In Nigeria, the law requires that any foreigner who plans to do business or own a company in the country must have a business permit. Business permits allow the government to follow up on tax compliance, and getting one could save a company or business from unwanted interruptions to their operations. The process of getting a business permit in Nigeria is straightforward once you take into account the few documents to be submitted.
It is important to state the difference between a business permit and a business license in Nigeria. Whilst a business permit allows foreigners do business in the country, a business license is required for certain industries.
The process for obtaining a business license in Nigeria will depend on the field and associated regulatory bodies in that industry. There is no central or unified definitive structure for business licenses, unlike business permits. So for instance, a business looking to become a service provider in the Oil and Gas Industry would register with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulator Commission.
How to obtain a business permit in Nigeria
Application for a business permit in Nigeria by a foreign owned company or a company with foreign participation is made to the Ministry of Interior.
What are the requirements for business permit?
The following documents are required by the applicant to obtain a business Permit in Nigeria.
- Registration with CAC and Letter to the Ministry of Interior
A business seeking to get a business permit needs to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Full details on the process for business registration for foreigners can be found here.
- Tax Clearance
The business must show evidence of payment of requisite tax. This is evidenced by a tax clearance certificate issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service. For new companies evidence of tax registration suffices and must be submitted during the application process for business permits in Nigeria.
- Feasibility Studies
Feasibility studies will be carried out to measure how achievable the set business goals and main objectives are. It shows a plan of how businesses can successfully run for the foreseeable future. A report will be generated after registration with the CAC.
- Joint Venture Details
In the event of a joint venture, the details of the shareholding structure must be provided. And an agreement will be submitted if the joint venture is a partnership between foreigners and Nigerians.
Other documents required include;
- Copy of Statements of share capital structure
- Particulars of shareholders and directors
- The memorandum and articles of association of the company
- An evidence of business premises acquisition e.g. Lease Agreement.
How long does it take to obtain business permit in Nigeria?
It typically takes about 14 working days for a business permit to be processed and issued by the Ministry of Interior in Nigeria.
How do I register with NIPC?
There is a necessary step pre-permit application, which is registration with the National Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) . A Certificate of Registration of Business will be issued after completion of this step.
Expatriate Quota in Nigeria
It is important to note that a business permit can be processed alongside an expatriate quota and the processing requirements are somewhat similar thus it makes practical sense to process both permits at the same time.
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