How to Ship From China to Nigeria: Top Five Shipping agencies


Do you want to make a living from importing goods from china? Well maybe you want to get a few things from Ali Express or Ali Baba that our online stores here in Nigeria don’t have.  Whatever it is that triggered your needs for importing goods from China, this guide is going to give you all necessary information you need to know so you can import goods seamlessly.

When it comes to importing goods from any country to your own country, in this case Nigeria, you have to get it right on which goods and the required documents before shipping. This will help you avoid customs having a field day with you, which might lead to your merchandise being held at the port longer than you expected, or you not seeing it at all. This is the sole aim of this guide; to point out the required steps you need to take, to ensure smooth import and collecting of your goods without much hassle.

I am not going to start with giving you recommendations on goods you should import to make reasonable profit, if you are a retailer looking to go into the mini importation business, I believe you already have that figured out, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be looking for how to do it the right way. However, before we continue, you should visit the Nigeria customs page to know if the goods you plan on importing are among those banned from getting into Nigeria. If the goods you plan on importing is among the listed, it’s best find other alternatives, because your goods might not see the light of day. Even if it does you will end up spending more than budget thereby reducing you profit.

Moving on, let’s have a quick look at the standard procedures for importation of goods into Nigeria. 

How to Get License for Importing Goods into Nigeria

This is the first document every importer must have before considering placing an order with a Chinese exporter. It might interest you to know that without proper license from customs your goods might be seized without it even being contraband or not. You can licensed by following the procedures below:

  • By first registering your company with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). 
  • After that, you register the company with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Here you will be giving Tax Identification Number (TIN). 
  • The next step is to activate the TIN with the email address on it.
  • Create a bank account tied to your company name. This will serve as your dealer bank for imports from anywhere to Nigeria. The bank will take charge of processing forms (including e-form M), and serve as the bridge between you, and either the Nigeria customs service or any third parties to your imports.
  • Get the necessary permits from NAFDAC and/or SONCAP. The permits depends on the nature of goods you plan on importing.
  • Register as an importer on Nigeria Single Trade Portal on FIRS website. Registration will require your TIN, and email address. This portal will facilitate the importation of your goods by linking  you, the government and your Chinese supplier together.

Documents Needed to Import Goods to Nigeria

Yes you’ve gotten your license as a certified importer, but that’s only half of it. For every shipment, you have to provide some necessary documents to facilitate delivery, and acquiring of your cargo. Below are documents you should have to ensure successful importation:

  • Form M

This document is obtained from the CBN, and it’s distributed to you through your dealer bank. You need to have your Pro forma invoice, and insurance papers before it can be obtained. After the form is filled, your dealer bank will send it to the Nigerian customs for approval. It is indeed the most important document an importer must have when attending to a shipment. The document can be gotten online from the Nigeria Single Window Trade Portal. This document is used by customs to track goods being shipped to Nigeria, and facilitates tax, and other charges attached to said goods.

  • Insurance Documents

The Nigerian customs demand you provide insurance for all shipments. This makes sure that in the event that something happens to your goods during transit, there wouldn’t be much problem for you or them.

  • Standardization Certificate

Obviously, you shouldn’t import counterfeit, your goods should meet the standard requirements of the organization responsible of improving such goods. Depending on the nature of your goods, standardization is either obtained from SONCAP or NAFDAC. You can contact the Nigerian customs to let you know the one you will be needing for a particular shipment. Sometimes, you may need both.

  • Commercial Invoice

This document is issued by your Chinese supplier to the freight forwarder. Always check with the forwarder that he has received the invoice, it must be presented to customs before landing. This document contains number of products as well as their price tags, it’ll be used by customs when calculating the fee you should pay for clearance of cargo.

  • Airways Bill or Bill of Landing

For shipment through air, it’s called airways bill, while for sea it’s known as bill of landing. Your carrier is required to issue this to issue this to the Nigerian customs upon landing. The documents contains details of items you shipped, details of your supplier, and your details. Please make sure that the details here corresponds with what’s on your commercial invoice.

Clearance Procedures When Shipping to Nigeria 

  • A copy of the Form M is sent to the Chinese supplier (I am always using the term “Chinese Supplier” because our goods in this case is coming from china). In the final document, the Chinese supplier adds the Form M number. The final documents includes; commercial invoice, airways bill/ bill of landing, certificates of goods value and origin, packing list, and a standardization certificate (SONCAP and/or NAFDAC).
  •  Dependent on the negotiations with your Chinese supplier, he contacts a freight company/ shipping company.
  • The shipping company upon landing in Nigeria submits the cargo manifest to the Nigeria customs or Nigeria port authority.
  • Next, you will apply for the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) with your dealer bank. As soon as your bank issues PAAR, clearance can begin.

There is usually laid down procedures to follow depending on the nature and type of goods to get your goods cleared. Nigerian customs service officers will guide you appropriately.


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