The food and alcohol industry refers to all companies involved in the processing of raw food materials, packaging, and distribution. To operate in the food and alcohol industry, every Nigerian and intending foreign investor must be licensed and registered to carry on business. Before operating in the food and alcohol industry, there are standards and requirements to be met before obtaining the required license to operate.
Restaurant operators involved in the sale of food are required to apply for a variety of food permits and licenses with the Local Government where the restaurant is to be located before the commencement of business operations. The type of license to be obtained varies by location and the applicable fees for obtaining the food license are subject to the assessment of the local government officials. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administrator and Control (NAFDAC) which regulates the production and manufacturing of food and drugs also requires that those who sell food in commercial quantity obtain a Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) License from NAFDAC before commencing business operations.
An alcohol license is required to be obtained by any organisational entity, producer, or manufacturer that wants to produce alcohol in Nigeria. The Liquor (Licensing) Regulation regulates the procedure for obtaining an alcohol license in Nigeria. In Lagos state, the sale of alcoholic drinks is regulated by the Liquor (Licensing) Law of Lagos State.
Procedure to Obtain an Alcohol License
To operate the sale of alcohol in Nigeria, one must obtain a license from the licensing tribunal of the Local Government Area. The following procedure is to be followed to apply for the license;
- Firstly, the applicant must visit the Board Secretary Office of Local Government Area in the State.
- The application form is to be obtained for an alcohol license as applicable to the class of license from the relevant department.
- Upon the completion of the application form, the application is to be accompanied by the documents highlighted below, to be submitted to the Secretary of the Board.
- Payment of the prescribed application fee.
- After payment of the prescribed application fee, the officials will proceed to perform an internal process concerning the application. The following factors as contained in Section 3 of the Liquor Licensing Regulations will be considered;
- The character and circumstances of the applicant.
- The suitability of the premises in respect of which the license is required.
- The distance to the nearest premises in respect of which a license is held of the same class as applied for.
- The approximate number of people in the locality to be served, and,
- Whether the license is required for public convenience.
- If the application and the documents submitted are found to be sufficient, the license will be issued to the applicant.
The following are the documents required to obtain a liquor license in Nigeria.
- A completed application Form A and application fee.
- Copy of Certificate of Incorporation for a company or registration certificate in case of individuals or partnership applicant.
- Certified copies of Forms and copies of share certificates of the company directors and shareholders.
- Proof of availability of business premises (written undertaking lease in lieu of agreement or title deed).
- Proof of advertisement in Nigeria Government Gazette, and bring a stamped copy of receipt according to Regulation 3 (2) of the Liquor Act, 1999.
- The Control Authority shall not consider an application for a license where both the first and second notice of the application was not published for at least 21 days.
- Certified copies of valid ID for citizens and passport for non-citizen directors and shareholders.
- Certified copies of valid work and residence permits for non-citizen managers.
- A covering letter explaining how the business would operate and provide an itemized list of goods and services.
- Satisfactory Physical Planners report for zoning of the plot.
- Satisfactorily Environmental Health report for the business premises from Federal state Council Health Inspectors.
In the case when a producer or manufacturer of alcohol is outside Nigeria, such shall be represented in Nigeria by a duly registered Nigerian company with facilities. To import liquor into the country, the following documentation and procedures are needed to be carried out:
- Foreign manufacturers must be represented in Nigeria by a duly registered company or individual with the capacity to effect a product recall when necessary.
- NAFDAC considers the local representative to be fully responsible for all matters on the product, such as registration, distribution re-calls, legal actions, etc.
- The Nigerian importer/distributor must file evidence of a Power of Attorney from the manufacturer, which authorizes him to be the representative in Nigeria.
- A certificate of manufacture and free sale issued by a competent health authority, authenticated by the Nigerian Embassy in the country of origin. Product license or evidence of product registration in the country of origin is an added advantage.
- All importers must submit the certificate of registration of brand name/ trademark with the trademark Registry in the Ministry of Commerce in Nigeria. This is done in the name of the owner of the trademark to protect the owner.
- A NAFDAC application form duly completed by the local agent (importer) for the registration of each regulated product.
- Fifteen product samples (twenty in the case of dairy products) depending on pack size must be provided to NAFDAC for physical/laboratory analysis and vetting which takes about four to eight weeks.
- A permit must be obtained to import limited quantities for the purpose of registration.
- A comprehensive certificate of product analysis issued by the manufacturer.
- A letter of invitation for the inspection of the factory to be submitted by the applicant in Nigeria and shall state the full location address of the manufacturer, name of contact person, E-mail address, current phone, and fax numbers.
Finally, the alcohol license once issued is valid for five (5) years. As earlier stated, to legally operate the business of food and alcohol sales in Nigeria, a license is to be obtained from the appropriate local government authority.
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.