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10 Most Common Export Inspection Risks in Nigeria – How to Avoid Them

10 Most Common Export Inspection Risks in Nigeria – How to Avoid Them

With the global demand for quality goods and services increasing, more and more businesses are looking to enter the export market by shipping their products and services overseas. However, exporting is a risky business due to the high cost of entry and potential for liability. There are numerous factors exporters must keep in mind before taking that leap into international markets. The shipping process alone entails a number of inspection points where processes can go awry, resulting in delayed shipments or even irreparable damage to goods. In order to prevent such risks from happening, here are the top 10 most common export inspection risks in Nigeria, as well as tips on how you can avoid them.

Manual handling of goods

An inspection of goods is meant to be a non-manual process. However, some inspectors prefer doing a number of things manually, including the inspection of goods. Their reasons are not always clear, but manual handling of goods can result in damage. For instance, mishandling of items during inspection can result in them getting dirty or being scratched. Such damage can lead to goods being rejected or having to be re-cleared, resulting in a loss of revenue. Manual handling of goods can also result in them getting lost or not being accounted for, leading to the inspector or the importer claiming that they were never inspected. Such situations can lead to the rejection of goods or even the importer being accused of smuggling and/or fraud.

Incorrect storage conditions

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) requires that all imported goods should be stored under controlled conditions. Such conditions include a specified temperature range, a relative humidity level and a certain amount of light. If these conditions are not met, goods may suffer irreparable damage. Some goods, such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, may not be affected by incorrect storage conditions, but others, such as food products and fabrics, may get spoilt or be rendered useless. The importer will then have to incur additional costs to replace the damaged goods. Controlled conditions can also be applied to the storage of export goods. If importers do not store exported goods under controlled conditions, they may be rejected by the inspecting officer, resulting in the shipment being returned to the importer.

Mistranslation of inspection reports

Some traders prefer using their own language to interpret an inspection report, which may result in an incorrect translation. This can cause problems when the importer shows up at the port of entry, as the inspecting officer may reject the importer’s interpretation of the report and insist on a re-translation. If the importer’s translation is found to be incorrect, the goods may be rejected. To avoid such an occurrence, importers should insist on using the official language of the inspecting officer in the translation process.

Export by Maritime Means Only (EMO) Certificate unobtainable

This is mainly a problem for exporters of crude oil. Some exporting companies may not hold an EMMO Certificate, which is a prerequisite for the shipment of crude oil by marine vessels. If such companies attempt to export crude oil, they will be rejected by the inspecting officer. To avoid this situation, companies should obtain the EMMO Certificate at least 30 days before attempting to export their products.

No Diversification of Ports Of Loading/Unloading

This is a common problem in Lagos, where the majority of exports are cleared. If a shipment is meant to be cleared in Port Harcourt, but the importer chooses to clear it in Lagos, there is a chance that it will be rejected by the inspecting officer. This is because when the importer and the inspecting officer signed the Bills of Inspection, they agreed on a specific port of loading and unloading. If the importer attempts to clear the shipment at a different port, the inspecting officer may reject it. When clearing your shipment, be sure to follow the contract of carriage and the port of loading/unloading stated therein.

Shortage of Customs Clearing Agents (CCAs) and Freight Forwarders (FFs)

Some Customs Houses are experiencing a shortage of CCAs and FFs, which are responsible for clearing and forwarding goods, respectively. If there are no CCAs or FFs available, importers will be required to clear their goods themselves, which means that they must be knowledgeable about Customs’ processes. Such importers may make mistakes, which may result in their goods being rejected. If you are planning to clear your own goods, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Customs’ processes beforehand.

Loss or Destruction of Goods During Storage and Shipment Due to Lack of Warehousing Facilities.

This is another situation that is prevalent in Lagos, which does not have enough warehouses to store goods coming into the country. If importers cannot afford to warehouse their goods, they will be left with no other option but to store them in the open. If such goods are not adequately protected from environmental elements, they may be damaged or destroyed. In situations like this, importers may be left with no option but to incur additional costs for the replacement of the damaged goods.

Lack of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Communication System Between Inspection Bodies and Customs Departments.

Some Customs Houses do not have an EDI communication system, which is responsible for the continuous flow of information between Customs and inspection bodies. This results in a slow process of clearances and a high degree of error. In such situations, importers may be accused of intentionally trying to conceal something.


Exporting is a long and arduous journey, and one that requires a ton of planning. From researching the market, to finding the right customers, to navigating the complex process of shipping goods overseas, it’s a lot of work. Even after all of that work, exporters may still not be able to sell their goods due to the high risk associated with doing business with overseas markets. To avoid these risks, exporters must be vigilant and aware of the common risks associated with exporting goods. At the same time, they must be proactive in finding solutions to these problems and putting procedures in place to mitigate them.

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