How to Obtain an Import License in Nigeria

An import license is an official document issued by government authorities that grants individuals or businesses legal permission to import specific goods into Nigeria. It serves as proof of compliance with import regulations and allows customs authorities to track and control the flow of goods across national borders.

Obtaining an import license is an important step for businesses and individuals looking to engage in international trade in Nigeria. It is a legal requirement designed to regulate the inflow of goods into the country and ensure compliance with import regulations and standards.

Whether you’re a seasoned importer or a newcomer to the world of global trade, understanding the import license application process in Nigeria is essential for a smooth and compliant importation experience.

Types of Import Licenses

In Nigeria, import licenses are categorized based on the nature of the imported goods and their intended use. Understanding these different types of import licenses is crucial, as it determines the specific requirements and procedures you need to follow.

Here are the main types of import licenses in Nigeria:

1. Product-Specific Licenses: These licenses are issued for the importation of specific products, such as firearms, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and hazardous materials. The Nigerian government closely regulates these imports to ensure safety and compliance with relevant laws.

2. General Merchandise License: This type of license is for importing general goods that are not subject to specific product restrictions or controls. It covers a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

3. Restricted or Controlled Items License: Some goods are subject to restrictions due to their potential impact on health, safety, or the environment. Examples include controlled drugs, agricultural chemicals, and certain electronics. Importing these items requires a special license.

4. Temporary Importation License: This license is used for importing goods temporarily, with the intention of re-exporting them within a specified period. It is commonly used for items like machinery and equipment brought into the country for specific projects or events.

5. Specific-Use Licenses: Certain industries or sectors may require licenses for specialized imports. For example, the telecommunications industry may need licenses for importing telecom equipment.

6. Duty-Free License: Under certain circumstances, businesses or organizations may be eligible for duty-free imports. This can include government agencies, non-profit organizations, and diplomatic missions.

7. Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) Certificate: While not strictly an import license, the PSI certificate is a mandatory requirement for some goods. It involves inspecting the quality, quantity, and value of imported goods before shipment to Nigeria.

8. Export Expansion Grant (EEG): Although primarily related to exports, the EEG is worth mentioning as it provides incentives to Nigerian exporters. It allows them to earn grants that can be used for importing raw materials and machinery for production.

When it comes to importing goods into Nigeria, going through these complex regulations can be challenging. At, we offer streamlined assistance in obtaining import licenses in both countries, providing expert guidance, compliance assurance, and dedicated support.

How to Obtain an Import License in Nigeria

Our experienced team simplifies the process, ensuring you meet all requirements. We will assist you in preparing and submitting your license applications, making it efficient and hassle-free.

How to Obtain an Import License in Nigeria

Obtaining an import license in Nigeria is a structured process that involves several steps and compliance with specific regulations. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process effectively:

1. Business Registration: Ensure that your business is legally registered in Nigeria. Whether you are a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, having a registered business is a prerequisite for obtaining an import license.

2. Determine the Type of Import License: Identify the type of import license that corresponds to the goods you intend to import. This could be a product-specific license, general merchandise license, or other specialized license, depending on the nature of your imports.

3. Register with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS): Register your business with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) by completing the necessary customs registration forms. You can do this at the nearest customs office or online through the NCS portal.

4. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): Ensure that your business has a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). This is a mandatory requirement for importers.

5. Open a Bank Account: Open a dedicated bank account for your importation transactions. This account will be used for processing import duties, taxes, and other payments related to your imports.

6. Obtain the Proforma Invoice: Request a Proforma Invoice from your foreign supplier. This document provides details about the goods you plan to import, including the description, quantity, value, and other relevant information.

7. Payment of Import Duty and Taxes: Calculate the import duty and taxes applicable to your goods using the Harmonized System (HS) code. Pay these fees to the designated bank account provided by the Nigerian Customs Service.

8. Import License Application: Prepare and submit your import license application to the relevant government agency or authority. Include all required documentation, such as your business registration certificate, TIN, customs registration, Proforma Invoice, and any specific documents related to the type of license you are applying for.

9. Review and Approval: The government agency will review your application and documents. Depending on the type of license and complexity of your imports, the processing time may vary.

10. License Issuance: – Once your application is approved, you will be issued the import license. Make sure to keep a copy of the license for your records.

11. Customs Clearance: – Present your import license and other relevant documents to the Nigerian Customs Service when clearing your goods at the port of entry. Ensure compliance with all customs procedures.

12. Record Keeping: – Maintain accurate records of all import transactions, including invoices, receipts, and customs documentation. This is essential for compliance and auditing purposes.

13. Renewal and Compliance: – Keep track of the expiration date of your import license, as some licenses require periodic renewal. Ensure ongoing compliance with all import regulations and tax obligations.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements and processes may vary depending on the type of goods you intend to import and any changes in import regulations.

Therefore, it is advisable to consult with the Nigerian Customs Service and the relevant government agencies for up-to-date guidance on the import license application process that applies to your specific situation.

Requirements for Obtaining an E-Form M in Nigeria

An E-Form M (Electronic Form of the Mandatory Certificate of Authorization for Importation) is a crucial document for importers in Nigeria. It is required for processing and monitoring international trade transactions. To obtain an E-Form M, you need to fulfill several requirements and follow specific procedures.

When embarking on import activities in Nigeria, there are several crucial requirements and steps to ensure a smooth and compliant process.

First and foremost, it’s imperative that your business is officially registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria. This registration should include a valid registration number and certificate, confirming the legitimacy of your business.

Additionally, you’ll need to obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for your business from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). This TIN is a fundamental requirement for engaging in import transactions.

To proceed with importation, you must register for an Importer Exporter Code (IEC) with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). This code serves as a unique identification number for both importers and exporters and is essential for conducting import-related activities.

For financial transactions related to importation, it’s advisable to open a dedicated bank account specifically for this purpose. This account will be utilized for processing import duties, taxes, and other related payments.

Next, you’ll need to request a Proforma Invoice from your foreign supplier or manufacturer. This document should provide comprehensive details about the goods you intend to import, including descriptions, quantity, value, and the country of origin.

To officially initiate the import process, you’ll be required to complete an E-Form M application form. You can obtain this form from an Authorized Dealer Bank (commercial bank) or access it online through the Trade Monitoring System (TMS) platform.

Preparation and submission of necessary documentation are paramount. This includes your business registration certificate, TIN, IEC, and the Proforma Invoice. These documents, along with the completed E-Form M application form, are essential components of your import application.

To ensure compliance, it’s crucial that your import transactions adhere to all relevant import regulations. This encompasses aspects such as tariff classifications, customs valuation, and import duty rates. You should also verify the Harmonized System (HS) code applicable to your goods.

Once your E-Form M application and supporting documents are prepared, they should be submitted to an Authorized Dealer Bank for processing. The bank will validate the information provided and assist in facilitating the application process.

Keep in mind that the validity period of your E-Form M may vary based on the nature of the goods and regulatory requirements. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your imports occur within the specified timeframe to avoid complications.

When clearing your goods at the port of entry, you must present the E-Form M to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and strictly adhere to customs procedures and regulations.

Maintaining meticulous records of all import transactions, including invoices, receipts, customs documentation, and the E-Form M, is essential. Proper record-keeping is not only for compliance but also for auditing purposes.

Lastly, be prepared to renew your E-Form M when required or make necessary amendments in cases of changes to import details or timelines. Staying updated and in compliance with these requirements will contribute to a successful and compliant importation process.

It’s important to stay updated on import regulations and procedures in Nigeria, as they may change over time. Consulting with your Authorized Dealer Bank and relevant government agencies is advisable to ensure a smooth and compliant E-Form M application process.

Benefits of Obtaining an Import License

Obtaining an import license in Nigeria offers several significant benefits for businesses and individuals engaged in international trade. These benefits not only enhance the legitimacy of your import activities but also contribute to a smoother and more efficient importation process. Here are the key advantages:

Having an import license when engaging in import activities in Nigeria offers several significant advantages. First and foremost, it ensures that your import operations comply with the country’s import regulations and legal requirements. This, in turn, helps you avoid potential legal issues, fines, and penalties associated with non-compliance, safeguarding your business’s reputation and financial well-being.

Possessing a valid import license also adds credibility and legitimacy to your business in the eyes of various stakeholders, including suppliers, partners, and customers. It serves as evidence that your business is an authorized and legitimate importer, which can be crucial for building trust and strong business relationships.

Another critical benefit is the access it provides to controlled or restricted goods. With an import license, you gain authorization to import certain regulated items, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, or firearms, which would otherwise be prohibited without the necessary approvals.

Import licenses streamline the customs clearance process by signaling to customs authorities that you are a legitimate and authorized importer. This recognition reduces the likelihood of delays or complications during customs procedures, ensuring a smoother importation process.

Moreover, having an import license can significantly contribute to business growth. It allows you to explore new markets and expand your product offerings by opening doors to a broader range of goods and suppliers. This expansion can be a key driver of increased revenue and market competitiveness.

International trade partnerships are often more readily established with licensed importers. International suppliers and manufacturers prefer to engage with businesses that demonstrate compliance and legitimacy, increasing your chances of forming beneficial trade partnerships and gaining access to quality products.

In some instances, businesses with import licenses may also qualify for government incentives, such as tax exemptions or import duty reductions. These incentives can effectively lower the overall costs associated with importation, providing a competitive advantage.

The process of obtaining an import license equips you with valuable knowledge about import regulations, documentation, and compliance. This acquired expertise can be applied to future import ventures, further enhancing your business’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Import licenses also serve as a risk mitigation measure. By adhering to regulations and obtaining proper authorization, you reduce the risk of encountering counterfeit or substandard goods that could potentially harm your business reputation and financial stability.

Furthermore, having an import license can make it easier to secure financing or credit from financial institutions or lenders. It demonstrates your commitment to legal and responsible import practices, making you a more attractive prospect for financial support.

In competitive markets, holding the appropriate import license can provide a competitive edge over rivals who may not have the necessary compliance or authorization. Finally, it’s worth noting that import licenses can also open up export opportunities. Some businesses use their import licenses to source raw materials or components for local production, subsequently exporting finished products to other markets.

Import licenses contribute to consumer trust and confidence, particularly in industries like food, pharmaceuticals, and electronics. Consumers rely on these licenses as indicators of the safety and authenticity of imported products, which is crucial for brand reputation and consumer satisfaction.

Obtaining an import license in Nigeria is a critical step toward ensuring the legality and credibility of your importation activities. It not only enables you to navigate the import process smoothly but also positions your business for growth and success in the international trade arena.

Government Agencies that regulate & Issue Import Licenses in Nigeria

In Nigeria, the regulation and issuance of import licenses involve several government agencies responsible for overseeing various aspects of international trade. These agencies ensure compliance with import regulations and standards. Here are some of the key government agencies involved in regulating and issuing import licenses in Nigeria:

1. Nigerian Customs Service (NCS): The Nigerian Customs Service is the primary agency responsible for the collection of import duties and tariffs and the enforcement of customs laws and regulations. It plays a crucial role in clearing imported goods and ensuring compliance with import procedures.

2. Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC): While primarily focused on exports, the NEPC also plays a role in regulating imports, especially for goods related to export-oriented industries. They may issue permits or licenses for the importation of certain products.

3. Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON): SON is responsible for setting and enforcing product quality and safety standards. Importers of regulated goods, such as electronics and food products, may need SON’s certification or approval to ensure compliance.

4. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC): NAFDAC is responsible for regulating and controlling the importation, distribution, and quality of food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. Importers of these products require NAFDAC registration and permits.

5. National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA): NDLEA regulates the importation of controlled substances and narcotics. Importers of pharmaceuticals and chemicals need to comply with NDLEA regulations and licensing.

6. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): The Central Bank of Nigeria regulates foreign exchange transactions related to imports. Importers may need to obtain foreign exchange approvals from CBN for their import transactions.

7. Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment: This ministry oversees trade policies and may be involved in the issuance of licenses or permits for specific industries or sectors.

8. Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS): FIRS is responsible for tax matters in Nigeria. Importers need to ensure they have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for tax compliance.

9. Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC):NIPC is involved in facilitating foreign investments and business registration. Some importers may engage with NIPC for investment-related permits.

10. Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA): – NPA manages the country’s seaports, which are critical entry points for imports. Compliance with NPA regulations and fees is essential for smooth port operations.

11.Federal Ministry of Finance (Customs and Excise Department): – This ministry oversees customs matters, including import duties and tariffs. Importers must pay customs duties and taxes in compliance with the regulations administered by this department.

Please note that the specific agency or agencies you need to interact with for your import license may vary depending on the nature of your imports, the goods involved, and the industry sector. It’s essential to consult with the relevant agencies and stay informed about the latest import regulations to ensure smooth and compliant importation in Nigeria.


1. What are the import documents required in Nigeria?

The required import documents in Nigeria include the Proforma Invoice, Bill of Lading or Airway Bill, Form M, Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), and the Importer’s Certificate of Registration (RC) among others. Specific documentation may vary based on the type of goods and regulatory requirements.

2. How to start an importing business in Nigeria?

To start an importing business in Nigeria, you need to follow key steps such as business registration, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, identifying your target market, sourcing suppliers, and ensuring compliance with import regulations.

3. How can I import goods from the USA to Nigeria?

Importing goods from the USA to Nigeria involves selecting your products, finding suppliers, obtaining an Importer’s Certificate of Registration, securing foreign exchange, and complying with customs regulations, including the use of Form M and other import documents.

4. What is the first step in the import process?

The first step in the import process is to register your business and obtain an Importer’s Certificate of Registration. This certificate is necessary for conducting import transactions in Nigeria.

5. How do I start an import?

To start an import, you should identify the goods you want to import, find reliable suppliers, determine the customs and regulatory requirements for those goods, obtain the necessary import licenses, and arrange logistics for shipping and customs clearance.

6. How do I import a product?

Importing a product involves several steps, including identifying your target product, conducting market research, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, finding a reputable supplier, negotiating terms, arranging shipping and logistics, and complying with customs regulations for clearance.

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