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Are There Any Specialized Customs Procedures or Documentation Requirements for Importing into Nigeria?

Navigating customs procedures and documentation requirements is a critical aspect of importing goods into Nigeria. Compliance with these regulations ensures smooth clearance and avoids delays or penalties. This article provides a comprehensive guide to the specialized customs procedures and documentation needed for importing into Nigeria, complete with examples and authoritative sources.

Key Customs Procedures

  1. Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR)

  • Overview: The PAAR is an essential document for all imports into Nigeria. It is issued by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and must be obtained before the arrival of goods.

  • Process: Importers submit detailed information about their shipment, including the commercial invoice, packing list, and Form M. The NCS reviews the documents and issues the PAAR.

  • Steps:

  1. Register on the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal.

  2. Complete the Form M on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) platform.

  3. Submit required documents for PAAR processing.

  4. Obtain the PAAR from the NCS.

  5. Form M

  • Overview: Form M is an importation document required by the CBN. It signals the intention to import certain goods and must be approved before shipment.

  • Process: Importers complete Form M online and submit it to an authorized dealer bank (ADB) along with the proforma invoice.

  • Steps:

  1. Register on the CBN’s Trade Monitoring System (TRMS).

  2. Fill out Form M with accurate details of the import transaction.

  3. Submit the form and proforma invoice to the ADB for approval.

  4. SONCAP (Standards Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Program)

  • Overview: SONCAP is mandatory for regulated products to ensure they meet Nigerian standards. It involves obtaining a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) and a SONCAP Certificate.

  • Process: Products undergo inspection and testing by approved agencies. A CoC is issued upon compliance, which is then used to obtain the SONCAP Certificate.

  • Steps:

  1. Determine if your product requires SONCAP certification.

  2. Engage an approved inspection agency for product testing and inspection.

  3. Obtain the CoC from the inspection agency.

  4. Apply for the SONCAP Certificate using the CoC.

  5. NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control)

  • Overview: NAFDAC regulates the importation of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and chemicals. Importers must obtain NAFDAC certification to clear these goods.

  • Process: Importers submit product samples and documentation for evaluation and testing. NAFDAC issues a certification upon compliance.

  • Steps:

  1. Register the product with NAFDAC.

  2. Submit samples and documentation for evaluation.

  3. Obtain the NAFDAC certification.

Required Documentation

  1. Bill of Lading (BL)

  • Overview: A document issued by the shipping line detailing the cargo and terms of transportation.

  • Key Information: Shipper and consignee details, description of goods, and shipping terms.

  1. Commercial Invoice

  • Overview: An invoice from the exporter to the importer, detailing the goods' value and terms of sale.

  • Key Information: Description of goods, quantity, unit price, total value, and terms of sale.

  1. Packing List

  • Overview: A detailed list of the contents of the shipment.

  • Key Information: Description of goods, quantity, packaging details, and weight.

  1. Certificate of Origin

  • Overview: A document certifying the country of origin of the goods.

  • Key Information: Exporter details, description of goods, and country of origin.

  1. Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR)

  • Overview: A mandatory document issued by the NCS for all imports.

  • Key Information: Detailed shipment information, including commercial invoice and packing list.

  1. Form M

  • Overview: An importation document required by the CBN.

  • Key Information: Importer and exporter details, description of goods, and proforma invoice.

  1. SONCAP Certificate

  • Overview: A certificate ensuring regulated products meet Nigerian standards.

  • Key Information: Product description, test results, and compliance information.

  1. NAFDAC Certification

  • Overview: A certification required for food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and chemicals.

  • Key Information: Product details, evaluation results, and compliance information.

Steps to Ensure Compliance

  1. Engage Professional Services: Use the services of clearing agents, freight forwarders, and consultants to navigate complex procedures.

  2. Accurate Documentation: Ensure all documents are accurately completed and submitted on time to avoid delays.

  3. Regular Updates: Stay updated with changes in customs regulations and requirements through the Nigeria Customs Service and relevant authorities.

  4. Training and Awareness: Train staff on import procedures and compliance requirements to minimize errors.


Navigating Nigeria's specialized customs procedures and documentation requirements is essential for a smooth import process. By understanding and complying with these requirements, businesses can avoid delays and penalties, ensuring efficient clearance of their goods.


  1. Nigeria Customs Service: For up-to-date information on customs procedures and duties.

  2. Central Bank of Nigeria: For details on Form M and other importation requirements.

  3. Standards Organization of Nigeria: For information on SONCAP certification.

  4. NAFDAC: For regulatory guidelines and certification processes.

  5. PwC Nigeria: For comprehensive market entry advice and economic reports.

By following these guidelines, businesses can successfully navigate the import process into Nigeria and ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements.

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