Business Permits and other necessary licenses must be obtained by any foreign-owned company for a seamless business operation in Nigeria. In addition to obtaining a business permit, any foreigner wishing to work as an employee or control a company in Nigeria must also obtain an Expatriate Quota through the company for that purpose.

Both the Business Permit and Expatriate Quota are issued by the Federal Ministry of Interiors with the aims and objectives of regulating foreign investments and migrations into Nigeria.



A business Permit is a document that allows foreigners to conduct business in Nigeria. It is usually issued by the Federal Ministry of Interior on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria. If a company is wholly owned by a foreigner(s), the business permit must be obtained from the ministry before the company commences business operation.

Section 36(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration Act (2015), and Paragraph 4 of the Immigration Regulations (2017) provides that no person other than a Nigerian citizen shall, on his own account or in partnership with any other person, practice a profession or establish or take over any trade or business whatsoever or register or take over any company with limited liability for any purpose without the written consent of the Minister of Internal Affairs”.



Expatriate Quota is a document that allows foreigners to work and live in Nigeria freely. The Expatriate Quota is processed by a company looking to hire foreigners to work and live in Nigeria. The expatriate quota is also applicable to any foreigner who is a director or an owner of a registered business in Nigeria and is willing to obtain residency status in Nigeria.

Expatriate quota is also issued by the Federal Ministry of Interior on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior currently allocates a three-year quota for expatriates. A renewal application can be submitted after the quota has expired.

After a successful application for Expatriate Quota, the company can proceed to process a Subject to Regularization (STR) Visa for its expatriates. This will give the foreigner the opportunity to process and obtain the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) that allows them to live and work in Nigeria.

Section 36(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration Act, 2015 provides that a foreigner granted a business permit must be able to fit into the Expatriate Quota.



The requirements for obtaining a business permit in Nigeria include the following:

  • The certificate of incorporation of the applicant’s company
  • Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • The CAC Application status
  • The shareholding of the company.
  • Joint venture agreement
  • Approval from all appropriate professional bodies. This approval depends on the type of business being carried out by the company.



The requirements for the grant of an expatriate quota include the following:

  • Duly completed registration form
  • Incorporation documents, which include a Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum and Articles of Association, Application Status including the particulars of the directors of the company
  • Feasibility report to be registered with CAC
  • Certified current audited account and bank reference letter
  • Annual income tax clearance certificate of each expatriate staff
  • Proposed annual salary to be paid to the expatriate worker indicating their designation, names, and duration of employment
  • Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) for partnership ventures between Nigerians and foreigners
  • Company’s Tax Clearance Certificate
  • Lease agreement or C of O for operating premises
  • Particular of training programs for Nigerians
  • List of Nigerians working in the company to understudy the expatriates
  • License permit from government agencies where the company engage in specialized sectors such as the oil and gas sector, telecommunications, health, etc
  • Certificate of capital importation where Applicant wants to import capital into the country
  • Business Permit



In conclusion, the approval of the grant of Expatriate Quota has been simplified so as not to overburden investors who are willing to come to invest in Nigeria. The government has ensured that foreign directors or owners of businesses can obtain expatriate quotas easily. In practice, foreign-owned companies often process business permits together with expatriate quotas.


By Resolution Law Firm