Wednesday, February 21, 2018 05.20PM / Proshare Finance
Sending a parcel above £100 or any shipment of personal items and
clothes to family members and friends, something hitherto deemed a routine
relationship between locals and the diaspora to express support, appreciation
and a form of strengthening relationships and bonds; now requires a further
Across the globe the courier services play a major role in
managing the diaspora-locals nexus beyond the remittance remit that occupies
the public discourse.
Nigeria is not an exception. Historically, this was a cultural
attribute that defined and reinforced relationships. It remains so now but the
platforms for deploying same is changing for effective value-for-money
Over the years, and given changing trends; the diaspora community
has matured to such a stage that it created a business model that leveraged the
bulk service opportunities that came from having many people use one service
provider to ship items to Nigeria as a means of reducing the effective cost to
any one person. This was a need-based response to the use of known persons to
drop items off which was fraught with many drawbacks, challenges and exposure
As these “informal shipping entities” grew in relevance and
usefulness, some new set of challenges occurred which the community has since
responded to in order to sustain the relationship flow for siblings, friends
The clamour by established brands to demonize or influence regulation/policy
to cripple this emerging option has met with mixed success. The consequence of
these developments, reactions and consumer shifts has made it an interesting
space for which the new rules are still being ordered.
For those who choose to use the formal courier platforms like DHL
Nigeria, the experience so far leaves much to be desired. Too many instances of
unknown duty charges at the point of collection has created a distrust for the
service and a push factor away from the platform(s).
Thus, the customer that engages firms such as DHL has no choice
but to pay additional duty in Nigeria upon receiving the notification from
‘Customs Clearance Section (NG)’.
What you get from this CCS is an estimate as computed by DHL, not
the Nigerian Customs Service.
DHL’s customs clearance section prepares an invoice and demands
that you pay into its accounts lest it ‘returns’ the goods (which are still
at the customs at this time) which will immediately start attracting
demurrage….a “gun to the head’ rule which all recipients in
Nigeria must comply with.
A recent experience of this developments and narratives on and
around the service identified two key strands of concern:
1. The originating point
in Europe has not perfected its customer service to ‘disclose’ and ‘obtain
the consent’ of shippers on charges at point of collection.
2. The absence of
clarity on the HS Code due on the charges and direct billing from the
relevant agency – Nigerian Customs Service.
For those in the diaspora, if you venture to send items as little
as underwear, socks, t-shirt, jeans or any other apparel(s) with a value above
£100 (N50,370:00), you are subject to a fee equal to or around 20% duty + 5% VAT Judging by the customs CET Tariff
comprising of varying dutiable items with their respective duty rates according
to DHL Nigeria.
Also, according to DHL; demurrage charges has been implemented
thus, eight (8) days from the date of the arrival notification, your shipment
will start to incur demurrage charges of N43 / Kg, per day and the higher of
N2,155.00 daily, if no record of having received the customs duty payment.
In short, you really have no choice but to pay from the date of
arrival of the goods or risk losing same or paying in excess of the value of
DHL and its ilk will have you believe that they are compelled by
the Nigerian Customs Law to hand any shipment over to the Nigeria Customs
Service 28 days after the duty amount has been advised; a period during which
demurrage has been applied, making the goods non-viable in the first place.
The impression has been created that this is a part of
Government’s policy to reduce FX usage, increase revenue from customs and
ensure that preference for imported goods are discouraged.
Yet, an absence of a clear law and justification of such practices
can only deliver three things:
1. Create a rent culture
and abuse by the courier companies (who do not provide customers with
prior information nor the customs issued bills whichever the case);
2. Drive users to the
informal practices they are used to and appear to be fair and equitable;
3. Operate without
proper governance that requires a clear display of the items / amount
subject to duty and the applicable laws related thereto.
The challenge this represents is best seen through the social
relationship and economic capture prism it represents. Driving citizens
underground through regressive laws and practices harms the economy, builds
distrust and ultimately harms the development of a e-commerce economy in the
It is noteworthy to point out that DHL International offers this
advisory on goods purchased online and sent/brought into the country:
Goods Purchased Online for Personal Use
You may be charged customs duties and taxes for something
purchased online because:
and taxes are most typically not included in the price of the goods you
purchase online, and might not be included in the overall shipping costs
you pay to the online retailer.
purchasing goods online, some or all of these goods may not originate in
the country you reside in, therefore are subject to a customs duty, which
is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international
goods are not shipped domestically (within your country) or within a
single customs union, such as the European Union, you are liable to pay
any inbound duties and taxes which your local customs authority deems
ensure the DHL courier can deliver your goods in shortest possible time
after entering your country or customs union, DHL pays the customs
authority on your behalf for any duties and taxes that are due on the
the duties and taxes are fully repaid to DHL the goods will be delivered
is payable, if anything, depends on where the goods are sent from, the
type of goods, their transactional value and the weight of the package
The above policy/advisory makes it clear that “Once the
duties and taxes are fully repaid to DHL the goods will be delivered to you”.
It thus recognised that the cost of delivery by the sender has captured
possible duty charges and does not pass the burden to the recipient of the
goods. This is especially true where the DHL entity did not bring up for
information or consent the existence of an unknown duty further payable.
As part of our service to the ‘Nigerians in Diaspora’
community, online community in Nigeria and the economy at large, we have
formally written to the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service and
the National assembly to seek further information, clarification, intervention
and engagement on this development.