No doubt, the buying and selling of foreign currency is a booming sector in the Nigerian economy and Bureau de Change (BDC) plays a significant role in the foreign exchange chain. Other players include;

  • The Central Bank – the regulator
  • Corporations
  • Commercial and Investment Banks
  • Internet based trading platforms
  • Online retail brokers

Foreign exchange simply entails the buying and selling of two difference currencies in the financial market. A Bureau de Change simply means a place where one foreign currency can be traded for another through a broker.

The operation of a Bureau de Change is regulated in Nigeria by the Central Bank and to carry out activities as one, such entity must obtain the relevant license under Nigerian law.

In this article we would be considering the regulatory framework governing BDCs.


The Central Bank of Nigeria, provides operational guidelines for Bureau De Change in Nigeria. Under the guidelines, BDC’s are permitted to;

1. Deal in bank notes and coins, plastic cards and such other businesses as the CBN may approve from time to time.

2. Open both domiciliary and Naira accounts with Authorized dealers in Nigeria and inform the CBN accordingly. The              accounts shall be used solely for day to day operations.

3 Transact business at its registered office approved by the CBN.

4. Carry out currency exchange transactions on spot basis (i.e immediate settlement), forward transactions by BDCs              are not permitted.


Presently, BDCs are not permitted to carry out the following activities;

a. Engaging in off-shore business or maintaining foreign correspondence relationship

b. Maintaining a foreign account in whatever form.

c. Street trading of foreign exchange.

d. Carrying on capital market activities.

e. Engaging in any trade related import activities.

f. Round-tripping of foreign exchange [currency] acquired through the CBN window.

g. BDCs are also not permitted to expand branches outside of their registered office address.



The minimum share capital requirement for operating a Bureau de Change in Nigeria is N35, 000,000 (thirty five million naira) an application for a BDC license is carried out in two stages;

a. An approval in principle

b. Final license Stage

An application for an approval in principle would be accompanied by the following;

a. A formal application to the CBN Governor to grant the promoters an Approval in Principle to carry on the business of a Bureau De Change in Nigeria.

b. A non-refundable application fee of N100, 000 [One Hundred Thousand Naira Only] or such other amount as may be determined by the Central Bank from time to time

c. Evidence of payment of the refundable prescribed minimum capital of N35 million or any other amount as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.

d. A copy of feasibility report

e. A copy of the draft Memorandum and Articles of Association.

f. A letter of intent to subscribe to the shares of the proposed Bureau De Change signed by each subscriber.

g. A copy of the list of the proposed shareholders showing their business, and residential addresses and the names and addresses of their respective bankers, as well as the details of their Bank Verification Number (BVN).

Once the CBN is satisfied that the application submitted by an applicant, the bank would grant an approval in principle.

Please note that a grant of an approval in principle by the Central Bank cannot be interpreted as an approval to commence a Bureau de Change business. To commence actual operations, an applicant must obtain the final license.

Not later than six months after the grant of an Approval in Principle (AIP), the promoters/applicants are required to apply to the Governor of the Central Bank for grant of a final license with the following documents;

a. Evidence of payment of a non-refundable licensing fee of N1 million (one million naira) only or any other amount as may be determined by the CBN from time to time

b. The names, designations and signed Curricula Vitae (CV) of the proposed members of the top management.

c. Evidence of incorporation of the company with CAC.

d. Evidence of payment of N35 million mandatory caution deposit, or any other amount as may be determined by the CBN from time to time, into a designated CBN account.

e. Evidence of having suitable office accommodation for the operation of the proposed BDC.

f. Any other conditions as may be specified in the AIP letter

After grant of the Bureau de Change license, such BDC operator is required to renew such license annually by paying the required renewal fee. The renewal fee is currently N250, 000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) and is to be paid not later than 30 days after the end of each calendar year.



The Bureau de Change though a profitable sector is a regulated one. Therefore promoters seeking to operate within such sector must they do so within the arm of the law.  BDCs that fail to act within the provisions of the guidelines are liable to sanctions provided by the guidelines as well as other regulations.

Some of the infractions and sanctions are;

a. Operating without a valid licenseOutright closure of the institution and prosecution of the owners
b. Engaging in prohibited activities as contained in the guidelines.Revocation of license
c. Failure to attain the prescribed minimum paid-up share capital within the time allowed.Revocation of license.
d. Operation outside registered office and branch(es)Six months suspension and revocation thereafter if not rectified.
e. Multiple ownership of BDC.Revocation of license (s) of the affected BDCs.
f. Failure to pay annual license renewal fees within 3 monthsRevocation of license

Need help with setting up a Bureau de Change in Nigeria, our team of legal experts can assist you with providing legal advice, incorporation as well as obtaining the required license. You may reach out to us, or schedule an appointment and we will be delighted to assist 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.

Leave a Reply

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