HOW TO: Standard Import Clearance Process in Nigeria Air and Sea Ports- Customs Area

NOTE 1: Any person intending to import physical goods into Nigeria shall in the first instance process e-Form ‘M’ through any authorized dealer bank irrespective of the value and whether or not payment is involved.

Having obtained your final shipping document, including PAAR from your authorized dealer’s Bank, Importer is expected to hand over all shipping documents and PAAR to the clearing agent who among his (clearing agent) obligations shall be able to carry out standard import clearance through customs from Nigeria air & sea Ports and or from other customs bonded warehouses as stated below;

1. Clearing agent captures Single Goods Declaration (SGD) using Direct Trade Input (DTI) from his own computer or DTI Café.

2. Clearing agent self-assesses the SGD from DTI Café and print out the assessment notice.

3. After the assessment has been done, an electronic message is transmitted to the relevant commercial Bank specifying amount to be paid for Customs duties.

4. Clearing agent then proceeds to bank to pay the exact amount specified on the assessment notice and do other customs formalities.

5. Upon the completion of Customs clearing formalities, the Importer/ Clearing agent will request for the release of his consignment from his own computer system or DTI Café.

6. The Clearing agent then presents his SGD to the Customs Processing Center (CPC) at relevant Customs Area Command for Custom control and release of Consignment.
Note: The Nigeria Customs Service has introduced another automation clearance platform known as  Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System  (NICIS ) which has now replaced PAAR. The Customs broker is expected to get familiar with this new automation process. 


Releasing / endorsing through other government agencies.
This is the most tasking technical areas in the clearing process;

(a) Examination booking and examination proper
(b) Signing and securing releasing Stamps / signatures from different customs units e.g., CIU, Enforcement, Customs Gate control etc.
(c) Signing of examination Form by Government agencies in the Port; e.g. Police, SSS, Anti-drugs, Anti-Bomb, NAFDAC, SON, and others.

NOTE: TIN number of Consignee (Company name OR personal name) is needed to take any step, including the very first step.

PAAR Processing period: 2-5days if there are no issues from bank or customs.
NOTE: Consignee / Receiver can handle PAAR processing or assign Freight Broker to help process one. 

Standard Import Clearance Process in Nigeria Air and Sea Ports- General / Ordinary;
Apart from getting your cargo cleared through Nigeria Customs, there are other port operators including handlers and other government agencies. Check list of Government agencies in Nigeria Ports…

Handlers in Nigeria Sea port includes;
Terminal Operators also have their charges / fees. Charges and fees from these operators vary and depend on equipment used in handling your shipment and numbers of days your shipment takes to scale through customs clearance.


Shipping Company- Another major stakeholder in Nigeria Seaport.
Shipping companies have their charges too and fee will depend on the shipping company that transports your cargo from cargo origin to Nigeria. There are multinational and Indigenous shipping companies operating in Nigeria.

NOTE: charges from the mentioned operators above are for consignee account. You can get the final debit notes from these operators through the assistance of your employed broker / agent.

Issuance and Payment of Debit Notes by Handler and Port operator:
Clearing vendor / agent will obtain shipping charges (invoice or debit note) from the Liner agent, also known as shipping company that convey your cargo from country of origin. The debit notes are obtained by presenting Bill of Lading. Examples of these companies; Zim line, known in Nigeria as Lagos & Niger Shipping Line, Maersk Line, MSC, Comet, UASC, Grimaldi Lines etc….

In like manner ,Clearing vendor will also proceed to the terminal operator’s office to obtain a debit note or terminal charges. Terminal operators came to being during former President Obasanjo’s privatization regime. Among other things, they are to secure the container and provide handling equipment required to shift, move, load and position containers for customs examination or scanning process within the Sea port.

Payment of both terminal and shipping companies debit notes must be done in their designated banks.

 In some terminals, the terminal charges must be paid before examination could take place.
Once payment is made to shipping company and cargo is released by the shipping company, Delivery Order (DO) will be issued.

This is where all the documents are compiled (shipping company D.O, and other supporting papers, with customs release documents. All these documents will be required by the terminal operator for Exit note and Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) is issued by the terminal operator and cargo is released ready for truck out to the Final Gate.

Final Clearing step: The truck proceeds to final Gate and wait for another round of documentation by the customs, e.g. confirmation of duty payment, endorsement and multiple registrations of documents. Finally, truck which convenes the container (s) should be on the way out of the Sea port. Request for Clearing Quote

FINAL NOTE: Certain cargoes do not require Form M e.g., personal effects & Vehicles less than 15yrs of age.

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