Are you a foreigner with a desire to set up a non-profit organization or promote a non-profit-related cause in Nigeria? In this article, we’ll address concerns with respect to setting up your NGO in Nigeria as a foreigner.
Before we proceed, it is important to note that the Companies and Allied Matters Act is the framework for the registration and operation of business entities and non-profit organizations in Nigeria. It is the law that guides the registration of non-profit legal organizations. The process and method of application for registration of non-governmental organizations are provided for in the CAMA 2020 under part F, Section 825.
CAN A FOREIGNER REGISTER AN NGO, CHARITY, OR NON-PROFIT INSTITUTION IN NIGERIA?
A foreigner can set up an NGO in Nigeria, provided such foreigner resides in Nigeria and has a residence permit as required by Nigerian Immigration Laws. Section 826 (1) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 provides a list of those who are not qualified to set up an NGO or non-profit organization as a trustee. They are;
(a) an infant ;
(b) a person of unsound mind has been so found by a court ;
(c) an undischarged bankrupt; or
(d) one who has been convicted of an offense involving fraud or dishonesty
within five years of his proposed appointment.
From the list above, it is therefore safe to conclude that any person including a foreigner may register an NGO in Nigeria.
However, such foreigner must reside in Nigeria at the time of registration. To achieve this, such a foreigner must have his or her Combined Expatriate Residence Permit (CERPAC) to qualify as a resident prior to registering an NGO in Nigeria.
CAN A FOREIGN COMPANY REGISTER AN NGO, CHARITY, OR NON-PROFIT INSTITUTION IN NIGERIA?
A foreign company can register an NGO in Nigeria as deduced from Section 826 of CAMA. In a bid to satisfy the requirement for residence in Nigeria, such a foreign entity may appoint an individual who resides in Nigeria as a trustee within the organization. Such individual could be a foreigner who owns a residence permit or a Nigerian who resides in Nigeria.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTERING AN NGO WITH THE CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION AS A FOREIGNER?
The documents required to register an NGO in Nigeria are:
1. A minimum of three proposed names for registration
2. Particulars of trustees consisting of the Chairman and secretary such as name, residential address, date of birth, email, phone number, e.t.c
3. Copies of passport photographs of trustees
4. Copies of valid Government issued ID cards of trustees
5. Extract of the minutes of the general meeting appointing the trustees and where the special clause rule was adopted into the constitution of the organization, signed by the chairman and the secretary.
6. Trustee declaration form duly deposed to by each trustee in any high court in Nigeria
7. Original newspaper publication in two National dailies
8. Evidence of payment of the prescribed fee.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR REGISTERING AN NGO IN NIGERIA?
The following are the steps to register an NGO with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
1. Choose the NGO name. When choosing a name, make sure the name has a connection/matches the goals and objectives of the organization. Three names or more are needed should in case the first one is rejected.
2. Appointment of trustees. The trustees to be appointed must not be persons disqualified for any reason under the law.
3. Seek Professional help. To avoid meeting problems you may not be able to handle in the course of incorporation, it is important you engage the services of a professional lawyer who would assist with the registration processes. The solicitor will carry out the pre and post-registration activities.
A professional will to a large extent assist with every other aspect that comes with the process such as; applying for consent to register an NGO with the available names, preparation of the constitution a minutes of the meeting, etc
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO REGISTER AN NGO?
It may take up to 1-2 months to process the entire registration. This is largely due to the 28 days requirement for newspaper publication. Once your application has been received, such application will be considered, and thereafter, the certificate will be issued provided the application meets the requirements.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY NGO? (EFFECTS OF REGISTRATION)
The reasons why it is important to formally register an NGO are:
- Once an NGO is registered, it becomes a corporate body.
- The NGO becomes entitled to buy land, own fixed assets, and incur liabilities under its common seal.
- It acquires a perpetual succession status.
- Registration gives the NGO a corporate image.
- It serves as protection particularly as it concerns the name of the NGO
- Ability to open and operate a bank account in the name of the NGO
- It affords the NGO access to credit from official lenders and financial institutions
- It protects the NGO from personal liabilities.
- Tax exemption. NGOs are exempted from paying income tax as they are not set up with the aim of making a profit.
- The NGO can sue and be sued in its corporate name.
HOW MANY NUMBERS OF TRUSTEES ARE REQUIRED TO REGISTER AN NGO IN NIGERIA?
By virtue of section 823 (1), a minimum of two trustees are required to register an NGO. By the extant CAMA, the application must clearly state who is appointed as the Chairman of the organization and the Secretary among the trustees.
Are you passionate about impacting lives, and reaching out to the underprivileged within Nigeria as a foreigner? Promote scientific discoveries, literary works, culture, religion, and education, or generally improve the well-being of others in any aspect. Then registering an NGO is the best option and step to take.
Although it is possible to operate an NGO without registration, it is, however, advisable that you have it registered to be able to maximize all the benefits attached to registration which will give it growth and stability.
Need assistance with and clarification on setting up an NGO in Nigeria? Feel free to reach out to us through the Whatsapp link on the lower right part of this page or HERE, and we would be happy to help you.