Taxation of Non-Resident Shipping Companies in Lagos Ports: Navigating Complex Waters.

Top 10 Best Shipping Companies in Lagos


Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial center, is home to some of the busiest ports in Africa, making it a strategic location for shipping companies from around the world. For non-resident shipping companies operating in Lagos, understanding the tax regulations that apply is essential to ensure compliance and efficient operations. In this article, we will explore the complexities of taxation for non-resident shipping companies in Lagos ports.

Non-Resident Shipping Companies in Lagos:

Non-resident shipping companies are foreign entities or vessels that are not based in Nigeria but engage in shipping and related activities within Lagos, which hosts several major ports, including the Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port.

Tax Regulations for Non-Resident Shipping Companies:

Non-resident shipping companies operating in Lagos are subject to specific tax regulations and considerations:

  1. Companies Income Tax (CIT): Non-resident shipping companies are liable for Companies Income Tax on profits generated from shipping activities in Nigeria. The standard CIT rate is 30%, but specific rules and exemptions apply to shipping income.
  2. Withholding Tax: Payments made to non-resident shipping companies for services or freight charges related to activities in Lagos may be subject to withholding tax. The rate of withholding tax for non-residents is typically 10%.
  3. Value Added Tax (VAT): VAT is applicable to services provided within Lagos, including services related to shipping. If the revenue generated from these services exceeds the prescribed threshold, non-resident entities may need to register for VAT.

Taxation and Compliance Considerations:

Non-resident shipping companies should consider the following to ensure taxation and compliance:

  1. CIT Compliance: Ensure accurate calculation and payment of Companies Income Tax (CIT) on profits generated from shipping activities in Lagos. Specific CIT rules and exemptions apply to shipping income, which may lower the applicable rate.
  2. Withholding Tax Compliance: Verify that withholding tax is correctly deducted from payments made for services or freight charges related to activities in Lagos. Compliance with the withholding tax rate is the responsibility of the paying entity.
  3. VAT Registration: Non-resident entities engaged in services subject to VAT should register for VAT with the Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) if their annual revenue from these services exceeds the prescribed threshold.
  4. Legal and Tax Expertise: Collaborating with local legal and tax experts is advisable to navigate Nigerian tax laws, regulations, and compliance requirements effectively.

Challenges and Compliance Risks:

Non-resident shipping companies in Lagos may encounter several challenges and compliance risks:

  1. Complexity: Nigerian tax laws can be complex, particularly in the case of shipping income. Determining the applicable tax rate and exemptions requires expert guidance.
  2. Regulatory Changes: Tax laws and regulations can change over time, impacting compliance requirements and tax liabilities.
  3. Documentation Burden: Proper record-keeping and documentation of income and expenses are crucial for compliance but can be administratively demanding for shipping companies with complex operations.
  4. Currency Exchange Risks: Exchange rate fluctuations can impact the value of payments received, especially for international shipping transactions.


Non-resident shipping companies are integral to the logistics and trade landscape of Lagos ports. To ensure compliance with tax regulations and minimize risks, it is advisable to collaborate with local experts, engage in tax planning, and maintain meticulous records. Staying informed about regulatory changes is also crucial for managing tax obligations efficiently while contributing to the efficient and smooth operation of Lagos ports.

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.