Importation forms a key part of the Nigerian economy as statistics show that over US$53 billion worth of goods were imported from around the globe into the country in the year 20201. Considering the high demand for imported goods in the country, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in collaboration with other government agencies has developed a unified procedure for importing goods into the country. In our previous article, we outlined the process for acquiring a Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) certificate in line with the procedure for importing goods into the country. Today's article will briefly highlight the steps for importing goods into Nigeria.


  1. Confirm that the goods can be imported into Nigeria.

A company wishing to import goods into Nigeria must first check the Import Prohibition List published by the NCS2 to ensure the goods to be imported are not prohibited or restricted. The rationale for the list is to improve the local economy by reducing reliance on imported goods and to control the inflow and outflow of foreign exchange. Some of the items on the prohibition list include frozen poultry, bagged cement, paracetamol tablets, soaps and detergent, telephone re-charge cards and vouchers etc.

  1. Register the TIN with the FIRS as an Importer

Upon registration of the company to be used for the importation (Importing Company), the company will be issued a certificate of incorporation and a Tax Identification Number (TIN). The Importing Company is required to register its TIN with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by submitting the TIN and a valid email address on the Single window for trade portal ("Trade Portal").

  1. Obtain a Product Certificate (PC)

The PC is issued by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to the exporter of the goods through firms accredited by it ("Accredited Firms") e.g Cotecna, SGS etc. The PC certifies that the quality of the goods to be imported are in compliance with the standards set out by the SON. The exporter is required to share the PC with the Importing Company who will then activate the PC on the SON website3, where it will be sent to the NCS and uploaded on the Trade Portal.

  1. Obtaining and submitting of e-Form M

The e-Form M can be obtained from the Trade Portal or an authorized dealer bank and submitted for approval online to the authorised dealer bank with the required supporting documents. The supporting documents must be marked "valid for forex" or "not valid for forex" where applicable. The Importing Company is required to refer to the Central Bank of Nigeria's circular on the list of goods not valid for foreign exchange4 to determine if the goods to be imported are valid for forex. Examples of such goods include furniture, toothpick, kitchen utensils, sardines, textiles etc. Please note that the importation of these goods are not banned as the Importing Company will just be required to import the above goods without access to the official Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market. Where the goods are not valid for forex, the Importing Company will be required to write a letter to the authorized dealer bank stating and providing evidence showing the source of the foreign exchange for the payment of the goods. Upon approval, the authorised dealer bank will forward the e-Form M and the supporting documents to the NCS for registration on the Trade Portal upon conducting a preliminary review of the documents submitted.

  1. Obtaining SONCAP Certificate (the "Certificate") and other regulatory permits

The Certificate is issued by the SON upon inspection of the goods to be imported by any of the Accredited Firms. The company needs to submit the required documents and its e-Form M for the SONCAP certification process. Once the Certificate is issued, the Importing Company is to activate it on the SON website after which it will be sent to the NCS and uploaded on the SON Certificate database on the Trade Portal. Depending on the type of goods to be imported, the Importing Company may be required to obtain the appropriate permit from various regulatory bodies such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) or the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

  1. Pre-arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) Process

A valid PAAR approved by NCS is required to clear imported goods. The company is required to send its final documents including the final invoice; Certificate of Origin (CoO); transport documents; Packing list; e-Form M; and PC to the authorized dealer bank who will then complete an electronic PAAR Consignment form and will submit it together with the final documents to the NCS via the Trade Portal. Upon approval by the NCS, the PAAR will be generated.

  1. Clearance of the goods by the NCS and Payment of Import Duties

To clear the goods upon arrival to Nigeria, the Importing Company is required to prepare and upload a Single Goods Declaration (SGD) alongside the final documents and PAAR to the Trade Portal. The SGD shows the details of the imported goods and can be obtained through the Trade Portal. The Importing Company is also required to pay import duty on the goods which will be determined by the tariff published by the NCS5. The Importing Company pays the import duties by selecting the assessment option on the NCS page of the Trade Portal. The details of the imported charges will be sent to the designated duty collection bank. A signed receipt will be issued to the Importing Company and an e-confirmation to the NCS acknowledging payment of the duties and taxes.

  1. Request release of goods

After payment of all charges by the Importing Company, a request may be made for the release of the goods. Upon scrutiny of the goods, they will be deemed clear and an exit note will be issued by the Terminal Operator.



It is important to note that companies may choose to outsource the importation process to a logistics company who will handle the importation of their goods on their behalf. Suitable contractual terms would have to be entered into with the logistics company to protect the interest of the Importing Company.







The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.