Driving in Nigeria

How to drive in Nigeria
Updated 2017-09-15 14:59

Given the unreliable nature of public transportation in Nigeria, having a car in Nigeria is deemed essential by a number of expats. Here is what you need to know about driving in Nigeria.

Driver's licence in Nigeria

Foreign licences are not recognised in Nigeria, hence expats are required to obtain a Nigerian driver's licence in order to be able to drive a motorcycle or a car in the country.

The fastest and most effective way to get a Nigerian driver's licence is to enrol into an accredited driving school, and attend the prescribed program of study before presenting yourself to the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) to take a driving test.

Once your VIO driving certificate of proficiency obtained, head for the nearest Driver's Licence Centre, duly fill a registration form and pay the required fee (about NGN 6,000), get you file endorsed and your fingerprints captured, and here you go! You will be provided a temporary driver's licence, valid for 2 months, after which your new permanent Nigerian driver's licence should be ready for collection.

Road condition in Nigeria

In many areas of Nigeria, the poor general condition of roads is liable to cause accidents - a risk exacerbated by the virtual absence of road signs or traffic control police officers, and by the utter absence of any government vehicle road-worthiness inspection. The frequent power outages that result in traffic light shutdowns demand extra caution.

Highway code in Nigeria

Under Nigeria's Federal Highway Code, motor vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road, at speed limited to 40 km/h within towns, 80 km/h on intercity roads and 120 km/h on expressways.

However, in fact, the traffic regulation is not strictly enforced and few drivers care to comply by it, especially in crowded Lagos, where the rule of law gives way to the rule of the strongest - or the fastest.

Drivers should always carry in their vehicle their registration documents, insurance and license.

Getting a car in Nigeria

Although relatively hassle-free, importing a foreign car into Nigeria requires the payment of clearance fees (from NGN 290,000 to 800,000 according to the vehicle's date of manufacture). However, vehicles older than 15 cannot enter Nigeria. Furthermore, you will not be not allowed to resell your foreign car in Nigeria.

Alternatively you can just buy a car in Nigeria. While new ones tend to be expensive, you can find great bargains on the second hand market, although it is really important for you to hire a trusted, independent mechanic to assess the vehicle's road-worthiness and the absence of major hidden defects. Going for a 4x4 is not a bad idea, especially if you intend to explore the rural areas of the country.

But your first step should be to check with your Nigerian employer whether they can include a car in your benefits package. Most companies do, and even throw in a driver. While the prospect of having an employee driving you around can, at first, seem off-putting, you should remember that Nigerian roads, traffic and congestion demand someone who actually knows their way around!

Good to know:

In Nigeria, having a car, and even more a driver, also represents a mark of status and can help you in your daily life.

Useful links:

Nigeria Driver's Licence
Vehicle Inspection Office

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