Nigeria needs to export more goods to boost its economy. From October to December 2020, Nigeria recorded its first trade deficit since 2016 when the total value of imports exceeded the total value of exports by ₦7.37 trillion. Since then, Nigeria’s negative trade balance has remained, and the trade deficit for the first quarter of 2022 only improved due to rising oil prices.

Economically, the trade deficit means that Nigeria is losing jobs and money across sectors including agriculture, beverages, polypropylene, bags, tobacco, cement, toiletries, cosmetics industries, and many others. However, to improve our trade deficit, exporters must also be aware of the importance of export documentation procedures.

Required Documentations For Exporting Goods From Nigeria 

These are the formal documents that are required at different stages of the export process:

1. Exporter’s Certificate

The Exporter’s Certificate is the primary document an exporter needs to begin formal exportation business in Nigeria. The Exporter’s Certificate is issued by the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and it allows an exporter to be recognised by the NEPC. Once this is done, an exporter can begin to enjoy the benefits that are offered by the NEPC, including access to export development funds and grants.

To obtain an Exporter Certificate, an exporter will have to visit the NEPC e-registration portal. Other additional benefits that come with registering with the NEPC as an exporter includes access to export incentives, invitation to export capacity-building programmes like trainings, seminars and workshops, access to collaborations and networks with other exporters as facilitated by the NEPC, trade linkages with other exporters across the exportation value-chain amongst many others.

What are the guidelines and procedures to obtain the exporter’s certificate?

There are different documentation and registration processes that are required for different business entities that seek to export goods out of Nigeria.

For a Limited Liability Company registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (2020), the documents that will be presented to the NEPC include the Certificate of Incorporation as issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC); the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Memorandum and Articles of Association; and the current Certified True Copy (CTC) of Form CAC 1.1 – “Section C” which contains the “Particulars of Directors” of a company.

For a Co-operative Society that wants to export goods out of Nigeria, the documents they need to present to the NEPC so as to obtain the Exporter’s Certificate include: the Certificate of Registration (issued by the State Ministry of Commerce, Local Governments, and Federal Capital Territory Area Councils); and the Bye-Laws of the Co-operative Society.

2. Export Contract Document

An Export Contract is a formal agreement between a buyer and a seller spelling out the entire terms of the export agreement.

You will need an export contract document whenever you want to export goods to a buyer in another country. The document has to be issued by you (the exporter) and the importer, and it has to be counter-signed by both parties.

The relevance of the Export Contract is that it describes the obligations of the exporter (seller) and importer (buyer) in the export arrangement, and you can present the document as evidence of the export agreement, including using it for other important things like obtaining an export facility.

3. Quality Assurance Documents

Quality Assurance Documents help exporters to ensure that the goods they are seeking to export conform to safety and/or phytosanitary measures as stated by international conventions and possibly terms agreed under the Export Contract. 

Some of the relevant Quality Assurance Documents that are needed for exporting goods out of Nigeria include:

a) Phytosanitary Certificate for Agricultural Commodities – issued by the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS);

b) Health Certificate for Processed and Semi-Processed Food Items – issued by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC);

c) International Veterinary Certificate for Animals and Animal Products – issued by the Department for Veterinary and Pest Control Services); and

d) Fumigation Certificate for Agricultural Commodities – issued by the Federal Produce Inspectiion Service, part of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment).

Without these documents, an exporter cannot meet the import safety conditions that have been imposed by international conventions, agreements, and even the exporter’s agreement. For more on quality assurance and quality competence authorities, visit the NEPC website here.

4. Commercial Documents 

Commercial export documents display product value and quantities. The commercial documents are prepared and issued by the exporter, and they include:

a) Proforma Invoice – This is an offer by the exporter to sell certain goods at a certain price under clearly stated terms in a formal manner;

b) Commercial invoice – This is a document by the exporter indicating the value of goods for export in the currency of the transaction;

c) Packing list – This is a document indicating the unit of each package and the total quantity of goods intended for exports. 

5. Financial Documents

Financial documents show evidence of financial transactions between buyers and sellers. Financial documents also show conformity with the various financial regulations for exports.

Some of the financial documents needed for exports include: Nigeria Export Proceed Form (NXP) – issued by commercial banks; Commercial Invoice – issued by exporters; Final Invoice – issued by exporters.

These documents formalise the export process, and some documents like the Nigeria Export Proceed Form are major prerequisites for accessing export incentives like the Export Expansion Grant.

6. Goods Movement Documents

The Goods Movement Documents ensure that goods are delivered by the exporter to the importer (buyer) in the ways they have been specified in the export contract.

Some of the documents issued include: a Clean Certificate of Inspection (CCI); Certificate of Weight and Quality; Certificate of Origin; Bill of Lading; Air Way Bill and Road Transport Bill.

These documents are issued by government-appointed Pre-Shipment Inspection Agencies (PIAs), independent quality assessors like Bureau Veritas, National Association of Chambers of Commerce, shipping agencies, airline operators, logistics companies, and many other agencies and companies within the export value-chain, so as to ascertain quantity, quality, origin and details of goods.


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Doyinsola Olagunju

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