It’s taken a while to put up this post but I’m glad it’s finally up now. Because I wanted to write a fairly comprehensive guide, I reached out to several people on Twitter and via email. I asked them to share their experiences driving through West Africa, from Lagos to Accra. Special thanks to Hammond Oluwole and Franklin Mamah for sharing the details used in writing this post.
General Information and Disclaimer
The information presented in this post will differ for each person and each trip. It is only intended for the purpose of trip planning. All prices stated here are either approximate values or exact values at the time of this writing.
I would try to update this post as often as I can or as I get new information. I also encourage you to keep the conversation going in the comment section. If you have travelled driving your own car from Lagos to Accra, please share your experiences, tips, and recommendations with us in the comment section.
First Edit: December 2018
Documents Required and Costs of Travel Documents
Driving from Lagos to Accra – The Basics…
You need to travel with your international passport and a yellow card certificate. There’s a new process for obtaining a yellow card (post-August 2018). You can read about it here. I’ve also read that the old card would be discontinued next year. So it may make sense to go get a new one.
Driving from Lagos to Accra – Vehicle Documents Needed
In addition to the documents you use for your daily commute in the country, you would need an international driver’s license, ECOWAS vehicle license (not for use in issuing country and valid for a year at ₦5,000), ECOWAS third-party vehicle insurance (aka Brown Card valid for 3 months at ₦15,000), laissez-passer (this is the travel document that allows you to drive through Benin and Togo, given at the borders) and undertaken (issued at the Aflao border. You’d have to declare your reason for visiting and your duration of stay.)
To issue a laissez-passer, officials at the Benin side of the Seme border would ask for 10K CFA for the first entry and 2K CFA (₦1,300) for subsequent travel. At Lome, you pay 5-6K CFA to the police to register your entry and customs will demand 27K CFA for their laissez-passer.
At the moment, I have no idea how much it costs to obtain the ‘undertaken’ at the Ghanaian border. One thing is for sure though, it will cost you.
What to Expect
As I mentioned in this post, prepare mentally, physically and financially for the worst. Crossing the borders from Lagos to Accra when you’re not driving your personal car is already a hassle on its own. If you’re not used to the route, your first border crossing might be a total nightmare. You might be lucky (or skilled) to get a stress free pass but you should definitely prepare for the opposite.
Franklin, one of the contributors for this post told me that he had to cut his trip short because of the laissez-passer fee at the Hillacondji border.
I offered 10K (instead of 27K) to the officials on the Togo side of Hillacondji. They refused the money, so I turned back.
I did a quick google search to find out the actual price of this document, but I couldn’t find any concrete information. I, however, did see that in a few cases, if you’re able to strike up a friendly conversation and connection with the police and immigration officials, there’s a chance (a very slim one) that they’ll let you pay a lower fee or even go free. The trade-off will be that you spend more hours at the border.
A few more things to note…
If you’re travelling with new documents (especially your passport and yellow card), regardless of whether or not you have your old ones, you will be charged fees for a new entry. Hammond also tells me that the Nigerian custom service officials and the Benin police will charge a fee of up to ₦5,000 and 35K CFA respectively to place a ‘seen on departure’ and ‘seen on arrival’ stamp in your Brown Card.
This, he tells me, is necessary to absolve you of the charge of trying to bring in your vehicle illegally on your return. His number one tip is to have enough money for unexpected charges.
At the time of this writing, road conditions are fairly good but you should expect a few potholes and bad spots here and there (more on the Nigerian side). There isn’t much to write home about regarding views. If you plan to travel by road solely because you want to enjoy the views, you might as well just fly. You won’t be missing anything.
Another thing to expect is payment of toll fees from Benin down to Ghana. You would also have the police and customs officer stop your vehicle because of your foreign license plates. Have your documents handy and present them when asked.
Final Thoughts and Tips…
Have journey management procedures in place. Know your route – familiarize yourself with Google Maps before leaving, know the major towns too. It’s an almost straight route along the coastline. The road signs in Benin and Ghana are good, just keep following them.
Take enough breaks and try as much as possible to avoid driving at night. Remember that Aflao border to Accra takes another 4 hours. If you get there late, you should find a hotel close by to sleep in. Lastly, take more money than you think you need to cover unforeseen expenses.
I hope this article helps to plan your trip, driving from Lagos to Accra. If you have any questions, please leave them down in the comment section below. You can also search through my Ghana Archives for other posts around the countries mentioned here.
And if you’ve made this trip with your own car, please share your experience with us below.