How hard is it to import a US car to Nigeria? Not difficult as you may think!


Posted by: Oluwaseun Solomon

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Thanks to the fast-paced development of technology and the booming of online car auction platforms, we Nigerians can now order a car from US to be shipped right to our house. Check out how?

The sound of those words - "imported cars ", is too complicated for what it really is. The process of buying a car in the USA then get it shipped to Nigeria is much easier than you'd think. Carefully read these following steps to import US cars to Nigeria by Naijauto team and you can have a car from the United States parked right in your yard 6 weeks later.

1. Register an account on auction websites

When buying something that you can't get your hands on and test on your own, the reputation of the seller is almost everything, and auction websites are currently the most reliable sources we know, at least in the North America region.

You'd think that in order to buy cars, dealerships are the one you should contact, and also give your information too. Not necessarily. You'd better off with online car auction companies. Most of them are free but some charge around N90,000 as the initial or annual fee. Some big names worth-mentioning are, or When signing up on their websites, particularly to be elibigle for a car bid, you have to submit your ID and some related documents.

a screenshot of Copart auction platform

There are numerous car auction platforms online for you to choose

>>> When joining auctions, make sure you understand these terms: 10 common Copart auction slangs you need to know

2. Study common terms beforehand

There are many terms that are commonly used in car auctions that you need to know, for example, "enhanced vehicle", "engine start program" or "run and drive"....and things like that.

Also, know the location where you bought the car from. Trust me, you don't want to be "that guy" who assumed his auctioned car in Florida while it's really in Oregon. It's no a minor mistake since he had to pay N250,000 shipping charges. The delivery may cost up to N700,000, depending on how far those places are from your living area.

cars in seaport

Study the location carefully or else you loose up to N700,000 for shipping

Another notable thing is that a car without a valid title can't be sold. The title of the car should contain either clean, certificate or salvage. Drop the deal if you don't see one of those things. The reason is sometimes they have a certificate only for parts of the car. So what you would get, if you try to purchase anyway, is (probably) that very part with license paper (meaning the car was dismantled).

>>> Many people auctioning cars on NCS have lost theirs because of this term: The term that causes many successful bidders to lose their car on Nigeria Customs e-auction

3. Search for your car

Normally what you'd do is to drive places to places to find your desired car, maybe even to different towns or cities. However, online bidding offers much less tiresome process because there are hundreds of thousand vehicles available at your click. Isn't that tempting?

However, please note that as in brick and mortar business, people polish their car online too. Don't just put the money down because the hood of that car looks good, or how sleek those rims are. Chances are that you'll find some faulty machine but overlook because its "pictures" look spotless. See if there are some corners that are hidden in every picture they show, because those might be where they don't want you to see clearly. So be careful!


You can actually search cars for sale right here, on!

Surprisingly, there is a number of people in Nigeria who do not really care about how badly damaged a vehicle is, since their intention is to buy whatever at the lowest price and then pay some more to get it fixed later. That is one reasonable thought, but still, you should check the vehicle history (VIN) before buying that car. If you want to be really sure about your future vehicle, hire an inspector to do the examining process for you, which costs around N33,000.

4. Familiarise with the buying process

On auction websites, some cars could be bought immediately without going through the bidding process, just wire the money and wait, but some have a fixed date to be sold. It's important to know this beforehand so there's no confusion. 

Technical problem should not be overlooked. Sometimes a slow internet connection can rob you of your dream cars. I have switched carriers 3 times, from Swift to Spectranet, finally to Smile. They all suck but a little less when the subscription is renewed.

Watch how this Nigerian join the bid!

>>> Here are steps to auction cars from Nigeria Custom Services: How to buy auction cars in Nigeria from Nigeria Customs Service

5. Put money down the right way

There are 2 popular options when buying stuff online, by credit cards or through wire transfer. The former is more common and much faster, but its downside is the maximum amount you are allowed to transact is limited. So we're left with the second choice, wire transfer. Simply go to you Aboki to buy US dollars and wire through your dollar account.

Noted that when you decide to put your money down and affirm you'll send your payment, you should transfer the money within 2 to 3 business days or else you'll have to pay a fine of up to a hundred dollars. When the auction site receives the money, they'll update it on your account and there you go, the process is 99% done, you just have to wait for your car shipped to Nigeria.

6. Know the shipping procedure

Your car will be transported by sea of course. A tow truck will be arranged to carry your car to the nearest seaport with charges based on the distances between two places. It can be as low as $250 (~N90,000) and as high as $1,800 (~N650,000) in some states that are deep into the mainland of USA. Your car should be carried to the port within a week after you put the money down or else there'll be a daily storage charge of $20 (~N7,000).

>>> You had better avoid these cars: See the 5 kinds of cars that are hard to import to Nigeria from USA

a ship delivering cars overseas

Cars will be transported in such enormous ships

Now, when it comes to the shipping method from the port, normally people would choose the Ro-ro method, which is to share a container with some people with the same intention. This process is cheaper since you don't have to cover a whole container. However, if the people whose cars share your container fail to present the import paper in time, you will have to wait, sometimes much longer than you'd planned to.

7. Register your car with the Nigeria Customs

You should do this if you have a whole week to spare. Our advice is to get a specialized business to do this for you as they will finish the process within 2 to 3 business days.

The tax is normally around 35% of the value of your car. What's more, you have to pay VAT, surcharge fee, terminal, shipping charges and many different costs. Particularly, cars that have less than 5,000 km in the odometer will pay a much higher tax of up to 70 percent.

>>> You can refer to clearing costs here: What is the cost of clearing Mercedes Benz cars in Nigeria in 2019?

Some last words

We once managed to get a car from the USA to Lagos in only 4 weeks but it usually takes 6 weeks, so be patient. Get everything prepared thoroughly and you won't need to wait for longer.

Finally, if you follow the steps and successfully bought a car, don't hesitate to contact to share your experience with our beloved readers!

>>> Come back for more car buying & selling advice!

Oluwaseun Solomon

Oluwaseun Solomon

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Oluwaseun Solomon is a prolific and diligent automobile writer at He's also an experienced digital marketer and a creative multimedia developer that specializes in video editing. He currently contributes informative and easy to read articles on topics covering transportation, traffic updates, auto industry updates, and different car reviews.
When Solomon is not writing, you will either find him composing music, editing videos or simply enjoying YouTube "TEDx Talk" videos with a chilled drink :)

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