can be collected at 6pm the following working day, though it may be possible to speed up the process. You will need one passport photo. The office also offers the five-country Visa Touristique Entente visa (covering Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire) for CFA25, 000.
Visas for onward travel
For onward travel to Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo, the French consulate issues three-month visas (CFA20, 000) and transit visas (CFA6000) in 24 to 48 hours, with two photos required. It may be preferable, if more expensive, to get the Visa Touristique Entente at the Beninese Direction Emigration Immigration.
The same is true of Niger. The Visa Touristique Entente costs about the same as the three-month visas issued by the Nigerian embassy, which takes 24 hours to process applications and requires two photos.
Ghanaian visas take two days to issue and cost CFA12, 000/30, 000 for single/multiple entry. Four photos are required.
For travellers with a Nigerian embassy in their home country, the Nigerian embassy issues only two-day transit visas. You need two photos, along with photocopies of your passport and, if you have one, your ticket for onward travel from Nigeria. Issued on the same day, the expensive visas vary according to nationality (CFA68, 000 for US citizens, CFA30, 000 for UK citizens, CFA20, 000 for Australian citizens).