Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Typical business attire is either traditional western or traditional Nigerian style. Business visitors should be appropriately dressed. Overly casual dress may convey a casual attitude. Titles should be used, particularly traditional and honorific titles. While initially valuing “protocol,” many in Nigerian business will quickly shift to a more informal approach as they grow comfortable, with much of business conducted via messaging such as WhatsApp.
Company representatives should be flexible in business dealings, which can range from a sense of urgency to meandering. In Nigeria, important business transactions are conducted face-to-face. No significant transactions can be completed quickly or impersonally, which can be partially attributed to the prevalence of fraud in the market and lack of trust. Follow-up visits are common.
Business appointments preferably are made through personal calls, emails, cell phone conversations, text messages, or even hand delivered notes. Nigerian culture can be less punctual than what is expected in western cultures, especially when dealing with high-ranking government officials. Confirming appointments is common, even if done informally. Important documents or correspondence should be sent via a reputable courier, such as FedEx, DHL or UPS. Note that many addresses are inexact in Nigeria and are often based of reference points and landmarks.
Check information posted at the State Department’s travel advisory on Nigeria.
Visitors to Nigeria will need a valid passport and visa. This requirement does not apply to citizens of ECOWAS member states. Please visit the websites of the Nigerian Embassy or Consulates in the United States for general visa requirements. It is advisable for U.S. travelers to make specific visa enquiries at Nigerian Embassies and Consulates well in advance of the anticipated dates of travel.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.
The previously mandated health questionnaire is intermittently required. The form is available on paper at the airport, but travelers should complete the form before arrival to minimize issues upon entry. Travelers should check the NCDC website (https://healthapp.ncdc.gov.ng/), for the latest guidance and requirements.
Nigerian currency is the naira (N). Notes come in denominations of 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins exist but are seldom used. Debit and credit cards of Visa and Mastercard are accepted at many locations and can be used at some bank ATMs. Travelers checks are not common and finding outlets willing to change them is difficult with significant charges attached.
Telecommunications & Electric
International direct dialing is available. The country code for Nigeria is +234, and the outgoing international code is 009. City codes are also required when dialing a landline. There are four major GSM mobile phone service providers covering Nigeria with about 206 million subscribers. Internet penetration is high and expanding rapidly. Most big hotels have internet connectivity and provide complimentary Wi-Fi to guests. Nigeria operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz and use plug types D and G.
Taxi service and rideshare apps are available in Lagos and most other urban areas, but yellow cabs are not recommended, as they are old, often unreliable, can be unsafe, and are sometimes used in crimes such as kidnapping. In the past three years, many company-run and well-managed taxi services have established themselves. Fares should be negotiated in advance, particularly to and from airports. Cars with drivers are also available for hire through hotels and car rental agents and are a recommended alternative to taxis. Uber and Bolt offer rides in Lagos and Abuja.
Congested airport facilities in Lagos often lead to long delays and airline reservations may not be honored due to overbooking, particularly on domestic flights. Domestic airline schedules have become unreliable. Lack of aviation fuel, among other reasons, can cause substantial delays or result in cancellation of flights. Travelers on international flights should arrive at the airport at least three hours before scheduled departure. Nigeria has maintained FAA Category 1 status.
English is the official language of Nigeria, although it is a second language for many Nigerians who also speak one of several indigenous languages, such as Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. Business travelers will find that most government officials and businesspeople speak fluent English.
Many infectious diseases are prevalent in Nigeria including COVID-19. Untreated water, ice, unpeeled fruits, and raw vegetables should be avoided. Visitors can be turned back at the port of entry if their yellow fever immunization is not current, or COVID-19 protocols are not observed. Use of anti-malarial drugs is strongly recommended, and the regimen should begin prior to arrival in Nigeria and continue after departure for each medicine’s prescribed length of time. Vaccinations for cholera, typhoid, tetanus, meningitis, and protection against hepatitis are also strongly suggested. Visitors should consult their physician or local health authorities about the current inoculations recommended and required before a visit to Nigeria.
Medical facilities are available in Nigeria, but in practice, foreign business visitors normally restrict themselves to the private clinics available in large urban areas. Many common household medicines and some prescription drugs are locally available, but the business traveler should carry an ample supply of any special medications required and only use reputable pharmacies when purchasing medicines as counterfeits are prevalent.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
Local time is GMT +1. Nigeria does not observe daylight savings time. Business establishments and government offices generally open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with offices closed for lunch from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Some offices, especially in the Muslim majority north, close early on Fridays. Many government offices and businesses hold staff meetings on Monday and Friday mornings, sometimes making it difficult to see people at those times. The Federal Government in Abuja holds meetings particularly on Wednesdays. Holidays falling on Saturdays and Sundays are observed on Mondays. No permanent dates exist for Muslim holidays - they are observed as announced by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The following are confirmed holidays for 2023:
Jan. 2 - New Year’s Day (observed)
Apr. 7 - Good Friday
Apr. 10 - Easter Monday
Apr. 21 - Eid-El-Fitr (Sallah) (dates tentative)
May 1 - Workers’ Day
May 29 - Inauguration Day
June 12 - Democracy Day
June 28-29 - Eid-El-Kabir (dates tentative)
Oct. 3 - Independence Day
Oct 7 - 9 - Eid-Maulud (dates tentative)
Dec. 25 - Christmas
Dec. 26 - Boxing Day
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
In addition to other personal belongings, tourists and temporary visitors can bring in any item, except illicit drugs, ammunition, and pornographic materials. Visitors can bring in bottled water, cookies/crackers, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks for personal consumption. Customs duties will be charged on items of commercial quantities. Travelers should be wary of conveying high value items that could be considered for commercial use as extortion at points of entry is common. If concerned, travelers should contact one of several reputable logistics companies operating in the market. Currency declaration is required upon arrival.