OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT IN NIGERIA
There are various regulations and procedures guiding the opening and operation of a bank account for both locals and non-resident persons in Nigeria. The Non-resident bank account opening in Nigeria is relevant to Nigerian citizens in diaspora and foreigners having Nigerian residency status. Pursuant to the Central Bank of Nigerian Regulations, no person or entity may open a bank account in Nigeria unless the signatory to the bank’s bank account is resident in Nigeria and has enrolled for the biometric Bank Verification Number (BVN).
In our previous write-up, we resolved the question of whether it is possible for a foreigner to open a bank in Nigeria.
However, due to the technology advancement, several banks in Nigeria now allow a person not physically present in Nigeria to open a bank account as long such individual is a Nigerian citizen or foreigner legally resident in Nigeria with the CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit Aliens Card). The banks have initiated this scheme to enable the huge Nigerian population in the diaspora to carry out banking activities in Nigeria. Such a scheme is also targeted at any itinerant foreign workers with the Nigerian residency status.
However, the Nigerian in diaspora or foreigner holding Nigerian residency that is seeking to open a bank account must also comply with the minimum requirements stipulated by the Nigerian banks for account opening in Nigeria. The requirements are almost the same as the requirements for ordinary Nigerians physically present or residing in Nigeria. Some of the top tier Nigerian banks offering non-resident bank account opening services include Zenith Bank Nigeria Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Access Bank Plc among others. The Nigerian top tier banks are recognized worldwide for their huge assets base, sound financial systems and high ratings.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the bank’s non-resident bank accounts are targeted to only Nigerian citizens or any foreigner holding the Nigerian residency status. It does not extend to a foreigner without the Nigerian residency status. A foreigner seeking to obtain a Nigerian residency may do so by investing and opening a company in Nigeria first, before applying for the Nigerian residency.
In conclusion, any Nigerian citizen in diaspora or foreigner with the Nigerian residency must enrol for a BVN before opening a bank account. The Nigerian embassies in various countries regularly advise on the procedure to enrol for the Nigerian BVN oversees.
Finally, for a foreign-owned company incorporated in Nigeria to open and maintain a bank account, the director or signatory to the account must either be a Nigerian citizen or a foreigner who has duly obtained the Nigerian resident permit (CERPAC). Consequently, a foreign-owned company seeking to temporarily open and maintain a bank account without permanently based in Nigeria are allowed to appoint a local or nominee director for such purpose under the law.
By Corporate & Commercial Law department at Resolution Law Firm, Lagos. The Firm regularly advises locals and foreigners on corporate matters including banking & capital importation procedures in Nigeria.