When I've needed a visa, I've acquired them in embassies near to the country I'm travelling to. Nigeria is different in that I must apply in my country of residence and give biometric data. So, departing the UK by motorcycle would have given me three months to enter Nigeria. Possible, but I didn't want the deadline. As it happens, I'm now over six months into my journey! Nigerian visa had been possible in a few embassies, but they've clamped down a lot recently. The options were to try one of the few remaining embassies (Burkina Faso not on my planned route!) or fly home to collect a visa in person. Several of my biker mates had success with getting a visa on arrival and getting into Nigeria. Whilst in Cotonou, I applied for visa on arrival through an agent, because I'd heard reports of no response when applying direct to the immigration service. Much less information was required than a standard visa. This is a business visa intended for those travelling at short notice. The agent produced the approval letter within 48 hours. I had 14 days to enter. Expensive, but it worked.

The day before my scheduled crossing into Nigeria, I had very bad diarrhoea from about 3 am onwards. Far from ideal for riding a motorcycle! Dehydration had set in by the time I rose from my dormitory bed. Medication to settle my digestive system didn't have a noticeable affect until the afternoon. I contacted the agent who arranged my visa on arrival for Nigeria and rescheduling my entry date would incur new fees. That was not an option because it was already very expensive. By early evening, I felt less battered from lack of sleep and dehydration, and more positive about the border crossing the next day.

Arriving early at the Seme border, it looked like any other border crossing with lines of parked lorries and the hustle and bustle of people changing money. However, recently commissioned, Seme is a joint border post for Benin and Nigeria, meaning that everything is done in the same building. At the immigration booth, I explained I had a visa on arrival and showed my approval letter. After a phone call and an hour's wait, I met Zanna who manages visa on arrivals at the border. Zanna was friendly and professional, and clearly and concisely explained the process.

  • Paperwork required processing here and the Immigration Controller needed to sign it.
  • Visas are not issued at the border, but this could be done at Lagos airport.
  • An immigration officer needs to accompany me to the airport; i.e., ride as passenger on my motorcycle.
  • The immigration officer needs to return with signed papers, so payment was needed for a taxi ride but they had no resource for this. The cost was 25,000 NGN.

Once the paperwork was done, the Immigration Controller asked to see me. He was also kind and friendly. It seems we wanted to chat because he was curious about my journey!

Once immigration was complete, I approached customs. I should have done this whilst waiting in immigration when I had spare time! The person I spoke to was unfamiliar with a carnet, but eventually completed it.

Riding from Seme to Lagos airport took about 1.5 to 2 hours. My first time taking a pillion/passenger, and it was an immigration officer! He was instructing me which path to take through dense traffic and generally ride like a local through the crazy traffic in the megacity of Lagos!

Arriving at the airport, I was led through the warren of administration offices in the restricted area. Eventually, I was in the visa on arrival office, which is where passengers arrive as soon as they disembark from the plane. They explained I made the wrong online payment, so I had to pay again. I was absolutely gutted, as the whole visa process was very expensive. Anyway, I paid and I finally had a visa!

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