The Federal Government yesterday issued fresh guidelines for cargo clearance at the ports and borders nationwide.
Under the new regime, all documents must bear the product name, country of origin, specifications, manufacture, date and batch number, standards of production (e.g. Network Information Services (NIS), British Standards PD. International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), International Energy Standards (IES), and Documentation Identification Number (DIN).
All goods, according to the guidelines, must be labelled in English, in addition to any other language of transaction; otherwise they will be confiscated by Customs.
In a memo dated December 3, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi, that the guidelines took effect from December 1.
According to the letter, all imports shall be accompanied by the following documents:
- Combined Certificate of Value and Origin (CCVO) contain the following information.
- e-Form ‘M’ No:
- Adequate description of goods;
- Port of destination. (The actual port shall be specified e.g Tin-Can, Apapa, Kano, Onne, etc);
- Shipment identification, date of shipment, Country of Origin, Country of Supply.
- Packing List.
- Shipped/Clean on Board Bill of Lading/Airway Bill/Railway Bill/Road Waybill.
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of production, the Phytosanitary Certificate or Chemical Analysis Report, which must state the standards.
- Laboratory test certificates for chemicals, foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, electrical appliances, and other regulated products are also required from importers.
The letter, signed by the Director, Home Finance, K Zaji, said any intending importer should in the first instance, process e-Form ‘M’ through any authorised dealer bank irrespective of the value and whether or not payment is involved.
The first validity period of the e-Form ‘M’ for general merchandise, Zaji said, would be six months, which he said, may be extended for another six months by the dealer.
The government, according to the memo, has granted an initial validity period of 365 days to capital goods with approved e-Form ‘M’, and the maximum extension of another 365 days is allowed.
But any subsequent request for revalidation and consideration of e-Form ‘M’ after the maximum 365 days extension period can only be granted by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Supporting documents shall be clearly marked “Valid for Forex” or “Not Valid for Forex” as appropriate i.e. whether or not foreign exchange remittance would be involved.
Also, all applications for goods subject to Destination Inspection (DI), Zaji said, must carry the “BA” code, while those exempted shall include “CB” in the prefix of the numbering system of the e-Form ‘M’.
Importers intending to make payments for goods exempted under the D I scheme, the government said, would not be allowed to do so in the Foreign Exchange Market, except there is a prior approval from the CBN.
Importers are also advised to ensure that the e-Form ‘M’ and the relevant pro-forma invoice carry a proper description of goods to be imported to facilitate price verification as follows:
- Generic product name i.e. product type, category:
- Mark or brand name of the product, where applicable;
- Model name and/or model or reference number, where applicable;
- Description of the quality, grade, specification, capacity, size, performance, etc;
- Quantity and packaging and/or packing.
The letter said the e-Form ‘M’ would be valid for importation if it is acceptable to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Authorised dealers were therefore, advised to confirm registration of the e-Form ‘M’ from Customs before proceeding with other import processes.
Where import items such as food, drinks, cosmetics, drugs, medical devices, chemicals are required for health or environmental reasons, the new law demands that such items must carry Expiry Dates or the shelf life.
A minimum of half-shelf life of such products are necessary as at the time of importation and the active ingredients must be specified, where applicable.
Electrical appliances such as fluorescent lamps, electric bulbs, electric irons and ties, the government said, must carry information on life performance while cables shall carry information on the ratings.
All electronic equipment and instruments, the guideline stated, must carry the following:
- Instructions Manual;
- Safety information and or safety signs;
- A guaranty/warranty of at least six months.
Importation of blank products by any importer is no longer allowed as such goods would be seized and destroys by Customs without warning, and the importer if arrested, would be prosecuted.