Akin Sanda & Co. Legal Practitioners

Doing Business in Nigeria – Trade and Business Regulatory Tips for Foreign Investors.

Are you considering expanding your business to Nigeria? With its vibrant market and ample opportunities, Nigeria holds great potential for businesses seeking growth. However, to ensure your success, it’s crucial to understand and comply with the country’s trade and commercial legislation. In this blog post, we will provide you with an overview of the essential regulatory requirements for doing business in Nigeria. These tips will help you to navigate the Nigerian market and maximize your objectives.

  1.     Obtain the Necessary Permits and Licenses:

Before operating your business in Nigeria, it is imperative to obtain the required permits and licenses. Compliance with regulations is essential for various aspects, including import/export activities, intellectual property protection, and foreign ownership restrictions. It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific permits and licenses applicable to your industry and ensure timely acquisition. This step will help you operate legally and avoid any potential penalties or disruptions to your business operations.

There is a suite of foreign investment approvals required by the Nigerian regulatory bodies before foreign businesses can commence business operations in Nigeria. Depending on the nature of the business operations, permits and licenses may be required from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Standards Organization of Nigeria, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, etc. 

These permits and licenses may relate to activities such as capital importation, import and export, manufacturing, financial services, mergers and acquisitions, technology, telecommunications, and other sectors. 

  1.     Register with Nigeria’s Tax Authorities:

Compliance with tax laws and regulations is a fundamental requirement for doing business

in Nigeria. The Federal Inland Revenue Services and their state counterparts are saddled with the administration of Companies Income Tax and Personal Income taxes in Nigeria respectively. The other types of taxes applicable to companies include VAT, Withholding Tax and others. It is important to ensure that your business is properly registered with the Nigerian Tax Authorities and fulfill your tax obligations applicable to your business sector. By adhering to tax regulations, you demonstrate your commitment to operating ethically and responsibly in the Nigerian market.

Bilateral Tax Treaties: It is also important to confirm whether your home government has any bilateral tax treaties with Nigeria. Nigeria has signed several bilateral tax treaties with other countries to prevent double taxation and promote economic cooperation. These treaties provide guidelines for the taxation of income earned by foreign businesses and individuals operating in Nigeria. Understanding the relevant tax treaties can help you to optimize your tax obligations and avoid any tax-related disputes.

  1.     Understanding Nigeria’s Currency Regulations:

As the official currency of Nigeria, the Nigerian naira (NGN) is the primary medium of exchange for business transactions. It is essential to understand and comply with currency regulations. Foreign businesses are required to import their capital into Nigeria only through an authorized bank through an application for a certificate of capital importation. Compliance with the currency-related regulations is important to ensure smooth financial transactions and also to avoid potential legal complications.

Import and Export Prohibition List: Nigeria maintains a list of prohibited and restricted goods for import and export. It is necessary to familiarize yourself with this list to ensure compliance with import and export regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in customs issues, delays, and potential financial and legal penalties. It is advisable to engage with legal professionals for guidance on the import and export procedures and the implications of any non-compliance.

  1.     Comply with Nigeria’s Labour Laws:

Creating a fair and productive work environment is crucial to the success of any business. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the Nigerian labor laws to ensure that your business adheres to regulations related to employee rights, minimum wage laws, and other labor standards. Complying with these laws not only protects the rights of your employees but also strengthens your reputation as a responsible employer. A happy and motivated workforce is a key asset for the long-term success of the business.

Expatriate Quota: If the foreign business requires the employment of foreign nationals, it is important to be familiar with the expatriate quota system. The Nigerian Immigration Service regulates the employment of expatriates in Nigeria. Obtaining an expatriate quota allows businesses to legally employ and sponsor foreign workers into the local company. Compliance with the expatriate quota requirements is essential to avoid any legal issues related to the employment of foreign staff.

  1.     Company Incorporation in Nigeria.

Understanding the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 is essential when establishing and operating a business in Nigeria. CAMA 2020 provides that all foreign

businesses interested in operating in Nigeria must register their companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), which is responsible for the administration of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).  The registration process involves the completion and submission of various incorporation documents, including the company’s memorandum and articles of association, and the payment of registration fees.

Depending on your business needs, the most common business vehicle used by foreign businesses in Nigeria is the Private Limited Liability Company (LTD). Understanding the process relevant to the business sector you wish to operate, and complying with the legal requirements ensures a smooth and legally recognized operation. Here are some key aspects to consider when incorporating a company in Nigeria:

–        Company Name Reservation: Select two proposed unique and appropriate names for your company, ensuring it complies with the guidelines set by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

–       Company share capital

–       Particulars of Shareholders and Directors- full names, addresses, and contact information and the share allotment structure

–       Memorandum and Articles of Association- company’s objectives, structure, and rules governing its operations.

–       Registered Address: official contact address of the company in Nigeria

–       Particulars of the Company Secretary appointed to handle administrative and compliance matters.

–       Filing of the Incorporation Documents: The necessary documents are submitted to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for registration after the payment of the filing fees and stamp duty. Thereafter, the Certificate of Incorporation once it has been approved by the Commission.


Doing business in Nigeria requires a thorough understanding of the country’s trade and business regulatory framework. By obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, registering with tax authorities, understanding currency regulations, and complying with business incorporation, operations, labor and all other relevant laws and regulations, foreign businesses can effectively navigate the Nigerian market successfully. It is important to stay informed about the evolving regulatory landscape by seeking legal counsel who possess a solid understanding of the regulations which helps your business to seize the great opportunities offered by Nigeria’s vibrant market.

Are you ready to expand your business to Nigeria? Equip yourself with the knowledge and resources needed to navigate the regulatory landscape effectively. Book a free 30-minute consultation with our experienced legal team to receive tailored guidance and support about how to protect your investment and enhance your business opportunities in Nigeria.

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