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Ghana - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Ghana due to petty crime.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Crime is a problem in large cities, including Accra and its surroundings. The area around the High Commission of Canada is also affected.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, is common. Attacks by individuals on motorbikes are also common.
Theft of luggage and belongings occurs in hotels. Ensure that personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Violent crimes, including armed robbery, occur. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone or displaying signs of wealth.
If you are the victim of an armed robbery, do not resist. Attackers have sometimes seriously assaulted their victims for failing to comply or not complying quickly enough.
The Greater Accra neighborhoods of Agbogbloshie, Ashaiman, Avenor, Nima (except the main highway), Sowutuom and Sukura have been the sites of violent crime. Avoid going into these neighbourhoods, particularly at night.
Home invasions occur and thieves target affluent areas in Accra where foreigners live. Some thieves carry firearms.
On the road
Criminals often target foreigners travelling in taxis at night and violent robberies are frequent. If you have to use a taxi, ensure that there is no other passenger in the car and try to limit trips to daytime hours.
Thieves sometimes pose as police officers to stop and demand money from foreigners.
There have been common occurrences of armed robberies of vehicles at night in areas such as Kumasi, Takoradi and other parts of the Ashanti region.
Armed attacks at night have also occurred along the Accra–Tema and Accra–Kumasi–Tamale highways.
At the airport
Theft occurs at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Be wary of unsolicited assistance from uniformed porters or officials appearing to work at the airport. Official airport employees wear identification cards bearing both their name and photograph.
If a driver is supposed to meet you at the airport, confirm their identity before getting in the car. If not being met, use only officially marked taxis to travel from the airport into the city.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Demonstrations occur from time to time in Accra and other major cities. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Be wary of unsolicited emails offering enticing business or financial opportunities, often related to the gold industry. Ensure that any business opportunity is legitimate before travelling to Ghana. If in doubt, contact Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service in Accra.
Do not travel to Ghana with the intention to obtain restitution after losing money to a fraud. The perpetrators of these scams have often extorted and at times physically assaulted foreigners when confronted.
If you are travelling to Ghana to meet someone you met online (for example, for friendship, business, or romance), be aware that you may be the victim of a scam. Foreigners are often lured to Ghana to meet their online contact in person, but once there, they become victims of crime. Victims have lost thousands of dollars as a result of those scams.
In some cases, the victim is arrested for failing to pay debts accrued locally or failing to pay exorbitant bills racked up as a result of a scam.
Be wary of locals who offer you steep discounts on tours, hotels or other services. If you have lost money to such scams, do not attempt to confront your scammers. Seek assistance from local authorities or local legal aid.
Credit card and ATM
Credit card and ATM fraud is widespread. Pay with cash whenever possible. Be cautious if using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Chieftaincy disputes and political tension can sometimes lead to localized violence and unrest. While possible throughout Ghana, inter-ethnic conflict most commonly occurs in Bawku (Upper East region), Bimbilla (northern Ghana), Tamale municipality and Yendi district.
During these times of unrest, local authorities may impose curfews.
If you are travelling in an area where unrest is possible, monitor local media (including social media) to stay up to date on the current situation. If unrest breaks out, follow the instructions of local authorities and adhere to curfews they may impose.
Road conditions are generally good in cities, but poor in rural areas. Inadequate lighting, pedestrians and roaming livestock pose risks.
Traffic accidents are common on the road from Accra to Cape Coast and Kumasi. Restrict travel outside urban areas to daylight hours.
Be very careful when driving in Ghana. People may try to get you to stop your vehicle. Pedestrians may bang on your car, making it appear as if they have been hit, and drivers may attempt to cause minor vehicle collisions. Crowds gathering because of these types of incidents can become dangerous. Drive with your doors locked and proceed immediately to the nearest police station to make a report if you are involved in any traffic incident.
Many buses and taxis are not well-maintained and have poor safety standards.
Agree to taxis fares before departure to avoid disputes over excessive rates. You can also avoid fare disputes by using app-based ride-shared services.
Privately owned minibuses, locally known as tro-tros, have a high accident record due to road conditions, poor maintenance and unsafe driving practices. Private intercity buses are available and they are often better maintained and safer.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Domestic air travel may be subject to disruptions, due to weather (particularly during the Harmattan period, from December up to early February) and due to operational challenges faced by local airlines.
Reserves, safaris and the beach
There are inherent risks associated with viewing both marine and land wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife. Avoid exiting vehicles unless professional guides or wardens say it is safe. Use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Avoid isolated picnic areas and beaches. Coastal waters have unpredictable wave and tide patterns and can be dangerous. On many beaches, there are serious and strong undertows and riptides that can sweep swimmers out to sea. Follow the advice and warnings of local authorities.
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
General safety information
Periodic shortages of electricity and city water can occur, particularly in the dry season from November to March.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Ghanaian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Ghana.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Border closures, while not frequent, can occur during national elections or periods of civil unrest. Seek the advice of local authorities prior to departure if you are planning on leaving Ghana by road.
If you reside in Ghana, you must register with the National Identification Authority of Ghana to get a non-citizen card. Ghanaian citizens and children under 6 years of age are exempt from registration.
Information on how to register – Ghana’s National Identification Authority
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Lassa fever in West Africa - April 9, 2018
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.
- Vaccination is recommended.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care professional the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza, ebola, and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are inadequate outside urban areas. Emergency medical attention and serious illnesses require medical evacuation. Medical services usually require immediate cash payment.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Ghanaian family law is different than in Canada and particular caution is required when dealing with child custody issues.
You should carry a photocopy of your travel documents and keep the originals in a secure place.
Illegal or restricted activities
Gold, diamonds and other precious natural resources are subject to strict import and export regulations. Only agents licensed by the Precious Metals and Mining Commission are authorized to handle import-export transactions of these natural resources. Individuals who commit offences may face prosecution, and penalties include imprisonment.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Smoking is prohibited in public areas, but sometimes permitted in private businesses, such as bars or restaurants.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Photography of sensitive installations, including military sites, government buildings, bridges and Accra's international airport, is prohibited. Seek permission before taking photos of official buildings and individuals.
Wearing military clothing or clothing that has military elements (for example, camouflage) is prohibited.
Ghana’s law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted could face up to 25 years in prison. Homosexuality is not socially tolerated.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Ghana.
You must have an International Driving Permit. It can be used for up to 12 months. After 12 months, you will need to obtain a Ghanaian licence. If you have resident status in Ghana, you should request your Ghanaian licence as soon as you become a resident.
Police roadblocks are common. You and your vehicle could be subject to inspections, and armed security forces may demand money, either directly or indirectly.
You should always carry:
- copies of identification documents, such as your passport and valid visa
- your International Driving Permit or local driver’s licence
- vehicle registration and ownership documents
Ensure that your road-worthy and insurance stickers are up-to-date, and that your car is equipped with a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle, as these items are mandatory.
Vehicles with temporary licence plates are prohibited from traveling anywhere in Ghana between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Vehicles may be seized for the night and fines imposed for non-compliance.
Habillement et comportement
Habillez-vous et comportez-vous avec bon sens et discrétion, et respectez les traditions sociales et religieuses pour ne pas froisser les habitants.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Ghana.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Ghana, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
The official currency is the Ghanaian cedi (GHS).
ATMs are widely available in urban areas. Most credit cards are accepted at major hotels and some shops.
The export of cedis is prohibited. There are no restrictions on the import and export of foreign currencies provided they are declared upon arrival and exchanged for local currency only through banks and foreign exchange bureaus.
You should receive an Exchange Control Form T-5 on arrival; if not, you should request it. You must record foreign currency and all transactions made while in the country on this form. Safely store the form because you may encounter problems if you lose it.
Before departure, you must spend unused cedis or reconvert them into foreign currency. The T-5 declaration form must show that the monies obtained while in Ghana were from an authorized dealer in foreign exchange. Currency transactions with private citizens are illegal.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The rainy season extends from March to November. Flooding across the country can occur during this season and cause widespread damage, including the possibility of fatalities and significant loss of infrastructure and property.
During the hot and dry season, temperatures can reach 38 degrees Celsius. However, sporadic and heavy rains may still occur. You should keep informed on weather conditions and plan accordingly.
The Harmattan (a sand and dust filled wind) blows in from the Sahara from December to March. The Harmattan can cause disruptions to travel. It can also strongly affect the health of people with respiratory ailments.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 191 or 18555 from Vodafone/MTN only
- national ambulance: 193
- firefighters: 192 or 0302 772 446
Accra - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Accra and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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