How to Import Goods into Nigeria
Taking part in international trade in Nigeria is slowly becoming more accessible. If you’re thinking about importing into Nigeria—whether rice, home goods, energy drinks, or construction materials—read on to learn more about some of the steps you must take to get started. While these guidelines are not exhaustive, they will help you to gain a general understanding of the import procedure in Nigeria.
Register Your Company
If you haven’t done so already, your first step to importing into Nigeria is to register your company name and obtain a Certificate of Incorporation/Registration in Nigeria. You must also register your company with the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) with current proof of your tax payments, including a Tax Identification Number that is connected to a valid email address and cell phone number. Note that failure to register your Tax Identification Number will prevent you from submitting any Central Bank of Nigeria forms in the future and prevent you from submitting any import, export, or transit customs declarations with the Nigeria Customs Service. Select a Nigerian bank to act as your Authorized Dealer Bank. This bank will be important for processing your e-Form M and acting as a liaison between the Nigeria Customs Service and other parties on your behalf.
Obtain Trade Insurance and Regulatory Certificates
Importing goods to Nigeria requires the purchase of local trade insurance. Trade insurance will protect you by providing coverage for damage to your goods while they are being stored or shipped—by air, land, or sea.
Additionally, if Nigeria regulates the items you plan to import, you must also obtain proper certificates for those items. Examples of items regulated by the Nigerian government include food, drinks, and electronics. The National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control oversees regulation of the import of food, drinks, drugs, and chemicals, while the Standard Organization of Nigeria regulates toys, electronics, automotive products, construction materials, appliances, paper and stationary, and protective safety equipment.
Register for the Trade Portal
After taking the above steps, you must now register as an importer and user of the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal on the FIRS website. The Single Window Trade Portal is an intergovernmental website that facilitates the trade process by allowing Nigerian and international parties to access Nigerian governmental services. Here, you can research trade information, submit trade documents, track your transaction, access the help desk, and discover information on government agencies involved in international trade.
To register, you must have already provided to FIRS at least one valid email address and cell phone number, along with your company’s identification details. If you have not yet provided this information, visit the FIRS office and do so. If you have already provided this information to FIRS, register as a user by simply visiting the Single Window for Trade site here using your Tax Identification Number and the email address you provided to FIRS.
Now that you have your username and password, you are ready to start using the Single Window Trade Portal to fill out e-Form M.
Fill Out and Submit e-Form “M”
In this step, you’ll be completing and submitting Form “M” electronically to your Authorized Dealer Bank, which you’ll do through the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal. Form “M” is a document required by the Federal Government of Nigeria and implemented by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Its purpose is to keep track of the goods that are being imported into Nigeria and facilitate the payment of import duties.
Before logging in, prepare by having the following items nearby or easily accessible on your computer:
- • Your Tax Identification Number
- • Your username and password for the Single Window for Trade
- • Scanned copies of your supporting documents, each clearly marked “VALID FOR FOREX” or “NOT VALID FOR FOREX,” as appropriate:
• Pro forma invoice (a monetary value declaration of goods, issued by your supplier or shipper)
• Locally-sourced insurance certificate
• Any required regulatory certificates and permits
Go to the Single Window for Trade login page. Provide your username and password, and you will be taken to the Central Bank of Nigeria homepage. Your username should be displayed in the upper right hand corner. On the left, click on “CBN Form Services.” The drop-down list will show “Fill Form M”. Click on this link. You will see seven headers at the top: Header, Names & Parties, Transport, Financial, Goods, Attachments, and Endorsement. You must fill out all seven of these forms.
On the “Attachments” page, you should submit your pro forma invoice—with a validity period of three months, insurance certificate, and any required regulatory certificates and permits.
Next, you must submit original copies of the following directly to your Authorized Dealer Bank:
• pro forma invoice
• insurance certificate
• all necessary regulatory certificates and permits
After receiving your properly completed e-Form M, your Authorized Dealer Bank will:
• make sure that you properly filled out your e-Form M;
• check to see whether the documents you attached conform with the originals that you mailed;
• follow due diligence procedures to verify the authenticity of the relevant documents; and
• validate and send your e-Form M to the Nigeria Customs Service.
From the time your bank approves your e-Form M, you will begin receiving e-mail notifications to the address you provided. Your e-Form M is only valid to use for importation once the Nigeria Customs Service has registered it. Your Authorized Dealer Bank must confirm registration of your e-Form M before it can move forward with the remaining importation processes. You can monitor the acceptance or rejection of your Form M on the Trade Portal online.
Processing by the Nigeria Customs Service
Now that your Authorized Dealer Bank has forwarded your e-Form M, the Nigeria Customs Service will begin reviewing your application. Within one business day, it will either accept or reject your e-Form M. If the Nigeria Customs Service has accepted it, it will register your e-Form M on its system. However, if it rejects your form, it will detail the reasons for the rejection and return the form to you to amend.
After the Nigeria Customs Service registers your e-Form M and receives the Final Import documents from your Authorized Dealer Bank, it will create a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report within six hours. For general merchandise, the validity of your e-Form M, after approval has been granted, lasts for 180 days. You may request an extension from your Authorized Dealer Bank for an additional 180 days, if needed. For capital goods, the initial validity of e-Form M is 365 days, with the ability to request a 365-day extension from the bank. If you need an additional revalidation of your e-Form M, you must submit a request to the Director at the Trade and Exchange Department at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Importer’s Arrangement of Documentation
It will be your responsibility to make sure that your supplier makes its pro forma invoice available and that the description of the goods on the invoice is clear and understandable. You’re also responsible for ensuring that all the documents you send to your Authorized Dealer Bank is verifiable and genuine. You must make sure that your supplier sends the Final Documents to your Authorized Dealer Bank before your goods arrive so that the goods clearance will be more efficient. Before the documents are submitted to your bank, verify that all the import procedures have been followed. Finally, once the Nigeria Customs Service registers your e-Form M, instruct your supplier to arrange for the delivery of your goods.
Tasks of Your Supplier and Authorized Dealer Bank
At this point in the process, your supplier has several responsibilities to fulfil. First, it must prepare its shipment for products that are regulated by Standards Organization of Nigeria by completing inspection, testing, and certification. All three of these are necessary to obtain a Standards Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) Certificate, which is needed for many goods by the customs clearance at all Nigerian ports.
Your supplier must provide two sets each of original Combined Certificates of Value and Origin; transport documents (bill of lading, road waybill, etc.); and packing list to its bank. After receiving these documents, your supplier’s bank will then forward the documents to its correspondent bank, who will then forward them to the Nigerian Authorized Dealer Bank for Letter of Credit transactions.
When the Authorized Dealer Bank has received the above documentation, it will endorse and upload it to the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report System to issue a Pre-Arrival Assessment Report. The bank will carry out due diligence to ensure the validity of the documents and verify that it has received the necessary shipping documents within 21 days after the goods have shipped.
After issuance of the SONCAP Certificate, when needed, your goods can be shipped to Nigeria. To clear your goods, you must activate the SONCAP Certificate and apply for Pre-Arrival Assessment Report on your Single Window for Trade Portal account.
Payment of Import Duty and Clearance
All imports require the payment of an import duty. The payment amount is a percentage of the value of your imports based on the exchange rate on your approved e-Form M. If your bank is the designated bank, it has the responsibility of collecting the import duty. If your e-Form M transaction was processed by a non-designated bank, then you must pay the import duty at any designated bank. You should then make sure that a copy of the receipt of your duty payment is sent to the processing bank. The designated bank will then verify that the information on the two assessment notices match up, and if it does, it will take payment and provide a signed receipt. The designated bank will send a confirmation electronically to the Nigeria Customs Service, stating that it has received the appropriate duty and taxes, and will transfer the payment to the pool account at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This tariff payment must be cleared before the Nigeria Customs Service will release the necessary shipping documents to you, the importer.
After the payment has cleared, you will obtain the release of your goods from the assigned customs releasing officer. There are numerous units involved in physically examining the imported goods. After release, you’re ready to take delivery of your imported goods.
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If the process outlined above seems entirely confusing and complex—that’s because it is. The Nigeria import regulations outlined in this blog are not comprehensive—there are numerous other regulations and instructions you must follow when importing into Nigeria. It takes a great amount of experience, time, and knowledge of Nigerian import/export regulations to properly import goods into Nigeria.
That’s where Ways to Cap steps in. We will save you valuable time by guiding you through the Nigeria import process, step-by-step. With our background and expertise in the international trade business in Nigeria, we can help you discover products, agree on terms, execute a pro forma invoice, perform due diligence, submit documents, obtain trade insurance and finance, and arrange delivery of your products. Contact us today for more information.
25 May 2017
Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures, and Documentation Requirements Under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Government of Nigeria, https://www.cbn.gov.ng/out/2014/ted/ted.fem.fpc.gen.01.012.pdf.
Guidelines, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Government of Nigeria, https://www.customs.gov.ng/Guidelines/Destination_Inspection/guidelines.php.
Guidelines and Information for Shipping to Nigeria, Freight Agents, http://www.freightagents.net/resources/nigeria/Guidelines%20and%20Information%20for%20Shipping%20to%20Nigeria.pdf.
User Guide for Electronic Form M, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, http://www.gtbank.com/images/documents/individuals/eformmuserguide.pdf.
How to Obtain an E-Form M, Cotecna, 16 October 2015, http://www.exports-to-nigeria.com/en/news/how-to-obtain-e-form-m.
Login to Community Services, Single Window for Trade, Federal Government of Nigeria, https://trade.gov.ng/login.do?jossoBackTo=https://app.trade.gov.ng/formx.
Registration Page for Single Window for Trade Portal, Federal Government of Nigeria, https://www.trade.gov.ng/firs/registration/ShowValidationPage.do.