- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Ghana Guide (PDF)
Expats will need to do some research and ensure that they have the correct visa before arriving at a Ghanaian point of entry.
Nationals of certain countries may be exempt from needing a tourist visa for Ghana whereas others will receive one upon arrival. However, when it comes to moving to Ghana, all expats, regardless of nationality, will be required to apply for a work and/or residence permit.
Tourist visas for Ghana
Most people travelling to Ghana will need to get a tourist visa in their home country before arriving in Ghana. However, nationals of many African Union countries can obtain a visa on arrival in Ghana and do not need to apply for a visa in their home country before travelling to Ghana. Citizens of these countries will instead receive an entry visa stamp upon arrival at the airport in Accra or at one of Ghana’s seaports.
Nationals of all ECOWAS states, including Nigeria and Senegal, are exempt from acquiring a visa altogether.
Citizens from most other countries must apply for an entry visa at the Ghanaian embassy or high commission in their respective country.
On the application form, foreigners will be required to specify whether they require a single- or multiple-entry visa which will be valid for a maximum of three months.
Applicants for tourist visas must include a copy of the return ticket or their travel itinerary. A pre-travel vaccination for yellow fever is required and individuals should check with their embassy if they must submit proof of this.
Study visas for Ghana
Many foreigners wish to move to Ghana to study. They must apply for a study visa valid for the duration of their course. The visa is likely to be multiple-entry to allow students to return home during holiday periods.
These visas are processed by the GIS who may require proof of acceptance into the tertiary education institution in Ghana as well as evidence of financial means during the stay.
Work permits for Ghana
Expats are only able to work in certain sectors in Ghana. The government has immigrant quotas in place that limit the number of foreigners who can be employed by companies operating in Ghana. These regulations aim to reduce unemployment in the country and give preference to the local workforce where possible.
For foreigners who can secure a job in Ghana, the next step is to apply for both a work permit and a residence permit. Most employers should be able to assist with the work permit application process.
Work permits are issued by Ghana Immigration Services (GIS), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the Ministry of the Interior (MOI). Most often, companies go through GIS. Whichever entity the company works with, there are varying periods for which permits are valid and documents required from the expat applicant.
Residence permits for Ghana
Those moving to Ghana for work will also need to apply for a residence permit. When looking for accommodation and hoping to rent in Ghana, a residence permit is important. This requires both the expat and the employer to work together in supplying the GIS with a variety of documents. Where expats are moving with children, birth certificates may be required.
Even though some of the documents would have already been provided for the work permit application, they will nevertheless need to be resubmitted. While this seems redundant and unnecessary, it means that much of the documents will have already been organised and are easily accessible.
Residence permits for dependants
Expats with a residence permit for Ghana are entitled to apply for a similar permit for their dependants, including their spouse, children under the age of 18 and parents over the age of 60.
Permanent residency in Ghana
Expats are only eligible to apply for permanent residency in Ghana if they meet the following criteria:
They are married to a Ghanaian citizen who has lived in Ghana for five or more years and they wish to stay in Ghana indefinitely
They have resided in Ghana for more than 10 years and can prove that they have made a substantial contribution to the Ghanaian economy
* Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats should consult their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►For an overview of the job market, read Working in Ghana
►Read Embassy Contacts for Ghana for a list of foreign representatives
"The work visa and resident visa process can take a long time... Most expats are employed prior to moving to Ghana, and if married, the trailing spouse is given a resident spouse visa, which does not allow for in-country paid employment." Read Chris' interview for interesting advice on visas and working in Ghana.
"Obtaining a visa or work permit in Ghana is a simple process in theory. However, the bureaucracy makes it difficult to process. It is advised that patience is needed when applying." Read David's interview for more on the visa process.
Are you an expat living in Ghana?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ghana. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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