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7 Simple Steps To Buy Your Car From USA And Ship To Nigeria



In Nigeria, the process of buying a car could be quite tedious.

Sometimes, you might need to travel from Port Harcourt to Lagos – or even Cotonou – in search of the desired car to buy. Sometimes, you return disappointed when you don’t find the car that meets your taste.

However, online car auction gives you access to over 150,000 cars  – and right from the comfort of your home or office.

And another benefit is this;  buying your car from an online car auction or car listing websites can save you hundreds of thousands of Naira than when you are buying from a dealer here in Nigeria.

These are some of the interesting things about buying cars online.

In this article, I will be taking you through  7 easy steps to follow in order to buy your car from USA and then ship to Nigeria without leaving your bedroom.

Virtually all car dealers in Nigeria follow these same steps to buy and import the cars that they sell to you.

At Autojosh, it is our wish to hear testimonies of how you were able to import your car after reading this article.

Step 1: Register with a car auction website or search on a car-listing website.

First, you must decide if you want to buy a car from an online car auction website (e.g. and, etc) or from a car-listing website (e.g. and


Car Listing Website

If you decide on buying a car from a car-listing website, then search for one. There, all you need to do is search for a car of your choice.

Warning:  Do not buy a car on the websites from a private seller if you do not have a trusted person on ground who will inspect, pay for and pick up the car on your behalf.

We advise that you buy from the dealership, especially the dealerships that are LLC (Limited Liability Company). Also, check to ensure that the dealerships have good reviews. Also, ensure to call them to make inquiries and seal the deal; then jump to STEP 5.


Online car auction

Buying a car from an online car auction site is a safe and more reliable way to buy a car from the USA.

This method is especially recommended if you do not have a trusted friend or relative on ground over there.

Some of these auction companies offer free registration while others charge $200 (N72, 000) initial registration as well as an annual subscription.

They can ship to you in Lagos or to your local representatives.

You will also be required to submit your identification card as well as some other documents in order to increase your bidding eligibility.

See 4 Top Car Sale Websites Used By Nigerians To Buy Cars From USA

You will also be required to submit your identification card as well as some other documents in order to increase your bidding eligibility.


Do your due diligence on a dealer before sending money to them.

Also, do not send your money to relatives or friends in the US that are not well-trusted. Some of them also have money problems that they need to solve.


Step 2. Learn and understand the terminologies used in car auction

It is important that you make yourself familiar with the terminologies used in purchasing decisions on these sites.

For instance, you should get used to terms like “salvage title”, “clean title”, “buy it now”, “pure sale”, “enhanced vehicle”, “engine start program”, “run” etc.

In addition, you need a basic idea of the location of the states in the United State.

This is necessary so that you do not buy a car at a location that is far from the East Coast or the seaports. Transporting the car can incur a lot more if it is in a State that is far from the ports or the East Coast.

In 2014, someone once bought a car in the state of Oregon, with the belief that the car was in Orlando, Florida. He eventually paid an additional $1,500 (N250, 000) in shipping charges. $1,500 by today’s exchange rate is N540, 000. That is a steep price to pay for not knowing where the car you are interested in is located.


You cannot export a car from the US if it does not have a valid title. Proceed to bid for a car only if the car’s title document is “clean title”, “certificate of title” or “salvage title”.


Step 3. Search and select the car you want to buy

This step requires vigilance. A lot of bad judgment or decisions are made at this point.

This is the point where one can easily select a car because the exterior looks good in the picture, without realizing that it has some defect.

For instance, a buyer can ignore the vehicle narration that states that it has had a front-end accident. Or you may not see the front damage in the picture because the car may have been partially repaired by the insurance company before putting it up for bid.

This is why it is very important to pay attention to every single detail and do not just look at a car on the surface.

Interestingly, many car dealers in Nigeria are not interested in such details. They prefer to buy the scrappy “accidented” cars. These ones are by far cheaper. Then they ship to them to Nigeria. On arrival, they fix the defect and put the car up for sale.

Warning:  Ensure to do a Vehicle History/VIN check before you proceed to buy a car. This would show you the history of the car for better judgment on whether or not to buy a car.

You can also engage the service of independent inspectors who would do a thorough inspection of the vehicle on your behalf. This inspection service comes at a cost of about $90.


Step 4. Buy your car

On online car auction websites, some cars are listed as “buy it now”. This means you can buy them at the displayed price immediately you spot them.

However, other cars can only be purchased at a predetermined bid date. So you have to wait for that date and time to join the bid room.

(See video of Nigerians in the bid room).



A trusted and fast Internet service is required for this stage. So, be mindful of the Internet service that you are using. From experience, some of our Internet service providers in Nigeria can mess up a bid for a bidder.

At a time, I dumped Swift Network for Smile and dumped Smile for Spectranet. After Spectranet, I have experimented with several others like FiberOne and MTN.

All these, just in a bid so as not to be out-bidded by other bidders around the world with better Internet service.


Step 5. Pay for your car

To make payment for a car that you are buying at an online auction, Bank wire transfer and Debit/Credit cards are the two main methods.

Paying with a Debit/Credit Card is faster.

However, on most Nigerian cards, you will be restricted by maximum card usage limits and declined transactions.

This sometimes leaves you with the Bank wire transfer option.

Buy dollar from the black market and send through your bank dollar (domiciliary) account.

Warning:  You have to do the transfer of the money as soon as possible. This is necessary so that the dealer does not sell the car to another buyer.

You also need to ensure you pay into their company account.

In addition, any delay in making payment to the auction company will make them charged you a penalty of $50 to $100 if the auction companies do not get the payment within 2-3 business days.

As soon as they receive the payment, they credit your car auction online account with the same amount. Hence, your payment for the car is processed, and voila!…the car is yours.

See Check Prices Of Over 5000 Cars In Nigeria On Autojosh. Click Here

Step 6. Ship your car from the USA to Nigeria

At this point, a tow truck or flatbed truck to pick up the car and deliver at the closest US seaport will be needed. This can be arranged by you or your shipping agent in the USA.

The cost of transporting the car with a tow truck or flatbed truck can be as low as $100. However, it may be as high as $2,500 –if your car was bought in a state in the USA that is far away from the seaports in the East Coast.

Then, your shipping agent clears the car through US customs for export.

After then, your car will be on the Atlantic, heading towards Nigeria.

Most people prefer RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off) shipping method to Container shipping.

This is because the container shipping method is a little more expensive.

Also, you might need to pair with other people in order to share the container cost.

The challenge with the pairing is that some of the people you share the container with may delay in presenting their shipping documents or payment for import duty in Nigeria, and this may make you incur demurrage at Lagos port.

Warning: Your car must leave the auction company’s compound/yard within 5 work days after the bid date. Else, you will be charged $20 daily as storage charge.


Step 7. Clear your car with Nigeria Customs

This step is one that you can do yourself – that is, if you have the time and energy for it.

Alternatively, you can employ the service of a reliable clearing agent who will clear your car within 2-3 days.

Again, you can do this yourself if you have some time and energy to spare.

The surface duty is 35% of the estimated value of the car. In addition, you will pay the surcharge, VAT, shipping and terminal charges as well as other miscellaneous charges.

Warning:  2016 and 2017 model cars with mileage less than 3,000 kilometers will pay a surface duty of 70%.



In Conclusion:

It takes an average of 6 weeks to get the car from the auction site to Lagos. I have done it before in 4 weeks but that was just a one-off.

Before you bid for a car or import a car, make sure you know the cost of the car here in Nigeria, before going ahead to made the purchase. is an authoritative car blog in Nigeria. Its objective is to get Nigerians and a wider audience to be more informed about automobiles, the automotive sector and transport infrastructure. Over the years, we have been instrumental in creating immeasurable public awareness about automobiles and their maintenance, safety and traffic laws, amongst others. ...Your mobility, our priority. NK