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  Selling products made in Nigeria to consumers in the United States is a great way to earn in foreign currency—which is now more sought after than ever before. But before you arrive at the point of counting your dollars, you’ll have to get through some requirements to export food products to the US. This is especially true for food products, which form a significant portion of Nigeria’s non-oil exports to the states.
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Keep in mind that these requirements can change, so it’s essential to check for the most up-to-date information. Here are some general documents and considerations you should possess to successfully sell to US markets:

Export License

You will need an export license to export anything from Nigeria. The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) issues this to businesses. To secure a license from them, you’ll have to provide evidence that your business is legally registered in the country (i.e. with the Corporate Affairs Commission).

Quality Control and Inspection

Items destined for the US markets have to meet the standards of that country. But they also have to adhere to standards set by Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). The agency issues export certificates to businesses that meet its guidelines. You can find those guidelines on its website.

US FDA Registration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the US version of NAFDAC. Food products headed for that country must be registered with the FDA, and you need a Food Facility Registration Number. You can register online through the FDA Unified Registration and Listing System (FURLS). There are establishments in Nigeria that help with this.

Labeling Requirements

The US also has requirements for product labelling. Labels must provide accurate information about the product, including ingredients, nutritional information, and allergen details. If you aren’t sure how to go about labelling, you may seek the assistance of the NEPC (mentioned earlier) or private export processing agents.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Requirements

In addition to obtaining the documents already noted, you’ll be expected to verify and comply with the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This may involve inspections and certifications to ensure that your products meet U.S. standards.
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Export Documentation

Prepare standard export documentation, including the commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, and certificate of origin. These documents are necessary for customs clearance.

Export Permits

Some products may require additional permits or certificates. For example, certain agricultural products may need a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS). This will cost you some money; the exact amount charged by the NAQS for a Phytosanitary Certificate depends on the nature and quantity of your goods.


Consider getting insurance coverage for your shipment. This will protect you in case of damage or loss during transit. Some insurance companies in Nigeria offer marine insurance, which compensates for goods lost while on sea. The Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) also provides Export Credit Insurance (ECI) which protects exporters from the risk of non-payment for goods exported on credit.

Exporter Identification Number (EIN)

Obtain an Exporter Identification Number (EIN) from the US Census Bureau. This number is used for export reporting purposes and is typically referred to by US customs when trying to associate business entities with their import dealings.

Customs Documentation

Familiarize yourself with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requirements and complete the necessary customs documentation. The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system is often used for this purpose.

Dun and Bradstreet D.U.N.S. Number

The Dun and Bradstreet D.U.N.S. number is a nine-digit identifier which is often requested by US government agencies and companies in the US. They ask for this as part of their due diligence, to determine the credibility of your enterprise. The D.U.N.S. number is issued by Dun and Bradstreet, a company which supplies commercial data and can be obtained directly from them.
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Final Words

It’s crucial to work closely with relevant government agencies, trade associations, and legal professionals who specialize in international trade to ensure that you comply with all regulations. This will enable you to gather all the details you need to make informed decisions throughout the export process. Featured Image Source: Jeavons Eurotir
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This article was first published on 5th December 2023


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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