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Ghana - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Ghana. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to petty crime and a risk of politically-fuelled tension in the lead-up to elections, particularly in Northern Ghana.
Safety and security
Safety and security
You should exercise a high degree of caution in Ghana and maintain a high level of security awareness at all times.
Political and ethnic tensions
Isolated violent incidents related to political tensions, and sometimes fueled by ethnic tensions, occur from time to time and may be increasingly frequent in the lead-up to the December 7, 2016 presidential election. Exercise caution and avoid events where confrontations between political supporters could occur. There have been regional ethnic tensions in the Northern and Upper East regions of Ghana in the past. When regional violence breaks out, local authorities often respond by imposing curfews. You should follow reports in local media and comply with the instructions of local authorities.
Pick-pocketing, purse snatching and attacks by individuals on motorbikes are increasing in Accra and its surroundings, including areas around the High Commission of Canada. Violent crimes have also increased, including armed robbery. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone or displaying signs of wealth. Home invasions are on the rise. Affluent areas in Accra where foreigners live are targeted and some thieves carry firearms.
There have been recent cases of violent robberies often targeting foreigners travelling in taxis at night. If you have to use a taxi, ensure that there is no other passenger in the car and try to limit trips to day-time hours.
When possible, carry photocopies of your travel documents and keep the originals in a secure place.
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 as a result 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.
An increase in crime has also affected Tema, Kumasi, and the Upper East and West regions. Armed robberies of vehicles are a growing concern in areas such as Takoradi, Kumasi and other parts of the Ashanti region. People working in the mining industry should be particularly cautious. Armed attacks have also been reported along the Accra-Tema and Accra-Kumasi-Tamale highways. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Thefts occur at Kotoka International Airport in Accra and in hotels across the country. Be wary of unsolicited assistance from uniformed porters or officials appearing to work at Kotoka International Airport. Official airport employees wear identification cards bearing both their name and photograph. If you are being met at the airport, you should confirm the identity of your driver.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include shopping malls, government buildings, public areas such as bars, restaurants, hotels and sites frequented by Westerners. Be aware of your surroundings in public places.
Demonstrations occasionally occur in Accra and other major cities. You are advised to be prudent and avoid large crowds and public gatherings, as some have turned violent in the past. Monitor local news reports, follow the advice of authorities, and respect any curfews or roadblocks.
Canadians are frequently the victims of Internet scams originating in Ghana, which is a base for commercial and Internet fraud schemes in the region. Scammers will offer enticing business or financial opportunities, often related to the gold industry. Be wary of unsolicited emails. Ensure that any business opportunity is legitimate before travelling to Ghana.
Other scams involve online friendships or romances. There are many variations, all with the intent of scamming money from people abroad, and some Canadians have lost thousands of dollars and in some cases, have been arrested as a result of such situation.
Credit card fraud is also a considerable problem. Limit your use of credit cards whenever possible.
See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
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. Travel outside urban areas should be restricted to daylight hours. In the event of an accident, you should stay in your car and contact help with a mobile phone or proceed to the nearest police station and contact the High Commission of Canada in Accra if necessary.
Police roadblocks are routine. At checkpoints, vehicles and passengers may 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, and your International Driving Permit (IDP). 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 license plates (DVLA) are prohibited from traveling anywhere in Ghana between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Vehicles may be seized for the night and fines imposed for non-compliance. Furthermore, as border closures are frequent, seek the advice of the High Commission of Canada in Accra prior to departure if you are planning on leaving Ghana by road.
Buses are unreliable and inconvenient. Car rentals are available but expensive. Taxis are also available, but taxi fares should be agreed before departure. Domestic air travel may be subject to disruptions.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Reserves, safaris and the beach
There are inherent risks associated with viewing wildlife (both marine and on land), particularly on foot or at close range. You should always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife and 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. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
General safety information
Periodic shortages of electricity and city water can occur, especially in the dry season from November to March.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Ghanaian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for the Republic of Ghana and its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Ghana, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider 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 Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by 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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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 bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
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 at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider 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.
- 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.
- 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 provider 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 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 provider.
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.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Ghanaian family law is different than in Canada and particular caution is required when dealing with child custody issues. Consult our publication International Child Abductions: A Manual for Parents for more information.
Restricted or illegal 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 strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Possession of pornographic material is illegal.
Homosexual activity is illegal and same-sex marriages are not recognized.
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.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Dress and behaviour
Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Ghana. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Ghana citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Ghana passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Ghana's currency was redenominated in 2007. The new Ghanaian currency, the Ghana cedi (GHS), has progressively replaced the old cedi and, since January 2008, the old cedi can only be converted at the Bank of Ghana.
The export of cedis is prohibited. There are no restrictions on the import and export of foreign currencies provided that they are declared upon arrival and exchanged for local currency only through banks and foreign exchange bureaus. Visitors may receive an Exchange Control Form T-5 on arrival; if not, travellers may request it. Foreign currency and all transactions made while in the country must be recorded on this form. This form should be safely stored; its loss can result in problems. Unused cedis must be spent or reconverted into foreign currency before departure. 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 seasons extend from March to November. Flooding across the country can occur during this season, causing 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 and plan accordingly.
Emergency services exist but may be subject to certain limitations. In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 199 / 18555 from Vodafone/MTN only
- medical assistance: 193
- firefighters: 1921 / 999
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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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