One needs no crystal ball to recognize that the entire process of clearing one’s car from the Nigerian port is not an easy exercise. The system is fraught with bureaucracy and the obvious hierarchy of networks that make the procedure a strenuous activity that requires quite a number of skills and knowledge. People tend to shy away from clearing their cars by themselves because of the fear of time wastage without positive results or progress. Most of the time, they leave this process in the hands of clearing agents (custom brokers or custom house agents).

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The agent’s aid in completing and fulfilling custom formalities on behalf or furtherance of the consignee of the package. But an issue arises when the fees posited by these agents become exorbitant to the point of becoming extortionate, and more often than not, people are left with no choice but to pay these ridiculous fees just to get their cars, spending more than initially calculated.

In actuality, clearing agents serve their purpose, but at an exceedingly higher cost for those who can comfortably afford their services and want a hassle-free experience. also, Individuals are not accorded the right to carry out the clearance themselves. This does not necessarily mean they cannot carry out the process, but it cannot be done in totality without the assistance of a licensed clearing agent because they are vested with access to the customs service database. This is where their expertise becomes essential and thus they act as intermediaries for the importers. 

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We have incorporated steps on how vehicles are cleared through the Nigeria customs service for those who want to understand the entire method or procedure or just want a general background and knowledge on how things work and want to initiate the clearance themselves.

We would begin with the basics to discern how the clearance system works. The process of moving products through the customs authorities to make it easier for them to enter or leave the nation is known as customs clearing. Additionally, it is the procedure for getting permission from the appropriate government agencies in order to import or export commodities (export). While the customs clearing procedure is the process of declaring your import or export products to the customs authority together with their value in order to meet all other requirements for clearing the items when they arrive at the port. The government agency which governs the importation of vehicles and other related products is named Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). With this in mind, let us get into the details of the approach.

Obtain A  Bill of Lading For The Vehicle:

Your overseas shipping agent will forward this to you. They can use courier or express services (TNT, DHL, FedEx, etc.).to send the original bill of lading.  Alternatively, if you wish to conduct “Telex Release” or “Print at Destination,” a copy of the bill of lading can be printed here in Nigeria, or you can have it delivered to you through email.

You will be unable to clear your vehicle if you do not have this document. The bill of lading provides information on the car you want to clear, such as the name of the vehicle, year of manufacture, VIN/chassis number, weight, name of the vessel, port of origin, port of discharge, the shipping agency, and other shipping details that are categorized as necessary. 

Request An Import Duty Valuation:

 The application must be sent on the letterhead of a registered and licensed customs clearing agent or business. A copy of the bill of lading will be included in the application letter, which will be sent to the Nigeria Customs office, for example, TINCAN, PTML Command, and other specified documents. Individuals cannot apply for this valuation directly; instead, they must go through a clearance agency. This is where a restriction lies from the allowance of allowing individuals to carry out the clearance by themselves; the longevity of the process becomes discouraging and the services of the clearing agent become necessary. 

The customs authorities will write the dollar value of the car in response to the application letter, which will be submitted physically, and this dollar value will be used to compute surface duty, which is 35%. On brand-new cars, an additional 35% fee is levied, bringing the total to 70%.

An example will be cited. It is assumed the dollar value of a second-hand Toyota Camry is $7,000. When calculating the surface duty, what will be postulated is: 

$7,000 x 35% (import duty rate) X N404.97 (custom official dollar exchange rate as of 2021), The surface duty in this instance will be N992,029 (nine hundred and ninety-two thousand and twenty-nine naira). 

It should also be noted that aside from the surface duty, other customs fees will also be applied, such as tax, shipping fees, terminal duty and other relevant charges. 

Put The Evaluation In The Custom Server:

Following receipt of the valuation from the custom command, the details must be entered into the custom server. Officially, this is known as “Direct Trader Input (DTI).” However, it is commonly known as “punching.” It is a one-of-a-kind procedure for submitting an electronic manifest to the Nigeria Customs Service, and it can only be done through the same registered agency that applied for the valuation on letterhead paper. The consignee’s or importer’s tax identification number will also be required at this point.

When finished, print the DTI, also known as the “Assessment Notice,” and the SGD (Single Goods Declaration Form). The SGD provides information on the transaction, such as the type of vehicle, the terminal where it is located, the duty amount, and the contents of the automobile, if any items are loaded inside.

Pay Import Tax or Duty:

The bank that was specified while “punching” must receive payment of the import duty. The assessment notice is the paperwork required by the bank for the payment of import duties.

A bank receipt will be provided by the bank following the payment. Even while some banks now accept online payments, customers must still visit their branch to pick up the proof of payment that is required. This seems like an outdated bureaucratic process that is in need of change. 

Physical examination and discharge from customs.

Ensure that all specified documents are gathered and ready to be delivered to the customs office. The following papers are required: a bank receipt, an assessment notice, SGD, a copy of the valuation, and a bill of shipment. The documents are registered after submission, and then a time is scheduled for the vehicle’s physical inspection. They will be able to see the car and verify that it matches the provided documentation in relation to what was submitted. 

They would basically authenticate the vehicle’s brand name, model, VIN, or chassis number. They will also confirm whether there is anything else attached or within the vehicle and the amount paid for duty before submitting a report to the releasing officer. If the amount paid at this moment is less than the necessary import duty, for example, the vehicle may not be released.

Exit printing At The Shipping Agency:

After release, you would need to go with the SGD to the shipping company to print the exit copy. The method is the easiest of all of them and probably hassle-free.

Discharge From The Shipping Agency

All documents should be gathered in order to convince the shipping firm to release the car. A signed copy of the consignee’s identity (such as a driver’s license, an international passport, a national ID, or a properly stamped/signed certificate of incorporation for businesses), as well as the original signed bill of lading, SGD, and exit copy, are required papers. A copy of Form C30 (a special document that grants permission for clearing agencies to function) and an authority letter from the agency whose information was utilized to submit the valuation request are also required. All of this documentation will be examined by the shipping agency, which will then validate the necessary payment for terminal duty and shipping. 

Enrol And Attest At The Gate Office:

You must sign up and register, and this must be done at the gate office by the customs service. You will be required to present the printed exit copy from the shipping company and the release document from customs. An officer will validate the payment of duties using the system. Then the document will be stamped and signed by the officer if it is confirmed to be error-free.

Other Stipulations

This would fundamentally include compiling and collecting the Terminal Delivery Order (TDO), the shipping agency payment receipt, as well as the signed gate document, which will be required. When this process has been initiated, the vehicle can be received for delivery at the final exit gate after the relevant documents have been submitted. 

Conclusive Review And Payment

Before allowing the car to be driven out of the port, customs will need to conduct a final inspection, and a second inspection will be conducted by the shipping business. Before you can use that car to travel to your destination, you must pay one last fee to the officer in charge when you reach the last gate. Once you’re done, all requirements have been fulfilled and your vehicle has been cleared through customs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is vehicle clearance difficult in Nigeria?

In particular, for every Nigerian, clearing a vehicle through customs shouldn’t have been a significant problem, but the bureaucracy is at its worst, breaking down into simple routines to complex chores and plenty of difficulties. 

How long does it take to clear a vehicle through Nigeria’s customs service? 

It shouldn’t take more than 24 hours, but it may take days or even weeks before your vehicle is properly cleared and accounted for.

Where can I buy a second-hand car?

You can get both your brand new and second-hand cars at Carmart. We sell according to your needs and lifestyle. You can scroll through our website to see the list of available cars or reach us via our other platforms.

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