Home / News & Reviews / 7 steps to buy your car from USA and ship to Nigeria without leaving your bedroom.

7 steps to buy your car from USA and ship to Nigeria without leaving your bedroom.

car from USA

In this article, I will be taking you through the easy steps you can use to buy your car from USA and ship to Nigeria without leaving your bedroom. Virtually all car dealers in Nigeria follow these same steps to buy and import the cars they sell to you. I’ll be proud to hear that you were able to import your car all by yourself after you read this post.

Steps to buy your car from USA and ship to Nigeria.

Register with a car auction website:

Online car auction is the safest and most reliable way to buy your car across the Atlantic especially when you do not have a well trusted ally over there. Don’t make the mistake of sending your money to any dealership. Most importantly, never send your money to family and friends that are not well trusted as they may use your money to pay rent. Some of these auction companies offer free registration while others charge $200 (N91,000) initial registration as well as annual subscription. A few of these online car auction sites are copart.com, auctionexport.com, iaai.com etc. You will also need to submit your identification card as well as other required documents in order to increase your bidding eligibility.

Learn and understand the common terms used in car auction:

This is very important as the technical terms are tools you require to make purchase decisions. You need to know the meaning of salvage title, clean title, buy it now, pure sale, enhanced vehicle, engine start program, run and drive etc. You also need a basic idea of the location of the states in USA so your story won’t be like that of a guy who bought a car in Oregon State thinking the car was in Orlando, Florida. He eventually paid additional $1,500 (N250,000) in shipping charges back in 2014. OYO is your case if you make such mistake today as you’ll have to cough out N700,000.

Note that you cannot export a car that does not have a valid title. You should only proceed to bid if the car’s title document is clean title, certificate of title or salvage title. You will not be able to export a car from USA if it has bill of sale or parts only certificate except the car is dismantled.

Search and select the car you want to buy:

This is the most tedious part of buying a car in Nigeria as you sometimes have to drive from Lagos to Ibadan in search of a car you may not like eventually. However, online auction gives you access to over 150,000 cars from your bedroom. Isn’t that interesting?

At this point, you really need to shine your eyes. This is where most people make mistakes as they fall in love with a car that looks spotless in picture. Thereby ignoring the fact that the vehicle narration states that it has a front end accident. 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. Hence, you have to pay attention to every single detail and don’t just look at a car on the surface.

Well, some car dealers in Nigeria don’t pay attention to details because they prefer to buy the scrappy accidented cars which are cheaper and they come fix them here. Make sure you do a Vehicle History/VIN check before you proceed to buy the 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.

Buy your car:

Some cars are listed as buy it now which 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).

When I get to this stage, I always pray this our Naija internet does not mess me up. I dumped Swift Network for Smile but now thinking of Spectranet as the Smile is beginning to turn to frown.

Pay for your car:

Bank wire transfer and debit/credit card are the 2 main options you can use to make your payment. The card payment is faster and cheaper, however, you’ll be restricted by maximum card limits and declined transactions on most Nigerian cards. Therefore, you are probably left with just the wire transfer. Buy dollar from your Aboki and send through your bank dollar account.

Furthermore, you have to initiate the transfer of the money as soon as possible because you will be charged a penalty of $50 to $100 if they don’t get your money within 2-3 business days. Immediately they receive the money, they credit your car auction online account with the same amount. Hence, your payment for the car in processed and voila! the car is yours.

Ship your car from USA:

At this point, you or your shipping agent in USA will arrange a tow truck or flat bed to pick up the car and deliver at the closest US seaport. This cost may be as low as $200 and it may be as high as $1,800 if you buy your car in a state that is far away from the seaports on the east coast.

Note that your car must leave the auction company’s compound/yard within 7 days after the bid date. Else, you will start to pay $20 daily for storage charge.

Your shipping agent clears the car through US customs for export. Before, you know it, your car is already on the Atlantic heading to Nigeria. Most people prefer Ro-Ro (Roll on Roll off) shipping method to Container shipping. This is because the container shipping method is a little more expensive. You also have to pair with other people in order to share the container cost. The challenge with the pairing is 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 demmurage at Lagos port.

car from USA

Clear your car with Nigeria Customs:

You can do this yourself if you have the time and energy to spare. Alternatively, employ the service of a reliable clearing agent who will clear your car within 2-3 days.

The surface duty is 35% of the estimated value of the car. In addition, you will pay surcharge, VAT, shipping and terminal charges as well as other miscellaneous charges. Note that owners of 2016 and 2017 cars with mileage less than 5,000 kilometres will pay surface duty of 70%.


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.

Now. you can buy your car from USA and ship to Nigeria without leaving your house.

Tell if you brought in your car from USA and your experience.

car from USA

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.

Check Also


New BMW 8 Series Revealed – Amazing Photos

This new BMW 8 Series is arguably the most luxurious BMW. It is also expected to …


  1. Make we try am…….

  2. Can you advise me on the
    Best location that is close to the sea port to buy from?

    • AutoJosh

      Most ships sail to West Africa from New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Texas and some other states along the east coast. So it is better to buy in these states or nearby states if you are on a budget.

  3. this bro is the best, he has the best customer service i ever had with a car dealer, he spent over 30mins with me on the phone giving me advice on the car i want to buy with his airtime, even though he’s not sure am buying from him. You’re the best bro.

  4. Can u place a value in naira or in % on how much I’ll pay on surcharge, VAT,terminal charges,shipping and when u said we pay 35% duty on the car how do they know the real value of the car? is it that they look at the amount we bought the vehicle in USA or they use the price it is usually sold in Nigeria?

    • AutoJosh

      Nigeria Custom fixes an estimated value for the car you are importing and the 35% is calculated on that value. Surcharge and VAT is about 28%. Add shipping of about 50 to N60k and other miscellaneous plus the agents commission. The miscellaneous should not be more that 10k or 20k. The insurance template for import duty of over 5,000 cars will be up on AutoJosh within 10 days.. This is the link to the page .. https://autojosh.com/import-duty/

    • Is it worth importing a 2010 Escallade and a 2014 Toyota Yaris for personal use if I have to pay 35% tarrif and VAT of 28% and other fees. Is better to sell them before coming to home and buying a car at home

      • AutoJosh

        I am 100% certain that your best bet is still to ship your Vehicles to Nigeria.

        The vehicles that are here are also not cheap except you want to buy a smaller and/or older car.

        Coming to source for cars here should be your last option if you can ship similar vehicles down here.

        You may prefer to sell the Escalade and buy and ship another vehicle that is more practical to maintain in Nigeria.

  5. Hi AutoJosh Can You Guide Me On How To Get A Shipping Agent Pls?

  6. Nice article Sir..
    Best I ever read..
    I have much more interest in power bikes..
    Do you really know much about getting them??
    Kindly drop any info so we communicate one on one..
    I really appreciate your services sir
    Sanusi Adams

  7. Can you help me and ship Rav4 2010 model

  8. Good sir,nice work you’re doing,i have a few questions…With the current situation in the country,1.what’s the best car deal for a low-income earner 2. which is preferable at the moment…buying a car from cotonou or from the USA or which other means is advisable.(clean,fairly used) 3.is it advisable to get a car loan and which companies or cardealers offer such services and which in your expert opinion is the best.please contact me on 08150760515(call,sms,whatsapp), e-mail: emmaekopp2@gmail.com

    • AutoJosh

      Low income is relative and the best car solely depends on the car buyer and the factors surrounding his or her purchase. However, most budget car buyers in Nigeria settle for Toyota corolla or camry (your budget will determine the year to buy).

      Buying a car from Cotonou has never been an option for me because it is actually more expensive except the car is smuggled in. Nigeria Customs can seize your smuggled car anytime. USA is the best option because you get to choose from varieties with little or no damage. Several car dealers in Nigeria buy badly damaged cars which may become problematic.

      Car loan is really not an option. Any dealer that gives you a car loan is just about to swindle you. They can sell you a Nigerian used car for Tokunbo price. Banks give loans on brand new cars but not on Toks.

  9. Thanks for this very useful information.
    Please, I would like to know some things about cars older than 15 years.
    -Are they really banned?
    -If not, how does Customs charge on them?
    -In this situation, is shipping or Cotonou better?

      • AutoJosh

        Sent to your email…

        They are not really banned. They call them underage vehicles.

        The surface duty will be the same with that of its 2002 model. You will also pay some additional charges which will make the total import duty be like 30k to 50k more than the 2002 model.

        Shipping through Cotonou is really not an option because it will be more expensive if you follow the legitimate route.


  10. I need Toyota corolla 2003. please need your help. 08030792258

  11. “The surface duty is 35% of the estimated value of the car. In addition, you will pay surcharge, VAT, shipping and terminal charges as well as other miscellaneous charges. Note that owners of 2016 and 2017 cars with mileage less than 5,000 kilometres will pay surface duty of 70%.”

    Based on your above information, 35% of duty, 28% of VAT, terminal charges, and other miscellaneous charges, it appears it will not be worth it to bring in my 2010 Escallade and a 2014 Toyota Yaris. It appears selling them in the USA and coming back to Nigeria and purchasing a fairly used car for personal use will be my best bet. What’s your opinion of my conclusion?

  12. AutoJosh

    Sure. Though, could be stressful.

  13. I notice that cars are much more pricey at home than in the US. Do you have a recommendation as to where one could buy a car at a better deal instead of buying from a dealer or private party. For example, does custom auction off some of their cars to the public? I don’t mean those scam advertisement impersonating customs. I mean the real Nigerian customs

    • AutoJosh

      Sorry for the late response. The only cheap option I know is to buy from USA auction yourself and ship to Nigeria. Nigeria Customs does not do any public car auction. The only one they do is internal amongst their staff. Anyone that get out to the public as we speak is a scam.

  14. Hi AutoJosh, Am looking at importing a 2008 Toyota Camry from the US. Could you please assist with the estimated total cost. Would appreciate if you can include what it would cost me at each stage. Thanks.

  15. Hi! How do I ship after a succesful bid and how much does the shiping cost. And which do you advise to use , copart or auctionexport. Also does the custom put into consideration the damage on a car to determine the duty to be paid or no mercy at all. Thanks

    • AutoJosh

      With Copart, you have to arrange your vehicle shipping. You will get a trucker to go pick up the car from copart yard. However, auction export can arrange the shipping for you and you will get your car at Lagos port. Car dealers prefer copart or IAAI because of lowered cost. Auction export don’t own the cars themselves so they charge you extra to help you get the car. Car end users may prefer to go with auction export because they can do the shipping for them, however they have a couple of charges which adds to the price and their shipping cost is usually more expensive. As for me, I usually use copart. Nigeria customs used to reduce the import duty on damaged cars but it has now been stopped.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook Comment