Clearing vehicles through Nigerian ports can be a tedious feat. From illegal fees to long processing times, there are a lot of things you’d have to watch out for when clearing your car from a Nigerian port. There are hundreds of thousands of vehicles being imported into the country every year, however, that doesn’t mean the billion-dollar industry is the easiest. You will have to be ready to deal with the inefficiency in the system, high handedness of officials, and many other problems.
Due to these factors, it is recommended that you know the steps, associated fees, and what to expect when clearing a car in the port in Nigeria.
How to Clear a Car from a Nigerian Port
- Acquire the bill of lading
The bill of lading is a document that will be sent to you by your foreign shipping agent. The document will be given by the shipping company or cargo carrier in form of a receipt to acknowledge that the requested vehicle is on board their ship. The bill of lading contains all the information of the vehicle in including the vehicle name, brand and model, weight, VIN, year of manufacture, and so on.
This document could be sent to you via courier services such as DHL and FedEx or via email if you want to do “Print at Destination” in which a copy of the bill will be printed here in Nigeria. Keep in mind that you need this document to claim the vehicle.
- Obtain an import duty valuation
You will be required to apply for an import duty valuation through credited and reliable clearing agencies. This is one of the riskiest parts of the clearing process as the clearing agency could determine if the next steps will be smooth or tedious. Ensure you go for an agency that is registered and licensed to carry out customer clearing activities.
The clearing agency will send an application on the letterhead of their company with a copy of the bill of lading attached to it. This will be addressed to the Nigeria Custom Office. In response to the application letter, the value of the car will be evaluated in dollars. This is used to calculate the surface duty which is 35% for used cars and 70% for new cars. Take note that this fee excludes tax, terminal, and shipping charges.
- Enter the valuation into the custom server
Once the valuation is received from the custom command, the details will have to be entered into the custom server. This is referred to as “Direct Trader Input (DTI) or as it is popularly called “punching.
This action can only be done through the same registered agency whose letterhead paper was used to for the valuation of the vehicle. The Tax Identification Number of the consignee will be required at this stage.
When completed, print the DTI or Assessment Notice and the Single Goods Declaration Form (SGD). The SGD gives the description of the transaction as well as the type of vehicle and the content of the car.
- Pay import duty
To pay the import duty, check the bank that was stated while punching. You should take the assessment notice with you as this will be required by the bank for import duty payment. Once the payment is made, the bank will issue a bank receipt. You can also make the payment online but you will have to pick the evidence of payment from the bank.
- Physical inspection and releasing from the customs
Take all your documents and submit them to the customs office. The submitted documents should include the bank receipt, SGB, assessment notice, valuation copy, and bill of lading. When submitted, the documents will be registered and a date for the physical examination of the vehicle will be scheduled. This will enable the customs to confirm that the information on the documents tallies with the description of the car. They will confirm the make, year, and VIN/chassis of the car. They will also check and confirm the amount paid for duty. After this, they will submit a report to the releasing office.
- Print exit at the shipping company
Once released, provide the shipping company with the SGD to print exit copy.
- Release at the shipping company
You will need to submit all your documents to have the car released. This includes the signed original bill of lading, exit copy, SGD, and signed copy of the consignee’s identity (e.g International Passport, Drivers License, or National ID). You might need to provide the custom document that permits clearing agencies to operate, also known as Form C30. This alongside an authority letter from the agency whose details were used to apply for valuation should be provided. These documents will be checked and you will be required to pay for shipping and terminal charges.
- Sign gate at customer office
Another simple step. Register and sign at the gate office. You will have to provide the custom release document and the exit copy from the shipping company. They will check and verify that duty was paid, after which the document will be stamped and signed.
- Collect TDO (Terminal Delivery Order)
You will have to provide the shipping company’s payment receipt and a copy of the signed ate document to collect the TDO.
- The vehicle will be delivered to the floor
Documents can be submitted so the vehicle will be delivered to the open floor and read to cross the final gate.
- Final customer check
On the floor, a shipping company official and a customs office will perform their final checks before the car drives out of the port. You might also have to pay some fees to the customs officers on duty, clearing agent’s association, and any other extra fees charged by associations in the area.
The process is quite tedious and could significantly raise the cost of purchasing a car. You might want to consider buying right from car dealers rather than going all the way to import one yourself.