Living in Benin, definitive expat guide



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

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: [email protected]


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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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


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:


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:

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.



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