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Living in Benin, definitive expat guide

Living in Benin, definitive expat guide

Living in Benin

Benin is a small country situated under the elephant’s ear in West Africa. It is one of the safer countries in Africa, especially when compared with its neighbor, Nigeria. Most expats, and there are only a few, settle in the country’s largest city – which is not the capital surprisingly – Cotonou. If you are adventurous enough to experience African life as an expat, this is one of the best countries to do it in.  

Expat Clubs

There are no expat meet up clubs as such in Benin and most expats communicate online through websites such as ExpatWoman.com.

International Schools 

English International School
The English International School is a co-educational day school providing an international education for children from the age of two until university admission age.
Curriculum: Montessori, Cambridge International Primary, Cambridge International Examination, IGCSE, AS
Address: Haie Vive, Cotonou, 08BP0430, Benin
Tel: +229 21 30 12 74, +229 21 30 32 65, +229 21 30 92 87
Email: education@eis-benin.org
Website: www.eis-benin.org

Indian International School Benin
The Indian International School, Benin was established in May 2008 under the aegis of the Indian Association of Benin for students of all nationalities. IISB is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi and follows the CBSE curriculum.
Curriculum: Indian CBCSE
Address: Carre 1684, Akpakpa, Cotonou, Republic of Bénin
Tel: +229 97 974631
Email: iisbenin@gmail.com

QSI International School of Benin
QSI International School of Benin is a private non-profit institution that offers a high quality, American system education for students. Families represent over twelve different nationalities and are a mixture of local and expatriate populations. English is the language of instruction and English language support is available when necessary. The warm and welcoming school community makes it an ideal place to receive a quality education from QSI.
Address: Villa #9 Rue de la Primature, Cocotiers, Cotonou, Benin
Phone: +229 67 714726
Email: benin@qsi.org

Local News in English

AllAfrica Benin
AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. They publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons
Website: allafrica.com/benin

Country Information 

Location: Africa
Capital City: Porto Novo
Other Important Cities: Cotonou
Currency: CFA franc ( XOF )
Language: France
Calling Code: +229
Internet TLD: .bj
Electricity: Benin runs on 220V 50Hz.

Emergency Numbers: 
Fire: 118
Police: 117

Country Information

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

All expatriates need a visa before arrival at Benin. Nationals from ECOWAS or Economic Community of West African States may enter visa free. The Beninese embassy or consulate in your home or host country accepts visa applications.

Documents Required

1. One (1) application form in legible writing
2. One (1) passport size photos.
3. International Certificate of Vaccination (yellow fever)
4. Visa is issued for one day through ninety (90) days with one or multiple entry and transit within entry.
5. Visa fees :
* With multiple entries: $ 50.00 dollars
(Money order or certified check only).
  • Passport must be valid for at least six (6) months and if it is to be sent back by mail, please enclose self addressed certified envelope or an express mail return envelope.
  • Length of visa may not exceed validity of passport
  • Please, allow 72 hours (Three business days) for issuance of visa.
For more information please check at your country's embassy: embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/benin


There are many places to stay in Benin and a 1-2 bedroom house in an expensive area will cost around USD1000 per month. Of course you will be able to find cheaper accommodation. It’s also important to note that the cost of living in Benin is quite expensive as everything is imported. By everything I mean Western staples such as flour, jam, cookies and the like. It’s all imported, however the local cuisine tend to be quite heavy and consists of a stodgy maize porridge and a meat or vegetable gravy on top. It’s quite delicious and very filling.

Driving License

And international driving license is required to legally drive in Benin. Although, expats in Benin prefer hire drivers and a travel guide.


Routine vaccinations are advised before travelling to Benin. Hepatitis B, C and E are prevalent in the country. Make sure to get immunizations prior.
There is a shortage of medical supplies and facilities in the country. For major cases air evacuation is advised. For more information on Benin’s healthcare status please visit: http://www.mdtravelhealth.com/destinations/africa/benin.php#9

Insurance Company

Cigna Global Health Options
Cigna provides international insurance coverage for expats. International medical evacuation is also available in cases where emergency treatment must be sought outside of the host country.
Website: www.cignaglobal.com


National University Hospital Cotonou
This is the main referral facility for any medical cases.

Clinique Polyvalente Mahoun
Address: Anne Hekpazo, 01 BP 2163, Cotonou, Benin
Tel: +229  30 14 35
Fax: +229 30 42 58

Clinique les Graces
Address:  01 BP 426, Cotonou, Benin
Tel: +229 32 11 71
Fax: +229 32 18 77

Polyclinique Atinkanmey
Address:  03 BP 3448, Cotonou, Benin
Tel: +229 31 22 76
Fax: +229 31 22 78 

Polyclinique les Cocotiers
Address:  Ali Assani, 04 BP 1227, Cotonou, Benin
Tel: +229  30 16 81
Fax: +229 30 12 76 

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