Seven steps to understanding Nigerian SONCAP

Tue 28 Feb 2017
Posted by: IOE&IT News

Nigerian Flag with Export


Africa’s largest country by population and second largest economy, Nigeria, is an export market that existing or budding international traders should keep a close eye on. Despite growth being sluggish and oil production contracting in recent years, the outlook for Nigeria is positive.

For instance, a large consumer base formed by a growing middle class and a relatively young and educated population, ensures that major infrastructure investment remains a government priority. Nigeria is also part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meaning that exporting there provides easy access to the 14 other ECOWAS markets.

If you’re considering Nigeria as an export destination, however, there are a few things to be aware of.

Back in January 2013, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) introduced an all new process - the conformity assessment programme (SONCAP).  This strict set of guidelines for exports to the country is complex, mandatory and can prove challenging, even for the most seasoned Institute member.

So, we asked corporate member and expert in export procedures, XDS Solutions, to provide a simple overview and have set out its advice as a seven-point guide:

1. All exports to Nigeria must comply with the strict set of customs requirements.  These requirements are set out by SON (standards organisation of Nigeria) who implemented SONCAP (the Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme).

2. The Nigerian Customs Service will require a compliant SONCAP Certificate (SC) before clearing your goods into Nigeria.  No SONCAP, no entry.

3. SONCAP certification is delivered via accredited firms.  The certificate is then sent via electronic transfer to the Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s (SON’s) portal.

4. If you’re exporting any of these products, then you must comply:

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Toys
  • Textile and textile products
  • Footwear
  • Furniture (Some furniture items are forbidden; the Institute can advise)
  • Leather, plastic and rubber products
  • Electrical and electronic products
  • New motor vehicles and spare parts, including tyres
  • Chemical products
  • Building and construction material
  • Mechanical devices and gas appliances
  • Paper and stationery items
  • Protective safety equipment
  • Medical devices

5. Exporting these products? Then you are exempt (for now, but this situation may change):

  • Food products
  • Drugs (medicines)
  • Medical products (other than equipment and machines)
  • Chemicals used as raw materials by bona fide manufacturers
  • Military ware and equipment
  • Goods classified as contraband by the Federal Government of Nigeria
  • Used products, other than automobiles

6. Already have existing import processes in place?  No matter: you still need to comply with SONCAP. 

7. There are three routes to SONCAP compliance:

Route A – For Unregistered/Unlicensed products, resulting in issue of Product Certificate 1
Route B – For Registered Products, resulting in issue of Product Certificate 2
Route C – For Licensed Products, resulting in issue of Product Certificate 3

Once Product Certificate 1, 2 or 3 has been issued then your product will receive its SONCAP Certificate of Conformity (CoC), and export into Nigeria can begin.

How to ace Nigerian SONCAP

According to XDS Solutions, businesses focused on Nigerian expansion often struggle because the procedural approach they take is not tailored to the product they are shipping. In addition, procedural planning frequently begins too late - after the first order has already been taken.

Exporters who are concerned about the complexities of international compliance can boost their knowledge base by enrolling staff on the Institute’s Diploma in World Customs Compliance. The pioneering 18-month to two-year online course offers part-time blended learning, with modular assessments - and leads to a full customs qualification at level 5 diploma level. You can check it out here – where you will also find details of our complete range of professional qualifications.

About XDS Solutions

Chelmsford-based XDS Solutions was launched in 2013 to offer export managers a fast and simple way to manage customs clearance. With more than 12 years’ experience in export compliance, its founders knew well the frustration felt at being unable to find a straightforward route. Instead of slow, complex, web-based conformity assessment programmes which fail to take into account unique business requirements, an XDS expert advisor personally manages every step of each client’s export compliance journey.

To discuss your firm’s export procedures, including faster SASO & SONCAP customs clearance documentation, visit