Section 8(1)(b) of the Immigration Act, Cap 171, requires that any person other than a Nigerian citizen, who wishes on his own account or in partnership with any other person, to practise a profession or establish or take over any trade or business whatsoever or register or take over any company with limited liability for any such purpose, must obtain the consent in writing of the government. In practice, this consent is given by way of Business Permit. The permit states, among other things, the names of the partners or proprietors in the venture, the nature of the proposed business, and its proposed location in Nigeria. The minimum capital base of any company seeking business permit is N2 million (approx. US$24,000).

Until a Business Permit is obtained, no allotment of shares may be made to, filed or registered in favour of a foreign investor. Furthermore, no foreigner may be appointed a director of the company whose name is not shown on the Business Permit as a proprietor or director of the enterprise.


Section 8(1)(a) of the Immigration Act, Cap 171, provides that no person other than a citizen of Nigeria shall accept employment (not being employment with the Federal Government or a State Government) without the consent in writing of the Director of Immigration. In practice, this consent is given by way of Expatriate Quota. Consideration is given for expatriate quota for the foreign investor, and for employees only where the type of personnel required is not available in Nigeria. The company must in all cases supply the names, qualifications and positions to be occupied by the expatriate employees.

To receive two automatic expatriate quota positions, one of which will be permanent until reviewed, and the other valid for five years, the share capital of the company should not be below N5 million (approximately US$60,000). A company will be entitled to four automatic expatriate quota positions, one of which will be permanent until reviewed, and the others valid for five years, if its share capital is N10 million (approximately US$120,000) and above. Where the equity capital is below N5 million and the foreign partner has 40% or more of the share capital, the company will be considered for at least one position.

Business Permit and Expatriate Quota are obtainable from the Citizenship and Business Department of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs.

This article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should NOT be treated as legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought by you about your particular case and special circumstances.

For further information/enquiries, please contact Patrick Abuka on Tel: (234)1-263 4656, 1-263 3024, 1-263 1708, 1-263 3512, 1-263 5115, 1-263 4553 or Fax No: (234) 1-263 1687, 1-263 5189

You may also wish to read through related material on 'Legal Aspects of Investing in Nigeria' provided by Abuka, Ajegbo, Ilogu & Nwaogu. You can view the entire archive via the Internet on Business Monitor Online (, or via your online provider by entering "Abuka, Ajegbo, Ilogu & Nwaogu" and "Business Monitor" as a free text search.