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  As Nigeria emerges as a hub for global investment and innovation, the role of expatriates in the country’s economic landscape becomes increasingly pivotal. Expatriates, often referred to as international experts, bring with them a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience, playing a crucial role in transferring technology, fostering innovation, and contributing to the nation’s overall growth and development.
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Nigeria’s large population, estimated at over 180 million, presents a vast market for foreign companies seeking to expand their reach and capitalize on untapped opportunities. The country’s friendly investment climate, characterized by supportive government policies and a growing middle class, has attracted a surge of foreign direct investment, further fueling the need for expatriate. In the early stages of a company’s establishment, the employment of expatriates often proves essential in filling critical gaps in technical know-how and managerial expertise. Expatriates, with their global perspectives and specialized skills, can guide the development of new processes, implement industry best practices, and train local employees, laying the foundation for long-term success. Expatriate employment also extends beyond technical proficiency. Their cultural understanding and ability to bridge the gap between international and local business practices are invaluable assets in navigating the complexities of the Nigerian market. Expatriates can foster cross-cultural collaboration, enhance communication, and promote a more inclusive and diverse workplace, contributing to a more harmonious and productive work environment. However, the integration of expatriates into the Nigerian workforce requires careful consideration and a thoughtful approach. Companies must ensure that expatriate employment aligns with their overall business strategy and contributes to the development of local talent. Training and mentorship programs should be implemented to empower Nigerian employees to acquire the necessary skills and expertise, enabling a gradual transition of responsibilities and ensuring sustainable growth in the long run. Are you considering employing expatriates in your company? Then this article is for you. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the process for employing expatriates in Nigeria, including the requirements, procedures, and taxation considerations.
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Two Key Requirements for Employing Expatriates in Nigeria

  1. Expatriate Quota (EQ)

Obtaining an EQ is the first step in the process of employing expatriates in Nigeria. An EQ is a document issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that permits companies to employ specific numbers of foreigners for authorized job positions. The EQ is valid for two years and can be renewed.

Obtaining an Expatriate Quota

To obtain an EQ, the company must submit an application to the Federal Ministry of Interior Affairs, accompanied by the following documents:
  • The company’s current tax clearance certificate
  • Lease agreement or certificate of occupancy for the company’s business premises
  • Incorporation/registration documents (i.e., memorandum and articles of association)
  • Evidence of the work at hand, its duration, and value attached to the contract
  • Evidence of imported machinery
  • Proposed annual salaries to be paid to the expatriates to be recruited
  • Joint venture agreement for partnerships between Nigerians and foreigners
  • Bank reference letter
  • Letter of no objection from the Nigerian Content Monitoring Board (for oil and gas companies)
  1. Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC)

Upon obtaining an EQ, the expatriate must apply for a CERPAC. The CERPAC is a residency permit that allows non-Nigerians to live and work in Nigeria. It is issued for two years and can be renewed.

Obtaining a CERPAC

To obtain a CERPAC, the expatriate must submit the following documents to the Nigeria Immigration Service:
  • Application to the NIS for the CERPAC
  • Expatriate quota approval
  • International passport with a subject to regularization (STR) visa endorsement
  • A duly completed CERPAC statutory form
  • An STR package containing STR documentation received from the Nigerian embassy/consulate
  • Company’s board of directors resolution
  • Application letter from the employer requesting regularization of stay and accepting immigration responsibility on behalf of the expatriate
  • Letter of appointment/employment
  • Acceptance of the offer of appointment/employment
  • Payment of prescribed fees

Taxation of Expatriates

Expatriates who are employed in Nigeria are subject to Nigerian personal income tax (PIT). The PIT Act does not specifically address the taxation of expatriates, but the statutory provisions applicable to individuals deriving income from Nigeria or deemed resident in Nigeria also apply to both local and expatriate employees. Therefore, expatriates who have a permanent residence permit in Nigeria are liable to tax in Nigeria even if they spend less than 183 days in the country.
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Tips for Employing Expatriates in Nigeria

  • Plan ahead and start the process early: Obtaining an EQ and CERPAC can take several months, so it is important to start the process well in advance of the expatriate’s planned arrival in Nigeria.
  • Work with a qualified immigration lawyer: An immigration lawyer can guide you through the process of obtaining an EQ and CERPAC and ensure that you comply with all applicable regulations.
  • Be prepared to provide supporting documentation: The immigration authorities may request additional documentation during the application process. It is advisable to have all required documentation readily available.
  • Maintain accurate records:Keep detailed records of all immigration-related activities, including visa applications, EQ applications, CERPAC applications, and salary payments.

Final Thoughts

By following these guidelines, you can successfully navigate the process of employing expatriates in Nigeria and ensure that your company complies with all applicable regulations. This will not only protect your company from legal and financial penalties but also foster a positive and compliant workplace for your expatriate employees. Featured Image Source: Vietnam Manpower
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This article was first published on 19th November 2023 and updated on November 21st, 2023 at 1:18 pm


Chidiogo Shalom Akaelu holds a degree in English and Literary Studies, from the University of Nigeria. She is a freelance writer, editor and founder of Loana Press, a budding online publishing outlet.

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