custom clearance

Crucial Steps to Navigating Custom Clearance in Nigeria

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Obikoya Jeremiah

Is customs clearance just about clearing your goods from customs?

Well, that’s true, but there are procedures you need to follow to achieve this, and you don't want to miss any of these steps, or you end up spending days trying to fix things up while incurring extra storage charges, or worse, you get your consignment detained.

In this article, we cover the procedures you need to follow to clear your goods successfully and every document involved. 

What we call Custom Clearance in Nigeria

For imported or exported goods to enter or leave the country, they must go through customs, which is a government agency responsible for controlling the flow of goods in and out of the

A customs officer inspects the goods and necessary documents, deciding whether the goods
should be cleared or not. This entire process is called Custom Clearance, and to get your goods cleared, you need to prepare for it.

We will discuss each of the steps to successfully clear your goods in detail below, but It's important to emphasize that the guidance of a customs clearing agent is essential throughout this process. Rest assured, our experts at Sara are here to ensure your goods are cleared from customs promptly and efficiently.

Custom Clearance Procedures in Nigeria

Once your goods get to the Nigerian ports, the following steps should be taken with the assistance of a customs agent:

A. Acquisition of the Necessary Documents:

The first step in clearing your goods is to gather all the required custom clearance forms and documents, some of which may have associated costs.
documents for custom clearance
Here are the major documents you need:
  1. SON Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) Certificate,
  2. Form M,
  3. Transport Document (e.g., Bill of Lading (BL)).
  4. Commercial Invoice,
  5. Packing List,
  6. Certificate of Origin,
  7. Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR),
It's important to note that the goods you are importing might need additional documents and our customs agents at Sara Procurement Service can assist you in figuring this out while guiding you through the shipping and clearance process. 

B. Processes at the DTI Cafe:

Once you have all the documents ready, the next thing to do is to let Nigeria Customs know about your imported goods by declaring them on Direct Trader Input (DTI), and this can be done in a DTI cafe. At Sara Procurement Services, we work with a reputable DTI cafe to ensure full compliance for our clients. 

Once this process is done, you will get the Assessment Notice, which is a document that contains the following information:
  1. Duties and Taxes Breakdown, 
  2. Total Amount Due and, 
  3. Payment Instructions. 
The bank from which you got your Form M or PAAR document also gets the Assessment Notification from DTI. All you have to do is head to the bank and make the necessary customs duty payment.

The customs duty payment confirmation will then be issued in the bank, and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will be notified of your tariffs and duties payment. 

After this, you can request the release of your consignment at DTI cafe. Doing this will trigger the next step. 

C. Inspection by the Customs Officer:

As soon as the release request is complete, the customs officers will inspect your goods before releasing them to you. The inspection time may vary from 1-7 days depending on the type of consignment you imported, as other government agencies besides the NCS need to inspect the highly sensitive and regulated goods.
customs inspecting the goods in a container
After each government agency completes the whole inspection process, proceed to the Terminal Operator (T/O) with all shipping and payment documents to get the Exit Note for your shipment. 

D. Consignment Release:

With the exit note received, your consignment can now be released, and you can now move the goods out of the port.
container cleared from the port and transported out on truck
A customs officer at the gate will also confirm this release electronically and notify the importer that the goods have left the port.

How Long does customs clearance take in Nigeria?

It takes us about a week to clear the goods of our clients from the port, but it is important to note that this depends on the type of goods you are shipping.

While we can help you clear some goods within 1 day on arrival, others might span up to 1 week.

Why does custom clearance need more than a day?

The acquisition of the clearance document and the processes at the DTI cafe can be performed in a day, but the major reasons why the clearance processes of some goods span a week or more include:

1. Complexity of Goods:

Goods like chemical products, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and so on are highly specialized and regulated goods.

Before they are released from the port, they have to undergo additional scrutiny and inspection from different government organizations.

This process can take up to 5 days or more. 

2. Compliance Issues:

Having inaccurate or incomplete clearance documentation can result in delays in the clearance process, as customs authorities will require corrections or additional information before releasing the goods.

When you work with us, you can totally avoid these issues. Our customs clearing agents work with you to obtain all the required documents as soon as possible to eliminate all delays.

3. Peak Periods: 

Shipping goods during peak import/export seasons or holidays can also influence the number of days your goods spend in the port before they are cleared. 

There are always higher volumes of shipments during these periods, so customs clearance processes may be slower than normal. At Sara, we have an effective way of managing seasons like this for our clients.

Custom Clearance with Sara Procurement Service 

And there you have it: the procedures to follow to clear your goods and how long you will need to wait before you can get them out of the port.

Sara Procurement Services LTD provides experienced customs clearing agents to help you every step of the way. You can trust our team of experts to deliver your imported goods promptly, ensuring no extra cost is incurred due to delay. 

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Obikoya Jeremiah

Jeremiah Obikoya is a dedicated content writer at SARA, where he engages in daily research and development to craft innovative solutions for the procurement challenges you encounter.


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