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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 (NPA) 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:

  1. Merchandise and Raw Materials
  2. 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.


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 information.
  • The name of the ship carrying the goods
  • The description of the goods along with their marks and numbers
  • The date of departure from port of loading
  • The weight of cargo
  • The terms of contract of affreightment.

Cargo Clerance Process
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