Importing Food Products into Nigeria

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Understanding the legal and regulatory requirements that govern product registration is vital for businesses looking to import food products into the Nigerian market.

In Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is the regulatory body authorized to certify, license, or otherwise sanction food importers, products and labels. Importers cannot advertise, import, or distribute processed foods in Nigeria without prior authorization from NAFDAC.

NAFDAC defines food as any “article manufactured, processed, packaged, sold or advertised for use as food or drink for human consumption, chewing gum and any other ingredient which may be mixed with food for any purpose whatsoever”. All products regulated by NAFDAC must meet the same requirements, whether imported from abroad or produced domestically.

So what does the process of registering imported food products entail?

The process of registering imported food products involves four stages: (1) Documentation→(2) Import Permit→(3) Product Vetting→and (4) Laboratory Analysis.

At the Documentation Stage, the company seeking to import a food product will collate the documents required by NAFDAC. Once NAFDAC is satisfied with the documents presented, the company can apply to the Food Registration Division of NAFDAC for a permit to import samples for registration.

What documents are required by NAFDAC for food importation?

In applying for the registration of an imported food product, NAFDAC requires the following documents:

  1. A Power of Attorney or a Contract Manufacturing Agreement. Either document must be notarized by a Notary Public in the country of manufacture. If it is a Power of Attorney, it must be signed by the MD, General Manager, Chairman or President of the Company, stating the names of the products to be registered. NAFDAC requires that the Power of Attorney specifically grant authority to the company to register the product with NAFDAC.

  2. Certificate of Manufacture and Free Sale which has been authenticated by the Nigerian Embassy in the country of manufacture. If there is no Nigerian Embassy in the country of manufacture, the Certificate of Manufacture and Free Sale should be authenticated by any other embassy or high commission of any commonwealth or West African country.

  3. Comprehensive Certificate of Product Analysis issued by the manufacturer.

  4. Certificate of Business Incorporation of the applicant with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria.

  5. Certificate of Registration of Brand Name or Trademark with the Trademarks, Patents And Designs Registry, Commercial Law Department, Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investment.

  6. Expired License (for product renewal).

  7. Application letter for Import Permit by local representative.

  8. Duly completed Food Registration Form.

  9. Notarized declaration.

  10. Two product labels intended for registration.

Are there any specific rules with regard to labeling?

NAFDAC has very specific compliance requirements with regard to labeling of food products. For example, the agency  requires that the ingredients must be listed by their common names in order of their predominance by weight unless the food is standardized, in which case the label must include only those ingredients which the standard makes optional.

This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 311 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: uakpotaire@nlipw.com