In furtherance of the efforts to
enhance the efficiency of the maritime sector and port operations in
Nigeria, the Federal Government introduced a port reform package in
1996. In response to this initiative, the management of Nigerian
ports Authority took immediate steps to streamline and simplify its
operational procedures. Vital NPA operations, including the billing
system were computerised; while documentation and delivery processes
were unified and streamlined. These have positively changed the
procedures for the shipping and clearing of goods. Deliberate
policies have also been put in place to create a better operating
environment for all customers and port operators.
A shipping company intending to
bring cargo into a Nigerian sea port has to clear the ship by
obtaining Ship Entry Notice (SEN) two months in advance from the
Operations Department of Nigerian Ports Authority. The customer, in
the alternative, could obtain clearance through a registered and
licensed agent based in Nigeria. This is without prejudice to all
other regulations guiding the operations of other relevant
government agencies and international laws regulating maritime
operations. The procurement of a Ship Entry Notice is a guarantee
that a vessel would have berthing facility on arrival in Nigeria.
This in essence means that the ship does not come to queue and thus
incur demurrage. There are two categories of goods for the purposes
of this guideline: (a) Merchandise and Raw Materials (b) Personal
Effects it is no longer mandatory that the consignee engages the
services of a registered Clearing and Forwarding Agent in respect of
merchandise and raw materials. In such cases, the consignee may opt
for self clearance as is the
TYPE OF CARGO
There are two categories of
goods for the purposes of this guideline:
(a) Merchandise and Raw
(b) Personal Effects
it is no longer mandatory that
the consignee engages the services of a registered Clearing and
Forwarding Agent in respect of merchandise and raw materials. In
such cases, the consignee may opt for self clearance as is the case
with personal effects, where the owner may clear the cargo when
familiar with the clearing procedure.
BILL OF LADING
The consignor/shipper sends the
Bill of Lading in advance of the arrival of the ship to the
consignee/importer. This document contains the following vital
(a) The name of the ship carrying
(b) The description of the goods
along with their marks and numbers
(c) The date of departure from
port of loading
(d) The weight of cargo
(e) The terms of contract of
• The importer/consignee takes
the Bill of Lading to the NPA Central Office for Planning and
Information of the appropriate port for details about the arrival
date of the ship and her allocated berth. This information can also
be obtained from the shipping company
• The importer or his agent
completes the Bill of Entry and registers it with the Nigerian
• The consignee or importer
proceeds to the shipping company to effect Shipping Company Release
of the goods
• There, the Bill of Lading is
cross-checked and compared with the ship’s manifest. After
certifying the correctness of consignee’s documents, a blank form
called Delivery Order (D.O.), supplied to the shipping company by
the Nigerian Ports Authority, is then issued to the importer.
• The consignee or his agent
competes the Delivery Order and returns same and the Bill of Lading
to the shipping company.
• The shipping company then
scrutinises the details on the Delivery Order, endorses it and
withdraws the original of the Bill of Lading from the consignee or
his agent. Thereafter, the lower portion of the Delivery Order is
detached and handed back to the importer who holds it as evidence of
shipping company release.
• The main body of the Delivery
Order is sent to the Marketing Department of Nigerian Ports
Authority at the specific port.
• The Marketing Department then
raises all necessary bills through a computerised system, marries
the Release Note copy of the Customs Bills of Entry with the
shipping company’s Delivery Order, after which bills are authorised.
• The bills are then vetted by
the Audit Department after which payments are effected at designated
• The necessary delivery sets are
then produced using information contained in the Delivery Order and
subsequently transferred to the transit shed or delivery point.
• The consignee or his agent then
proceeds to the appropriate transit shed or delivery point to effect
delivery. After loading, cargo pass is issued to the consignee or
his agent who then proceeds to NPA gate for security checks and
The NPA provides various cargo
handling equipment for both containers and general cargo. Roro
facilities are available at the ports. Free storage period of six
days from the last day of a ship’s completion of discharge are
allowed for importers to clear their goods.
1. Ship Manifest is a summary of
all Bills of Lading due for discharge at a particular port.
2. Delivery Order is a printed
form supplied by the NPA to shipping companies for purposes of
delivery of goods to the rightful owners.
3.Terminal Delivery Order is a
document on the presentation of which a consignee or agent is
authorised to take delivery of consignment at an NPA terminal,
delivery point or shed.
It must be emphasised that
carriage or cargo in excess of declaration on cargo manifest
Following the liberalisation
policy of the Federal Government, the Produce Boards were scrapped
and most Nigerian non-oil exports are uncontrolled. By this, such
goods as cocoa, rubber, cotton, palm oil, palm kernel, groundnut,
etc hitherto regarded as controlled and exported through the
scrapped Produce Marketing Boards can now be exported by companies
which have such goods for export.
However, a few exportable items
are controlled and monitored. These include, among others:
- crude oil
- works of art and artefacts
- endangered species (flora and
fauna), i.e animals and plants.
Controlled export goods are those
on which there are restrictions, while uncontrolled export goods are
those on which Government has not placed any form of restriction. A
prospective exporter needs to be conversant with the foreign
exchange and banking regulations of the country to which the goods
are to be shipped. In Nigeria, the exporter needs to be conversant
with Central Bank’s guidelines pertaining to export proceeds. Among
other things, exporters are expected to open domiciliary account
with any bank in Nigeria and ensure that the export proceeds are
paid into the account. Pre-shipment
inspection of all goods including
oil and non-oil goods exported from Nigeria is also mandatory.
Government agencies relevant to
export operations in Nigeria among others include:
(a) Corporate Affairs Commission
(b) Nigerian Export Promotion
(c) Nigeria National Petroleum
(d) Nigerian Export Supervision
Armed with the above information,
an exporter goes to the port of lading to obtain and complete the
Shipping Note along with the Customs Bill of Entry. The Shipping
Note calls for the following information among others:
(a) The name of the exporter
(b) The name of the ship to load
(c) The description, quantity as
well as the weight/measurement of the goods to be loaded, etc.
The essence of completing the
Bill of Entry, which is obtainable at the Customs office is to
enable the Nigerian Customs Service examine/release the goods. It
serves as an authority to process and ship consignment. Pre-shipment
inspection by the appropriate designated authorities is mandatory.
Goods to be exported may be stored within the port pending shipment
or brought direct for shipment.
• When the goods arrive at the
port by rail, road or water conveyance, the way bills forwarding the
goods are received and used for the following purposes: (a) To
cross-check the quantity
(b) To prepare the Shipping Note
(c) To prepare the Export Tally
(d) To prepare NPA Debit Note
The goods are examined by customs
to ascertain the accuracy of the information supplied by the
exporter in the Bill of Entry and Shipping Note. If customs service
is satisfied, it endorses and stamps the NPA Shipping Note which is
immediately despatched to the NPA Export Office.
• The Nigerian Ports Authority
raises necessary debit note reflecting all charges and dues which
the exporter or his agent pays to designated bank. All payments are
confirmed and covered by NPA receipts. Export Tally Sheets are
prepared and despatched to the area where the nominated ship is
berthed. In the process of loading, the following parties have their
representatives who jointly tally (record) the goods as they are
loaded into the ship: (a) Nigerian Ports Authority
(b) Shipping company.
At the completion of each set of
tally sheet, the shipping company endorses NPA Export Tally Sheet to
confirm receipt of cargo.
• At the end of the loading
exercise, the exporter/agent receives his copy of the Bill of Lading
from the shipping company/agent while the consignee at the port of
destination is sent his own copy (usually the original). The Bill of
Lading as a document of the title performs three main functions
amongst others: (a) It is an acknowledgement of receipt of cargo
into the ship
(b) It is a document of title to
the goods to whoever holds the original copy
(c) It serves as an evidence of
the contract of affreightment between the shipping company and the
The Nigerian Ports Authority
provides standard warehouses for storage of export goods in transit.
Warehouses and open storage areas are available in the ports for
lease for the storage of export goods in transit. The importance of
these facilities is that they help to speed up operations in loading
and thus eliminate delays and consequent payment of demurrage. Dock
labour and plants are available to work in specific areas on
request. Exporters are therefore advised to take advantage of these
The Nigerian Ports Authority also
raises charges for the different facilities and special services it
provides. The services may include requests for off-loading of
cargo, re-bagging, sorting and pallestisation of the export items.
A flow chart summarising the
foregoing procedure is shown on page 11 for further information.