Nigeria at a Glance
Work Permits and Employment in NigeriaiStockphoto
Black gold is the life line of the Nigerian nation.
As we have outlined in our article on Moving to Nigeria, the only way to legally work in Nigeria is acquiring a CERPAC. This document is a combined residency and work permit, and it is the responsibility of your future employer to guide you through the necessary steps.
Although the process involves a lot of paperwork, it should not be too troublesome for expats. Keep in mind that the CERPAC is tied to a specific job. If you decide to change jobs, you need to re-apply.
An employment contract is prerequisite to the CERPAC. Thus, you will not be able to look for work in Nigeria, which is a step that not many expats will consider anyway.
It is always best to gather information about openings in the Nigerian branches of large corporations or to ask your current employer about possible transfers. The Nigerian branch of your home country’s Chamber of Commerce might be a very useful source of information as well.
Scams and Fraud
Please keep in mind that Nigeria is infamous for the ‘419 scam’, named after its number in the Nigerian penal code. These are confidence tricks, mostly sent out via email. They offer lucrative jobs in well-known companies you can start right away, without applying for a visa first. All you have to do is to transfer a sum of money (usually a few hundred to thousand USD), so your future company can set up everything for your arrival.
Of course, you may ask yourself why a large company would need to borrow money from future employees. Please never reply to any emails asking for money transfer or offer jobs that are almost ‘too good to be true’. It usually is.
Oil companies have been a prime choice for expats for decades. Although the security situation in the Niger Delta is often problematic, there is a steady need for highly qualified expats in the oil industry. Construction and communications are also popular expat sectors.
We have mentioned some of the nation’s infrastructural challenges in our article on Living in Nigeria, and oftentimes, foreign professionals provide valuable know-how and assistance. Continued construction in the nation’s capital, Abuja, is also a good source for expat employment. Generally speaking, there is a multitude of ways in which Nigeria does make use of foreign expertise in order to improve its patchy infrastructure.
Nigeria’s social security system is quite rudimentary and does not cover many important facets, such as unemployment insurance or healthcare (for further information on healthcare, please see our article on Moving to Nigeria). There is no paid sick leave, and maternity leave is limited to 12 weeks, 6 weeks each before and after childbirth. Maternity pay is then cut by 50%. However, there is a pension fund, which covers old-age and disability pensions.
Expats should try to find an insurance company with full coverage in Nigeria, or discuss possible company insurance plans with their employer. Nigeria does not have any social security agreements with big sender countries such as the UK, the USA, or Germany.