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Ghana Consular Information Sheet - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:48

Ghana Consular Information Sheet

August 01, 2007 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.Read theDepartment of State Background Notes on Ghanafor additional information. ENTRY/EXIT 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, NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 686-4520.Consular services are also available at the Ghana Permanent Mission to the UN at 19 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017, telephone (212) 832-1300, and the Honorary Consulate of Ghana, 3434 Locke Lane, Houston, TX, telephone (713) 960-8806.Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Ghanaian embassy or consulate.Visit the Embassy of Ghana web site at www.ghanaembassy.org for the most current visa information. See our web site for more about dual nationality, the prevention of international child abduction and our Customs Information. 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. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affair’s Internet site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad. CRIME: Pick pocketing, purse snatching, and various types of scams are the most common forms of crime confronting visitors.U.S. travelers have reported these types of theft at crowded markets, beaches, parks, and tourist attractions.Incidences of violent crime, such as armed robbery, have risen over the last year, including reports of armed robberies in expatriate residential areas.Victims who resist attackers run a high risk of serious physical injury.Take security measures, such as traveling in groups and avoiding travel at night.Avoid travel in communal taxis.Travelers who limit their display of jewelry and handle their cash discreetly reduce their vulnerability to crime.Travelers are advised to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents. While major U.S. and international credit cards are accepted widely across the country, a growing number of travelers have been victims of credit card fraud after using their credit cards in Ghana.You may wish to settle bills using traveler’s checks or cash.If you elect to use credit cards in Ghana, take all possible precautions.Please note that the credit card of choice in Ghana is VISA.It is difficult if not impossible to find banks and/or businesses which accept other brands of credit cards. 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.(See Special Circumstances below.)
Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans.Such fraud schemes are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Ghana. Be aware that if you invest or enter into contracts in Ghana, you will not have the same legal protections and procedures available to you as you do at home.For instance, if a commercial dispute turns acrimonious, it is easy for one party to obtain an arrest warrant as an intimidation tactic.There have been instances where U.S. citizens were jailed on petty charges filed by their Ghanaian partners as a result of contractual disputes. American citizens frequently consult the Embassy regarding questionable business offers sent by people in Ghana.These are scams and typically begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country.A series of “advance fees” must be paid in order to conclude the transaction, such as fees to open a bank account or to pay certain taxes.In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees.The Embassy has received reports of fraudulent charities soliciting contributions through the Internet or direct mail.If you receive such business offers or charity requests, carefully check them out before you commit any funds, provide any goods or services, or undertake any travel.Check with the U.S. Embassy in Ghana at telephone (233-21) 741-100 for an assessment of the offer’s credibility. Another type of fraud is by persons claiming to live in Ghana who profess friendship or romantic interest over the Internet.Once a relationship has been established, the correspondent typically asks the American to send money for living expenses, travel expenses, or visa costs.Sometimes a “hospital” or “doctor” telephones to say that the friend has suffered an “accident” and needs immediate financial assistance to cover medical bills.There are other variations of this scam, but all of them want to get money.Americans have reported losing thousands of dollars through such scams.The anonymity of the Internet means that the victim cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality, or even gender of the correspondent.In most cases reported to the Embassy, the correspondent turned out to be a fictitious persona created to lure Americans into sending money. Visitors should be further advised that we have seen an increase of scams being initiated in Ghana rather than via internet.Americans have been quickly befriended by Ghanaians who then make seemingly-false allegations of criminal activity.Americans have found themselves separated from time, money and trust as they seek to smooth out these sticky situations.Accordingly, Americans are advised to be somewhat wary of overly-friendly locals offering tours, discounted lodging or other services. For additional information, please see theDepartment of State brochure International Financial Scams. INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.Ghana maintains a specialized Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) within the Ghana Police Service to assist women and children who are victims of crime.In addition to its law enforcement responsibilities, the Unit can refer victims to medical providers and counselors, as well as to community support services.Further information is available at www.ghanapolice.org/waju. See our information on Victims of Crime. MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are limited, particularly outside Accra, the capital.Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in bird populations in Ghana, and travelers should take appropriate precautions.No human cases of avian influenza have been reported. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en.Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en. MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.Please see our information on medical insurance overseas. 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. Primary roads are generally paved and well maintained.However, some side roads within major cities and roads outside of 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 in darkness, particularly outside the major cities, is extremely hazardous, due to poor street lighting and the unpredictable behavior of pedestrians, bicyclists and farm animals, particularly goats and sheep.Aggressive drivers, poorly maintained vehicles and overloaded vehicles pose serious threats to road safety. 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, and vehicles and passengers may be searched.Drivers must possess an international driver’s license (available from AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance).Foreign nationals should carry documentation of their status, such as a passport and visa.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.Visit the website of Ghana’s national tourist office at http://www.africaonline.com/country.cs.php?cid=9 and the national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.mrt.gov.gh/. AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Ghana’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Ghana's air carrier operations.For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa. Service provided by a number of regional air carriers is reported to be unreliable.The airlines may alter scheduled stops, cancel or postpone flights on short notice, and regularly overbook flights.Travelers may experience unexpected delays even after checking in.Passengers should get the required seat reconfirmation stamped on the ticket, have enough emergency funds for food and lodging in case of unexpected delays, and arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Effective July 1, 2007, the Government of Ghana redenominated the local currency, the cedi, introducing new banknotes (Ghana cedi) and coins (Ghana pesewa).10,000 cedis = 1 Ghana cedi = 100 Ghana pesewas.Both currencies will be in circulation through December 31, 2007, after which date the cedi can be converted only at commercial banks or the Bank of Ghana.Travelers should be alert to persons who may try to defraud them with the old and new bills.The Government of Ghana has established a website, www.ghanacedi.gov.gh, to inform the public about the redenomination exercise.The website includes a useful currency converter. Visitors arriving or departing Ghana with more than $5,000 in cash are required to declare the amount at the border.Currency exchange is available at most banks and at licensed foreign exchange bureaus, but currency transactions with private citizens are illegal.The Government of Ghana also prohibits departing travelers from carrying more than 5,000,000 cedis (500 Ghana cedis) out of the country.Ghanaian currency must either be spent or exchanged before departure, or it will be confiscated. Strict customs regulations govern temporary importation into or export from Ghana of items such as gold, diamonds and 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 without the commission’s endorsement is illegal and/or fraudulent.All transactions must be completed through the commission at the price set daily by the London exchange.Any transaction that discounts this price, or includes a previously negotiated price, is either illegal or fraudulent.Export of gold dust is rare as it encourages dangerous and environmentally destructive practices, and transactions involving the export of gold dust are probably fraudulent.Attempts to evade regulations are punishable by imprisonment.It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, D.C., or one of the Ghanaian consulates in the United States, for specific information regarding customs requirements. 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.
Taking pictures near sensitive installations, including military sites and some government buildings, is prohibited.These sites are not always clearly marked and application of these restrictions is subject to interpretation.Permission may be obtained from Ghanaian security personnel.Permission should also be obtained before photographing anyone in uniform (e.g., police officers and military officers).In some cases, film and cameras have been confiscated. It is strictly prohibited to wear any military apparel such as camouflage jackets or trousers, or any clothing or items that may appear military in nature. Please see our Customs Information. 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 Ghana’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ghana are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.Please see our information on Criminal Penalties. CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Ghana are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through theState Department’s travel registration web siteso that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Ghana.Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.The U.S. Embassy is located at No. 24 Fourth Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra; telephone (233-21)741-000.The public entrance to the Consular Section is No. 19 Fifth Link Road, Cantonments, Accra; telephone (233-21) 741-100; fax (233-21) 741-362 or 741-426; after-hours (233-21) 741-775. ***
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 21, 2006, to update sections on Crime, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Special Circumstances, and Registration/Embassy Location. *********************************************************** See http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel Warnings ******************************************************************************** To change your subscription, go to http://www.state.gov/misc/echannels/66822.htm Ghana Consular Information Sheet

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