|Business Etiquette Tips||Embassy Locations and Registration|
|Employment-Legal Requirements||Entry and Exit Requirements|
|Intellectual Property||Legal and Registration of a Business Entity|
|Safety and Crime||Taxes|
As the most populous country in Africa, consisting of over 250 ethnic groups and more than 150 million people, Nigeria accounts for over half of West Africa's population. It is still in the turbulent restructuring stages of a country that has been plagued for many years by violence, political instability, and government corruption, as well as ethnic and religious tensions. But it is also experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since 1999, and the general elections of April 2007 marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country's history.
Nigeria has also been instrumental in establishing the Economic Community of West African States, whose goal is to synchronize the trade and investment practices for the 15 member countries. The country is working hard to improve its international reputation and improve relations with neighboring countries.
There may be political unrest and/or targeted crime against visitors to the country. Travelers should check with the U.S. State Department Web site for current travel safety information.
|Major Cities||Capital: Abuja
Major cities: Kano, Lagos, Ibadan, and Enugu.
||Nigerian naira (NGN).|
|Time Zone||UTC + 1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time).
||English (official), Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Kanuri, and others.
Legal System and Government
Type of legal system: Nigeria has a complex three-tiered legal system based on English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states), and Nigerian traditional law. It accepts compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction with reservations.
Form of Government
Available Banking Services
Banking in English
New Year's Day
Prophet's Anniversary (Eid Milab Nnabi)
End of Ramadan
Al Wagfa Day
Eid ul Adha-Feast of the Sacrifice
U.S. and Other Major Banks in Country
(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)
Citibank Nigeria Limited
27 Kofo Abayomi Street
Phone: 234 (1) 279 8400 or 234 (1) 463 8400
Nigeria Standard Chartered
Plot 105b, Ajose Adeogun Street
Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria
Phone: 234 (1) 262 6801-5 -2700025
Fax: 234 (1) 262 6814 -3201659
Business dress is conservative for both men and women, and suits and conservative dresses are the preferred form for meetings.
Nigeria is both a hierarchical and social society. Greetings are leisurely and include time for social discussion and exchanging pleasantries. Senior members should be afforded utmost respect.
Formal greetings generally consist of shaking hands between male colleagues. But some women do not shake hands, so it is best to wait for a woman to extend her hand. Individuals generally address one another either by their professional title or last names until a more personal relationship has been established.
Public and Social Behavior
Use of the left hand for shaking or eating is considered unclean. In general, Nigerians are a warm, welcoming society, and they use a lot of body language and hand movements in their communications. If invited to someone's home for dinner understand that if the family is Muslim, men and women will not eat together. Giving a small gift is acceptable, particularly if there are children in the family.
It is recommended to schedule meetings far in advance and reconfirming the date in advance as well as provide an agenda. Promptness is appreciated, but be prepared for your counterparts to be late.
Americans living or traveling in Nigeria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration Web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Nigeria. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
(Note: Addresses and contact information subject to change.)
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Phone: (202) 822-1500
U.S. Embassy in Nigeria
1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central Area, Abuja
Phone: 234-9 461-4176. After hours:  (9) 461-4000
In general, the work week in Nigeria is approximately five to six days per week and can be 35 or more hours, though this can be determined by the employer. By law, all employees are entitled to one full rest day per week. Reasonable overtime is permitted: up to 50 hours a week for no more than a two-month time frame per year.
Upon completion of a three-months probation an employer is obligated to give a worker a written statement or contract specifying the terms of employment, remuneration, any special conditions of the contract, nature of employment, and information regarding method in which the contract can be terminated.
Notwithstanding the above, either party to an employment contract may terminate the contract according to the following term limits of expiration.
For employment of less than three months, only a one-day notice is required. If employment has been continuous for more than three months but less than two years, notice of one week is required. In cases where an employee has been employed for more than two years but less than five years, a two-week notice is required, and for periods of more than five years a one-month notice must be given. All notices of more than one week must be in writing. Where notice is not given, payment in lieu of notice or severance pay is required.
In the event of redundancy or layoff situations the following steps must be adhered to: (a) the employer shall inform the trade union or workers' representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy; (b) the principle of "last in, first out" shall be adopted in the discharge of the particular category of workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit, including skill, ability, and reliability; and (c) the employer shall use his best efforts to negotiate redundancy payments to any workers who are not protected by other regulations.
Legally Mandated Benefits and Leave
|Annual Vacation Leave||6 days (after 1 year of full-time service)|
|Sick Leave||12 days (maximum, medical confirmation required)|
|Maternity Leave||12 weeks (6 weeks prior and 6 weeks following the birth)|
A passport and visa are required. The visa must be obtained in advance from a Nigerian embassy or consulate. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival at the airport. Promises of entry into Nigeria without a visa are credible indicators of fraudulent commercial schemes in which the perpetrators seek to exploit the foreign traveler's illegal presence in Nigeria through threats of extortion or bodily harm. U.S. citizens cannot legally depart Nigeria unless they can prove, by presenting their entry visas, that they entered Nigeria legally. Visit the Embassy of Nigeria Web site for the most current visa information.
To date patenting has been slow to develop in Nigeria, and available records indicate an average of only 20 patents registered in a year. To promote patent culture in Nigeria the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology created the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP). Currently NOTAP assists local inventors in patenting their inventions free of charge at the Patent Registry.
Nigeria also has membership in the following World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties:
- WIPO Convention since April 1995.
- Paris Convention (industrial property) since September 1963.
- Berne Convention (literary and artistic works) since September 1993.
- Patents (PCT), since May 2005.
- Patent Law Treaty (PLT) since April 2005.
- Rome Convention (performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations) member since October 1993.
- Member and signatory to World Trade Organization TRIPS Agreement since January 1995.
For any expatriate investor doing business in Nigeria, a Nigerian limited liability company must be incorporated and approval must have been obtained from appropriate government authorities to establish such a business. Typical forms of business registration are a branch office, a limited liability company, partnership, or a sole proprietorship.
Registration Formalities (Including Timing)
The World Bank lists eight steps in establishing a business presence in Nigeria and a timeframe of approximately one month. There is a one-stop shop supported by the government whose primary function is to streamline the entire process by providing one resource for obtaining all of the necessary business permits and licenses.
The necessary steps listed on the World Bank's site are outlined here:
- Check the availability of company name with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
- Prepare the requisite incorporation documents and pay the stamp duty.
- Notarize the declaration of compliance (CAC 4).
- Register the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission & pay fees at the bank desk at CAC.
- Register with the Federal Board of Inland Revenue Department of the Ministry of Finance for income tax and VAT.
- Register for personal income tax PAYE at the State Tax Office.
- Receive inspection from local government.
- Pay fees at a designated bank.
(Source: The World Bank, Doing Business - Nigeria)
Below is a listing of additional resources that will be of assistance in establishing an office and employing workers in Nigeria.
- Corporate Affairs Commission
- Federal Ministry of Finance
- Lagos Chamber of Commerce
- Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission
The Department of State continues to caution U.S. citizens about the possible dangers of travel to some parts of Nigeria. In light of the risk of kidnapping, crime, militant activity, or armed attacks, there may be restricted travel of U.S. government personnel to the following states to official travel only: Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom in the Niger Delta, and Edo and Imo in the south. Only essential travel by nonofficial Americans is recommended to these areas. In addition, the military's Joint Task Force patrols the creeks in the Niger Delta due to ongoing militant and piracy incidents.
Periodically, travel by U.S. mission personnel is restricted in certain parts of Nigeria based on changing security conditions, often due to crime, general strikes, or student/political demonstrations or disturbances. See the Department of State's Travel Warning for Nigeria for more information.
Violent crime committed by individual criminals and gangs, as well as by some persons wearing police and military uniforms, can be a problem, especially in Lagos, Abuja, and other large cities. Increasingly, home invasions have been reported as being on the rise in Lagos, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by following, or tailgating, residents or visitors arriving by car into the compound, subduing guards, and gaining entry into homes or apartments. Law enforcement authorities usually respond to crimes slowly or not at all, and provide little or no investigative support to victims. Nigerian-operated fraud scams, known as 419s, are noted for their cleverness and ingenuity. As anywhere else, no one should provide personal or financial information to unknown parties or via Nigerian telephone lines.
To date, no income tax treaty exists between Nigeria and the United States. Every individual is required to file a tax return as joint returns are not permissible. Nigerian tax law allows for a number of deductions in determining taxes owed on income. These allowances in varying amounts include earned income, personal allowance, child and dependent allowance, payment of insurance premiums, and alimony payments. The tax year in Nigeria runs concurrent with the calendar year and ends December 31st.
Individual and Employee Taxation
Determining Tax Residence
Foreign employees of a nonresident company who reside in Nigeria for more than 180 days in any 12-month period are considered residents for tax purposes. (Research shows a disparity between whether the time frame for establishing residency is 180 or 183 days. Because of this we have elected to utilize the shorter time frame. Consultation with a tax professional should occur prior to filing your tax return.)
Individuals are taxed on a sliding scale, dependent upon income level. Nigerian residents are taxed on their worldwide income regardless of their length of stay in the country during a given tax year. Employment income includes wages, salary, pension, fringe benefits, and most allowances. Tax assessed on employment income is usually payable by monthly deduction from an employee's remuneration under the "pay as you earn" system.
Nontax Resident Employees
Nonresidents are subject to tax on all Nigerian-sourced income. For employment income to be considered nontaxable in Nigeria, three conditions must be met: (i) the employee must be resident for less than six months in any 12-month period; (ii) the employer of the person must not be resident in Nigeria; and (iii) income of an individual is subject to tax in their country of established residence.
Corporate and Employer Tax Obligations
Tax Residency for a Business
A company is resident in Nigeria if it is incorporated and registered in Nigeria. A foreign company that intends to carry on a trade or business in Nigeria is required to incorporate as a Nigerian company. Resident companies are subject to tax on their worldwide profits. Nonresident companies are taxed only on profits of their operations in Nigeria. Because there is no tax treaty between the United States and Nigeria, a corporate tax credit may apply in cases where taxes are paid in the home country if that tax is one that also applies in Nigeria.
Employers and employees alike are required to make a minimum monthly contribution to the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund.
The company income tax rate is the same for all companies operating outside of the oil and gas industry. (Oil and gas companies and others involved in manufacturing or agriculture may receive a reduced rate for the first three taxable years.) It is also important to note that an alternative minimum tax may be assessed on a company regardless of its tax status.
Limited liability companies registered in Nigeria may apply for Pioneer Status, which is granted in industries vital to Nigeria's economic development or that benefit the public interest. A company with Pioneer Status is granted a tax holiday of up to five years with a possible extension of a further two years and an additional two-year extension if the company is located in an economically disadvantaged area.
A value-added tax is imposed on virtually all goods whether manufactured in Nigeria or not. Exemptions are granted in respect to all medical and pharmaceutical products, basic food items, books and educational items, baby products, fertilizer, agricultural and veterinary medicine, farming machinery, and farming transport equipment. The value added tax replaced the former sales tax.
More information on specific tax rates can be found through the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria Web site.
Online Resources Used for This Template
- Business etiquette:
- Business registration and employment information: http://www.doingbusiness.org/ExploreTopics/StartingBusiness/
- Currency converter: http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic
- Employment law information: http://www.nigeria-law.org/LabourAct.htm
- General country information:
- Intellectual property: http://www.notap.gov.ng/Intellectual_Property_Rights_Promotion.php
- Labor code: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.country
- Tax information: