Do I need a passport to travel to Ghana, Senegal, or other West African countries?
Hey there! I recently had the amazing opportunity to backpack across 10 wonderful West African countries, crossing through the 15 West African Road Borders.
While I had my trusty Ecowas travel certificate with me, I couldn’t help but think that using just my National ID card might have been a simpler and more stress-free way to breeze through those borders.
Let’s take a closer look at the different options for crossing with either NIN, Ecowas Passport or International Passport:
This nifty digital document is widely accepted at most borders. When you present your international passport, you’ll typically be directed to the front of the line. They’ll quickly scan your passport through an electronic device, stamp it, and voila, you’re good to go!
Keep in mind that border fees can vary, ranging from N2,000 to N5,000. Initially, your passport fee should be around N1,000 for an old passport or N2,000 for a “virgin” passport (meaning it hasn’t crossed a particular border before).
Ecowas Travel Certificate:
Now, this is a manual document and is exclusively used within West African countries. Since many borders are transitioning to digital processes, the Ecowas passport can’t be scanned. Instead, your details will be manually recorded and stamped at an office.
The cost for stamping is usually a fixed fee, typically 1,000 CFA francs. However, depending on the border officials and your bargaining skills, there might be some variation.
Crossing with NIN:
If simplicity is your game, consider traveling with your National Identification Number (NIN) certificate or your ID card if you’re Nigerian. Interestingly, I noticed that citizens of other countries often rely on their ID cards for travel. When you use your NIN, there’s no border stamping involved.
They’ll register your details, which may require payment. The price can vary, so you might pay N1000 all the way or be billed differently.
So, which option do I recommend?
Well, personally, I find traveling with the Ecowas passport more hassle-free. It usually avoids unnecessary profiling and extortion. But if you’re looking to build up your travel history, having your international passport handy is a great idea.
Now, let’s talk about stress levels when crossing West African borders by road:
The experience can vary quite a bit from one border to another. Crossing borders in countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Liberia tends to be relatively smooth, with minimal incidents of extortion or complicated procedures. Other countries might give you a bit more to think about, but nothing too serious.
Here’s a little piece of advice: When you’re at these border crossings, just be nice to the border officials. Keep your cool, avoid being rude, and if necessary, calmly explain your situation. Effective communication can make your West African travel a breeze. Safe travels!”
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