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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Ghana

Ghana - Consular Information Sheet
July 20, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Ghana is a developing country on the West Coast of Africa. The capital is Accra. Facilities for tourism are available in the population centers of the greater Accra region, Kumasi in the Ashanti region, and in the Cape Coast area of the Central region, but they are limited in the more remote areas of the country.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required, as is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Ghana, 3512 International Drive, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 686-4520 or via the Internet at http://www.ghana-embassy.org, or the Ghanaian Consulate General at 19 East 47th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 832-1300. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Ghanaian embassy or consulate.

DUAL NATIONALITY: The Government of Ghana treats a U.S.-Ghanaian citizen as a Ghanaian only. If a U.S.-Ghanaian dual national runs afoul of Ghanaian authorities, U.S. consular assistance may be limited. For additional information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME INFORMATION: Pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and various types of scams are the most common forms of crime confronting visitors. U.S. travelers have reported instances of these types of theft in crowded market areas, beaches and parks, and at tourist attractions. Travelers who limit their display of jewelry and handle their cash discreetly reduce their vulnerability to crime.

In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported substantial financial losses from questionable transactions involving gold and other precious metals. The Government of Ghana maintains strict regulations on these natural resources. All agents must be licensed, and all transactions must be certified. (Please see Customs Restrictions below.)

Business fraud stemming from Nigerian scam operations targets foreigners, including Americans, and poses a danger of financial loss and physical harm. Persons contemplating business deals in Ghana with individuals promoting investment in Nigeria, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria or the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing any information, making financial commitments, or traveling to Ghana.

Single copies of the Department of State’s brochure, Tips for Business Travelers to Nigeria, are available at no charge from the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. This brochure and an accompanying booklet entitled Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud are available for review at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, particularly outside Accra. Travelers should be aware that evidence of and/or assurances from U.S. insurance companies will not be accepted as settlement of medical expenses in Ghana.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers should consider taking prophylaxis against malaria. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s international traveler’s hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax, 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299) or visit the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Ghana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Most primary roads are generally paved and well maintained. However, roads outside the major cities are in poor condition. The road from Accra to the central region tourist area of Cape Coast continues to be the site of many accidents. Travel at dark, particularly outside the major cities, is extremely hazardous, due to poor street lighting and the unpredictable behavior of pedestrians, bicyclists and farm animals, such as goats and pigs.

The safety standards of the small private buses that transit roads and highways are uncertain. Travelers are encouraged to consider this when making travel arrangements.

Travelers are routinely stopped at police checkpoints throughout Ghana. Automobiles and passengers may be searched. Drivers must possess an international drivers license (available from AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance). Foreign nationals are expected to carry documentation of their status, such as a passport and visa.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Ghana’s Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Ghana's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA’s Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 618-229-4801.

SERVICE OF REGIONAL AIRLINES: Service provided by a number of regional air carriers, including Ghana Airways, is reported to be unreliable. The airlines are known to alter scheduled stops, cancel or postpone flights on short notice, and regularly overbook flights. Travelers may experience unexpected delays even after checking in, and should be prepared to handle alternate ticketing and/or increased food and lodging expenses.

CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS: Visitors entering Ghana with more than 5,000 dollars (US) in cash are required to declare the amount upon entry into Ghana. Currency exchange is available at most banks and at licensed foreign exchange bureaus. Currency transactions with private citizens are illegal.

The Government of Ghana maintains strict regulations on the import and export of gold, diamonds and other precious natural resources. Only agents licensed by the Precious Metals and Mining Commission, telephone (233)(21) 664-635 or 664-579, may handle import-export transactions of these natural resources. Any transaction lacking this Commission’s endorsement may be illegal and/or fraudulent. Attempts to evade regulations are punishable by prison terms.

In rare instances, visitors arriving in Ghana with sophisticated electronic equipment (video cameras and laptop computers) may have to deposit 17.5 per cent of the item's value with the Customs and Excise office at the airport. To get the deposit refunded, visitors must apply to the Customs and Excise Office in central Accra 48 hours before departure.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Ghanaian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ghana are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

PROHIBITIONS ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Taking pictures near sensitive installations, including military sites and government buildings, is prohibited. In some instances, film and cameras have been confiscated.

CLOTHING PROHIBITIONS: The wearing of any military apparel, such as camouflage jackets or trousers, or any clothing or items which may appear military in nature, is strictly prohibited.

CHILDREN’S ISSUES: At this time, Ghana is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy Annex, 10th and 11th Lanes, near Danquah Circle, OSU; and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Ghana; telephone (233-21) 776-601 or 02, fax (233-21) 775-747. The U.S. Embassy is located on Ring Road East, P.O. Box 194, Accra, telephone (233-21) 775-347 or 48. The Embassy maintains a home page on the Internet at http://usembassy.state.gov/ghana/.

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