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Total Cost of Clearing A Used (Tokunbo) Car From USA

When you want to purchase a vehicle from outside the country, the cost of clearing a car comes to mind. This article will give you the general overview of clearing an imported used vehicle in Nigeria also known as Tokunbo cars. You should consider the place of purchase of the vehicle, cost of moving the vehicle to the port, the shipping cost to Nigeria, and finally upon arrival at a Nigerian seaport, cost of clearing it and having it delivered to your preferred location.

Cost of Importing And Clearing A Car From The USA

I have noticed that Nigerians love “American Spec” cars, so I do all my imports from the United States of America. Using this example, I will give details based on my personal experience importing from the US.

If you are considering buying a car from any city in the US, you should consider how close it is to the sea port. If a seaport is in the same city where you are buying the vehicle from, it may cost you an average of $150 to get the vehicle to the load port, the farther it is, the more expensive it will be. Some cost as much as $400 to $500 to pick a vehicle from its location to the load port. As a result, you should be informed about the major cities/states with seaports.

There are two shipping vessels that come to Nigeria (West Africa) from the US, they are; Sallaum Line and Grimaldi.
Grimaldi can load from the following cities in the US to West Africa;

  • New York, New York
    • Jacksonville, Florida
    • Houston, Texas
    • Galveston,Texas
    • Savannah, Georgia
    • Baltimore, Maryland
    • Wilmington (Delaware)
    • Providence city in Rhode Island
    Sallaum Line can load from the following cities in the US to West Africa;
    • Jacksonville, Florida
    • Newark, New Jersey
    • Baltimore, Maryland
    • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

With this knowledge, it is preferable to buy as close to the seaports as possible to avoid high cost of transporting the vehicle to the seaport. Except in some cases, where the vehicle is cheaper from other cities even after including the cost of transportation to the port.
Usually, you employ the services of a shipping agent to pick the vehicle from its location, take it to the port and shipped to Nigeria. There are several shipping agents that offer these services.

A recommended budget for shipping a vehicle to Nigeria is $1000. However, trucks and SUVs are more expensive to ship (This also impacts on clearing cost). It takes about 21 days for the vessel to sail to Nigeria.
Upon arrival in Nigeria, at this point you will need to engage the services of a clearing agent. First, there are some basic information you should be aware of.

The Major Ports in Nigeria

Every vehicle imported into Nigeria must pass through a port or land border. However, on December 5, 2016. The Federal Government of Nigeria issued a statement that all imported vehicles must pass through the sea ports only. The Nigerian Ports Authority is the Federal Government agency responsible for the governing and operations of the ports in Nigeria.
The main ports controlled by the NPA are;

  1. Lagos Port complex – Apapa, LagosState (This is the biggest port in Nigeria).
    2. Tin Can Island Port – Lagos State.
    3. Calabar Port – Calabar, Cross River State.
    4. Rivers Port – Port Harcourt.
    5. Delta Ports (Including Warri Port, Sapele Port, Burutu Port, Escravos Petroleum Terminal and Forcados Petroleum Terminal.
    6. Onne Port – Rivers state

Of all the above listed ports, the main ports used for clearing of imported vehicles amongst several other goods are the Lagos Port complex and the Tin Can Island Port. The other ports are mostly used for petroleum products.
The thought of clearing goods at the ports used to be so scary because of the hectic and time-consuming nature of the services. It is worthy to note that the federal government introduced a concession program through what is called PPP (Public and Private Partnership), which has helped in the efficiency of ports around the nation.


The following are charges associated with clearing an imported vehicle at a Nigerian seaport;
– The Nigerian Custom Import duty and taxes
– Port Charges
– Clearing agent fees

The Nigerian Custom Import Duty Tariff

The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is the agency responsible for collecting the customs revenue on imported vehicles. The revenues are; Import duties, taxes and levies.
The federal government introduced a new tariff on imported vehicles in 2015. The new tariff is calculated based on the entire shipping value of the car (Cost, Insure and Freight CIF). The value of the shipped car determines how much is paid in import duty. 35% of the car value (CIF) is charged as import duty and an additional 35% of the value of the car (CIF) is charged as tax. Therefore, a total of 70% of the vehicle value is charged as the import duty and tax.
Please note that the NCS has a fixed dollar value per vehicle imported but the exchange rate varies from year to year.

Port Charges and Clearing Agent Fees

Based on personal experience, the clearing agents I have used do not break down the total amount to be paid as clearing cost. They usually give a lump sum amount. On most occasions I price down the quoted sum, negotiate until we agree. So as usual in Nigeria, things may not always go by the book because the clearing agents and the customs officials may be cutting corners.
One should apply a little bit of caution as a result, to avoid future issues that may arise from them cutting corners. It is usually a red flag for me if the agreed negotiated sum seems too cheap for comfort.

Using examp

Updated: May 31, 2018 — 2:06 pm
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