permits and registration of Businesses

How to obtain an Import License in Nigeria


An import license in Nigeria is issued by various agencies of government in Nigeria which regulates and determines the goods that can be brought into the country. There is no unified import license in Nigeria. Depending on the type of goods you want to import, there are various licenses from different regulatory agencies

However there are some documentations and processing that can be applied to all forms of import, these include the E- form and the Pre-arrival assessment report. The processing of the documents are done on the Nigeria single window trade portal


An E- form M is an electronic mandatory documentation process introduced by the Central Bank Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to be completed by all importers for importation of goods into Nigeria. The form is requested by an importer through the NSW Trade Portal.

The life span of a Form M is 180 days (for general merchandise) and 365 days (for plant and machinery), after which an extension of 180 days (for general merchandise) and 365 days (for plant and machinery) can be granted on the Form M by the Authorized Dealer. Any further extension has to be approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Requirements for obtaining an E-form M:

In order to obtain an E-form M which is gotten on the Federal government of Nigeria Single window for trade portal, the importer must have fulfilled the following requirements

  • Registration and validation of a Tax Identification Number (TIN) at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)
  • Logging into the FIRS portal to register as an importer.
  • The Bank/customer has logged on the portal to initiate the E-Form M.
  • Forwarding all original documents (Pro forma Invoice, Insurance etc.) to the ADB for approval.
  • Payment of the N1, 500 fee charge on the e-Form M.

How to obtain an E-form M:

  • Obtain an E-Form M online from the NSW Trade Portal.
  • Submit your E-Form M application online to an Authorized Dealer Bank along with the Proforma invoice, locally sourced Insurance Certificate and the Regulatory Certificates/Permits depending on the product.
  • The Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB) reviews the submitted form and documents and validates it. The form is submitted to the NCS by the ADB.
  • The Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) will review the application and either accept or reject it within one working day. If the application is accepted, the NCS will register the E-Form M in the Single Window Trade system and in the event that it is rejected, the NCS will state the reasons for rejection and the documents will be automatically returned for rectification.
  • When the Form M is accepted by the NCS, the importer forwards a copy of the Form M to his exporter, who will in turn contact Cotecna, the International Accreditation Firm, with the following documents for the issuance of the SONCAP Certificate:
  1. Form M
  2. The Final Invoice
  3. Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
  4. The packing list

A valid PAAR report approved by the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) is required to also clear goods entering the country. Upon reception of final documents, the commercial bank having opened the Form M will complete on line an electronic PAAR Consignment form and will submit it to NCS via the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal, together with scanned copies of final documents. The Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) system is an online application designed and used by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the generation of the PAAR. The System cannot be used by individuals, only the Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB) can access and use the system.

The following are the procedures to obtain a PAAR:

  • The NCS receives the Electronic form(E form) with other necessary pre-import documents from the Authorized Dealer Bank and carries out preliminary preview using the information provided. The e-Form M where accepted is registered on the system by the NCS. The pre-import documents are known as final documents and they are usually sent by courier directly to the bank that processed the form M.
  • The Final import documents are sent by the Authorized Dealer Bank to the NCS. The documents referred to are:
    1. The final invoice.
    2. CCVO (Combined Certificate of Value and Origin).
    3. Transport Document (Bill of Lading/Airway Bill/Roadway Bill).
    4. Packing List
  • The NCS generates the PAAR. Upon generation of the PAAR, it will be sent to the transacting bank while, the importer receives a copy through his mail. The importer then proceeds to his bank to collect his endorsed PAAR and other shipping documents. The PAAR, the final invoice, the Bill of Lading (with other final documents) in addition to the regulatory documents, are used in the clearance of goods at any Nigerian port

In order to obtain an import license in Nigeria, the following documentations and procedures are required:

  1. Registration with CAC

Registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria and a certificate of incorporation as an evidence of your registration

  1. Tax Identification Number acquisition

Obtain your Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for proof of tax payment with a valid email address attached to it

  1. Opening a Bank account

The importer must then proceed to opening a bank account with a reputable bank in Nigeria to act as the Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB). The bank will issue a form called Form-M/ PAAR which is a mandatory documentation that is required by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria for the purpose of monitoring and keeping track of the goods imported into the country and to also facilitate the payment of import duties on the goods.  The Authorized Dealer Bank (ADB) also initiates the clearance of the Form-M

  1. Obtain permits from various regulatory agencies according to your product

The importer then proceeds to obtain the appropriate permit from various regulatory agencies in Nigeria depending on the kind of product that the importer intends to bring into the country. Regulatory bodies that can issue permits includes the following:

  • SONCAP (Standard Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme)

The SON operates and issues licenses to importers of various goods through its programme called SONCAP (Standard Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme).  The SON covers almost all items to be imported into Nigeria save for the ones statutorily delegated to other agencies

  • NAFDAC (National Agency for Food Drug and Administrative Control)

This is an agency of the Ministry of Health in Nigeria. The products that are regulated by NAFDAC are Food products, Drugs, Chemicals, Medical products, Raw Materials and other branded products exempted from registering with SONCAP. NAFDAC Permits cover two categories namely:

  1. Foods
  2. Drugs

If a manufactured or imported goods fall within any of these two categories registration with the NAFDAC is important. Where the product is a foreign product, a power of attorney duly executed for a Nigerian representative of such product registered from the manufacturer and signed by the Company’s Managing Director, Chairman or President, authorizing the Nigerian agent to act in such capacity is required.

How to obtain a NAFDAC permit in Nigeria

The registration process for NAFDAC Permit is in two general stages:

  • Application for approval to bring in samples – applicable to goods manufactured outside Nigeria
  • Application for full registration of product – applies whether the goods are locally manufactured or imported

The general requirements for the registration on either of the stages of the permit include the following:

  • A written application for product registration shall be made to the Director (Registration and Regulatory Affairs) stating the name of the manufacturer, the generic name (and brand name, if applicable) of product, product strength and indications.
  • The applicant should obtain and fill the prescribed NAFDAC application form (Form D-REG/001)
  • Certificate of Incorporation issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission
  • Comprehensive Certificate of analysis of the batch of the product for registration from the manufacturer stating name and signature of the analyst.
  • Packs of the products samples
  • Evidence of pre-product inspection or Certificate of Recognition issued by NAFDAC
  • Notarized original copy of the duly executed Power of Attorney from the product manufacturer (imported product)
  • Certificate of Manufacture issued by the competent health or regulatory authority in the country of origin and authenticated by the Nigerian Mission in that country (if foreign import). Where there is no Nigerian mission, the British High Commission or an ECOWAS country Mission will authenticate.
  • If contract-manufactured, Contract Manufacturing Agreement, properly executed and notarized by a Notary Public in the country of manufacture.
  • Evidence of Membership of the State’s Traditional Medicines Board (Herbal Medicines)
  • Technical Document (Herbal Medicines)
  • Certificate of Pharmaceutical Products (COPP) duly issued and authenticated
  • Current Superintendent Pharmacists license to practice issued by the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria
  • Premises Registration License from Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN)
  • Warehouse acquisition or premises acquisition(where applicable)
  • Certificate of Trademark Registration of brand name with trademark registry in the Ministry of Commerce here in Nigeria
  • Letter of invitation from manufacturer to the Director General of the NAFDAC to inspect factory abroad, stating full name and location of the plant.
  • Informative, clear and accurate labelling of the products
  • Payment of the prescribed fees.

Once the registration process is concluded, NAFDAC would assign a unique number to all the registered products. The registration is usually valid for a period of 5 years and it must be renewed before the licensee can maintain the usage. Although how to renew NAFDAC permit also involves some documentation and payment of prescribed fee, but this is not as significant as filing a new application

  • DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources)

For the importation of petroleum resources into Nigeria, the agency responsible for issuance of the import permit is the Department of Petroleum Resources. The application process from the Agency for the import permit can be applied for on the online portal of the DPR official website. A company looking to import petroleum resources should begin by an application made through the designated portal of the Department of Petroleum Resources official website at

Upon application the following documents should be attached:

  1. A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the company
  2. A copy of the memorandum and article of association
  3. A copy of the current storage facility
  4. Tax identification number
  5. A bank reference/ statement
  6. The applicant will then proceed to pay the following fees for application:
  7. An application fee of N75, 000 (Seventy-Five Thousand Naira)
  8. A processing fee of N210,00 (Two Hundred and Ten Thousand Naira)
  9. All the online submitted documents will be verified and if acceptable then a permit will be issued

Thus, any company that meets the above guidelines as provided by the Department of Petroleum Resources can submit an application for Petroleum Product Import Permit after creating an account on the Import-Export Permit System (IMPEX). The IMPEX portal handles electronic application processing and generation of permits for eligible countries in respect of petroleum products supply within and outside the country.

  • NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission)

The NERC import permit required from all importers participating in the power sector in Nigeria. The NERC is the regulatory agency that oversees the power sector in Nigeria.

  • Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS)

This regulatory agency under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for issuing importation permit for agricultural seeds and animals into the Nigeria territory. The requirements for obtaining import license with NAQS includes:

  • Apply for the import permit to the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services
  • Notify the agency of the import permit details
  • Notify the agency of the arrival date of the products
  • On arrival at the point of entry, the importer is to make a declaration of animal or animal products for consignment inspection and certification.
  • NAQS officials will inspect and verify the consignment and documents submitted at the point of entry.
  • If the consignment complies with the standard of the agency, the importer will be made to pay the requisite fees for further action.
  1. Registration on the Nigeria Single Window Trade (NSWT) portal

The importer must also register as a client at the Nigeria single window trade portal, which is an intergovernmental site that encourages trade procedure between the government agencies and parties on the Federal Inland Revenue site. This is done by registering the PC on the single window trade portal.

The Nigeria custom services created the Nigeria Single Window Trade (NSWT) portal in order to make the process of clearing goods in Nigeria stress free and time saving. The Nigeria’s Single Window Portal is a trade facilitation project of 12 Nigerian Government agencies involved in the customs clearance process.  The Single Window Portal allows traders to

  1. Access customs regulations online
  2. Submit customs documents electronically
  3. Track transaction status online
  4. Submit electronic payments.

The NSW Trade Portal offers users the following services:

  1. Consult trade information online. For example, tariff search, arrived vessels, regulatory guidelines.
  2. Submit trade documents and track their trade transaction status online.
  3. Pay online through e-payment facilities using credit card
  4. Access help-desk, trouble tickets, and other support services online (for registered users).


Obtaining an import license in Nigeria will differ depending on the goods or services that you are importing. Different agencies of government in Nigeria regulates and determines the goods that can be brought into the country. They also collect fees depending on the quantity or specification of goods that you are bringing into the country. At Qeeva Advisory Limited, we can help you acquire an import license without stress. For more information on the registration, procedures and other relevant details on acquiring an import license in Nigeria, you can contact us on 08023200801, 08075765799, Email:

About the author

Onamakinde Dare Daniel is a highly motivated accountant with knowledge in Accounting, Taxation, Management, Audit, Costing and Research. He is keen on tax matters due to its ever dynamic nature.

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