GENERAL INFORMATIONWHEN TO GO
There really is no ‘best’ time to visit Ghana, as the temperature is always Africa-hot and if rainfall doesn’t soak you, then the humid air will. If you prefer your soaking tropical in nature, stick close to the beaches. Whatever the season, the weather gets more arid the farther inland you go. Village-specific festivals
and events occur throughout the year.
Travel documents and visas: A passport and a visa are required. All visitors to Ghana must posses valid passports issued by their home governments, except nationals of any member country of the ECOWAS who may produce travel certificates in lieu of passports. All non-ECOWAS citizens require visas at a fee before entry.
Ghana Missions and Embassies are authorised to issue visas or entry permits to all classes of visitors destined to Ghana. Where no Ghanaian mission has been established, the visitors may apply directly or through his/her Ghanaian associate at least two weeks before the visit from Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.
Immunisition/Vaccination: Evidence of immunisation for yellow fever and cholera is also required. It is strongly recommended to contact your health official at least 4-6 weeks prior to travel for vaccinations.
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from all travelers when entering Ghana.
Malaria: Malaria risk is predominantly in the malignant (P.falciparum) form, and exists throughout the year in the whole country. It is advisable to take a course of antimarials which will protect you against malaria during your trip. Speak to your doctor at least two weeks before travelling. Remember: the best protection against malaria is avoiding being bitten, so cover up, especially at night, and use repellent.
VAT & SALES TAX: The VAT (Value-Added-Tax) has just been introduced in Ghana. It is 12.5% and not refundable. Note: Always ask to see a vendor’s VAT certificate; he/she must have it and willingly show it. Unscrupulous dealers will casually add a higher percentage and pocket the profit.
CURRENCY: This is called the Ghana Cedi (GHS) which comes in denominations of GHS1, GHS5, GHS10, GHS20 AND GHS50. Coins, called pesewas, come in 1p, 5p, 10p 20p and 50p coins – GHS1 also comes in coin as well as note form. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency you may bring into Ghana. This must, however, be stated on the currency declaration form. Leaving Ghana, you may not carry more than USD10,000
FOREIGN EXCHANGE BUREAU: Foreign currency can be freely exchanged at any forex in the country. There are several foreign exchange bureaus (Forex) in all the major towns and cities, but many outside Accra may not accept travelers cheques except the banks. Forex bureaus tend to give better rates for large-denomination bills than banks normally do. The best exchange rates are for US Dollars, Euros and British Pounds.
Most travellers cheques exchanged, but the rate is lower than cash. Private foreign-exchange (Forex) offices have better rates and hours. How many cedis you get for your foreign currency: Currency Rates
CREDIT CARDS: Some hotels and restaurants take major international credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Barclays Bank in Accra will advance Ghanaian money on Visa and MasterCard, minus a commission and a fee for the approval telex. If you have a US card, you will probably have to pay for two exchange rates, US$ to Pound Sterling to Cedis. Not all forex bureaus accept travelers cheques.
BANKING HOURS: Banks open from 8.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays and until 12pm on Saturdays although this may vary from bank to bank. However, most banks now operate Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). For cash advances, Barclays Bank accepts VISA and MasterCard.
AIRPORT & TRANSPORT: Kotoka Airport (7km from the centre), shared minibuses (tro-tro), taxi. Make sure you take an airport-registered taxi from the taxi rank. They have ID cards and price lists and are much safer than ‘roaming’ taxis which illegally patrol the airport looking for hires. Such taxis have been involved in cases of theft and assault. Trotros are available from the main road outside the airport but are generally not regarded as a safe mode of transport.
TELEPHONE: It is easy to obtain a mobile phone chip from any of the many mobile phone kiosks around the city if you wish to use a local network to make international and domestic calls. Just look out for coloured umbrellas emblazoned with the names of the various mobile phone providers: MTN, Airtel, Expresso, Glo, Tigo and Vodafone. Public telephone booths are not common. You will be able to make international calls from most major hotels.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Ghana are limited, particularly outside the capital of Accra. Malaria is common, as are other tropical diseases. Doctors and hospitals often request immediate cash payment for health services. There are no effective emergency services, so getting an ambulance is difficult. The West African Rescue Service offers a private ambulance service but you must be a member.
PHOTO PRINTING: There are several photo laboratories in the city of Accra well equipped to develop and give you high quality photo prints of your memories of Ghana. They have a good reputation for handling both professional photos and safari snapshots. Open Monday-Friday 8.30 am-5.30 pm, Saturday 8.30 am to 1 pm. The most popular in Accra include Flash Photos at Danquah Circle-Osu, Photo Lab (close to Papaye Fast Foods) at Osu and Modern Photos near the KwameNkrumah Circle. There are also photo studios at the Marina, Accra and A&C shopping malls.
SAFETY & SECURITY:
Armed robberies are on the increase and both the US and British Embassies changed their travel advice in March 2013 to warn visitors of such crimes. There have been isolated tribal clashes since the beginning of 2013 in the Northern and Volta regions of the country.
OTHER: Visitors entering Ghana with more than USD10,000 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 Minerals Marketing Company (0302 664579) may handle import/export transactions of these natural resources. Any transaction lacking the 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.
It is illegal to wear military or camouflage clothing.
PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS: Photography of sensitive installations, including military sites, government buildings, and Accra’s International Airport, is prohibited. Permission should also be obtained before taking photographs of anyone in uniform (police officers and military officers, for example). In some instances, film and cameras have been confiscated.
DUAL NATIONALITY: As of July 2002 the Government of Ghana now permits dual nationality.