Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses, State Regulations

Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses

Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses, State Regulations

To operate a business legally in Nigeria, every Nigerian and intending foreigner must be licensed to carry on businesses, including obtaining the Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses.

Irrespective of the location or nature of your business in Nigeria, you need these business permits. For example, a home business owner as well as an online business owner will need a license as this is similar to having a physical office location.

This article will discuss the key Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses required for both local and foreign participation in the Nigerian Business Environment, including the Nigerian residence permits or fresh quota if applicable in your situation.

Note, depending on the type of your business and its activities, you may need to be licensed at the local, state and federal government levels. This is because most states in Nigeria have different requirements for different business structures, and there could be different requirements at the municipal level like city of Lagos or FCT Abuja as well.

As a Nigerian business person or intending foreigner who want to invest in different Nigeria business economy or industry, below are some of the laws that may affect you.


The Nigerian Business Permits and Licenses 


What is a Business License?

Business license is a permit issued by government agencies which allow individuals or companies to conduct business within the government’s geographical jurisdiction. Business license is the authorization to start a business or participate in a particular industry issued by the government or its local agencies where you resides.

A business permit is therefore a formal document that allows for the local operation of a business; especially operators with foreign interest. Most of the Nigerian business permits and licenses are issued by the Federal Ministry of Interior on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

However there are other agencies of government that are saddled with similar responsibilities in their field. Some of these agencies may include the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Nigeria Immigration Service, and so one. Starting with the CAC, listed below are few of the requirements for obtaining Nigeria Business Permits and Licenses:


Requirements for Obtaining Nigeria Business Permits and Licenses

  • Certificate of Incorporation of the applicant company;
  • Copies of the Tax Clearance Certificate of the applicant company;
  • Copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association;
  • CAC Forms CO2 and CO7
  • Joint Venture/Partnership Agreement (where applicable).
  • The shareholding of the Company.

Notwithstanding the above, there are several numbers of industry laws and regulations that are applicable to local and foreign business investments in Nigeria.


Laws and Regulations That May Affect Businesses in Nigeria:

  • The Custom Duty Act
  • Factory Act
  • Health Care Act
  • Trademark Act
  • Nigerian Standard Organization Act
  • Companies Income Tax Act
  • Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Act
  • The Nigeria Local Content Act
  • Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary Policy,
  • Securities and Exchange Commission Act
  • The Federal High Court Act, etc.

The federal and state ministries of industries are the custodians of all the laws and regulations governing investments in Nigeria as a country. The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and your local/state revenue agencies will also need to be notified of your business operations.

As you choose your business structure and decide on which area to invest, please understand that the state and industry you’re in may differ and it’s your duty to do the research and find out more about what is applicable to your environments and situations.

In addition to ensuring that your business entity is legally registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), you may also need specific business permits and licenses. For example, if your are a foreigner or just starting out, you may require the services of an attorney or business professional who will be able to help with further requirements and clarifications on Nigeria Business Permits and Licenses, such as those listed below.


Other Requirements for Nigeria Business Permits and Licenses.

  • Information concerning particular labour laws,
  • Illegal aliens,
  • Temporary work permit
  • Workplace safety rules,
  • Expatriate quota
  • Residence permit
  • Certificate of capital importation (CCI)
  • Filing employment and income tax returns,
  • Building codes, contract holding
  • Health department requirements,
  • Environmental laws, etc.

For foreigners or non Nigerian companies; remember to register at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), a body set up by the Federal Government to promote and monitor foreign investments in Nigeria. The NIPC registration requires some documentations, such as data about of the company and the founders, tax fillings and banking details.

To employ foreign experts, Expatriate Quota are granted to a company registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission and not to individual employees. However, it is in your best interest to consult with professionals to determine which Nigerian business permits and licenses you will need to work or start your business in Nigeria; including the laws and regulations that will be applicable to you, where to go to apply for some of these various laws, etc.

If you’re visiting or coming into Nigeria to do business or work, you may need the complete detail about the Nigerian Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), the Nigerian visa, and issues pertaining to company registration in Nigeria.


Read: How to Register a Company in Nigeria: A Step by Step Guide

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Comments (58)

  • Daniel Ibizugbe Reply

    Good day,
    I based in Spain, planning to come back fully. Where can I obtain license to operate here in Nigeria.? Planning to build a cooking gas depot where I can liaise with gas turban and others. Your information will useful.


    February 4, 2018 at 3:44 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hi Dan
      Getting a licence to start a gas plant business in Nigeria is now easy with the ‘easy of doing business’ initiative. This is as simple as starting up other kind of small and medium size businesses, SMEs in Nigeria. As a Nigerian, all you have to consider first is the industry and environmental requirements or safety standards.

      February 4, 2018 at 11:05 pm
  • Engr Steve Reply

    hello please how can i obtain a license in Lagos state Nigeria for a small business like repair of electrical TV e t c and selling imported used once. how much it will cost to obtain the licens

    March 20, 2018 at 8:56 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Steve all you need is to register your business with Corporate Affairs Commission and start doing your business. There is no special license you need to sell your goods. Read our post on how to register a company in Nigeria.

      March 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm
  • Emmanuel Aiyetin Reply

    Hello.please I run a cleaning company in lagos Nigeria. I have registered the company with CAC 6mouths ago. What should I do next??.
    Is they any cleaning association/body/institution or ministry, I need to sign into? Before we can start operation fully?

    May 31, 2018 at 12:34 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Emma! As a registered business, you can start your business right away. However, you may be required to pay for the local government business premises levy since you have a physical office space. Cheers!

      June 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm
  • Amina Halilu Reply

    If a foreigner is coming into Nigeria to set up a business Wat type of business license is needed ,and does one pay taxes on sales.
    Is there anything a business owner must do legally to form a cooperation

    July 4, 2018 at 10:47 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      Thank you Amina. The Nigerian Government allows 5% VAT on sales. The licence will depend on the type of business. However, for a foreigner who is going to be a director of a company in Nigeria, he/she will need to get an Expatriate Residence Permit. Please follow this link for more information about popular business structures in Nigeria.

      July 5, 2018 at 6:06 am
  • Tina Sowaribi Reply

    Hello, I am about to start a scriptwriting (courses & sales)/entertainment business that I have already registered in CAC, but I think I need a license or permit to be able to train and also issue out certificates to students or trainees. Please how do I go about it?

    July 26, 2018 at 12:03 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Tina, usually; to be able to issue certifications on professional courses like accounting, medicine, education, consultancy or other related fields, you will be ask to provide a proof of qualification before your training institute or academy will be approved by government. However, since you are just starting out, we advice that you can start the business first and see if its something that will payoff going forward. As the business grows, you can go for the approval or get someone who is an expert in that industry as part of your team. With that position, you can be able to get this done. We hope this could help?

      July 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm
  • Tina Sowaribi Reply

    Thanks, Abbakin. Your response was very helpful. Thanks.

    July 27, 2018 at 9:57 am
  • Harmony Richard Reply

    Hi, my mom is about to start a fast-food restaurant business in Porthacourt. I want to know in details the cost price for obtaining a business permit, licence and, how much it takes to register the business. Thanks in advance.

    August 11, 2018 at 11:42 am
    • Adeben Reply

      I registered a business name with CAC for my new business and I am paying state tax, do I need to be paying local government permits as well?

      October 18, 2019 at 7:23 am
      • Abbakin Reply

        Yes sir. The business premises levy goes to the Local Government while tax goes to the State.

        October 20, 2019 at 1:30 pm
  • Uche Reply

    Hi there,
    What kind of license/permit will I need to run an online home service business centering on health(nutrition and fitness programs) and education?

    August 19, 2018 at 7:43 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Uche! For health and nutrition license, you will need your industry professional proficiency certificate to do that. E.g. registered pharmacists.

      August 22, 2018 at 8:31 am
  • nonso Reply

    Hi, Please do licenses like food permit, liquor license and hotel license have to be applied and obtained for; before or after the business commences?

    August 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Nonso, Its better to start your business first before going for these kind of licences. For hotel building permit or operations, please consult your local or state government urban planing secretariat for more information. Thanks.

      August 22, 2018 at 8:18 am
  • Femi Reply

    Please do i need an SON registration to conduct a cloud computing and ecommerce business in nigeria.

    September 5, 2018 at 2:58 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      I don’t think so Femi. However, depending on your kind of product, you may need to consult an expert in that area. Thanks

      September 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm
  • David Reply

    Please I want to start a transportation business in Nigeria Edo state I want to know the type of license that I need and the requirements

    September 13, 2018 at 6:42 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      David, in addition of making sure you choose and registered the right legal business structure for your kind of business, you will need to register with your local transport Unions and the Motor Vehicle Regulation and Licensing Agencies in Nigeria; including good insurance policy for your business. Kindly order for our Starting a Business 101 eBook for detailed information about how to start, grow and secure the future of this kind of investment.

      September 15, 2018 at 7:37 pm
  • Jacqueline Reply

    Hi Abbakin..
    I am about starting a Residential cleaning business. how can I get a licence and permit ?
    thank you

    September 15, 2018 at 2:36 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Jac. This will all depend in your location in Nigeria. Kindly send us a mail for more info. Cheers!

      September 15, 2018 at 7:11 pm
  • Kikelomo Reply

    Hi there,
    What kind of license/permit will I need to run an online home service business centering on clothes ,shoes ,bags ,do I need to visit any company and what are the things they will request for please am in Lagos and how do I know you have answered my question

    September 27, 2018 at 11:43 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Kikelo. You can start your business right away without any permit for now. If you are going into eCommerce business, you may need a registered company to be able to register with your online payment gateway and other required transactions. You can always come back to this post for our replies. But we will send you an email as you demanded. Thank!

      September 28, 2018 at 9:37 am
  • Sajid Daud Reply

    Hi there,
    My shipping company is in Pakistan and would love to open office in Nigeria for expansion of my business. I would appreciate if you please assist me further regarding formalities/procedures thanks.

    September 28, 2018 at 10:55 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      Sojid kindly send us an email regarding how we could be of help to you. thanks.

      September 28, 2018 at 12:13 pm
  • Jane Law Reply

    If an SME wanted to come to Nigeria as part of their international expansion plan, which government institutions will they need to contact and will they be required to make any deals with the government?
    What is required in terms of licensing, permits etc?
    Please let me know anything else that is missing.


    October 9, 2018 at 6:01 pm
  • Collin Reply

    In addition to cac and tax registration do i need any other specific business permit to operate a consulting company engaged in advising clients on investments strategies

    October 23, 2018 at 10:27 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      You need a certification form the industry in order to serve as a consultant. This will be verified before approval according to the CAC.

      October 23, 2018 at 3:07 pm
  • OLA DELE Reply

    Good afternoon, i have registered my business name with CAC many years ago for General Event management, but recently i rented a shop for canteen still with that business name. do i still need a shop permit because some official keep coming to my shop to disturb my girl.
    also which other permit do i need to obtain to run my business smothly

    November 1, 2018 at 1:30 pm
  • Jonathan Reply

    Good day. Plz I want to start up a marketing agency, the company is already registered. What license is needed to further my course sir? So that when my workers go out nobody will harras them. Thanks

    November 8, 2018 at 5:12 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      Jona you can consider adhering to the Nigeria labour laws since you are limited by shares.

      November 15, 2018 at 2:17 pm
  • Mrs Iwalokun Reply

    This is quite good, i want to start a guard service business that is providing guards for companies and individual. What are the license that i will need to get and how do i go about getting them meanwhile my company is registered with CAC

    December 3, 2018 at 4:11 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Iwalokun, this will depend on your area of specialization and how far you want to go. However, this line of business is better for someone who is or had worked with the force agencies.

      December 5, 2018 at 10:27 am
  • SURLINE Reply

    Hi, I am starting an ecommerce (general) company in Lagos but will expand into other states in Nigeria in the future, I’ve registered with CAC and I have my TIN number, please do what kind of permit do I need to run my business.

    December 15, 2018 at 10:00 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Congratulations Sureline for starting your new eCommerce business in Lagos. If you have the CAC certificate and FIR TIM number, then you may have only the local government levy to pay if you have a physical office location. For now, just concentrate on growing-up you business. Cheers!

      December 16, 2018 at 3:32 pm
  • Magnitude autos Reply

    Hello please where can I get a business license for importation and selling of cars. I.e import and export license.

    December 23, 2018 at 6:02 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Hello Magnitude Autos, you can visit the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) office Apapa Lagos and/or visit the official website of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council for further information regarding Import and Export of goods in and out of Nigeria. We hope you will get better help from theses agencies. Good Luck!

      December 28, 2018 at 9:38 am
  • patrick Reply

    Hi good day complements of the season . i am about to start a production bussiness pls what kind of permits do i need and how much to incure it

    December 26, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Hi am really interested in starting a standard DAY CARE in port harcourt but where do I go to for license and premit? Or rather what kind of permit do I need and how much will it cost me to do that.

    December 29, 2018 at 10:35 pm
    • Abbakin Reply

      Kaline! If you’re a medical practitioner who understands common first aid and hospitality, or a registered nurse for instance, then you have the certification to run a day care business. Other business permits or approvals may follow due to the nature of the business. Please consult a knowledgeable expert in this field for more information.

      December 30, 2018 at 2:55 pm
  • McJatkom Global Reply

    If I register my business name with CAC, will I get my certificate in three days? Thanks!

    January 5, 2019 at 7:03 am
    • Abbakin Reply

      With the current CAC efforts to reduce the time it takes to register a business in Nigeria, you will expect a complete business registration in 10-15 working days. All depend on Nigerian Partner who is managing the registration processes for you and the type of business being registered.

      March 4, 2019 at 2:12 pm
  • Martins Reply

    Please,what license and registration do I need to operate multi-level marketing company just as GNLD in Nigeria.

    January 13, 2019 at 7:05 am
  • Ololade Serifat Reply

    Hi There,

    I want to start importing cars to Nigeria for sale. Will Business registration on CAC suffice or any License to be obtained?

    February 4, 2019 at 1:09 pm
  • Sethu Reply

    I just registered a company in Nigeria last week with a Nigeria partner. Our company is a mining company. What are the permits and licences required apart from, coi, cac, firs, tcc, scuml, business permit, reconnaissance certificate and ssml certificate, for a mining company?. Kindly advice

    February 4, 2019 at 2:57 pm
  • Chimezie Reply

    I want to run a logistics company in Lagos State Nigeria, the business is already incorporated, what other permit or license can I obtain and what is the cost.

    February 17, 2019 at 8:30 pm
  • Eke Reply


    Please what permit or licence may be applicable or required for a company that runs services on Air-conditioning and other cooling units, after getting registered.

    Can I commence operation after registration?

    March 4, 2019 at 11:01 am
  • Kingsley Kalu Reply

    Hai Abbakin, first I must commend you on your response to peoples request. However, I want to operate a hotel in Lagos. What are the necessary requirement for me to start right away. The building is available. Thank you

    March 15, 2019 at 12:42 pm
  • Cheerful kachi Reply

    As a facility Manager,
    I am to manage a shopping plaza, what are the legal or operational permit i need from government especially the local and state government

    May 6, 2019 at 1:33 pm
  • Jacob Norya Reply

    I find this write up quite interesting. What licence or permit is applicable to a beverage company?

    May 20, 2019 at 3:28 am
  • Ruth james Reply

    Hello, pls I want to open a smoothie, press cold juice bar. I have registered my business with the CAC. What are the other necessary licenses and permit I may need?

    May 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm
  • Tomassi chi Reply

    I’m a non citizen but wanna get a branch of my Hotel in a State out there in Nigeria I’m planning to do that ASAP just need to know the Government Requirement and Tax involved.

    August 23, 2019 at 2:51 pm
    • Godsent Reply

      Hello Tomassi, which state do you want to operate from?

      September 23, 2019 at 9:39 pm
  • E.R Reply

    Good day, thanks for this informative write-up. I’m starting a cashew processing plant in kogi state with a warehouse is Lagos. I’d like to know the permits and licences I have to obtain to operate legally. Thank you.

    September 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm
  • Mabel Reply

    Please, I want to register my business, What licences and permits are required for project(event) management services, also what could be the estimated cost here in nigeria ?

    September 29, 2019 at 7:50 am

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