This is a document that authorizes a person especially a foreign national to live in Nigeria. It grants the holder rights as regards living for a specified period of time subject to renewal. The Nigerian Immigration Service through the Director of Immigration i.e. the Comptroller General is charged with the responsibility of issuing residence permits in Nigeria.


Persons who are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Nigeria are:

1. ECOWAS National (citizens) resident in Nigeria.

2. Expatriates or Foreigners.

3. Other special individuals.

A. As an ECOWAS Citizen Resident in Nigeria:

ECOWAS stands for Economic Community of West African States, it is an organization set up solely for the purpose of fostering economic integration and development among West African member states, such as Ghana, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Mali, etc.

ECOWAS citizens are persons who come from any of the states mentioned above. These groups of persons are given free entry into member states for a period of 90 days. Although it is not conditional that such a citizen should obtain a Visa, it is however important to register with the Nigerian Immigration Service by applying for a residence permit card.

Some of the requirements for applying for a Residence permit as an ECOWAS citizen include:

1. Application letter for ECOWAS Residence Card by individual / Company/ Embassy which bears the responsibility of the citizen.

2. Original and photocopy of ECOWAS Travel Certificate / National passport that is valid for not less than 6 months.

3. Two (2) recent passport photographs.

4. Printed evidence of E-payment of the prescribed fee.

5. Application form duly completed and signed.

Other requirements in the case of Employees are:

1. Letter of offer and acceptance of employment.

2. Applicant credentials and CV (if necessary).

3. Evidence of registration with the required professional bodies.

 Requirements for renewing an ECOWAS Residence Permit Card

The residence permit card lasts for a period of 2 years after the issuance and is subject to renewal upon following the requirements which are:

1. Application for renewal of ECOWAS from Employer / Company / Embassy etc. which accepts responsibility for the citizen.

2. Expired Residence Card.

3. Application for renewal duly completed and signed.

4. Photocopy of Bio-data page and Expired Residence Card.

B. As an Expatriate or Foreigner

For a foreigner who seeks to apply for a Residence Permit in Nigeria, below is a list of the required documents to be provided by the applicant:

1. Letter of Application for Regularization to Stay and for acceptance of expatriate responsibilities by Employer / School/ Embassies/ NGOs/ MDAs/ Government officials etc.

2. Passport bio-data page of the expatriate.

3. Photocopy of STR visa page and arrival endorsement page.

4. Visa application form.

5. Two (2) recent passport photographs.

6. Expatriate’s valid National Passport.

7. Bank teller showing evidence of the purchase of the CERPAC form.

Where the expatriate is an employee of a company, such applicant is required to provide the following in addition to the requirements provided above;

1. Letter of offer and acceptance of employment.

2. Academic credentials and CV.

3. Copy of valid Quota approval.

4. Certificate of Incorporation.

5. Evidence of registration with professional bodies.

6. Business permit of the company.

The requirements for the renewal of an Expatriate Residence Permit are the same as that of the ECOWAS Residence Permit.


1. Accredited Diplomats:

i. Note Verbale from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ii. Request letter from letter from the Embassy/High Commission/International Agency.

iii. Visa application form.

iv. Diplomatic Staff list.

v. Photocopies of relevant Bio-data pages of National Passport and Diplomatic entry Visa.

2. Staff of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs):

i. Accreditation letter from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

ii. Application letter from the organization accepting Immigration Responsibility.

iii. Visa application form.

iv. Memorandum of Understanding /Corporation Agreement with National Planning Commission.

v. Other general requirements.

3. Foreign spouses of Nigerians:

i. Application letter for Residence Permit by the Nigerian spouse accepting Immigration Responsibility.

ii. Special Immigrant Status approval letter by the Minister of Interior.

iii. Nigerian spouse’s consent letter requesting for special Immigrant Status, showing willingness to stay.

iv. Original and photocopy of Nigerian passport bio-data page of a spouse.

v. Marriage Certificate.

vi. CERPAC form.

vii. Two (2) recent passport photographs.

 4. Change of Employment

When an expatriate changes employment while living in Nigeria, it is expected that an application be made for a change of employment to the Nigerian Immigration Service with the following documents:

i. Application letter for change of employment from new company accepting Immigration Responsibility.

ii. Letter of offer and acceptance of appointment from the company and the expatriate.

iii. Letter of no objection from old employer etc.

Applications are made in the same procedures as ECOWAS citizen residents in Nigeria.


When a foreign national comes to Nigeria with the intention of living there, it is essential that such foreigner makes the necessary applications to regularize their stay within Nigeria by applying for a residence permit. A residence permit enables such foreigners to live within Nigeria for a limited period of time.

Where such a foreigner intends to stay for more than 56 days in Nigeria, the latter must apply for a CERPAC card. Read more about CERPAC card HERE.

The Immigration procedure and requirements are however slightly different in cases where a foreign-owned company incorporated in Nigeria, is bringing in a foreigner as an employee or a promoter of a foreign-owned company within Nigeria wishes to do business while living in Nigeria. Click here to find out more about Immigration requirements for starting a business in Nigeria as a foreigner.

Need help with applying for a residence permit in Nigeria? Click the Whatsapp icon on the lower right part of this page or reach out to us HERE, and we will respond to you.







Cynthia Tishion
Cynthia is a lawyer and currently serves as Head of Corporate / Commercial Services at LEX – PRAXIS. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspect of businesses through various platforms such as writing, public speaking engagements.

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