How to Ship a Car from USA to Nigeria


  • Find a shipping agent in your area
  • Complete the agent’s paper work
  • Give him the car, keys and original title
  • You may be required to pay the shipping fee immediately or when the ship leaves (currently $1400 – $1600 for cars)
  • Once the bill of lading is ready, the agent will call you for pick-up
  • Make a copy of the bill of lading and send the originals immediately to your clearing agent preferably by courier.
  • Your clearing agent clears the car from the Port
  • This whole process may take up to 3 months


  • Find a shipping broker e.g. Sallaum Group
  • Download their application form called Docket Receipt
  • Complete the docket receipt and fax or email it to the shipping broker
  • The broker will process and send it back to you in 1 – 2 days.
  • Make 6 copies of the docket receipt and 6 copies of the car title front and back
  • Take your car and paper work to the Port
  • The Port staff will give you a receipt confirming that your car was accepted for shipping
  • The broker then sends you a bill for the shipping (Sallaum Group charges $850 for cars and $1100 for regular SUVs, as from January, 2012)
  • Once you make payment, they will mail your bill of lading to you
  • Make a copy of the bill of lading and send the originals immediately to your clearing agent preferably by courier.
  • Your clearing agent clears the car from the Port
  • This whole process may take up to 3 months.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, the average Nigerian could afford a brand new car. In those days, the cars prevalent on the roads were the Peugeout 504 and 505 models among others. They were reliable and met the practical and aesthetic needs of many Nigerians. 

However, with the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) in the mid 80s, the value of the Nigerian currency (the Naira) took a tumble. This resulted in severe inflation and soon it became virtually impossible for the average Nigerian to afford a new car (including those manufactured locally). Since then, new cars have become the exclusive reserve of corporations and very wealthy individuals.

With the enterprising spirit of Nigerians, they soon devised a means of filling the void in the car market. This involved the importation of used cars called “Tokunbo” from Europe especially Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Unfortunately, this market was not regulated and as a result, the Nigerian roads became flooded with “Tokunbo” cars in un-safe mechanical conditions. 

To bring the situation under control, the Obasanjo administration stipulated that no car older than 10 years should be imported into Nigeria. Exceptions were made for buses and heavy duty trucks. This practice was retained by the succeeding Yar’Adua administration and is still the law today.

Shipping a car to Nigeria from the USA is relatively easy and safe. If you are shipping a car for your personal use and do not intend to sell it at some point, then it does not matter what type of car you buy. However, if you are shipping a car for sale, there is an important point you have to bear in mind: Though Nigerians do not have much of a car industry, they are nevertheless very choosy. 

There are certain models and specifications that are hard to sell. For instance, people in the car business in Nigeria advice against shipping cars that are white or military green in color or have V6 engines or tinted glasses or manual transmissions (ie hand gear). They also advice against shipping these models: Toyota Camry 2002 – 2006 (surprise, surprise), Toyota Sequoia, Mercedes Benzes especially the ML, Hummer H1 and H2, most GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles (for lack of spare parts) etc.

On the other hand, the dealers I spoke to recommend these vehicles as long as they are less than 10 years old: most Honda vehicles except the Odyssey, Toyota Camry 1999 – 2001 and 2007 onward, Toyota 4Runner with auxiliary gear, Landcruiser and Sienna, Volkswagen Beetle New Model, Infiniti QX4 etc. Your vehicle will be more attractive to buyers if it has the following options: leather seats, alloy wheels (called rim in Nigeria), DVD, remote keys etc.

It is important to note that the suggestions above are dealer specific. Other dealers may and in fact do have different opinions. For instance, a dealer once stated that Mitsubishi Gallant sells well in Nigeria while another dealer said that is not the case.

Before you buy a car for sale, call your contact in Nigeria and seek his/her opinion. Make sure your contact is descent and trustworthy. Some people will tell you to ship any car even when they know it will be hard to sell. They may only be interested in their own personal gains not yours.

The easiest way to ship a car to Nigeria is through a shipping agent. All you have to do is drop the car with the keys and title at his office and he will do the rest. 

Depending on your location, most agents charge between $1400 and $1600 to ship a car from the US to Lagos via the Roll On Roll Off (RORO) method. This means that your car will sail in an open ship not containerized. The price for trucks and SUVs is higher.

But if you have the time, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars by bypassing the shipping agent. All you have to do is call a shipping broker e.g Sallaum Group Fill it and email or fax it to them. They will process and send it back to you sometimes within 24 hours. 

The docket receipt is valid for about 25 days (verify this from the broker). If you are unable to bring your car to the Port within 25 days, you have to contact Sallaum Group for an updated docket receipt. This has happened to us once and in that case, we got an updated docket receipt within one day.

Make 6 copies of the docket receipt and 6 copies of the vehicle title front and back. When you are ready, take your vehicle along with the documents and original title to the designated port

Remember, the US customs do not allow cars with goods or other materials loaded in the trunk or elsewhere. However, they will allow spare parts meant for the car only. You will be given a receipt indicating that your vehicle was accepted. If done correctly, this can save you a lot of money.

A few days after the ship sails, the broker will send you a bill for the shipment. Once they receive your payment, they will send the Bill of Lading along with the original title. Make a copy of the Bill of Lading and send the original to your clearing agent in Nigeria as soon as possible. 

It is advisable to use a courier service like FEDEX or UPS. In the state of Maryland, FEDEX appears to be cheaper than UPS. For instance sending a 4 page Bill of Lading to Lagos costs around $83 at FEDEX while UPS charges around $100. Remind the FEDEX staff that you want International Economy. Delivery to Lagos usually takes 5 – 10 days.

Once a ship leaves the Port it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to get to Lagos unless it makes other stops. Once you drop off your vehicle at the Port, a reasonable transit estimate will be 1 – 3 months (may be longer during rush periods like Christmas). 

However, once the ship gets to Lagos, the story does not end there. It might take several weeks to off load. This is where your clearing agent takes over. Call him frequently for updates. If not, he might leave your car and work on other pressing shipments. 

Cost of clearing a car depends on the year and make. For instance it costs between 230,000 to 250,000 Naira to clear a 2003 Honda Accord while it costs around 350,000 Naira to clear a 2007 Accord. These rates are not fixed. Your agent might charge higher or lower depending on several factors including personal relationship.

Nigerian ports used to be filled with “wharf rats”. These are criminals who specialize in stripping parts from vehicles shipped to Nigeria. At some point, the problem became so severe that most cars shipped to Nigeria were guaranteed to have some parts stolen. Security at the Ports has now been tightened and the wharf rats have disappeared.

Unfortunately, a few of them have started rearing their ugly heads again. They no longer go for the bumpers, head lights or tail lights which are bulky and easy to detect. Rather they steal expensive parts inside the car like the air-conditioner knobs, expensive engine parts, etc. That notwithstanding, most cars shipped via RORO arrive safely with no parts stolen.

By The NigeriaDigest.Net Team
(Darlington Ihekwo, JB Motors and Ingram Osigwe contributed to this article).

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