How to clear your car at any Nigerian port


Clearing vehicles through Nigerian ports can be scary! The system can sometimes impose illegal fees if you’re not careful. See the steps that you need to know to clear your vehicles.

Nigeria’s economy is import driven and it applies to virtually all industry including the automobile industry. Nigeria imports averagely, 200 thousand vehicles with 50 thousand brand new and 150 thousand fairly used cars each year. The bureau of statistics records the number of cars shipped into the country at 181,404 in 2017 alone. As at the third quarter of 2018, the bureau of statistics says a total of 1,216,131 vehicles were shipped to Nigeria, over a period of six years (2012-2017).

It is needless to say that vehicle importation in Nigeria is a multi-billion dollar industry, with over $8 billion spent each year – according to the Bureau of statistics, to import these cars. It is also a known fact, that clearing a car through Nigerian ports is not as easy as found in other climes, with so much inefficiency in the system, high handedness of officials, and scammers all around.

It is therefore a wise and smart thing to know the steps, and the associated fees attached to clearing a car at the ports in Nigeria. delivers to you all the steps needed to clear car at any Nigerian port.

The increase in the import duty on cars is a cause of worry to car dealers and buyers alike

1. Obtain the bill of lading

This bill is a document given by the shipping company or cargo carrier in form of receipt acknowledging that the cargo – in this case a vehicle, to be shipped by them is on board their ship. This document is paramount as you cannot claim any cargo, container or shipment at the port without this document. It is given to your shipping agent at the port of origin and presented by you at the port of discharge. It is sent to you by your shipping agent through courier services like UPS and DHL, or it can mailed to you which then can be printed here for presentation.

A typical Bill of Lading (BoL) contains such information as vehicle name, brand and model, year of manufacture, its weight, VIN and so on.


A copy of a bill of lading issued by Grimaldi - Nothing can be done without this!

This information helps identify the vehicle for clearing. It also contains the name of the shipper and consignee to receive the vehicle – that should be you!

2. Get an import duty valuation

This is where a clearing agent comes in. Naijacarnews advice that you deal with registered clearing agents. This agent must be registered and licensed to carry out custom clearing activities and it is this clearing agent that the application is written using the agencies letter head. This application is addressed to the Nigerian Custom Command of the particular port being used to clear the vehicle, with a copy of the BoL attached and physically submitted.

The value of the car is calculated in dollars by customs, and prorated to get the surface duty. This duty is 35% for used vehicles and 70% for new vehicles. However, this fee is excluding tax and other charges like terminal and shipping charges.

3. Compute the valuation into Customs Service systems

This is a process commonly called “punching” but correctly known as Direct Trade Input (DTI). It involves entering the details of the valuation previously calculated into the server of the Nigerian Customs Service. This service is carried out through the same clearing agency that submitted the valuation application on your behalf. Other document required to complete this stage is the Tax Identification Number (TIN) of the consignee.

>>> You may want to check: Top 3 shipping agents to help you ship cars from the USA to Nigeria


A custom officer carries out the Direct Trade Inputs (TDI) by entering the valution into the system

A Single Goods Declaration Form (SGDF) is generated and printed as it contains the details of the vehicle to be cleared and its contents if any.

4. Import duty disbursement

A bank name and account is given in the process of keying the valuation details into the systems. This bank details are used to make payment for the valuation earlier calculated. An assessment notice is given to the bank by you in order for the bank to process your payment. A receipt is then given by the bank after perfecting the payment.

Note that the receipt given by the bank is very important regardless of the mode of payment – be it online or physical cash payment, as this is a tenable evidence of payment.

 5. Onsite inspection and release by customs

All documents are to be organised and submitted to the office of Customs Service including; bill of lading, valuation copy, SGDF, assessment notice and bank receipt. On submission of these documents, they are then registered and a date for physical inspection of the vehicle is reserved.


A car inspection to acertain the details in relation to the submitted documents

On the day of examination, the submitted and registered vehicle documents are used to verify the details of the vehicle including, VIN, year of manufacture and the paid duty. However, if there are contents in the vehicle that has not been paid for in the duty, the vehicle will not be released until the right duty has been fully paid. After full payment of duty, a report is submitted to the releasing officer for the release of the vehicle.

6. Print the exit copy from the shipping company

The next step is to make your way to the shipping company in order to print a copy of a document known as the exit copy. This copy is used by the shipping company as part of the document to release the vehicle to you.

7. The release process at the shipping company

A compilation of documents are used by the shipping company for this process. These documents include, Bill of Lading (BoL) duly signed, a copy of the consignee’s ID duly signed, SGD, and exit copy. For a company, a duly signed or stamped certificate of incorporation is accepted in place of an ID. An authority letter from the clearing agency and a copy of Form 30 (an operation permit document for the clearing agency) also needs to be submitted by the clearing agency acting on your behalf.

These are all the necessary documents required by the shipping company to aggregate shipping and terminal fees to be paid by you. These fees can be paid by any of the three methods vis-à-vis POS, online transfer or by cash.

>>> For your reference: Top 10 shipping companies in Nigeria

8. Tender to custom for sign gate at custom office

For this process, the exit copy and the custom release documents are paramount. These documents are used to check the duty paid as registered on the system, after which the documents are stamped and signed off by the OIC if found satisfactory.

9. Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) collection

The receipt issued to you by the shipping company, in conjunction with the signed gate documents are required to process this. Once these has been tendered and deemed satisfactory, the TDO is given to you.

10. Delivery of your vehicle to the floor – finally!

With documentation processes over, the vehicle is then delivered to you on the floor of the customs service for one last check, before it zooms off through the gates of the customs service.


After receiving your vehicle, make sure you check everything carefully

11. One last check – can’t be too much

A last check is done by a custom officer, and an officer of the shipping company before it makes its way through the exit gates.

12. One last fee – truly the last.

Seems these fees don’t end! Not to worry this is the final fees you’ll pay, and it is usually miscellaneous as it goes to clearing agent’s association, omo-onile (corporate touts), custom officer on duty, and so on. The fees here are very small.

Once you are able to take care of all these steps, you are good to go and the vehicle becomes yours. You can now head straight for vehicle registration, which is another kettle of fish entirely.

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Segun Ogunbiyi
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