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Shipping Import & Export – Nigeria

Importation is a trade process involving the purchase of commercial consumable goods and items from another country to Nigeria, while export is essentially an outflow of goods and products from Nigeria to other countries for commercial purposes. The import and export procedures are regulated by the different laws and regulations of the various government agencies responsible for import and export activities in Nigeria.

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How to Import into Nigeria

There are some conditions that any importer must comply with before bringing products into Nigeria. 

The importation measures begin with the importer formally registering a business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
It is also required that the importer would report and open a tax file with the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s nearest office (FIRS). The importer would be given a tax identification number and a legitimate email address added to it.

The importer is also expected to open a corporate bank account by selecting any trustworthy bank in Nigeria to serve as the Approved Dealer Bank (ADB) responsible for processing the E-Form M and Pre Arrival Evaluation Report (PAAR) and, where appropriate, to act as a mediator between the Customs Service of Nigeria, the importer and other bodies.

On the Nigeria Single Window Exchange Portal, the E-Form M and PAAR paperwork is processed.

The importer must register as a consumer on the Nigeria Single Window Trading Platform, which is an online intergovernmental platform promoting exchange on the FIRS website between government agencies and parties.

The importer is often expected to receive an effective permit from the different regulatory bodies depending on the type of products and the commodity to be imported. 

For eg, an importer of petroleum products is required to obtain import documents from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), while any importer of food or drug products is required to obtain a permit from the National Agency for the Administration and Regulation of Food and Drugs (NAFDAC).

Upon compliance with the aforementioned terms, the importer is ready to purchase commodities and items from other countries for Nigeria for commercial purposes. 

As required by the Nigeria Ports Authority, the importer shall take the following steps;

  • For goods and products that are regulated, receive the appropriate regulatory permits/certificates.
  • The importer is expected to activate the Product Certificate for assessment in the Nigerian Single Window System (SWS).
  • The importer is supposed to receive Form M on the Nigerian Single Window System (SWS) Exchange Website, append the necessary documentation, such as Pro-forma invoices, insurance certificates, or commodity certificates, and send them to the authorized dealer bank (ADB).
  • The Approved Dealer Bank would then check and verify Form M and submit it to the Customs Service of Nigeria.
    The Nigerian Customs Service is entitled to either approve or deny Form M if it is not properly executed or if the importer fails to supply certain required documentation.
  • Upon receipt by the Nigeria Customs Service of the properly completed Form M, the importer is expected to forward Form M to the exporter who, in turn, will notify Cotecna, who is the provider of laboratory checking, cargo screening, etc.
  • The importer must then activate the SONCAP Certificate and, where appropriate, request for the Pre-Assessment Arrival Report (PAAR). PAAR is an online submission used before the delivery of the cargo by the Nigerian Customs for clearance to minimize the time taken as the items arrive on the Nigerian Single Window for Trade.
  • Accordingly, the PAAR is released and the importer may now continue with the clearance of its goods.


For shipping firms, the shipment manifest must be forwarded by the importer to the customs office, the Nigerian Port Authority, and the terminal operator and the shipping charges must be paid.

The records related to each import shall bear the name of the commodity, the country of origin, the dimensions, the date of production, the batch number, and the quality under which the products were made.

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How to Export from Nigeria

The exporter is required to register a company with the CAC in Nigeria to carry out the export business; the exporter is also required to register with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) upon registration and to receive the exporter’s certificate to apply for NEPC benefits.

The exporter is also expected to complete the NXP Form with any trustworthy bank in Nigeria, an approved dealer.

An export contract between the exporter and the importer, which sets out the duties of the exporter and the importer, can also be enforced.

It is the duty of the exporter of any product to ensure that, before attempting to export any consignment, a sufficient authorization or export permit has been received from separate regulatory agencies

For eg, the exporter of any solid minerals must receive an export permit from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Production and pay royalties via the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD).

The agent (forwarder) on behalf of the exporters plays an essential function in facilitating exports. In general, an agent’s duties during the export process include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Arranging transport to the dock.
  • The Nigerian Customs Service, the SSS, the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and other approved government agencies are all required to make preparations for inspection by the agent.
  • Make payment where applicable for the assigned duty.
  • Make the requisite payment, that is, the freight, for the shipping company fees.
  • The shipping agent must also book space with the shipping agent.
  • He can even pay for chargers from terminal operators.

Shipping firms play a vital role in the export of all Nigerian products.

The shipping company’s key tasks are to receive the shipment from the exporter at the port of departure in compliance with the bill of lading, then deliver it to the consignee.


In conclusion

It is important to note that it is essential to acquire an import license from the different government departments, such as the Standard Organization of Nigeria, the National Food and Drug Administration Service, the Department of Petroleum Resources, among others before it is possible to transport related goods into Nigeria.

Also, in the case of imports, importers should be informed that the Federal Government has forbidden bringing such goods into Nigeria that are listed in the prohibited import list of the Nigerian Customs Service.

The above are only general guidelines.
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