Under Section 36 of the Immigration Act, non-Nigerians are required to obtain a business permit from the Minister of Internal Affairs before establishing or taking over a company or practicing a profession in Nigeria.
It is, however, important to note that business permit is only required where the company is entirely owned by the foreigners or where an international entity is engaging in a joint venture with Nigeria corporation. Where a Nigerian citizen is a shareholder in the company, it may obviate the need for the business permit.
Please note that this process is different from the process for obtaining the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). While business permit grants a foreign-owned or controlled company an authority to commence a business in Nigeria, the expatriate quota is the approval for individual foreign employee or director(s) of the firm to work in Nigeria.
It also differs from registration with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). However, registration with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) is one of the prerequisites for a business permit.
As of practice, the application for a business permit is always made together with the application for expatriate quota.