The import procedure in Nigeria usually commences by registering a company with the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC). A Nigerian national or foreign entity wishing to import goods into Nigeria for commercial purposes must incorporate a company in Nigeria. The import and export procedures in Nigeria are governed by several laws and rules from different government agencies including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service among others.

Upon the incorporation, the registered company must also be registered with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for Tax Identification number(TIN) with a valid email address attached to it.

The company is also expected to have a valid bank of choice in Nigeria, to act as Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB), which will process the E-Form M/PAAR (the mandatory form put in place by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to monitor goods that are imported into the country, as well as to ensure that import duties are collected where applicable). Also, the ADB mediates among the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the importer and other bodies.

Steps for Importation into Nigeria

  • A company importing into Nigeria must first get his Regulatory Certificates for example Product Certificate (PC), which is the first certificate issued during the certification process before importation can be carried out. The document is required for the opening of the E-Form M, which is a document required pre-declaring the goods or services to be imported into Nigeria. It is issued for a set period of 6months and 1 year.
  • The importer will activate its Product Certificate on the online open window for assessment.
  • The importer will proceed to open an E-Form M on the Nigerian Trade Platform attaching all the required documents such as Issuance Certificate, Proforma Invoice (valid for 3 months), and the Product Certificate that will be submitted to the Authorized Dealer Bank.
  • The Authorized dealer bank would review the documents and validate the Form M and send it to the Nigerian Customs Service.
  • The NCS either accepts the Form M or reject it where it is not properly completed or lacks certain documents.
  • When the Form M is accepted by Customs, the importer sends a copy of the approval to his exporter.
  • The Exporter in turn contacts Cotecna (a leading provider of laboratory testing, verification of conformity, cargo scanning, transit monitoring, inspection and certification services), the International Accreditation Form with the Form M, the Bill of Lading, Combined Certificate of Value and Origin (CCVO) Airway Bill and Packing List for the issuance of SONCAP Certificate. (Standard Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme)
  • The Importer activates the SONCAP Certificate and applies for the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), which is an online application used by the Nigeria Customs for intervention before the arrival of cargo so that less time is spent in clearing the cargo when it eventually arrives, on the Nigeria single window for trade.
  • Where the goods to be imported involves foods and drugs, the NAFDAC import permit must be obtained by the importer.
  • The PAAR is issued and the importer can commence clearance of its products
  • Documents of each importation shall carry the name of the product, country of origin, specifications, date of manufacture, batch or lot number, standard to which the goods have been produced.
  • Where the goods to be imported are edible goods, medical devices, chemicals etc, they must carry expiry dates or the shelf life. Electronic equipment must carry instruction manual, safety information and guarantee/warranty for at least 6 months.

Exportation from Nigeria

Every individual or entity seeking to export any products from Nigeria must also incorporate a company in Nigeria and follow a similar procedure stipulated above.

Upon due incorporation of a company. the exporting company must obtain the Nigerian Export Promotion Council’s certificate and also obtain permits from the relevant government agency, if applicable. For instance, any person seeking to export mineral resources from Nigeria must obtain the export permit from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

In conclusion, it is important that products to be imported into the country meets the set standards of SONCAP, which has been introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria in order to address the number of unsafe products entering the country and the subsequent risk to public health and safety.

Finally, the government, through her agencies manning different sectors of the economy authorizes the importation of certain goods into the country by issuing import permits or licenses before certain goods can be imported into the country.

Written by Resolution Law Firm. The Firm regularly offers advisory on Nigerian importation and exportation procedures.

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