An Import license in Nigeria is the approval issued by the various agencies of government, which regulate and determine the goods that can be brought into the country.

Import Procedure in Nigeria

Before any goods can be imported in commercial quantities into Nigeria, the importer must essentially follow the stipulated statutory requirements, which include the followings:

  • The importer must register a company in Nigeria and obtain the certificate of incorporation from the Corporate Affairs Commission.
  • The next step is to register the Nigerian company with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and obtain the Tax Identification Number (TIN Number) for proof of tax payment with a valid email address tagged to it.
  • The importer must also open a bank account with a reputable bank in Nigeria to act as the Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB). The bank will issue a Form-M /PAAR which is mandatory documentation required by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to monitor, keep track of goods imported into the country and facilitate payment of import duties.
  • The importer will also be required to obtain the appropriate permit from regulatory agencies such as SONCAP (Standard Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme), NAFDAC (National Agency for Food Drug and Administrative Control), DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources), NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) and among other relevant regulatory agencies.
  • The importer must also register as a client at the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal, which is an intergovernmental site that encourages trade procedures between the government agencies and parties on the Federal Inland Revenue site.

Government Agencies that regulate & Issue Import Licenses in Nigeria

Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON): This agency is foremost when it comes to importation in Nigeria. The SON operates and issues licenses to importers of various goods through its program called SONCAP (Standard Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme). The SON covers almost all items to be imported into Nigeria save for the ones statutorily delegated to other agencies.

The Documents and Procedure to process SONCAP in Nigeria

The documents required to import goods into Nigeria is dependent on the nature of goods to be imported. If the product to be imported is SON regulated, the importer will be required to get the Product Certificate from the manufacturer country, which is issued by an approved inspection agency. The product certificate will be required by the importer to open the Form M.

National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC): This is an agency of the Ministry of Health in Nigeria. The products that are regulated by NAFDAC are Food products, Drugs, Chemicals, Medical products, Raw Materials, and other branded products exempted from registering with SONCAP.

In our previous write up, we explained the procedure for obtaining the Import license from NAFDAC.

Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR): for the importation of petroleum resources into Nigeria, the agency responsible for issuance of the import permit is the Department of Petroleum Resources.

The application process from the Agency for the DPR import permit can be applied for on the online portal of the DPR official website.

Nigerian Electrification Regulatory Commission (NERC): the NERC import permit required from all importers participating in the power sector in Nigeria. The NERC is the regulatory agency that oversees the power sector in Nigeria.

Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS): This regulatory agency under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for issuing importation permits for agricultural seeds and animals into the Nigerian territory.

The requirements for obtaining import license with NAQS

  • Apply for the import permit to the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services
  • Notify the agency of the import permit details
  • Notify the agency of the arrival date of the products
  • On arrival at the point of entry, the importer is to make a declaration of animal or animal products for consignment inspection and certification.
  • NAQS officials will inspect and verify the consignment and documents submitted at the point of entry.
  • If the consignment complies with the standard of the agency, the importer will be made to pay the requisite fees for further action.

In conclusion, there is no generic import license that covers all goods brought into Nigeria. The goods to be imported will determine the import license to be required. There are various government agencies responsible for issuing import permits and licenses to importers for the various categories of goods to be brought into Nigeria.

Before an import permit is obtained, there are questions to be asked to determine which agency will be responsible for issuing the necessary permit for the goods to be imported.

It should also be noted that not all goods can be imported into Nigeria territory. Some items, which cannot be imported into Nigeria at the moment, are clearly listed on the Nigerian Customs Service’s list of contraband items.


By Corporate & Commercial Law Department at Resolution Law Firm

Phone: +2348099223322