Arm’s Length Principle: Exploring the Foundation of Transfer Pricing in Nigeria.

Arm's length principle: The End of an era or (r)evolution? - LegalToday


Transfer pricing, the practice of determining prices for transactions between related parties, is a vital aspect of international business. As multinational corporations expand their operations across borders, there is a need to ensure that such transactions are conducted on a fair and equitable basis. The Arm’s Length Principle (ALP) serves as the bedrock of transfer pricing regulations in Nigeria and many other countries. In this article, we delve into the fundamental concept of the Arm’s Length Principle and its significance in transfer pricing for Nigerian businesses.

Understanding the Arm’s Length Principle.

The Arm’s Length Principle is a fundamental concept in transfer pricing that requires related parties to set prices for their transactions as if they were unrelated and dealing at arm’s length. In other words, the prices and conditions agreed upon in intercompany transactions should be consistent with what would be agreed upon between unrelated parties engaging in similar transactions under similar circumstances.

The purpose of the Arm’s Length Principle is to prevent related parties from artificially shifting profits or losses between entities to minimize tax liability. By ensuring that transactions are conducted at arm’s length, the principle aims to maintain a fair distribution of taxable income across jurisdictions.

Application of the Arm’s Length Principle

The application of the Arm’s Length Principle involves a comparability analysis, where the terms and conditions of related-party transactions are compared to those of similar transactions between unrelated parties. The goal is to identify an appropriate comparable transaction that best represents the conditions of the related-party transaction, allowing for the determination of an arm’s length price.

To conduct a comparability analysis, various factors are considered, including the characteristics of the products or services exchanged, functions performed, risks assumed, and the economic circumstances of the parties involved. Transfer pricing methods such as the Comparable Uncontrolled Price (CUP) method, Resale Price Method (RPM), Cost Plus Method (CPM), and others are used to arrive at an arm’s length price.

Nigeria’s Transfer Pricing Regulations and the Arm’s Length Principle

In Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has embraced the Arm’s Length Principle as the foundation of its transfer pricing regulations. The Nigerian regulations require taxpayers engaged in related-party transactions to adhere to the arm’s length standard and maintain proper documentation to substantiate their pricing policies.

To ensure compliance, Nigerian taxpayers are required to prepare transfer pricing documentation, including a comprehensive comparability analysis, supporting data, and economic reasoning for their transfer pricing policies. This documentation must be available for inspection by tax authorities upon request, demonstrating the contemporaneous nature of the analysis.

Benefits of Adhering to the Arm’s Length Principle

Adhering to the Arm’s Length Principle offers several benefits for Nigerian businesses:

  • Compliance and Transparency: By following the arm’s length standard, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to compliance with transfer pricing regulations and exhibit transparency in their intercompany transactions.
  • Mitigation of Transfer Pricing Risks: Properly applying the Arm’s Length Principle and maintaining thorough documentation reduce the risk of transfer pricing audits and subsequent adjustments by tax authorities.
  • Enhanced Reputation: Complying with international transfer pricing standards enhances a company’s reputation, instilling confidence in stakeholders, including investors and regulatory authorities.


The Arm’s Length Principle forms the cornerstone of transfer pricing regulations in Nigeria and is essential for maintaining fairness and equity in international business transactions. By adhering to this principle, Nigerian businesses can ensure compliance with transfer pricing regulations, reduce the risk of tax disputes, and foster a positive corporate image.

For Nigerian companies engaged in cross-border transactions with related parties, seeking professional guidance from experienced accounting and tax experts is crucial. With the assistance of knowledgeable professionals, businesses can navigate the complexities of transfer pricing and implement robust documentation practices that align with the Arm’s Length Principle, contributing to a fair and efficient global tax system.

For professional advice on Accountancy, Transfer Pricing, Tax, Assurance, Outsourcing, online accounting support, Company Registration, and CAC matters, please contact Sunmola David & CO (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners) at Lagos, Ogun state Nigeria offices, You can also reach us via WhatsApp at +2348038460036.