• The information in this guide was obtained from external sources, including the websites of various governmental agencies and organizations, direct contact with those agencies and organizations, and from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Attaché reports. Consequently, the accuracy of this information depends upon the accuracy of the sources.
  • TTB is not responsible for the content of external websites.
  • This website was last updated on September 29, 2010.

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Market Overview

Nigeria is the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa with a population of more than 150 million people, and a population growth rate estimated at three percent annually. Petroleum continues to power the country‘s economy and petroleum exports account for 20 percent of GDP, 95 percent of total export earnings and close to 85 percent of federal government revenue. The inflation rate in 2007 fell to 7.2 percent (year on year), down from 7.5 percent a year earlier. Despite economic growth, the domestic manufacturing is actually contracting in Nigeria, with a capacity utilization in that sector reportedly dropping from 40% in 2007 to about 35% in 2008.  This fall is mainly due to the high-cost and unreliability of energy supplies (especially electricity) and a weak infrastructure.

This is creating an opportunity where there is greater reliance on imports.  While policy implementation has been poor due to the wide range of vested political interests in the country, imports of consumer-ready products should continue to grow as inadequate domestic food processing is unable to meet rising demand.
With an increased awareness of and rising demand for U.S. processed foods by Nigerian consumers, along with consumers’ perception of U.S. goods as higher quality items, Nigerian consumers are shifting towards western food types and consumption patterns.  This shift is being driven by changing demographics including greater urbanization, more women working outside the home, the changing lifestyles of the large youth population, a growing middle-class and rising incomes.

Wine, including sparkling wine, alcoholic spirit beverages & liquors (excluding beer) are included among the ‘best prospects’ for consumer-oriented exports to Nigeria.

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Market Entry Strategies

New-to-market U.S. food and agricultural products exporters should consider the following market entry strategies and tactics:
Select a local distributor/agent or representative in Nigeria to register the products with the appropriate GON regulatory bodies, to introduce these products to the local market and develop consumer demand. For assistance contact the Office of Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Consulate General, Lagos-Nigeria.

Identify and sell through consolidators based in the U.S. who are already serving the West African region, Exhibit at trade shows in the United States, which are attended by Nigerian importers. This will make follow-up contacts easier.

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Product Registration and Regulations

All processed foods must be registered with Nigeria‘s food regulatory agency--National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)--to be legally imported into Nigeria. The cost of product registration is typically borne by the importer except when an exporter agrees to assist the importer in paying these costs. It is advised that U.S. exporters contact the FAS/Lagos office in Nigeria when importers make similar requests from them.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is the Government of Nigeria's (GON) regulatory body responsible for the regulation and control of food product manufacturing, importation, exportation, advertisement, sale and distribution in Nigeria. Under the provisions of the GON Act No 19 of 1993 (as amended) and the Food and Related Products (Registration) Act No. 20 of 1999 and the accompanying Guidelines, no food item may be imported, manufactured, advertised, sold or distributed in Nigeria unless it has been registered by NAFDAC. NAFDAC was established to protect and promote public health by ensuring the wholesomeness, quality, safety and efficacy (as applicable) of food, packaged water, drugs, cosmetics, medical devises, chemicals and detergents (referred to as regulated products) consumed in Nigeria. NAFDAC defines food as any "article manufactured, processed, packaged, sold or advertised for use as food or drink for human consumption, chewing gum and any other ingredient which may be mixed with food for any purpose whatsoever." Over the past few years, the management of NAFDAC has increased surveillance to curb widespread adulteration of food products. The main strategy employed by the Agency for the enforcement of Nigeria’s food laws is the process of product registration. Contravention of the provisions of existing food laws is subject to prosecution and punishment as specified in the code. In recent years, NAFDAC appears to have become more active and stringent in enforcing existing food laws, which has increased the level of awareness of the consumer to make informed choices and has also encouraged local producers. In theory, any food item not registered with NAFDAC is not legally importable. In practice, many processed foods are routinely illegally smuggled into Nigeria through the land boarders, by sea and by air without having gone through the registration process.

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Import Duties & Collections:

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is the GON agent responsible for import duty collection. Ports clearance has been slow in Nigeria but the GON has set September 31, 2008 for NCS to achieve a 48-hour cargo delivery in compliance with the directive of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). As a result, NCS has reportedly acquired the necessary facilities to kick-start the upgraded Automated System for Custom Data (ASYCCUDA++), a paperless Direct Trader Input (DTI) for online submission and processing of custom documents and duty payments. This is expected to facilitate customs clearance at ports, and address unofficial practices resulting mostly from increased contact between GON officials and freight agents/importers during customs clearing.

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Labeling Requirements:

A. General Requirements

NAFDAC regulations require food labeling to be informative and accurate and not fraudulent or misleading.
The following is the outline of NAFDAC‟s minimum labeling requirements:

  • A product's brand name or common name must appear in bold letters.
  • 2. Name and full "location" address of the manufacturer showing country of origin must be provided on the product label.
  • 3. The production "batch" or "lot" number, date of manufacture and best before/expiry date.
  • 4. Net content, specifying essential ingredients in metric weight for solids and metric volume for liquids.
  • 5. Ingredients must be listed by their common names in order of their prominence by weight.
  • 6. Food additives and colors must be declared on the label. Spices, flavors and colors may be listed as such, without naming the specific material, but any artificial color or flavor should be identified as such.
  • 7. NAFDAC registration number must be included on the product label.
  • Labeling should be in English. If it is in another language, an English translation must be shown on the label or package insert (where applicable).
  • If the standard U.S. label addresses the above-mentioned items, no additional labeling is necessary for imports of U.S. food items.
  • Stick-on labels meeting NAFDAC requirements are permitted provided they don‟t remove easily. Foreign labels must be adhered prior to the product arrival at the Nigerian port of entry.
  • Foreign label must be applied prior to export
  • For production and expiry dates, Nigerians write the date before the month. U.S. exporters are advised to specify the month in words (July 1, 2005 or indicate mm/dd/yr) to avoid conflicts that may arise in mistaking the day for the month.
  • NAFDAC regulation stipulates that all food products should carry best-before dates and/or shelf life on their packaging. The regulation states that the expiry date should be "at least half the shelf life as at time of inspection." The last sentence is interpreted to mean that at the time of inspection (by NAFDAC after clearing Customs), that the period from the inspection date until the expiration date should be equal to or greater than half of the total shelf life of the product (date of production until expiry).
  • NAFDAC does not grant exceptions to labeling requirements

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Packaging and Container Regulations:

At present, NAFDAC regulations are not specific on packaging, but the agency is in the process of developing regulations on packaging. No specific waste disposal laws or product recycling regulations impact imported food products and NAFDAC does not impose any specific restrictions on packaging materials. However, plastics must be of food grade and should not leach into the product.

Nigerian importers, however, often express a marked packaging preference for certain high value food products (HVP), namely:

--Relatively small sized products prepared and packaged for one-time use.

--Products that can be shipped in bulk and re-packaged locally.

--Perishable food products that undergo processing/packaging treatment to achieve an extended shelf life without refrigeration.

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Other Regulations and Requirements:

A. General

The manufacturer shall make an application for the registration of processed food.

In case of a manufacturer outside Nigeria, such shall be represented in Nigeria by a duly registered Nigerian company with facilities to effect a recall of the product when necessary. Note that the representative will be responsible for ensuring that the health competent authority in the country is informed of any serious hazard newly associated with a product.

Importers of food products must first submit an application on a prescribed form to the Directorate of Registration and Regulatory Affairs, NAFDAC, stating the name of the manufacturer, name (brand name where applicable) of the product. This form, labeled "FORM D-REG/001" is available online at NAFDAC‟s website for download.
A separate application form shall be submitted for each regulated product.

The following are documentation for registration and renewal of permit for imported food products:

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

NAFDAC registration process involves documentation, inspection of manufacturing facilities, review of the GMP inspection report, laboratory analysis for assessment of food safety and quality, vetting of labels to confirm compliance with NAFDAC's labeling regulations. The process also involves advertisement (optional) control to ensure that it is not deceitful, fraudulent or misleading. These activities culminate in the issuance of a NAFDAC Registration Number, which is an attestation of product quality and safety. The process of registration now involves GMP audit visits by inspectors of the agency to factory locations in the respective countries of origin. The registration of any food product with NAFDAC is a detailed process and could take between 1-3 months from the date samples are submitted for laboratory tests to be completed. U.S. manufacturers/exporters wishing to sell their food products in Nigeria also should be aware of relevant requirements and regulations of the Nigerian Customs Service mentioned in section IX of this report. A successful application will be issued a certificate of registration with a validity period of five years.

B. Guidelines for Agents of Foreign Manufacturers

Agents of foreign manufacturers are to take the necessary steps to ensure that regulated products intended for the Nigerian market are registered before consignments of such products are imported into the country. The NAFDAC will normally authorize the importation of small quantities of unregistered products for the purpose of submission as samples for registration.   A written authorization specifying the quantity of the unregistered products to be imported can be obtained from the Registration and Regulatory Affairs Directorate of NAFDAC at the Central Laboratory Complex, Oshodi, Lagos, PMB 12949-12525, GPO Marina, Lagos. On arrival of the imported samples and presentation of the authorization to the NAFDAC inspectors at the ports, the consignment will be treated the same way as other normal imported consignments. Before the consignment is therefore cleared from the ports, the importer is required to present the following: -

  • Authorization to import samples of the unregistered product.
  • Bank draft for the prescribed port inspection fees payable to NAFDAC.
  • Properly completed Customs Bill of Entry
  • Certificate of Analysis of the product issued by the manufacturer.
  • Certificate of Manufacture and Free Sale issued by a Government Authority empowered by law in the country of origin to exercise regulatory control over the product authenticated by the Nigerian Embassy in the USA.
  • Power of Attorney, notarized, issued by the manufacturer to the Nigerian local agent.

In the event of any violation, the consignment of the unregistered product would be cleared from the ports to a bonded warehouse at the expense of the importer. Thereafter, the importer is prosecuted and the products forfeited to the Government together with any assets or property obtained or derived directly or indirectly from the commission of the offence.

C. Registration Fees

The initial fee for registering each product is 750,000 naira (about $5,800). The license is renewable every five years. The renewal fee is 450,000 naira per product. Additionally, NAFDAC requires and additional payment of port inspection and clearance fees of 90,000 Naira for each container.

No applicant will be allowed to register a food product in more than one name.

Where different flavors of the same food are produced, each flavor will have to be registered separately.

Major supermarket operators or importers can import mixed container loads of high value products (HVP) under NAFDAC‟s global listing for supermarket items (GLSI). Items allowed under the GLSI include those regulated by NAFDAC sold in supermarkets and other specialties required by hotels, fast food chains and international organizations (excluding registered items). Firms participating in the program must have supermarkets that are certified by NAFDAC and are routinely inspected by the agency.

[Exchange rate:  US$1 = 150 Naira]

All fees for processing and registration have to be paid in 'bank draft' payable in favor of the "National Agency for food and Drug Administration and Control plus five percent value added tax for each transaction.

In addition to the fees, normal port handling charges are assessed. Products imported under the GLSI must meet the labeling and other requirements listed in sections II and VI. For products imported under GLSI, a representative sample is subject to laboratory tests.

D. Prepackaged Food Products

The following guidelines govern the sale of prepackaged food products in Nigeria:

-No person may sell a prepackaged food unless a label has been affixed thereto.

-A prepackaged food label must not be presented in a manner, which is false, deceptive or likely to create  
  an erroneous impression regarding its character, quality, quantity and origin.

-A complete list of ingredients used in preparing the food item will be declared on the label in a  
  descending order of their proportion. A date of minimum durability must be identified on the label along  
  with any special storage conditions.

-Prepackaged food items that are treated with ionizing radiation must be so declared and the nature of the
  ionizing radiation will be stated on the label.

-NAFDAC officials routinely visit depots, markets and retail outlets to confirm that all imported food  
  products are in compliance with local regulations.

NAFDAC may prohibit the importation, distribution, sale or use of any prepackaged food item, temporarily or permanently as well as impose administrative fines against any product failing to comply with the above regulations.

E.  Advertisement Requirements

NAFDAC must approve all advertisement/promotional materials prior to utilization.
Advertised food products must demonstrate to the GON that the products are legally registered with NAFDAC.

An application for advertisement must be submitted to NAFDAC for its approval. This approval process is in addition to the Certificate of Registration issued by NAFDAC, which authorizes importation and sale in Nigeria.

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Copyright and/or Trademark Laws:

Nigeria is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a signatory to the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) and other major International Agreements on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Despite active participation in international conventions and an apparent interest in IPR issues, GON efforts are largely ineffectual in curtailing widespread copyright violations.

The Trade Marks Registry of the Federal Ministry of Commerce is responsible for issuing patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Once conferred, a patent conveys the exclusive right to make, import, sell, use a product, or to apply a patented process.

The Trademarks Act of 1965 governs the registration of trademarks. Registering a trademark grants the holder the exclusive right to use the registered mark for a specific product or class of products.

Statutes, which govern IPRs in Nigeria, include the Copyright Act of 1988 (amended in 1992). The copyright decree of 1988, which is based on WIPO standards and U.S. copyright law, makes counterfeiting, exporting, importing, reproducing, exhibiting, performing, or selling any work without the permission of the copyright owner a criminal offense. Enforcement of the 1988 law is not common. The expense and time required to pursue a copyright infringement case through the Nigerian judicial system often deters prosecution of such cases.

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Import Procedures:

A. Inspection
Effective January 1, 2006, the GON commenced the implementation of Destination Inspection (DI) to replace Pre-shipment shipment Inspection (PSI). Under the new scheme, goods destined for Nigeria’s ports are inspected at the point of entry rather than at the point of shipment, which was hitherto the practice. The scheme will be carried out by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), while three firms that will act as Destination Inspection Service Providers, will provide scanning services at ports of entry. For details of the operational guidelines for the new inspection scheme, including import procedures, import duty payment procedures, documentation requirements and processes, refer to GAIN Report NI7005.

Nigeria’s ports continue to present major obstacle to trade. Clearances may require the approval of NAFDAC, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency and a number of other agencies stationed at Nigerian ports. Importers face inordinately long clearance procedures, high berthing and unloading charges and corruption. It is hoped that the recent adoption of the Automated System of Custom Data (ASYCCUDA+++) with the assistance of UNCTAD will ultimately streamline the operations of the Nigeria Custom Service.

As part of its commercialization program, the GON has embarked upon port concession. Under this program, the GON owns the port while private sector operators would provide some port operations. The GON adopted this policy because of such perceived advantages as; increased efficiency, increased return on assets and smoother operations.

B. Documentation

  1. Any person intending to import physical goods into Nigeria shall in the first instance process Form “M‟ through any authorized dealer bank irrespective of the value and whether or not payment is involved.
  2. Supporting documents shall be clearly marked “VALID FOR Foreign Exchange (FOREX) / NOT VALID FOR FOREX‟ as appropriate i.e. depending on whether or not foreign exchange remittance would be involved.  The validity period of Form ‟M‟ for plants and machineries shall be for a period of one year.
  3. All applications for goods subject to Destination Inspection shall carry the “BA” code; while those on exemption shall indicate “CB” in the prefix of the numbering system of the Form “M‟. Exemption shall be as approved by the Honorable Minister of Finance prior to completion of Form “M‟.
  4. The Form “M‟ and relevant pro-forma invoice shall carry a proper description of the goods to be imported to facilitate price verification viz.
    1. Generic product name, i.e. product type, category
    2. Mark or brand name of the product where applicable.
    3. Model name and or model or reference number where applicable.
    4. Description of the quality, grade, specification, capacity, size performance etc.
    5. Quantity and packaging and or packing.
  5. Documents in respect of each import transaction shall carry the name of the product, country of origin, specifications, date of manufacture, batch or lot number, Standards to which the goods have been produced (e.g. Nigeria Industrial Standards-NIS, British Standards PD, ISO, IES, DIN (etc).
  6. Where import items such as food, drinks, cosmetics, drugs, medical devices, chemicals etc., are regulated for health or environmental reasons, they shall carry EXPIRY dates or the shelf life and specify the active ingredients, where applicable.

C. Import Documentation Procedures


  • Prepares Form ‘M’ with the Bank
  • Bank bids for FOREX with the Commercial Bank of Nigeria
  • Opens a letter of Credit


  • Submits invoice/combined certificate of value & origin
  • Bill of lading to a Notary Public for attestation
  • Negotiates a letter of Credit
  • Transmits document to the Nigerian Bank


  • Pays Import duty
  • Collects Approval  of appropriate Customs’ Port Inspection Reports
  • Port clearance with Customs Service, NAFDAC

D. Duty

The importer's bank issues a certified check to the Federal Government's Import Duty account for payment of the import tariff. This payment must be completed before the original IDR and other necessary shipping documents are released by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to the importer who may now initiate the process of clearing his goods. This could be accomplished during transport time.

In January 2006, Nigeria began a partial implementation of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET). The GON reduced its tariff bands from twenty to five. The five tariff bands are a zero duty on capital goods, machinery, and medicines such as anti-retroviral drugs and other medicines not produced in the country; 5% duty on imported raw materials; 10% duty on intermediate goods; 20% duty on finished goods; and 50% duty on goods in industries that the GON wants to protect. All HVP imports are assessed a 5 percent Value Added Tax, a port surcharge equivalent to 7 percent of the duty amount and a Customs inspection service charge equal to 1 percent of the duty amount. The GON frequently reviews its list of items prohibited for imports. Exporters to Nigeria should ascertain the import status of their products before shipment.

E. Method of Payment

It is advised that confirmed, irrevocable letters of credit opened by Nigerian banks with correspondent banks in the United States be used to guarantee payment. U.S. exporters may wish to contact the Agricultural Affairs Office of USDA in Lagos for assistance in locating reputable representatives and/or importers for their products.

*U.S. Exporters are encouraged to contact and work with the USDA’s FAS office in Lagos, Nigeria for assistance with Nigerian importers and importation documents and requirements.

Contact and Further Information

National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC)
Plot 204, Olusegun Obasanjo Way
Wuse Zone 7
Telephone: (234) 9 234-6383, 234-6405-6
Fax: (234) 9 269-5163, 234-8382

Nigeria Customs Service
Customs Headquarters
3-7, Abidjan Street off
Sultan Abubakar Way 3
Garki-Abuja, Nigeria
Tel: (234) 9 523-6394, 253-4680
Fax: (234) 9 523-6394, 523-4690

USDA Agricultural Affairs Office
American Consulate
2, Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos-Nigeria
Telephone: (234) 1 460-3400, 775-0830
Website :

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Page last reviewed/updated: 09/04/2012