Updated: Dec 15, 2021
For starters, I'm GHA-NA cry...I really am! If you are going to Ghana this year for Afrochella or in general - and follow me on social media - please let me know in advance so I can mute you. As an avid Ghana lover, visitor, connoisseur, I want to share my favorite tips with you, as I have been asked the following questions quite often these past few weeks. I'll break it down FAQ style, so to not overwhelm you with a ton of information.
Question 1: Do I need a visa?
If you are American and have an ECOWAS or Jamaican passport, then you do not need a visa. Other than that, yes, you need a visa. Basically any country where America gives entry wahala (aka trouble) to its citizens, American citizens will also encounter small struggles. Therefore, if you have not started the process now and leaving in the next 3-5 weeks, are you even sure you are going somewhere? Please give yourself ample time to deal with this process. The Houston Ghana consulate has closed, so New York and Washington D.C. Consulates are bombarded with visa applications. Click on any of the relevant links below to start the process. Make sure you mail them EVERYTHING to avoid any delays - unless you want to be leaving questions and answers like this:
Single Entry (one entry into the country - valid within 90 days of purchase)
Multiple Entry (multiple entries into Ghana over the course of six months)
Pre-Covid era, the consulate offices accepted in person visits, however, at this time, that is only for the issuance of passports. All visa requests are to be mailed. Direct links to start are below:
1. Washington D.C. Consulate : https://ghanaembassydc.org/visa/
2. NYC Consulate: https://ecimsglobal.com/mission.aspx
Question 2: Do I need to get vaccinated?
As of December 12th 2021, Ghana Health Service is requiring all visitors, regardless of nationality, show proof of vaccination against Covid-19.
Keep in mind you also need to show a negative PCR test before departing to Ghana and you will need to get a PCR test upon arrival at Kotoka International Airport in Ghana. There are a few other steps regarding the PCR test that I have outlined for you below. These steps must be completed prior to arrival to ensure your travel is as smooth as you can make it.
Yellow Fever Vaccine
You need to get the Yellow Fever vaccine in order to be permitted entry into Ghana. If you are not able to get the vaccine before departure, you will be held up by health officials upon arrival and will have to pay (50 GHC) to get the vaccine before exiting the airport. Avoid the hassle by getting it before departure. In fact, some airports will not let you onto your departing flight prior to showing proof that you have gotten the shot or exemption from it. I got asked for my Yellow Fever card when I was leaving from NYC in September 2021. Some airlines simply do not want to be fined, so they take extra precautions.
Places to get it:
Prior to arrival make sure to complete and have the following on hand:
1. Pay for the Covid-19 test that will be taken in Ghana:
2. Complete Health Declaration Form:
https://ghs-hdf.org/fill.php?l=en EVERYONE has to fill it out and it will save you time when you get to Kotoka International Airport. Thankfully, this is the same site you will use to review your PCR test results that are taken at the airport.
3. Make sure you have the address of where you are staying, you will need it for your immigration form.
Question 3: Where should I take my Covid-19 test before coming back?
There are new travel requirements for entry into the US. As of December 6th, regardless of citizenship and vaccination status, all travelers will need to show proof of a negative PCR test taken less than 24hrs.
You will be able to get a Covid-19 PCR test at any of these places prior to departing Ghana. Some places require an appointment, so make sure to check/call prior to going.
LEDing Medical Laboratory [East Legon]
Address: NO 27 Pawpaw St, Accra, Ghana
Phone number: +233 30 255 8841
Nyaho Medical Centre [Airport Residential]
Address: 35 Kofi Annan St, Accra, Ghana
Phone number: +233 30 277 5341
Price: starting at 350ghc
Question 4: How should I dress?
It is HOT in Ghana and can get a little nippy at night. Take your summer clothes along with a light jacket for late nights.
Question 5: What essentials should I purchase?
Without hesitation, I always recommend a mosquito repellant. As someone who got malaria my first time ever visiting Ghana, I always research other items to repel those evil little creatures. Believe it or not, Vicks is my go to. I simply apply it on my ankles, behind my ears, behind my knees, and on my wrists.
I will pull up smelling like mint/lavender to any function, and I do not care because guess who goes home without race track bites? I do.
If you do not take anything from my list of things to purchase, I just hope you get the mosquito repellant.
Question 6: How do I get around?
Any of these ride share apps will work. If you can, possibly avoid taking the local taxis unless you know exactly where you are going or have someone on standby to provide the exact location.
Uber: You can use your same account, however bear in mind some drivers prefer local currency instead of "card trips". If you want an air conditioned ride, choose the Uber comfort option.
Bolt: They have a ton of cars available and can often be on the most expensive side. You will need to pay with local currency.
Yango: Fairly new, but my brother prefers them over the other two. You will also need to pay with local currency.
Question 7: Best areas to stay?
I've found the best areas to book an Airbnb or any other rental to be in these locations:
Question 8: Is the water safe to drink?
The bottled water is safe to drink. If you can, brushing your teeth with that water will help you as well. Try to avoid brushing your teeth with the pipe water.
I usually get a few cases of Bel-Aqua (pictured below) when I land and that carries me until I leave. I use it to prep my drinks, and more.
Question 9: Will my phone work out there?
Yes, most phone carriers work in Ghana. T-Mobile/Sprint actually launched a new International Plan add-on plan that's worth it. Also, most modern lodges, restaurants/cafes offer Wi-Fi.
If you prefer to use a sim, make sure your phone is unlocked because even dialing 611 from Ghana is costly - believe me, I tried it. MTN and Vodaphone are good local carriers if you prefer that route.
Question 10: Should I take out cash/where should I exchange my money?
Yes, you should take cash, unless you have a credit card that gives you multiple points for international purchases. I typically spend about $600 for about 10 days and that gets me very far. If you need to exchange money, download XE to make sure you get the best rates possible. There are a ton of forex bureau's available in many major neighborhoods so you will not have a problem.
Tip: make sure to take larger bills if you are taking cash. Most exchange places prefer larger bills than smaller notes.
Quick recap before you go:
Have your Covid-19 and Yellow Fever vaccination cards or proof of exemption for your Yellow Fever on hand
Get your Covid-19 PCR test prior to departing for Ghana
Pay for your Covid-19 PCR test that will be taken in Ghana and have your local lodging address on hand for immigration
Purchase a mosquito repellant
Get your phone unlocked or check out the international plans available
Take out cash (larger bills only)
Travel essentials to purchase for your trip can be found here. Places to explore, and foods to nibble will be dropped in another blog post. Sign up below so you do not miss out on it. If you have any questions, comment down below and I will address them.
Stay tuned and have fun!