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5 Advantages and disadvantages of buying your car from Cotonou

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The car market in Cotonou is arguably the largest automobile market in West Africa as it thrives on Nigeria’s mega population. Many Nigerians have resolved to buying their cars from this market due to several challenges inherent in getting a good bargain within our fatherland. I recommend that  you consider the following advantages and disadvantages before buying your first or next car through the Cotonou route:


  • Level of honesty: This market welcomes you with a lovely aura and a serene environment which gives you the opportunity to explore without being exploited by those guys who always claim “nah my brother get the car”. The Cotonou dealers would calmly communicate the prices of their vehicles to you and they will not hassle or compel you to buy from their lot. Obviously, they are not over desperate to sell and this significantly reduces the extent to which they cheat their clients. However, this does not mean you should be gullible and fall for what they want you to believe as they also roll back mileages and refurbish several accidented cars, but they will hardly sell a registered car to you as tokunbo like our brothers at Berger would.
  • Cleaner cars: The car dealers in Cotonou can afford to buy more cars that are not accidented because they do not bare any import duty cost as the import duty is paid to the Government by the buyer after the car is sold by the dealer. Hence, they have a reasonable amount of cars that are not accidented and the accidented ones are usually repaired by professional panel beaters and painters.
  • Relatively low import duty for high-end cars: Several luxury and recent cars that are considered to be high-end are usually brought into Nigeria through the Seme land border due to reduced duty. A major reason for the reduced duty is the fact that Benin Republic‘s Government charges a fixed import duty (500,000 CFA = 320,000 Naira) on all cars irrespective of its year or trim. Furthermore, the import duty at Seme border is less than Apapa and Tincan port as charges that accrue to shipping companies are waived, basic import duties are usually lower and smuggling is easier. I remember counting over 100 Landcruiser and Prado jeeps that came into Nigeria the only night I slept at Ilaro town about 2 years ago.
  • Varieties: If you want to get tired of seeing cars, Cotonou car market is the place to be. You will be overwhelmed by the unlimited number of cars spread over the vast expanse of land. Do not make the mistake of doing your search by foot as those that move around the market on motorbikes still complain of being exhausted.
  • Market localization: This eliminates the stress of driving across a whole state or an entire city in search of a car as most of the cars are located within close proximity to one another.

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  • Difficulty to run a VIN check: This will not be an issue if you have internet data on your phone. However, it is a major issue for so many people who make payment for cars without having information about its flooded history or rolled back mileage. I inspected some cars in Cotonou 3 weeks ago and only realized that the one we liked the most had its mileage reduced from 258,000 miles to 125,000 miles. Thank God we went back to Seme border to get network to run the VIN checks.
  • Relatively high import duty for cheaper cars: There is a myth that all cars from Cotonou are cheaper than cars which are cleared via Lagos ports. This is actually false especially in the case of cars that are relatively old. e.g a 2003 Toyota Camry is usually cheaper if imported through Apapa sea ports as against routing it through Cotonou because you would pay double duty to two separate Governments in the latter.
  • Nigeria Customs’ palava: Customs’ issue is the king of all the challenges you can face when bringing your car into Nigeria from Cotonou. The issues ranges from vehicle seizure to exploitation. I do not hope for my enemy to experience this as those Custom guys are not smiling no matter who you are or who you know. They even seize vehicles that belong to their fellow custom officials as well as that of top military officials. The simplest way to save your car from being seized is by using a reliable and trustworthy agent and ensuring your car is taken into the Nigerian Customs’ compound at the border for proper duty assessment and payment.
  • Restricted movement: Most Nigerians who successfully bring in cars with compromised import duty from Cotonou usually count their gains at the time of purchase. However, this excitement fades away quickly as they begin to watch over their shoulders especially when travelling interstate. Some even travel without their cars due to fear of custom officials.
  • Possible damage when vehicle is in transit: A typical example of penny wise is when you save some bucks by bringing your car in from Cotonou but the cost of damage sustained to your car is commensurate to or higher than the anticipated savings. Some car crossing agents who smuggle cars without the owner’s consent still had a shootout with custom officials a few weeks back.

My verdict is for you to only bring in your car from Cotonou if you have a trusted hand who will not smuggle/fly your car and ensure full import duty is paid after proper assessment at the custom’s office.

What is your verdict on this pertinent issue?

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2016 lexus rx350



About AutoJosh

If you think about cars, think AutoJosh. Ask us any car related question in our forum section and you will get a response ASAP. Check Nigeria custom import duty for 5,300 cars only on AutoJosh. Real-time automobile news, articles, driving tips and many more. ...Your mobility, our priority.

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  1. Visited your blog from NL. Very dope article, I must say. Especially when the co-owner of my blog and I talked about buying cars from Cotonou when we make dough from AdSense.

    Keep up the good work boss. Thumbs up

  2. Nice one…been waiting for this. Well written article. Best Auto Blog. Very informative site.

  3. Bros you are very correct, I take watching dos cars coming in through Ilaro as movie, with drivers not considering the fact that someone hard earn money is wat dey are driving. Good talk keep it up.Tt9t9

  4. Excellent write up. I commend your originality of thought and unique style. I have been researching about going to Cotonou to buy a car. I even bought a e-book from one of these arm-chair infoprenuers regarding the steps involved in importing a car from Cotonou. Saw your article today on NL and headed to your site. I am convinced you are knowledgeable about the subject matter.

    I am interested in 2007 Toyota Highlander. Cotonou is still my preferred destination regardless of the inherent hassles. I would like to engage your services in order not to be penny wise, pound foolish. What will it cost to get this car from Cotonou to Nigeria? No point asking you to compare Cotonou vs Nigeria price, it would definitely be much more expensive in Nigeria.

  5. Big up my brother for your wonderful investigative write up about Cotonou car market especially this your blog concerning fairly used cars info is a big relief for many Nigerians who have fallen victim to many unfaithful car dealers both here & Cotonou. Thanks a lot Autojosh.Ji si ike.More grease to your elbow.

  6. Pls Autojosh am interested in Volkswagen Tuareg 2009/2010 Model I wanted to bid online through( Export car USA)website but its unfamiliar territory for me though I have done abit of research about it but i feel I need help from experience expert like you pls here is email (dcouletrii@gmail.com) for further discussion though Cotonou is my second option. Waiting for your reply. Thanks.

  7. Thumbs up AutoJosh. I enjoyed the well detailed expose on the the issue of importing Cars through Cotonou.
    Infact, I am more enlightened on the minimum of hassles to expect as against just running myself into a cul-de-sac in a dark Alley. Thank you Bros.

  8. Nice article josh, very incisive but then again am of the opinion that moving in cars from Cotonou is of a better proposition if indeed one is sure of his grounds. kindly emall me your contact number, johnadiele15@gmail.com. cheers

  9. Nice write-up!

  10. Very lovely please want to ask how much will Toyota carmy xle2008/09cost now through Cotonou.

  11. hello autojosh.i m so thrilled to know about your blog today.i will be glad if you can help me handle the purchase of my car from cotonou.i l like to know the landing cost of 2009 lexus rx350 grade A and 2010 lexus rx350 grade A including import and custom duties and all the neccessary genuine documents.i l be so glad if you can assist me through this.thanks

  12. Pls what’s the cost of VW Toureg 2009/2010 model from Cotonou to Nigeria.

  13. thanks autojosh.i will beep u by next month when i am ready.please how can i contact you asides here? maybe through whatsapp or bbm.thanks

  14. I just stumbled on this blog and article. Really cool stuff you doing here.

    I am interested in getting my first car but via the Cotonou option. However, I am on a budget and would love to know what impact the current inflation has had on the cost of these cars.

    What I need is a Toyota Camry (anything clean from 2008 – 2011). Please, do you know how much this will cost me? I need to plan but I also need it really quick.

    Thank you!

    • AutoJosh

      The price of cars from Cotonou has been on a constant rise due to the exchange rate. You’ll probably land the 2008 Camry with an average price of N2.7 million with complete duty.

  15. Hi josh , really interested in a 2008 Acura MDX SH AWD . What is the approx total Cost .

    If you can spare some time , Can we chat via my email : uchnov@gmail.com

  16. Hi auto josh, I didn’t get a reply email so
    I thought I’d ask you straight on here

    What’s the current landing cost of an Acura MDX 2008 from Cotonou ?


    • AutoJosh

      Dear Mr Micheal, this is the response I sent to your email yesterday.

      Hello Sir,

      Your mail is well received. Average cost of N4 million should land it although it may be slightly less or more.

      Please note that these prices vary frequently due to the unstable exchange rate.


    • AutoJosh

      I also sent you my contact so we can chat on whatsapp

  17. Hi AJ,
    What is total price of importing a Ford explorer 2008 4.6L 8V from Cotonou to Lagos.

  18. Hello Josh, came across your blog and I must confess it has been incisive and educative. I hope to contact you when I am ready to purchase my ride. Keep up the good job.

  19. Engr Cosmas Nnamdi

    Hi Josh, I’m interested in a 2010 to 2013 Toyota Venza, Very clean and full option. What’s the landing cost from Cotonou and what is the cost in Nigeria. Pls drop me your WhatsApp contact. I need it urgently.

  20. Hello Sir,

    I am interested in a brand New Ford Edge latest model, titanium and full option from cotonou with full duty paid in Nigeria,

  21. Am thrilled and motivated by your excellent write up, it is an eye opener for the novice not to fall prey.
    However, do you have an idea of Toyota Corolla 2004/2005 price from Cotonou and which of the route will be cheaper to take it through?

    Thank you

  22. You post is excellent. But I’ve always believed the government has stopped the land border vehicle importation few months ago.

  23. Hello Josh, you’re doing a wonderful work here, well done.
    With land ban importation, does that mean I can’t legally buy a car from cotonu with duty paid or what? Little bit confused.
    However, how much will Toyota Corolla 2004/2005 cost from Cotonou including duties paid.
    Thank you

    • AutoJosh

      Thanks for the compliment. Cotonou is a no go area for now. The ban has not been lifted so you can’t import legally from there. However, importing directly from USA would cost an average of N2.3m

  24. Hi josh,
    Good job u doing? Please how much will it cost. To purchase Hyundai Elantra 2009 with all documents From the US with the breakdown of cost.

  25. Hi there,
    With the ban of importation of cars via land borders, is it still reliable to buy and import from Cotonou?

    • AutoJosh

      It is not advisable. Better to buy the one that is already in Nigeria and confirm the import papers. or you import from USA yourself

  26. This is August 25th, 2017. Is the ban still on and at this time will it better to buy Nijia?

  27. Hello AJ
    Please email me your mobile number
    I will like to buy 2012/2013 model of ML Mercedes Benz

  28. Hello AJ
    Please email me your mobile number
    I will like to buy 2012/2013 model of ML Mercedes Benz to be delivered in Cameroon through Mamfe

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