5 Most Important Import Documents Required for Customs Clearance

Everything in Customs Clearance is about proper documentation. This, no importer can do without dealing with customs documents. As a matter of fact, customer clearance involves the preparation and submission of documents required to facilitate export or imports into the country. Understanding the documents for Customs Clearance is essential to our everyday understanding of how logistics works.

Another way to describe this is that it is “the act of passing goods through customs so that they can enter or leave the country.” In passing goods to and fro or through customs, documents must be given by customs to the shipper to show that customs duty has been paid and the goods can be shipped.

In this post, we’d be touching on some most important documents required for customs clearance. Some of the documents involved are :

  1. Exports Documentation: Purchase order from Buyer, Sales Invoice, Packing List, Shipping bill, Bill of Lading or air waybill, Certificate of Origin, and any other specific documentation as specified by the buyer, or as required by financial institutions or LC terms or as per importing country regulations.
  2. Imports Documentation: Purchase Order from Buyer, Sales Invoice of the supplier, Bill of Entry, Bill of Lading or Air waybill, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, and any other specific documentation required by the buyer, or financial institution or the importing country regulation.


We’d be dwelling on the 5 most basic Import documents required for Customs Clearance purposes. All the documents are equally important that they must be sorted before approaching customs. However, these are basic and must be explained. So, if you are an importer, whether you import by Air or by Sea shipping, within the global network,  this post is for you.

Most importers are oblivion of the importance of these documents as they risk being deprived due to incomplete or inadequate preparation. Knowing about these documents can solve over 40% of the problems importers and exporters make. These documents must be sorted out either by the importer or with the assistance of the freight forwarders involved.

An Importer must be knowledgeable about the best method to choose freight forwarding companies in order to reduce costs and get the goods safely to the port of destination for the shipping process. the documents for Customs Clearance which are needed must be timely to avoid demurrage from the country of origin of the goods. Documents Required for Customs Clearance


The following are the 5 important documents needed for the shipping process of goods to Nigeria.

Documents for Customs Clearance

Form M

This is one of the documents for Customs Clearance. It is a mandatory statutory document to be completed by all importers for the importation of goods into Nigeria. This simply implies that without the form, goods can not be approved for importation into Nigeria.

The documentation process is put in place by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). In other words, this document is issued by the CBN through Commercial Banks for import permit procedure. It states the product Harmonized Codes for customs import duty, the amount as well as other basic information.

All imported goods to Nigeria must have Form M attached.


Bill of Lading or Airway Bill

A bill of lading is just like a ‘receipt’ and it is one of the most important documents for customs clearance purposes. It is a legal document or contract between the carrier and shipper. This document is issued by the shipping company that transports the goods from the ports of loading to the destination. The bill of lading contains details of the type, quantity, and destination of goods being carried. See this post for more about the Bill of Lading.

It also carries the information of the shipper, consignee, and the notifying party of the imported goods. Details of ports of loading and discharging are included in the document. When a carrier receives a shipment, it is important he obtains a document that must state the details of the shipment, the Shipper, Carrier, Exporter, Consignee, and Notify.


Agency Certificate

Without obtaining approvals or certifications from agencies responsible for a related type of consignment, the customs clearance process may not work out well. This type of certificate usually depends on the goods you are importing.

For manufactured goods, SONCAP Certificate will be issued by the Standard Organization of Nigeria. For the importation of food items, cosmetics, drugs, etc, a NAFDAC certificate must be issued. NDLEA and NAFDAC certificates are required for the clearing of imported drugs. NESREA certificate is required for customs clearance of second-hand goods.

For more explanation or clarity, you’d need the service of a freight forwarding company for professional guides and advice. They’d explain the exact Agency certificate that will be needed for the shipping process, in order to prepare you for success.

Commercial or Pro Forma Invoice

The Commercial invoices are other documents for Customs Clearance required for ease of passage. It is a monetary value declaration of goods. It is always issued by the seller or the shipper of the goods. This invoice will be needed in two ways. For form M and Pre Arrival Assessment Reports by the customs for import duty.

Insurance Certificate

This is a document indicating the type and amount of insurance coverage in force on a particular shipment. It is used to assure the consignee that insurance is provided to cover loss or damage to cargo during the shipment process. It is needed to cover any loss or damage during the shipping of the goods to Nigeria.

For this, you need to approach any reputable insurance company for issuance of the certificate. An insurance certificate will be needed when raising Form M at the banks for imported goods. This certificate is usually needed when raising a Form M for imported goods, at the bank.


Do you have any questions about your goods document issuance for your next shipment? or do you want to learn more about the documents required for customs clearance or talk to us about your Shipment?