e-FORM M & Bill of Laden: What Nigerian Importers Need To Know

e-FORM M & Bill of Laden: What Nigerian Importers Need To Know

with 1 Comment

The import business is one of the most profitable businesses in Nigeria to invest in.

But, due to several standard procedures to be undertaken before goods are successfully and lawfully shipped into the country, most people tend to see importation as a difficult endeavour.

However, all it takes are a proper understanding of how things work around importation and you are good to go. So if you are searching around for information about the import business in Nigeria and in general, here are two important documents you need to know.

e-Form M and Bill of Lading.

What is a Form ‘M’?

I’m sure you must have heard this term on the lips of importers a lot but probably haven’t thought to know the true meaning of the word.

Form M is a mandatory documentation process put in place by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), to monitor goods that are imported into the country as well as enable collection of import duties where applicable.

The guidelines say,

“Any person intending to import physical goods into Nigeria shall in the first instance process the e-Form M through any Authorized Dealer Bank irrespective of the value and whether or not payment is involved.”

The initial validity of an approved e-Form M is 180 days and can be extended for another 180 days by the Authorized Dealer Bank.

The Form M can be regarded as an important license. This document must be processed with or without payment of processing fee and it must be done before the goods to be imported is shipped into Nigeria.

This form is applied for and obtained by the importer and has a unique number which must be quoted/written on all the shipping documents; although there are exemptions such as Diplomatic cargos (of reasonable quantity), personal effects, goods shipped in by government agencies or goods shipped into Free Trade Zones in Nigeria (e.g the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ))

What Are The Requirements to Get e-Form M in Nigeria?

To open an e-Form M the importer requires the following:

  • Certificate of Incorporation/Registration of the company in Nigeria
  • Registration with Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS).
  • Up-to- date Tax Payment and hence a Tax Identification Number (TIN).
  • Valid e-mail address tagged to Tax Identification Number.
  • Authorized Dealer Bank to process the e-Form M and initiate clearance of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR).


What is a Bill of Lading?

Bill of Lading is a document issued by a carrier, or its agent, to the shipper as a contract of carriage of goods. It is also a receipt for cargo accepted for transportation, and must be presented for taking delivery at the destination.

The bill of laden serves as a proof of ownership of the cargo. It is a legal document between the shipper of a particular good and the carrier detailing the type, quantity and destination of the good being carried.

The bill of lading also serves as a receipt of shipment when the good is delivered to the assigned destination. It contains all the information about the shipment/cargo/goods aboard a vessel. Bill of lading is for ocean freight.

Among other items of information, a bill of lading contains; consignor’s and consignee’s name, names of the ports of departure and destination, name of the vessel, dates of departure and arrival, itemized list of goods being transported with number of packages and kind of packaging, marks and numbers on the packages, weight and/or volume of the cargo, freight rate and amount.

What Are The Importance of Form M to Nigerian Importers?

  • For the pre-shipment inspection of commodities.
  • For the accurate dating/labeling of products
  • For the accurate differentiation of perishable goods and documentation of all imported items.
  • To check under-valuation of imports
  • To check smuggling, especially of arms and ammunitions into the country.


What Are The Importance Of Bill Of Lading To Nigerian Importers?

  • It is used to identify particular goods/cargo.
  • It is used for tracking.
  • It detects the port of loading
  • It detects the port of discharge
  • It describes the packing type
  • It carries the name of the commodity and consignee
  • It is used to know the ETA and the ETD, that is, the Estimated Time of Arrival and Estimated Time of Delivery.

Where in doubt about which goods are exempted from Form ‘M’, contact Chibyke Global for clarifications as the arrival of unexempted goods without the number could lead to confiscation.

Need Help With Importation of Your Goods? Click here
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 1.000 subscribers who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to import and export your goods without stress.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
Follow Chibuike Ogbuanu:

Chibuike Ogbuanu is a recognized Nigerian expert in Freight Forwarding and runs a Lagos-Based Freight Forwarding & Logistics Company, that provides excellent freight & shipping solutions for customers in Nigeria & World-wide. Did you know Freight Forwarding Companies can be useful to your business? Are you using them effectively? Sign up here to get fresh shipping tips delivered to your inbox daily.

One Response

  1. jae coleman

    Interesting comments . I loved the facts . Does anyone know where I would be able to obtain a sample UPS Bill of Lading example to fill in ?

Are you ready to start importing or exporting? Talk to a freight expert