As already established by law in Nigeria, foreigners are at liberty to set up companies and businesses, alone or in partnership with any other person or entity, so far as the required procedures have been complied with as regards registration and in regards to the Immigration Act. Therefore, where the foreign owner desires to come to Nigeria to live and work on his/her business interests, a CERPAC is required.
WHAT IS CERPAC?
The word “CERPAC” is the acronym for Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card. It is a document issued by the government that bestows on a foreigner residency and employment in Nigeria. The CERPAC enables a foreigner or expatriate to live and work in Nigeria for a specified period of time. Generally, it is safe to say that the CERPAC is the card that gives an immigrant or expatriate the enablement to reside and carry on business in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Immigration Service in partnership with the Ministry of Interior is responsible for the issuance of the CERPAC. However, it is important to note that the CERPAC does not in any way preclude the holder from acquiring a visa as the purpose of it cannot be overlooked. Every foreigner visiting with the intention of remaining in Nigeria for more than 56 days and intends to work must obtain the CERPAC.
HOW TO OBTAIN CERPAC IN NIGERIA
To obtain the CERPAC, it is advisable to employ the services of a corporate legal practitioner or an immigration lawyer because of the cumbersome process involved. The application process for the CERPAC begins at the Nigerian Immigration Service office where a form will be given and after duly completed is processed and payment is made. The CERPAC form is however valid for three (3) months from the date of purchase, i.e. it must be completed and returned before then.
Apart from the form, there are other relevant documents that are needed to further facilitate the process:
1. Application letter from the employer requesting Regularization of stay and accepting Immigration Responsibility (IR) on behalf of the foreign national or expatriate.
2. Letter of Appointment/Employment.
3. Acceptance of offer of Appointment/ Employment.
4. Form IMM22 (CERPAC form) with 3 passport-size photographs.
5. Expatriate quota approval.
6. Valid passport with STR (Subject to Regularization) employment visa and photocopies of relevant pages.
After 2-3 weeks of submission of the above documents and payment of the prescribed fee, a temporary CERPAC card will be issued in the form of a receipt which enables the holder to travel in and out of Nigeria doing business pending the next 6-10 weeks when the Permanent CERPAC Green Card will be issued. The validity of a CERPAC Green Card is for two (2) years subject to renewal. The official application fee for procuring the CERPAC Card is about $2000 (two thousand US dollars), and payment is to be made in Naira equivalent.
WHO ARE EXEMPTED FROM OBTAINING A CERPAC CARD
To be eligible for a CERPAC Green Card, an individual must be an expatriate working for a company in Nigeria (either set up by the foreigner or owned by a Nigerian) or a foreign national married to a Nigerian citizen
The following persons are exempted from obtaining a CERPAC card;
1. Diplomats, Government Officials (GOs)
2. Niger-wives, and
3. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Exempted persons who fall within this category, are issued CERPAC Gratis.
On the other hand, all CERPAC holders are required to frequently report any changes in their personal information, employment status, and place of residence to the Nigerian Immigration Service; comply with all Nigerian Immigration Law and Regulations in order not to face penalties.
The current CERPAC regime has introduced the CERPAC green card and CERPAC brown card. We’ll be considering them shortly.
WHAT IS CERPAC GREEN CARD?
The CERPAC GREEN CARD is a document that allows a non-Nigerian to reside in Nigeria and carry out approved activities as provided in the permit, or to accompany a resident or citizen of Nigeria as a dependant. Possessing a valid CERPAC GREEN CARD does not exempt the holder from having a valid entry or re-entry permit/visa. Holders of resident status in Nigeria who are proceeding on leave or temporary duty outside Nigeria should apply for a re-entry permit/visa prior to their departure from Nigeria. The validity is Two (2) years.
WHAT IS CERPAC BROWN CARD?
Every Alien resident in Nigeria or visiting with the intention to remain in Nigeria in excess of 56 days and crew members leaving their ship and staying ashore in excess of 28 days are required by law to register. Unlike the CERPAC GREEN CARD, the BROWN CARD is, essentially, a movement chart.
REQUIREMENTS FOR RENEWING A CERPAC CARD IN NIGERIA
Upon receipt of the CERPAC Card, a foreign national or expatriate must bear in mind that after 2 years, it has to be renewed through an application for revalidation. The required documents for revalidation are as follows:
1. Application letter from Employer requesting for renewal/replacement of Residence Card and accepting Immigration Responsibility (IR).
2. Expatriate Quota Approval.
3. The Expired Resident Card (Original).
4. Valid Passport and Photocopies of relevant pages.
Along with the documents stated, a renewal application is to be submitted to the Nigerian Immigration Service at least 30 days before the expiration of the current card, lastly, the required fees also need to be paid and after then the Renewed CERPAC Green Card can be collected.
The requirements for obtaining a CERPAC card listed above are subject to review by the relevant government agencies from time to time. We, therefore, recommend that you take adequate steps to get updated information on the requirements before you commence your application.
Finally, the application process can be rigorous and time-consuming, hence the need for an Immigration lawyer, Corporate Lawyer, or consultant to make your application process hitch-free.
Need help with obtaining your CERPAC card, feel free to contact us through the Whatsapp icon on the lower right part of this page or HERE, and we’ll be delighted to assist you.