Before you arrive
Lagos is Africa’s most populous city and one known for congested roads, crowded restaurants and busy nightclubs. But don’t let the bustle put you off – Lagos has no dull moments and ample opportunity. This is one of Africa’s most vibrant urban centers, with a lively arts scene that includes Nollywood, Nigeria’s thriving film industry. Despite challenges with infrastructure, the city has made a name for itself as a home for innovative tech companies.
Safety is a key consideration for foreigners in Lagos, and you should start planning before you arrive. Be sure to book a reputable hotel ahead of time – this is not a place where you can just show up and figure it out. The city’s Murtala Muhammed International Airport can be very rowdy, especially in the evenings when the majority of flights from Europe arrive. Dubious drivers have been known to take advantage of first-time visitors, so arrange for a pickup before traveling. Ask your hotel for a driver, or, if you’re coming for work, ask your business contact or employer to arrange one. Weather in Lagos is hot and humid year-round, so bring light clothing. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, so be sure to get immunized and also ask your doctor about other suggested vaccinations such as hepatitis A, typhoid and rabies.
Visas and work permit
In early 2020, Nigeria made significant changes to its visa process, including expanding its categories of visas from six to seventy-nine classes and the introduction of an e-visa, with an aim of improving the business environment and boosting tourism. Foreign citizens who plan to work in Nigeria need to obtain both a Subject to Regularization (STR) visa and a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). Before leaving your home country, you will need to sign an employment contract with a company in Nigeria, complete an online application for an STR visa through the Nigerian Immigration Service (portal.immigration.gov.ng) and provide the Nigerian embassy in your country with a printed copy of the application and all other required paperwork, including proof of payment of the application fee. It takes around four weeks to get the STR visa, which is valid for ninety days. When you have it, you can travel to Nigeria and complete the visa application. From within the country, you need to apply for regularization at the National Immigration Service, where you will be issued a CERPAC. The card is valid for an initial period of two years, after which it can be renewed. Nigeria also issues single-entry temporary work permits for foreigners who intend to carry out short-term work.
Public health insurance in Nigeria is overseen by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and Health Maintenance Organisations (HMO) are licensed by the NHIS to provide healthcare. The Formal Sector Social Health Insurance Programme is mandatory for government workers and people working in private businesses that employ more than ten people. The premium is 15 percent of a worker’s salary, with the employee contributing 5 percent and the employer the remaining 10 percent. This contribution covers the employee, their spouse and up to four children. The inefficiency of the Nigerian healthcare system is a major issue – the World Health Organization has ranked the country’s healthcare among the world’s worst. With this in mind, it’s recommended to take out more comprehensive private insurance with an HMO and consider an international plan that will repatriate you in the case of major illness. Popular HMOs include Hygeia HMO Limited (hygeiahmo.com) and Avon HMO (avonhealthcare.com).