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International Travel

English

Country Information

Nigeria

Country Information

Nigeria
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Last Updated: June 13, 2017
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Travelers may be required to show proof of polio and yellow fever vaccinations 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Abuja

1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax: +(234)(9) 461-4171

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent,
Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3600 (Monday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3400
Fax: +(234)(1) 261-2218

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Nigeria for information on U.S.-Nigeria relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A valid passport is required, and most visitors are required to have a visa. You should obtain your Nigerian visa from a Nigerian embassy or consulate in advance of your travel. In most cases, you cannot obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Visit the Embassy of Nigeria web site for the most current visa and entry information.

You cannot legally depart Nigeria unless you can prove, by presenting your entry visa, that you entered Nigeria legally.

U.S.-Nigerian dual-national citizens are now required to have a valid Nigerian passport in order to depart the country. Dual-national citizens can be, and often are, denied boarding until they have obtained current Nigerian passports.  

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreign residents of Nigeria. Nigerian authorities may deny entry to foreigners who are “undesirable for medical reasons” and may require HIV tests for foreigners intending to marry Nigerian citizens. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Nigeria before travel.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Please see our most recent Travel Warning for more detailed information.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in the northeast, has targeted churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe states.

Islamic State West Africa, which is now a distinct group from Boko Haram, is present in Nigeria, and may seek to attack locations frequented by Westerners including major population centers.

Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country and have resulted in the deaths of foreign nationals.

Crime: Armed muggings, assaults, burglaries and home invasions, car-jackings, rape, and extortions occur regularly and often involve violence. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all and provide little or no investigative support to victims.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for more information on scams.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the Embassy at +(234)(9) 461-4176 or Consulate at +(234)(1) 460-3600.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.  

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Currency: The local currency, the Naira, is non-convertible. Obtaining U.S. dollars is increasingly difficult. Visitors should expect to pay most bills in cash.

Credit Cards: While credit cards may be accepted at established businesses in major cities, they are rarely accepted elsewhere. Virtually all credit card readers in Nigeria require embedded “smart” chips. Credit card use should be considered carefully.

Traveler’s Checks: Most banks do not cash traveler’s checks. Inter-bank transfers are often difficult to accomplish. Though money transfer services are available, money may only be transferred from abroad to Nigeria.

Photography: It is illegal to take photos or videos in/around

  • all government buildings
  • airports
  • bridges
  • near military installations/operations

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual, same-sex sexual relations are illegal in Nigeria. Entering same-sex marriage contracts and civil unions (defined to include “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners”) is also criminalized, with punishments including fines and prison sentences of up to 14 years. Same-sex marriage contracts and civil unions entered into in a foreign country are not recognized under Nigerian law.

Public displays of affection between persons of the same sex are also punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Furthermore, the law allows for the prosecution of persons who support or belong to advocacy groups relating to LGBTI issues, with prison sentences of up to 10 years. U.S. citizens who participate in free speech or assemblies relating to same sex marriage could potentially be prosecuted under this law.

In the following northern states, where Sharia law applies, penalties can also include death: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities can expect to experience difficultly in terms of accessibility and accommodation.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Nigeria has a number of well trained doctors, yet medical facilities are generally poor. Many medicines are unavailable. Caution should be taken when purchasing medicines locally as counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications. Hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Roads are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions. There are few working traffic lights or stop signs and few traffic control officers to manage traffic during power outages. The rainy season, generally from May to October, is especially dangerous because of flooded roads and water-concealed potholes.

All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts, lock doors, and keep windows closed.  You should secure appropriate automobile insurance. Drivers and passengers of vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injury or death have experienced extra-judicial actions, i.e., mob attacks, official consequences such as fines and incarceration, and/or confrontations with the victim's family.  

Driving between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. should be done with extreme caution. Automobiles, trucks, or "okadas" often drive on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks.

Traffic Laws and Culture: Motor vehicle accidents can be reported by dialing “119,” the local equivalent to 911. Traffic control officers may occasionally seek bribes when citing drivers for traffic violations. Motorists seldom yield the right-of-way and give little consideration to pedestrians and cyclists. Chronic fuel shortages have led to long lines at service stations, which disrupt or block traffic for extended periods.

Public Transportation: We recommend avoiding public transportation throughout Nigeria. Public transportation vehicles, such as buses and motorbikes, are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speeds, and overcrowding. Motorbikes are banned within Abuja's city limits and many major thoroughfares in Lagos. Okada drivers and passengers are required to wear helmets in a number of cities in the country; police can fine violators on the spot.

See our Road Safety page for more information. 

Visit the website of Nigeria’s National Tourism Ministry.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Nigeria’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Abuja

1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax: +(234)(9) 461-4171

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent,
Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3600 (Monday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3400
Fax: +(234)(1) 261-2218

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General Information

For information concerning travel to Nigeria, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see our country-specific information for Nigeria.

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Hague Abduction Convention

Nigeria is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Nigeria and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.   Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Nigeria and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

 

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

 

Contact information:

 

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-736-9132

Website 
Email: AskCI@state.gov

 

 

Parental child abduction is a criminal offense in Nigeria under the Criminal Code, Part V, Chapter 32, § 371.  For more information, view The Criminal Code Act

 

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information.

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Nigeria and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.  Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Nigeria for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General in Nigeria are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Some churches and state-level Ministries of Women’s Affairs offer free mediation services. Free mediation services are also available at some High Courts, such as the Abuja Multi-Door Courthouse, ADR Center, High Court of FCT, Abuja, Nigeria, 09-670-2432. Mediation is voluntary.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Nigeria is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption  (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

Individuals who are not Nigerian citizens are not legally allowed to adopt in Nigeria. When a married couple is adopting, both must be Nigerian citizens. Only U.S. citizens who also have Nigerian citizenship are allowed to adopt children in Nigeria. Nigerian adoption laws are complex and vary from state to state. At the national level, adoptions are regulated by the Nigerian Child Rights Law or the Adoption Act of 1965.  Depending on where the adoption takes place, the specific law and regulations governing the adoption may differ.

In general, prospective adoptive parents who intend to adopt a specific child must first obtain temporary custody of the child.  Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain information on adopting in individual states through the state social welfare office.  Please note that the only legal way to do an adoption in Nigeria is to work with the respective state social welfare office (usually named the State Ministry of Women's or Family Affairs). Prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to process their adoption through local officials who may attempt to circumvent the legal process. Adoption decrees must state that they are full and final in order for an immigrant visa to be issued to the child. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos (U.S. Consulate) only issues IR3 classification immigrant visas. Oftentimes, adoption decrees from Nigerian courts put stipulations on the adoption, such as not allowing the child to travel beyond the jurisdiction of the court or requiring periodic visits to the child by the social welfare office of the respective Nigerian state. These stipulations may prevent the consular officer from issuing an immigrant visa or cause a delay in the processing of the immigrant visa.

Prospective adoptive parents must be available to be questioned in court by the magistrate considering the adoption. Proxy adoptions are not valid in Nigeria. 

Document and identity fraud related to adoptions is a serious concern in Nigeria. The U.S. Consulate requires that most adoptions be investigated in person in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees and I-600 petitions. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country. As a result, investigations and the in-country visa application and approval process can cause adoption processing in Lagos to take six to 12 months to complete, after the initial approval of the I-600 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Nigeria, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. 

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Nigeria:

  • Residency: Nigerian law requires that a parent-child relationship be established before the court decision can be considered final. Each state determines the length of time it takes to establish the parent-child relationship, which can range from a few months to two years.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: In Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and 21 years older than the child. For married couples, at least one parent must meet the age requirements.
  • Marriage: Both single individuals and married couples may adopt. Note that a single person will not be allowed to adopt a child of the opposite sex except in extraordinary circumstances. In most states, married couples must adopt jointly. If married, both members of the couple must be Nigerian citizens. In the case of single-parent adoption, only the adopter’s name should be listed on the Nigerian birth certificate and the other parent’s name should be left blank. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals or married same-sex couples in the United States who are known by the Nigerian court to be LGBT may not be able to adopt children from Nigeria. It is unclear whether the Government of Nigeria and Nigerian law permit such adoptions at present; if it passes, a proposed bill will explicitly prohibit adoptions by LGBT parents in Nigeria.
  • Income: Nigeria does not have any income requirements for intercountry adoptions.
  • Nigerian Citizens: Nigerian law states that non-Nigerians may not adopt in Nigeria. While the law is sometimes inconsistently applied, the U.S. Consulate strongly advises that non-Nigerian citizens are not eligible to adopt children from Nigeria.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Nigeria has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption: 

  • Relinquishment: Adoptions of children who are allegedly relinquished by their parent, who is still living, are subject to investigation as the U.S. Consulate has found that parents in Nigeria may relinquish their children to relatives living in the United States strictly in order to afford the children the ability to immigrate to the United States.
  • Abandonment: Abandonment of a child in Nigeria is often poorly documented and may require a full investigation by the U.S. Consulate to confirm the abandonment.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: According to Nigerian law, a child must be below the age of 16 (according to the Adoption Act of 1965) or 17 (according to the Child Rights Law) in order to be adopted.  The specific law governing the adoption will depend on the jurisdiction in which the adoption takes place. Important note: U.S. law requires a child to be under the age of 16 at the time the petition is filed to qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa, unless the child is the natural sibling of another child who was adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18. 
  • Sibling Adoptions: There are no specific guidelines regarding adopting siblings in Nigeria.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Adoption decrees issued in Nigeria will generally specify any special needs or address the general health of the child to be adopted. The U.S. home study should match any specifications of special needs that are observed by the Nigerian court.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Prospective adoptive parents must have physical and temporary legal custody of the adoptive child for at least three consecutive months immediately prior to petitioning the court for an adoption decree. An applicant cannot have the child reside with another family member in lieu of living with the applicant, even if a Power of Attorney is in effect. The U.S. Consulate has seen waivers issued to parents who claimed to the court that meeting this requirement was a burden.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when it becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have not relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption. In Nigeria, many orphanages or organizations claiming that they arrange adoptions are for-profit enterprises which operate without licensing or oversight. The U.S. Consulate advises all prospective adoptive parents to get clear information about any orphanage or adoption agency in Nigeria before entering into an adoption process with the organization.

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How to Adopt

Nigeria’s Adoption Authority

The Magistrate Court (from the state where the child resides)

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Nigeria generally includes the following steps:
  

  1. Choose an adoption service provider 
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Adopt (or gain custody of) the child in Nigeria
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status 
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider  

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Nigeria is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Nigeria, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Nigeria and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the social welfare office in the state where the child resides in Nigeria.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. 

3. Be Matched with a Child 

If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Nigeria will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.   

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Nigeria’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. 

4. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Nigeria

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Nigeria generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The social welfare office of the state where the child is located is considered the adoption authority. The application for adoption originates from this office. Prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to begin the adoption process through any other local officials. The government office that adjudicates local adoptions in Nigeria is the magistrate court of the state where the child is located.
  • Role of the Court: In most Nigerian states, the adoption process begins when an application for an adoption order is made in accordance with local requirements and submitted to the registrar of the competent court. The court then assigns a guardian ad litem for the child to represent him/her in the adoption proceedings. The guardian ad litem is the social welfare officer in charge of the area where the juvenile resides, or a probation officer or some other person suitably qualified in the opinion of the court of assignment. The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances related to the proposed adoption and files a report to the court. The guardian ad litem represents the child's interests until the magistrate questions the prospective adoptive parents and grants the adoption order giving legal custody to the adoptive parents.

    The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances relevant to the proposed adoption and reports in writing to the court. Prospective adoptive parents must inform the social welfare officer of their intention to adopt at least three months before the court order is made. For at least three consecutive months immediately preceding an adoption order, the child must have been in the physical care and legal custody of the applicant parents in Nigeria. An applicant cannot have the child reside with another family member in lieu of living with the applicant, even if a Power of Attorney is in effect.

    The social welfare officer visits the home of the adoptive parents until the officer is satisfied that the juvenile is settled and the prospective adoptive parents are capable of looking after him or her. Then, the social welfare officer submits a positive recommendation in writing to the court. The magistrate will meet the adoptive parents in court to confirm their suitability and will issue or deny the adoption order.

    After the adoption order has been issued, adoptive parents should obtain a new birth certificate for the child listing them as the child's parents. In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child.  This letter permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.

    Note: Proxy adoptions are not valid in Nigeria.  
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. Consulate is not aware of any legally recognized Nigerian agencies that assist adopting parents or any licensed Nigerian adoption agencies.  Prospective adoptive parents can seek assistance from a Nigerian attorney to facilitate the adoption process. The U.S. Consulate maintains a list of attorneys that have identified themselves as willing to provide legal services to U.S. citizens but cannot make any endorsements based on an assessment of the quality or the type of services the attorney provides.
  • Adoption Application: The application is submitted to the registrar of the competent court.
  • Time Frame: Adoption procedures can take a few months to more than a year depending on the child's state of origin and the evidence presented.
  • Adoption Fees: Fees, including fees to an agency or the orphanage, attorney fees, court costs and costs to get official paperwork, such as a birth certificate, are estimated to run into the hundreds of dollars per child. The U.S. Consulate estimates that a standard adoption in Nigeria would cost approximately $500 in fees not including fees paid for the I-600, I-600A or the immigrant visa.
  • Documents Required: The paperwork involved in Nigerian adoptions is extensive and time-consuming to locate. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to consult with a Nigerian attorney about the document requirements of the state from which they are adopting.
  • The following is a list of some of the required documents:
    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage certificates
    • Divorce decrees (where applicable)
    • Proof of Nigerian citizenship
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship
    • Financial documentation – proof of financial assets
    • Police reports

Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Nigeria, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition oforphan under U.S. immigration law.  You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative

6. Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Nigeria, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Birth certificates in Nigeria are issued by the National Population Commission (NPC). The NPC has offices co-located within most local government authority (LGA) offices throughout the country and applicants must go to the LGA office with jurisdiction in the area where the adoption occurred in order to obtain the birth certificate. Birth certificates from NPC are documents which are normally filled by hand and can commonly including spelling mistakes or other problems. Applicants are encouraged to check the accuracy of documents obtained in Nigeria as visa regulations require that the spelling and other biographical information be consistent across official documents.

Nigeria Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Nigeria.

In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child. This letter permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.

Applicants can apply for a Nigerian passport in the Nigerian Immigration Service office of the jurisdiction in which the adoption took place or where they reside. There is a fee for obtaining a passport. The Nigerian passport may take a week or more to obtain depending on conditions. Applicants are encouraged to check the accuracy of documents obtained in Nigeria as visa regulations require that the spelling and other biographical information be consistent across official documents.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.  

Most applications for an immigrant visa for an adopted child at the U.S. Consulate will undergo full field investigations in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees, I-600 petitions and supporting documents. This investigation also serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law and may include both documentary reviews and interviews with persons connected to the child's case. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country, causing these investigations to take an average of six months.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos’ website.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 72 hours and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos strongly advises that applicants do not book any travel plans until they have their visa(s) in hand.

Note: Although the U.S. Embassy is in Nigeria’s capital (Abuja), immigrant visa cases are reviewed only at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship. 

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Nigeria
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Nigeria, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability. 

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Nigeria, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Nigerian law has no post-adoption requirements for adoptive parents. Parents should confirm any post-adoption requirements with their legal representatives.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents. 

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Contact Information

U.S. Consulate General, Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos
Nigeria
Tel: [234](1) 460-3400
Email: LagosIV@state.gov

U.S. Embassy in Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central Business District, Abuja, FCT
(Off Independence Avenue/Near the Ministry of Defense)
Tel: [234] (9)461-4262
Fax: [234] (9)461-4171
Email: Consularabuja@state.gov
Website: ng.usembassy.gov

Nigeria’s Adoption Authority
Magistrate Court (where child resides)

Embassy of the Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel:  (202) 775-8400
Fax:  (202) 775-1385
Internet: nigeriaembassyusa.org 

Nigeria also has consulates in Atlanta and New York City.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@uscis.DHS.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-2 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 24 Months
C-1 None Multiple 24 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 24 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 24 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 24 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 24 Months
F-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
I None Multiple 24 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 24 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 24 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 24 Months
L-2 None Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 24 Months
M-2 None Multiple 24 Months
N-8 None Multiple 24 Months
N-9 None Multiple 24 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 24 Months
R-2 None Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

General Document Information

The rules and regulations regarding the maintenance of public records and the issuance of certificates in the 36 states of Nigeria are similar; however, those rules and regulations are often ignored.  Except for a few federal Government Agencies, no local or federal government body currently has a central database with digitized records.  Most records are stored on paper, filed by dates, location, and, in regards to divorce cases, presiding court.

Note: Since fraudulent documents can be easily obtained in Nigeria, the consular officer may wish to consider referring suspect documents to the Fraud Prevention Unit, U.S. Embassy Abuja or U.S. Consulate Lagos, for investigation.

General Issuing Authority Information

In Nigeria the maintenance of public records and the issuance of certificates fall within the jurisdiction of the local governments. Some exceptions apply to: civil marriage certificates which are issued under the authority of The Federal Marriage Registry; National Driver’s License issued by Federal Road Safety Commission; National Identity Card issued by National Identity Management Commission; Voter’s Card issued by Independent National Electoral Commission; birth, attestation of birth and death certificates issued by National Population Commission. These exceptions fall under the purview of the Federal Government, however, Marriage Registries and the National Population Commission have offices in all the Local Government Secretariats. Civil marriages can only be dissolved by State High Courts, and that Court has exclusive jurisdiction to handle matrimonial causes arising from civil marriages. Customary Marriages and divorces are seldom recorded.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Issuance of birth certificates is free for infants under 2 years of age. Fees may be required for children who are more than 2 years old.

Document Name:  Certificate of Birth

Issuing Authority: National Population Commission (NPC)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued.  They are typically printed on white paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Registrar

Registration Criteria: The birth of every child born in Nigeria shall be registered by the Registrar of the National Population Commission or any person working under his authority.

Procedure for Obtaining: Visit any National Population Commission office in any of the Local Government Secretariats or designated Primary Health Care Centers, and the birth registration and certificate issuance could be completed within 10 minutes by the Officials. Parents, heads of household or any person who has attained 18 years and present at the birth of a child may visit these centers with or without the child whose birth is to be registered and supply the necessary information to register and obtain a birth certificate on their behalf.

Certified Copies Available:  N/A

Alternate Documents: For people born prior to 1979 or in some cases prior to 1988, a birth certificate issued by a Local Government Authority or a hospital or a baptismal certificate is acceptable. There is also the National Population Commission Attestation of Birth Certificate issued to people whose birth occurred before 1979 when the National Population Commission issued birth certificate was first introduced as a pilot program. Any of these is acceptable.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: The Compulsory Registration of Birth and death Decree of 1979 was a pilot program involving 4 States only in Nigeria, namely – Anambra (South East), Oyo (South West), Plateau (North East) and Kaduna (North West) States. NPC birth and death Certificates were issued under the 1979 Law in these States only. The 1992 Law (Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992 was made to make the NPC birth and death registration to be of Countrywide application.

 

Death Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Registration is free

Document Name: Certificate of Death

Issuing Authority: National Population Commission

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Size and format is comparable to birth certificates.  Multiple versions of this form are issued.  They are typically printed on white paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The Registrar

Registration Criteria: The death of every person dying in Nigeria as well as the cause of the death thereof shall be registered as from the commencement of the Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992.

Procedure for Obtaining: When the death of any person occurs, information of such a death is given to the Registrar for the area where such a death occurred.

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: Medical Certificate of Death is acceptable for deaths of any person which occurred before the commencement of Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992. Sworn declaration or Affidavit is also acceptable in lieu of a Medical Certificate of Death for cases where the death occurred before the commencement of the Act, and no Medical Certificate was issued or the issued certificate is lost.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Most recent deaths occur in a hospital, and supporting hospital/medical records should also be available.  In a case where a death occurs at home, a medical examiner still performs the inspection, and some record of that should exist.

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Cost for civil marriage in the Registry would range from Five to Ten Thousand Naira.

Document Name: Certificate of Marriage

Issuing Authority: Marriage Registry

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically printed on white or green paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Biodata may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Registrar or Minister of Religion as the case may be.

Registration Criteria: Must be a marriage celebrated between a man and a woman of consenting age, with no legal incapacity to marry under Native Law and Custom or according to the Marriage Act.

Procedure for Obtaining: For registry marriages, issued by the Marriage Registrar or Minister of Religion upon completion of the marriage process as provided for in the Marriage Act. 

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: For marriages under Native Law and Custom, a Registration of Marriage Certificate is sometimes issued by the Local Marriage Registrar after presenting a court affidavit as provided for by the Registration of Customary Marriage Bye-Laws.

Exceptions: The vast majority of customary marriages will have no written record.

Comments: Nigerian law recognizes multiple types of legal marriage, each with their own requirements.  The two main types are customary marriages and registry marriages. 

1.) CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES:  While customary marriages are legally binding, no registration or written record of the event is required by law.  As a result, documentation of customary marriages generally does not exist outside of photographs taken at the ceremony.  Individuals will sometimes, when necessary, swear an affidavit in a court that they are married in order to provide written proof of such a marriage.  Some Local Governments will issue a certificate based on that affidavit by virtue of the Registration of Customary Marriage Bye-Laws.  Absence of an affidavit or certificate of this kind cannot be taken as lack of marital status.  [Note: The Bye-Laws mentioned vary from state to state and authorize Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to register customary marriages that take place in their jurisdiction.  The Bye-Laws do not exist in all states and several states that have them do not make registration compulsory.]  There are two types of Customary Marriage:  marriage under native law & custom (also known as traditional marriage) and Islamic marriage. 

1.)a.) Marriage Under Native Law & Custom: Traditional marriage ceremonies are based on local, unwritten customs.  In the case of Lagos residents, the customs of the local area or village where the family originates from (usually outside Lagos State) should also be considered.  Cultural context will determine whether a legally binding marriage ceremony took place, versus an introduction or other non-binding ceremony.  Some local customs permit proxy marriages, where the groom need not be present at the ceremony.  In nearly all Nigerian cultures, payment of a dowry or bride price is a key component of a traditional marriage ceremony.  The dowry may be in the form of money, gifts, or a combination of both.  Yams are a typical part of the dowry in many areas within Nigeria.  [Note:  Modernization has led to some evolution in traditional marriages, and payment of the bride price in some recent marriages is merely symbolic.]  Traditional marriage also allows for a man to legally marry more than one wife. 

1.)b.)  Islamic Marriage: The celebration of Islamic marriage ceremonies (called Nikkai) in Nigeria is governed by the Maliki Law.  The marriage must be between a male and a female that have agreed to marry if matured, or consent has been given by their father or male guardian if they are immature.  [Note: “Maturity” is not defined by a specific age, but is instead determined by the father or male guardian.]  The bride price, which is a minimum of N5000, is called the sadaq or dower, and is paid to the bride but received by her parents.  The ceremony is officiated by a Mallam in the presence of at least three Muslim witnesses.  After a celebration of Islamic Marriage, the couple may obtain a certificate from the Local Government Marriage Registry, but this is not required.  Islamic law allows a man to marry up to 4 wives. 

2.) REGISTRY MARRIAGES: The Marriage Act of 1990 is the primary law governing registry marriages in Nigeria.  One notable difference between customary marriages and registry marriages: men who marry at a marriage registry are legally permitted to have only one wife.  Therefore, men legally married to multiple wives by way of customary marriages would first need to divorce those wives under native law and custom before completing a registry marriage to a new wife.  Should a man wish to complete a registry marriage with one of his existing wives, he would first need to divorce all other wives under native law and custom.  The registry marriage ceremony is conducted by a minister of religion or the marriage registrar in the presence of witnesses.  A marriage certificate is issued at the completion of the ceremony.  Both federal and local governments perform registry marriages. 

2.)a.) Federal Marriage Registry: Nigeria’s Federal Marriage Registry currently has offices in only a few states, with plans to expand to include at least one office per state.  The office in Abuja has been operating since 2006.  The Ikoyi office in Lagos pre-dates the founding of Nigeria and may include records as old as 1802 [Note: They are filed by year and place of marriage and can be obtained by writing to the Marriage Registry, 19 Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.]  In October 2016, additional offices opened in the cities of Owerri (Imo State), Port Harcourt (Rivers State) and Benin City (Edo State).  Even when marriages are properly registered at one of these facilities, there is no central database or system; all records are kept in paper files. 

2.)b.) Designated churches: Church weddings, or “white weddings” as commonly known in Nigeria, are performed widely.  Licensed places of worship can be authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry to perform marriage ceremonies “under the act.”  The church must create three copies of a marriage certificate using paperstock provided by the Federal Registry: one for the newly wedded couple, one for church records, and one for the Federal Registry.  While churches authorized “under the act” are required by law to file a copy of the marriage certificate, often the marriage record is never sent to the Registry.  In addition, many unauthorized churches perform wedding ceremonies that have no legal standing.  Marriage certificates issued by churches or other houses of worship not authorized by the Registry are not evidence of a legally binding marriage. 

2.)c.) State/Local Registry: The inaccessibility of Nigeria’s limited number of Federal Marriage Registry offices has led to the opening of local marriage registry offices by nearly all LGAs.  [There are 774 LGAs within Nigeria.]  Similar to the churches described above, some LGAs have been authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry to perform marriage ceremonies “under the act.” The vast majority perform marriage ceremonies without any federal authority.  The Federal Marriage Registry has stated that these ceremonies are not legal, however individuals who marry at LGA registries may not know that their marriage is not legally recognized by federal authorities.  LGAs authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry are required to use paperstock provided by the Registry for marriage certificates.  Other LGAs who perform civil marriages will issue a certificate titled “Unified Marriage Certificate.”  [Note: Many couples perform more than one type of marriage ceremony.  For example, couples may choose to have both a traditional and white wedding, or a traditional and registry wedding.  When this is the case, the date that the first legally binding ceremony took place serves as the date the marriage began.]  

 

Divorce Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Varies by location and court.

Document Name: Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute

Issuing Authority: The High Court of Justice

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically typed in Times New Roman font and printed on white paper.  Seals may be embossed, sometimes over a red sticker, or they may be inked, most often in red or purple.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Judge

Registration Criteria: Must be a registry marriage completed according to the Marriage Act.

Procedure for Obtaining: Divorce Proceedings in accordance with The Matrimonial Causes Act of Nigeria.

Certified Copies Available: Yes

Alternate Documents: For marriages under Native Law and Custom, a divorce decree may be issued by a Customary Court.  For Islamic marriages, a divorce decree may be issued by a Sharia court.

Exceptions: Many divorces for customary marriages will have no written record.  Marriages under native law and custom will also be dissolved by custom; many of these divorces are not recorded while some are recorded by a sworn affidavit after the fact. Islamic marriages may be dissolved in a Sharia Court. 

Comments: Documenting a legal divorce is problematic.  Each type of marriage listed above has its own legal process for obtaining a divorce, thus it is essential to first understand what type of marriage took place before determining what documentation is acceptable to prove that a divorce is legal. 

1.) CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES: There is no legal requirement that a customary marriage should be dissolved by any court, nor any requirement that the divorce be registered or documented. 

1.)a.) Marriage Under Native Law and Custom: Traditional marriages are often dissolved without any written record.  One legal method of divorce involves the groom or his family returning the bride price to the bride or her family.  Divorces for some traditional marriages are documented by one or both parties filing an affidavit with a Customary Court.  Finally, traditional marriages may be formally dissolved by a Customary Court and a divorce decree issued by the court.  Where there is no Customary Court in the area, a Magistrate Court may dissolve a customary marriage.  The courts may dissolve a traditional marriage without one of the spouses being present or even knowing that the divorce took place. 

1.)b.) Islamic Marriage: Divorce is most often initiated by the husband.  Where a man tells his wife, “I divorce you”, that single pronouncement suspends the marriage.  Making this pronouncement 3 times permanently dissolves the marriage.  It is not clear if this must be at the same time or different times. However, the most common practice in Nigeria is for the man to write it on paper and give it to the woman.  Once this is done, the marriage is technically divorced and the couple can only remarry if the wife marries another person and divorces. The woman may take the paper her husband has written to the Sharia court to obtain a Certificate of Divorce.  Sharia courts have jurisdiction to dissolve Islamic marriages in many states in northern Nigeria.  In states where there is no Sharia court, the Customary Court may dissolve Islamic Marriages.  An Islamic marriage cannot be divorced in a Magistrate court unless there is no Customary Court available.  On the other hand, where a woman is dissatisfied with her marriage, she can initiate a divorce herself through a system called Khul, which must be done through a court.  The court will then require the woman to prove that she has brought her case under the permissible grounds of divorce in Islam.  Most times, Sharia court judges are reluctant to grant these petitions.  As in other customary marriages, there is the problem of documentation since the marriage and divorce could be oral.  

2.) REGISTRY MARRIAGES: Registry marriages, regardless of whether they are federal or local registry, can only be dissolved through a High Court.  Post often sees divorce certificates issued by lower (customary and magistrate) courts purporting to have dissolved a registry marriage; these divorce orders are not legally binding.  There is a strict divorce procedure for marriage contracted under the Marriage Act, as set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1970.  One requires the services of an attorney to file a divorce petition and follow through with the legal processes in Court.  After filing the necessary papers in Court, there is a trial.  At the end of the trial, the Court may grant or refuse the Divorce.  Where the divorce is granted, the order is temporary and is called a Decree Nisi.  There is a three month period allowed in the event of reconciliation between the couple.  At the end of the three months, if the parties have not reconciled, then the divorce decree will automatically become absolute and a Decree Absolute is issued.  At this point, the legal bonds of marriage are permanently severed unless the couple remarries.  However, it is important to know that both parties are free to marry other parties once the Decree Nisi is issued; they need not wait for the Decree Absolute.  [Note: As stated above, many couples perform more than one type of marriage ceremony.  For divorce proceedings, once a couple has completed a Registry Marriage, the only legal method of divorce is through the High Court process.  The High Court process is also the only legal method of divorce for residents of Nigeria who married outside of Nigeria.]

Adoption Certificates

Available

Fees: Stipulated by Court during the adoption process

Document Name: Adoption Order

Issuing Authority: The Family Court or The Chief Magistrate’s Court

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically typed and printed on white paper.  Seals may be embossed, sometimes over a red sticker, or they may be inked, most often in red or purple.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Magistrate

Registration Criteria: By order of Court

Procedure for Obtaining: Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) to notify The Ministry of Social Welfare of the State where the adoption is to be done, of their intention to adopt. When a child becomes available, and the request is approved, there is a 3 month Fostering Period for the PAP to be in custody of, and bond with the juvenile, thereafter, application is made to the Family Court or the Magistrate Court to approve the adoption through an adoption hearing.

Certified Copies Available: Yes.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Only Citizens of Nigeria can adopt under Nigeria’s Adoption Laws. The following States do not have Adoption Laws and so cannot issue valid adoption Orders: Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe, Borno, and Yobe States.

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Identity Card

National ID Cards

 

Available

Fees: Free

Document Name: National Identity Card

Issuing Authority: National Identity Management Commission

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A

Registration Criteria: Must be a Nigerian Citizen of full age

Procedure for Obtaining: Register at the approved centers set up by the National Identity Management Commission.

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: Nigerian International Passport.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments:  Available, but not widely used.  All Nigerians should have a national identification number; however, registration for this number is rarely completed.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Court/Prison Records

 

Unavailable

Comments:  The police record gives all prison sentences, although reliability is questionable.

 

Police Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Over the years, applicants are known to have paid five thousand Naira for the Police Character Certificate. The fee should be in the form of a bank draft payable to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Fingerprint Section, Nigeria Police Force.

Document Name: Police Character Certificate

Issuing Authority: The Nigeria Police

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  They are typically printed on white paper with red background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data is typed in Times New Roman font. Fingerprint cards must be submitted along with the police certificate.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Central Registrar, Deputy Inspector-General “D” Dept., For Inspector-General of Police

Registration Criteria: N/A

Procedure for Obtaining: Applicants need to contact the Deputy Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Department, Nigeria Police Force, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.  The applicant should bring information regarding their full name, place and date of birth, nationality, passport number, date and place of issuance (for current passport or passport used during applicant's stay in Nigeria), exact periods of residence in Nigeria and addresses where applicant resided. 

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Applicants outside the country are advised that mailed requests for police certificates are not an effective method of obtaining the records. It is recommended that applicants outside Nigeria obtain a police certificate upon their next visit, or enlist the assistance of a friend or relative able to physically visit the Deputy Inspector General. Note that each applicant 16 years of age and above must also provide (1) a copy of the first three data pages of his or her passport, (2) the pages containing Nigerian visas, entry and departure stamps and (3) a complete set of fingerprints taken by the police in the district where the applicant resides. The Police Character Certificate is obtained by applying to the relevant Police Department of the Nigeria Police

Military Records

Unavailable

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Travel Documents

 

Types Available (Regular, Diplomatic, Official, etc.): All are available

Fees: Diplomatic and Official Passports are Free. Regular Passports when paying in Nigeria cost N8,750 ($65 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged 0 – 17 years, N15,000 ($94 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged from 18 – 59 years and N8,750 ($65 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged 60 years and above. These are for the 32 paged passports. For the 64 paged Passports, the fee is N20,000 ($125 when paying from abroad) across the board.

Document Name: Diplomatic Passport, Official Passport, Standard Nigeria Passport, Pilgrims Passport, Seaman’s Book

Issuing Government Authority: The Nigeria Immigration Service

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A

Registration Criteria: Must be a Citizen of Nigeria.

Procedure for Obtaining: Pay the appropriate fee and provide the following:

1.       Local Government letter of identification.

2.       Birth certificate / age declaration.

3.       2 recent color passport photographs

4.       Guarantor's form sworn to before a commissioner of Oaths / Magistrate /  High Court Judge

5.       Parents' letter of consent for minors under 16 years

6.       Marriage certificate where applicable

7.       Police report in case of lost passport

8.       Submit application with supporting documents to passport office / Embassy / High commission

Alternate Documents: Emergency Travel Certificate issued to Nigerians abroad who lose their Passport for the purposes of traveling back to Nigeria. ECOWAS Travel Certificate issued to Citizens of ECOWAS countries for travel within the sub-region.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: N/A

Other Documents Available: See alternate documents above.

Other Records

Education Credentials

Those who have successfully completed high school must take the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations to receive their diplomas or enter a university.  The examinations are scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being the best and 9 the worst.  To enter a university, the applicant must have received credit (a score of 1-6) in five subjects.  For diploma programs, he or she must have received 3 or 4 credits.  Scores of 7 or 8 are only ordinary passes and give no credit.  A score of P8 or F9 indicates failing.  There is a national WAEC office in Lagos where all results can be checked to verify educational level.

Visa Issuing Posts

Post Contact Information

 

Post Title: U.S. Embassy Abuja

Address: Plot 1075 Diplomatic Dr, Central Business District, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 9 461 4000

Visa Services: NIV only

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

 

Post Title: U.S. Consulate General Lagos

Address: 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 01 440 6218

Visa Services: NIV and IV

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

Visa Services

 

Post Title: U.S. Consulate General Lagos

Address: 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 01 440 6218

Visa Services: NIV and IV

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 986-8400 (202) 362-6541

Atlanta, GA (770) 394-5233 (770) 394-6261 (770) 394-6237 (770) 394-5233

New York, NY (212) 808-0301 (212) 687-1476

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Abuja
1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone
+(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency
+(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax
+(234)(9) 461-4171
Nigeria Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Nigeria
Federal Republic of Nigeria
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Travelers may be required to show proof of polio and yellow fever vaccinations 

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Abuja

1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax: +(234)(9) 461-4171

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent,
Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3600 (Monday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3400
Fax: +(234)(1) 261-2218

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Nigeria for information on U.S.-Nigeria relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A valid passport is required, and most visitors are required to have a visa. You should obtain your Nigerian visa from a Nigerian embassy or consulate in advance of your travel. In most cases, you cannot obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport.

Visit the Embassy of Nigeria web site for the most current visa and entry information.

You cannot legally depart Nigeria unless you can prove, by presenting your entry visa, that you entered Nigeria legally.

U.S.-Nigerian dual-national citizens are now required to have a valid Nigerian passport in order to depart the country. Dual-national citizens can be, and often are, denied boarding until they have obtained current Nigerian passports.  

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreign residents of Nigeria. Nigerian authorities may deny entry to foreigners who are “undesirable for medical reasons” and may require HIV tests for foreigners intending to marry Nigerian citizens. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Nigeria before travel.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Please see our most recent Travel Warning for more detailed information.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in the northeast, has targeted churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe states.

Islamic State West Africa, which is now a distinct group from Boko Haram, is present in Nigeria, and may seek to attack locations frequented by Westerners including major population centers.

Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country and have resulted in the deaths of foreign nationals.

Crime: Armed muggings, assaults, burglaries and home invasions, car-jackings, rape, and extortions occur regularly and often involve violence. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all and provide little or no investigative support to victims.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for more information on scams.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

Report crimes to the local police at 112 and contact the Embassy at +(234)(9) 461-4176 or Consulate at +(234)(1) 460-3600.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.  

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Currency: The local currency, the Naira, is non-convertible. Obtaining U.S. dollars is increasingly difficult. Visitors should expect to pay most bills in cash.

Credit Cards: While credit cards may be accepted at established businesses in major cities, they are rarely accepted elsewhere. Virtually all credit card readers in Nigeria require embedded “smart” chips. Credit card use should be considered carefully.

Traveler’s Checks: Most banks do not cash traveler’s checks. Inter-bank transfers are often difficult to accomplish. Though money transfer services are available, money may only be transferred from abroad to Nigeria.

Photography: It is illegal to take photos or videos in/around

  • all government buildings
  • airports
  • bridges
  • near military installations/operations

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual, same-sex sexual relations are illegal in Nigeria. Entering same-sex marriage contracts and civil unions (defined to include “any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners”) is also criminalized, with punishments including fines and prison sentences of up to 14 years. Same-sex marriage contracts and civil unions entered into in a foreign country are not recognized under Nigerian law.

Public displays of affection between persons of the same sex are also punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Furthermore, the law allows for the prosecution of persons who support or belong to advocacy groups relating to LGBTI issues, with prison sentences of up to 10 years. U.S. citizens who participate in free speech or assemblies relating to same sex marriage could potentially be prosecuted under this law.

In the following northern states, where Sharia law applies, penalties can also include death: Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities can expect to experience difficultly in terms of accessibility and accommodation.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Nigeria has a number of well trained doctors, yet medical facilities are generally poor. Many medicines are unavailable. Caution should be taken when purchasing medicines locally as counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and may be difficult to distinguish from genuine medications. Hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Roads are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions. There are few working traffic lights or stop signs and few traffic control officers to manage traffic during power outages. The rainy season, generally from May to October, is especially dangerous because of flooded roads and water-concealed potholes.

All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts, lock doors, and keep windows closed.  You should secure appropriate automobile insurance. Drivers and passengers of vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injury or death have experienced extra-judicial actions, i.e., mob attacks, official consequences such as fines and incarceration, and/or confrontations with the victim's family.  

Driving between 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. should be done with extreme caution. Automobiles, trucks, or "okadas" often drive on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks.

Traffic Laws and Culture: Motor vehicle accidents can be reported by dialing “119,” the local equivalent to 911. Traffic control officers may occasionally seek bribes when citing drivers for traffic violations. Motorists seldom yield the right-of-way and give little consideration to pedestrians and cyclists. Chronic fuel shortages have led to long lines at service stations, which disrupt or block traffic for extended periods.

Public Transportation: We recommend avoiding public transportation throughout Nigeria. Public transportation vehicles, such as buses and motorbikes, are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speeds, and overcrowding. Motorbikes are banned within Abuja's city limits and many major thoroughfares in Lagos. Okada drivers and passengers are required to wear helmets in a number of cities in the country; police can fine violators on the spot.

See our Road Safety page for more information. 

Visit the website of Nigeria’s National Tourism Ministry.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Nigeria’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Abuja

1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax: +(234)(9) 461-4171

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent,
Victoria Island,
Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3600 (Monday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(234)(1) 460-3400
Fax: +(234)(1) 261-2218

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General Information

For information concerning travel to Nigeria, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see our country-specific information for Nigeria.

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Hague Abduction Convention

Nigeria is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Nigeria and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.   Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Nigeria and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

 

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

 

Contact information:

 

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-736-9132

Website 
Email: AskCI@state.gov

 

 

Parental child abduction is a criminal offense in Nigeria under the Criminal Code, Part V, Chapter 32, § 371.  For more information, view The Criminal Code Act

 

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information.

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Nigeria and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.  Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Nigeria for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General in Nigeria are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Some churches and state-level Ministries of Women’s Affairs offer free mediation services. Free mediation services are also available at some High Courts, such as the Abuja Multi-Door Courthouse, ADR Center, High Court of FCT, Abuja, Nigeria, 09-670-2432. Mediation is voluntary.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Nigeria is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption  (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

Individuals who are not Nigerian citizens are not legally allowed to adopt in Nigeria. When a married couple is adopting, both must be Nigerian citizens. Only U.S. citizens who also have Nigerian citizenship are allowed to adopt children in Nigeria. Nigerian adoption laws are complex and vary from state to state. At the national level, adoptions are regulated by the Nigerian Child Rights Law or the Adoption Act of 1965.  Depending on where the adoption takes place, the specific law and regulations governing the adoption may differ.

In general, prospective adoptive parents who intend to adopt a specific child must first obtain temporary custody of the child.  Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain information on adopting in individual states through the state social welfare office.  Please note that the only legal way to do an adoption in Nigeria is to work with the respective state social welfare office (usually named the State Ministry of Women's or Family Affairs). Prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to process their adoption through local officials who may attempt to circumvent the legal process. Adoption decrees must state that they are full and final in order for an immigrant visa to be issued to the child. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos (U.S. Consulate) only issues IR3 classification immigrant visas. Oftentimes, adoption decrees from Nigerian courts put stipulations on the adoption, such as not allowing the child to travel beyond the jurisdiction of the court or requiring periodic visits to the child by the social welfare office of the respective Nigerian state. These stipulations may prevent the consular officer from issuing an immigrant visa or cause a delay in the processing of the immigrant visa.

Prospective adoptive parents must be available to be questioned in court by the magistrate considering the adoption. Proxy adoptions are not valid in Nigeria. 

Document and identity fraud related to adoptions is a serious concern in Nigeria. The U.S. Consulate requires that most adoptions be investigated in person in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees and I-600 petitions. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country. As a result, investigations and the in-country visa application and approval process can cause adoption processing in Lagos to take six to 12 months to complete, after the initial approval of the I-600 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Nigeria, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. 

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Nigeria:

  • Residency: Nigerian law requires that a parent-child relationship be established before the court decision can be considered final. Each state determines the length of time it takes to establish the parent-child relationship, which can range from a few months to two years.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: In Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age and 21 years older than the child. For married couples, at least one parent must meet the age requirements.
  • Marriage: Both single individuals and married couples may adopt. Note that a single person will not be allowed to adopt a child of the opposite sex except in extraordinary circumstances. In most states, married couples must adopt jointly. If married, both members of the couple must be Nigerian citizens. In the case of single-parent adoption, only the adopter’s name should be listed on the Nigerian birth certificate and the other parent’s name should be left blank. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals or married same-sex couples in the United States who are known by the Nigerian court to be LGBT may not be able to adopt children from Nigeria. It is unclear whether the Government of Nigeria and Nigerian law permit such adoptions at present; if it passes, a proposed bill will explicitly prohibit adoptions by LGBT parents in Nigeria.
  • Income: Nigeria does not have any income requirements for intercountry adoptions.
  • Nigerian Citizens: Nigerian law states that non-Nigerians may not adopt in Nigeria. While the law is sometimes inconsistently applied, the U.S. Consulate strongly advises that non-Nigerian citizens are not eligible to adopt children from Nigeria.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Nigeria has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption: 

  • Relinquishment: Adoptions of children who are allegedly relinquished by their parent, who is still living, are subject to investigation as the U.S. Consulate has found that parents in Nigeria may relinquish their children to relatives living in the United States strictly in order to afford the children the ability to immigrate to the United States.
  • Abandonment: Abandonment of a child in Nigeria is often poorly documented and may require a full investigation by the U.S. Consulate to confirm the abandonment.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: According to Nigerian law, a child must be below the age of 16 (according to the Adoption Act of 1965) or 17 (according to the Child Rights Law) in order to be adopted.  The specific law governing the adoption will depend on the jurisdiction in which the adoption takes place. Important note: U.S. law requires a child to be under the age of 16 at the time the petition is filed to qualify for a U.S. immigrant visa, unless the child is the natural sibling of another child who was adopted by the same parents while under the age of 18. 
  • Sibling Adoptions: There are no specific guidelines regarding adopting siblings in Nigeria.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Adoption decrees issued in Nigeria will generally specify any special needs or address the general health of the child to be adopted. The U.S. home study should match any specifications of special needs that are observed by the Nigerian court.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Prospective adoptive parents must have physical and temporary legal custody of the adoptive child for at least three consecutive months immediately prior to petitioning the court for an adoption decree. An applicant cannot have the child reside with another family member in lieu of living with the applicant, even if a Power of Attorney is in effect. The U.S. Consulate has seen waivers issued to parents who claimed to the court that meeting this requirement was a burden.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when it becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have not relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption. In Nigeria, many orphanages or organizations claiming that they arrange adoptions are for-profit enterprises which operate without licensing or oversight. The U.S. Consulate advises all prospective adoptive parents to get clear information about any orphanage or adoption agency in Nigeria before entering into an adoption process with the organization.

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How to Adopt

Nigeria’s Adoption Authority

The Magistrate Court (from the state where the child resides)

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Nigeria generally includes the following steps:
  

  1. Choose an adoption service provider 
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Adopt (or gain custody of) the child in Nigeria
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status 
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider  

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Nigeria is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Nigeria, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Nigeria and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the social welfare office in the state where the child resides in Nigeria.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. 

3. Be Matched with a Child 

If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Nigeria will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.   

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Nigeria’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. 

4. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Nigeria

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Nigeria generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The social welfare office of the state where the child is located is considered the adoption authority. The application for adoption originates from this office. Prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to begin the adoption process through any other local officials. The government office that adjudicates local adoptions in Nigeria is the magistrate court of the state where the child is located.
  • Role of the Court: In most Nigerian states, the adoption process begins when an application for an adoption order is made in accordance with local requirements and submitted to the registrar of the competent court. The court then assigns a guardian ad litem for the child to represent him/her in the adoption proceedings. The guardian ad litem is the social welfare officer in charge of the area where the juvenile resides, or a probation officer or some other person suitably qualified in the opinion of the court of assignment. The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances related to the proposed adoption and files a report to the court. The guardian ad litem represents the child's interests until the magistrate questions the prospective adoptive parents and grants the adoption order giving legal custody to the adoptive parents.

    The guardian ad litem investigates the circumstances relevant to the proposed adoption and reports in writing to the court. Prospective adoptive parents must inform the social welfare officer of their intention to adopt at least three months before the court order is made. For at least three consecutive months immediately preceding an adoption order, the child must have been in the physical care and legal custody of the applicant parents in Nigeria. An applicant cannot have the child reside with another family member in lieu of living with the applicant, even if a Power of Attorney is in effect.

    The social welfare officer visits the home of the adoptive parents until the officer is satisfied that the juvenile is settled and the prospective adoptive parents are capable of looking after him or her. Then, the social welfare officer submits a positive recommendation in writing to the court. The magistrate will meet the adoptive parents in court to confirm their suitability and will issue or deny the adoption order.

    After the adoption order has been issued, adoptive parents should obtain a new birth certificate for the child listing them as the child's parents. In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child.  This letter permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.

    Note: Proxy adoptions are not valid in Nigeria.  
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. Consulate is not aware of any legally recognized Nigerian agencies that assist adopting parents or any licensed Nigerian adoption agencies.  Prospective adoptive parents can seek assistance from a Nigerian attorney to facilitate the adoption process. The U.S. Consulate maintains a list of attorneys that have identified themselves as willing to provide legal services to U.S. citizens but cannot make any endorsements based on an assessment of the quality or the type of services the attorney provides.
  • Adoption Application: The application is submitted to the registrar of the competent court.
  • Time Frame: Adoption procedures can take a few months to more than a year depending on the child's state of origin and the evidence presented.
  • Adoption Fees: Fees, including fees to an agency or the orphanage, attorney fees, court costs and costs to get official paperwork, such as a birth certificate, are estimated to run into the hundreds of dollars per child. The U.S. Consulate estimates that a standard adoption in Nigeria would cost approximately $500 in fees not including fees paid for the I-600, I-600A or the immigrant visa.
  • Documents Required: The paperwork involved in Nigerian adoptions is extensive and time-consuming to locate. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to consult with a Nigerian attorney about the document requirements of the state from which they are adopting.
  • The following is a list of some of the required documents:
    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage certificates
    • Divorce decrees (where applicable)
    • Proof of Nigerian citizenship
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship
    • Financial documentation – proof of financial assets
    • Police reports

Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Nigeria, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition oforphan under U.S. immigration law.  You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative

6. Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Nigeria, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Birth certificates in Nigeria are issued by the National Population Commission (NPC). The NPC has offices co-located within most local government authority (LGA) offices throughout the country and applicants must go to the LGA office with jurisdiction in the area where the adoption occurred in order to obtain the birth certificate. Birth certificates from NPC are documents which are normally filled by hand and can commonly including spelling mistakes or other problems. Applicants are encouraged to check the accuracy of documents obtained in Nigeria as visa regulations require that the spelling and other biographical information be consistent across official documents.

Nigeria Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Nigeria.

In some states, after the adoption has been granted, the adoptive parents must obtain the court's permission to remove the child from Nigerian jurisdiction, either temporarily or permanently. In addition, the social welfare officer might be required to submit a letter to the Nigerian immigration office, stating that the adoptive parents are now the legal parents of the child. This letter permits the adopting parents to apply for a passport to take the child out of Nigeria.

Applicants can apply for a Nigerian passport in the Nigerian Immigration Service office of the jurisdiction in which the adoption took place or where they reside. There is a fee for obtaining a passport. The Nigerian passport may take a week or more to obtain depending on conditions. Applicants are encouraged to check the accuracy of documents obtained in Nigeria as visa regulations require that the spelling and other biographical information be consistent across official documents.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.  

Most applications for an immigrant visa for an adopted child at the U.S. Consulate will undergo full field investigations in the state where the adoption took place to verify the authenticity of the information provided in the adoption decrees, I-600 petitions and supporting documents. This investigation also serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law and may include both documentary reviews and interviews with persons connected to the child's case. For security reasons, U.S. government personnel are frequently restricted from traveling to certain parts of the country, causing these investigations to take an average of six months.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos’ website.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 72 hours and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos strongly advises that applicants do not book any travel plans until they have their visa(s) in hand.

Note: Although the U.S. Embassy is in Nigeria’s capital (Abuja), immigrant visa cases are reviewed only at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship. 

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Nigeria
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Nigeria, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability. 

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Nigeria, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Nigerian law has no post-adoption requirements for adoptive parents. Parents should confirm any post-adoption requirements with their legal representatives.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents. 

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Contact Information

U.S. Consulate General, Lagos
2 Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island, Lagos
Nigeria
Tel: [234](1) 460-3400
Email: LagosIV@state.gov

U.S. Embassy in Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central Business District, Abuja, FCT
(Off Independence Avenue/Near the Ministry of Defense)
Tel: [234] (9)461-4262
Fax: [234] (9)461-4171
Email: Consularabuja@state.gov
Website: ng.usembassy.gov

Nigeria’s Adoption Authority
Magistrate Court (where child resides)

Embassy of the Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel:  (202) 775-8400
Fax:  (202) 775-1385
Internet: nigeriaembassyusa.org 

Nigeria also has consulates in Atlanta and New York City.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@uscis.DHS.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-2 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 24 Months
C-1 None Multiple 24 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 24 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 24 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 24 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 24 Months
F-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
I None Multiple 24 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 24 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 24 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 24 Months
L-2 None Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 24 Months
M-2 None Multiple 24 Months
N-8 None Multiple 24 Months
N-9 None Multiple 24 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 24 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 24 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 24 Months
R-2 None Multiple 24 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

General Document Information

The rules and regulations regarding the maintenance of public records and the issuance of certificates in the 36 states of Nigeria are similar; however, those rules and regulations are often ignored.  Except for a few federal Government Agencies, no local or federal government body currently has a central database with digitized records.  Most records are stored on paper, filed by dates, location, and, in regards to divorce cases, presiding court.

Note: Since fraudulent documents can be easily obtained in Nigeria, the consular officer may wish to consider referring suspect documents to the Fraud Prevention Unit, U.S. Embassy Abuja or U.S. Consulate Lagos, for investigation.

General Issuing Authority Information

In Nigeria the maintenance of public records and the issuance of certificates fall within the jurisdiction of the local governments. Some exceptions apply to: civil marriage certificates which are issued under the authority of The Federal Marriage Registry; National Driver’s License issued by Federal Road Safety Commission; National Identity Card issued by National Identity Management Commission; Voter’s Card issued by Independent National Electoral Commission; birth, attestation of birth and death certificates issued by National Population Commission. These exceptions fall under the purview of the Federal Government, however, Marriage Registries and the National Population Commission have offices in all the Local Government Secretariats. Civil marriages can only be dissolved by State High Courts, and that Court has exclusive jurisdiction to handle matrimonial causes arising from civil marriages. Customary Marriages and divorces are seldom recorded.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Issuance of birth certificates is free for infants under 2 years of age. Fees may be required for children who are more than 2 years old.

Document Name:  Certificate of Birth

Issuing Authority: National Population Commission (NPC)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued.  They are typically printed on white paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Registrar

Registration Criteria: The birth of every child born in Nigeria shall be registered by the Registrar of the National Population Commission or any person working under his authority.

Procedure for Obtaining: Visit any National Population Commission office in any of the Local Government Secretariats or designated Primary Health Care Centers, and the birth registration and certificate issuance could be completed within 10 minutes by the Officials. Parents, heads of household or any person who has attained 18 years and present at the birth of a child may visit these centers with or without the child whose birth is to be registered and supply the necessary information to register and obtain a birth certificate on their behalf.

Certified Copies Available:  N/A

Alternate Documents: For people born prior to 1979 or in some cases prior to 1988, a birth certificate issued by a Local Government Authority or a hospital or a baptismal certificate is acceptable. There is also the National Population Commission Attestation of Birth Certificate issued to people whose birth occurred before 1979 when the National Population Commission issued birth certificate was first introduced as a pilot program. Any of these is acceptable.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: The Compulsory Registration of Birth and death Decree of 1979 was a pilot program involving 4 States only in Nigeria, namely – Anambra (South East), Oyo (South West), Plateau (North East) and Kaduna (North West) States. NPC birth and death Certificates were issued under the 1979 Law in these States only. The 1992 Law (Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992 was made to make the NPC birth and death registration to be of Countrywide application.

 

Death Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Registration is free

Document Name: Certificate of Death

Issuing Authority: National Population Commission

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Size and format is comparable to birth certificates.  Multiple versions of this form are issued.  They are typically printed on white paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The Registrar

Registration Criteria: The death of every person dying in Nigeria as well as the cause of the death thereof shall be registered as from the commencement of the Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992.

Procedure for Obtaining: When the death of any person occurs, information of such a death is given to the Registrar for the area where such a death occurred.

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: Medical Certificate of Death is acceptable for deaths of any person which occurred before the commencement of Births and Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act, No. 69 of 1992. Sworn declaration or Affidavit is also acceptable in lieu of a Medical Certificate of Death for cases where the death occurred before the commencement of the Act, and no Medical Certificate was issued or the issued certificate is lost.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Most recent deaths occur in a hospital, and supporting hospital/medical records should also be available.  In a case where a death occurs at home, a medical examiner still performs the inspection, and some record of that should exist.

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Cost for civil marriage in the Registry would range from Five to Ten Thousand Naira.

Document Name: Certificate of Marriage

Issuing Authority: Marriage Registry

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically printed on white or green paper with green background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Biodata may be typed or handwritten.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Registrar or Minister of Religion as the case may be.

Registration Criteria: Must be a marriage celebrated between a man and a woman of consenting age, with no legal incapacity to marry under Native Law and Custom or according to the Marriage Act.

Procedure for Obtaining: For registry marriages, issued by the Marriage Registrar or Minister of Religion upon completion of the marriage process as provided for in the Marriage Act. 

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: For marriages under Native Law and Custom, a Registration of Marriage Certificate is sometimes issued by the Local Marriage Registrar after presenting a court affidavit as provided for by the Registration of Customary Marriage Bye-Laws.

Exceptions: The vast majority of customary marriages will have no written record.

Comments: Nigerian law recognizes multiple types of legal marriage, each with their own requirements.  The two main types are customary marriages and registry marriages. 

1.) CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES:  While customary marriages are legally binding, no registration or written record of the event is required by law.  As a result, documentation of customary marriages generally does not exist outside of photographs taken at the ceremony.  Individuals will sometimes, when necessary, swear an affidavit in a court that they are married in order to provide written proof of such a marriage.  Some Local Governments will issue a certificate based on that affidavit by virtue of the Registration of Customary Marriage Bye-Laws.  Absence of an affidavit or certificate of this kind cannot be taken as lack of marital status.  [Note: The Bye-Laws mentioned vary from state to state and authorize Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to register customary marriages that take place in their jurisdiction.  The Bye-Laws do not exist in all states and several states that have them do not make registration compulsory.]  There are two types of Customary Marriage:  marriage under native law & custom (also known as traditional marriage) and Islamic marriage. 

1.)a.) Marriage Under Native Law & Custom: Traditional marriage ceremonies are based on local, unwritten customs.  In the case of Lagos residents, the customs of the local area or village where the family originates from (usually outside Lagos State) should also be considered.  Cultural context will determine whether a legally binding marriage ceremony took place, versus an introduction or other non-binding ceremony.  Some local customs permit proxy marriages, where the groom need not be present at the ceremony.  In nearly all Nigerian cultures, payment of a dowry or bride price is a key component of a traditional marriage ceremony.  The dowry may be in the form of money, gifts, or a combination of both.  Yams are a typical part of the dowry in many areas within Nigeria.  [Note:  Modernization has led to some evolution in traditional marriages, and payment of the bride price in some recent marriages is merely symbolic.]  Traditional marriage also allows for a man to legally marry more than one wife. 

1.)b.)  Islamic Marriage: The celebration of Islamic marriage ceremonies (called Nikkai) in Nigeria is governed by the Maliki Law.  The marriage must be between a male and a female that have agreed to marry if matured, or consent has been given by their father or male guardian if they are immature.  [Note: “Maturity” is not defined by a specific age, but is instead determined by the father or male guardian.]  The bride price, which is a minimum of N5000, is called the sadaq or dower, and is paid to the bride but received by her parents.  The ceremony is officiated by a Mallam in the presence of at least three Muslim witnesses.  After a celebration of Islamic Marriage, the couple may obtain a certificate from the Local Government Marriage Registry, but this is not required.  Islamic law allows a man to marry up to 4 wives. 

2.) REGISTRY MARRIAGES: The Marriage Act of 1990 is the primary law governing registry marriages in Nigeria.  One notable difference between customary marriages and registry marriages: men who marry at a marriage registry are legally permitted to have only one wife.  Therefore, men legally married to multiple wives by way of customary marriages would first need to divorce those wives under native law and custom before completing a registry marriage to a new wife.  Should a man wish to complete a registry marriage with one of his existing wives, he would first need to divorce all other wives under native law and custom.  The registry marriage ceremony is conducted by a minister of religion or the marriage registrar in the presence of witnesses.  A marriage certificate is issued at the completion of the ceremony.  Both federal and local governments perform registry marriages. 

2.)a.) Federal Marriage Registry: Nigeria’s Federal Marriage Registry currently has offices in only a few states, with plans to expand to include at least one office per state.  The office in Abuja has been operating since 2006.  The Ikoyi office in Lagos pre-dates the founding of Nigeria and may include records as old as 1802 [Note: They are filed by year and place of marriage and can be obtained by writing to the Marriage Registry, 19 Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.]  In October 2016, additional offices opened in the cities of Owerri (Imo State), Port Harcourt (Rivers State) and Benin City (Edo State).  Even when marriages are properly registered at one of these facilities, there is no central database or system; all records are kept in paper files. 

2.)b.) Designated churches: Church weddings, or “white weddings” as commonly known in Nigeria, are performed widely.  Licensed places of worship can be authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry to perform marriage ceremonies “under the act.”  The church must create three copies of a marriage certificate using paperstock provided by the Federal Registry: one for the newly wedded couple, one for church records, and one for the Federal Registry.  While churches authorized “under the act” are required by law to file a copy of the marriage certificate, often the marriage record is never sent to the Registry.  In addition, many unauthorized churches perform wedding ceremonies that have no legal standing.  Marriage certificates issued by churches or other houses of worship not authorized by the Registry are not evidence of a legally binding marriage. 

2.)c.) State/Local Registry: The inaccessibility of Nigeria’s limited number of Federal Marriage Registry offices has led to the opening of local marriage registry offices by nearly all LGAs.  [There are 774 LGAs within Nigeria.]  Similar to the churches described above, some LGAs have been authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry to perform marriage ceremonies “under the act.” The vast majority perform marriage ceremonies without any federal authority.  The Federal Marriage Registry has stated that these ceremonies are not legal, however individuals who marry at LGA registries may not know that their marriage is not legally recognized by federal authorities.  LGAs authorized by the Federal Marriage Registry are required to use paperstock provided by the Registry for marriage certificates.  Other LGAs who perform civil marriages will issue a certificate titled “Unified Marriage Certificate.”  [Note: Many couples perform more than one type of marriage ceremony.  For example, couples may choose to have both a traditional and white wedding, or a traditional and registry wedding.  When this is the case, the date that the first legally binding ceremony took place serves as the date the marriage began.]  

 

Divorce Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Varies by location and court.

Document Name: Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute

Issuing Authority: The High Court of Justice

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically typed in Times New Roman font and printed on white paper.  Seals may be embossed, sometimes over a red sticker, or they may be inked, most often in red or purple.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Judge

Registration Criteria: Must be a registry marriage completed according to the Marriage Act.

Procedure for Obtaining: Divorce Proceedings in accordance with The Matrimonial Causes Act of Nigeria.

Certified Copies Available: Yes

Alternate Documents: For marriages under Native Law and Custom, a divorce decree may be issued by a Customary Court.  For Islamic marriages, a divorce decree may be issued by a Sharia court.

Exceptions: Many divorces for customary marriages will have no written record.  Marriages under native law and custom will also be dissolved by custom; many of these divorces are not recorded while some are recorded by a sworn affidavit after the fact. Islamic marriages may be dissolved in a Sharia Court. 

Comments: Documenting a legal divorce is problematic.  Each type of marriage listed above has its own legal process for obtaining a divorce, thus it is essential to first understand what type of marriage took place before determining what documentation is acceptable to prove that a divorce is legal. 

1.) CUSTOMARY MARRIAGES: There is no legal requirement that a customary marriage should be dissolved by any court, nor any requirement that the divorce be registered or documented. 

1.)a.) Marriage Under Native Law and Custom: Traditional marriages are often dissolved without any written record.  One legal method of divorce involves the groom or his family returning the bride price to the bride or her family.  Divorces for some traditional marriages are documented by one or both parties filing an affidavit with a Customary Court.  Finally, traditional marriages may be formally dissolved by a Customary Court and a divorce decree issued by the court.  Where there is no Customary Court in the area, a Magistrate Court may dissolve a customary marriage.  The courts may dissolve a traditional marriage without one of the spouses being present or even knowing that the divorce took place. 

1.)b.) Islamic Marriage: Divorce is most often initiated by the husband.  Where a man tells his wife, “I divorce you”, that single pronouncement suspends the marriage.  Making this pronouncement 3 times permanently dissolves the marriage.  It is not clear if this must be at the same time or different times. However, the most common practice in Nigeria is for the man to write it on paper and give it to the woman.  Once this is done, the marriage is technically divorced and the couple can only remarry if the wife marries another person and divorces. The woman may take the paper her husband has written to the Sharia court to obtain a Certificate of Divorce.  Sharia courts have jurisdiction to dissolve Islamic marriages in many states in northern Nigeria.  In states where there is no Sharia court, the Customary Court may dissolve Islamic Marriages.  An Islamic marriage cannot be divorced in a Magistrate court unless there is no Customary Court available.  On the other hand, where a woman is dissatisfied with her marriage, she can initiate a divorce herself through a system called Khul, which must be done through a court.  The court will then require the woman to prove that she has brought her case under the permissible grounds of divorce in Islam.  Most times, Sharia court judges are reluctant to grant these petitions.  As in other customary marriages, there is the problem of documentation since the marriage and divorce could be oral.  

2.) REGISTRY MARRIAGES: Registry marriages, regardless of whether they are federal or local registry, can only be dissolved through a High Court.  Post often sees divorce certificates issued by lower (customary and magistrate) courts purporting to have dissolved a registry marriage; these divorce orders are not legally binding.  There is a strict divorce procedure for marriage contracted under the Marriage Act, as set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1970.  One requires the services of an attorney to file a divorce petition and follow through with the legal processes in Court.  After filing the necessary papers in Court, there is a trial.  At the end of the trial, the Court may grant or refuse the Divorce.  Where the divorce is granted, the order is temporary and is called a Decree Nisi.  There is a three month period allowed in the event of reconciliation between the couple.  At the end of the three months, if the parties have not reconciled, then the divorce decree will automatically become absolute and a Decree Absolute is issued.  At this point, the legal bonds of marriage are permanently severed unless the couple remarries.  However, it is important to know that both parties are free to marry other parties once the Decree Nisi is issued; they need not wait for the Decree Absolute.  [Note: As stated above, many couples perform more than one type of marriage ceremony.  For divorce proceedings, once a couple has completed a Registry Marriage, the only legal method of divorce is through the High Court process.  The High Court process is also the only legal method of divorce for residents of Nigeria who married outside of Nigeria.]

Adoption Certificates

Available

Fees: Stipulated by Court during the adoption process

Document Name: Adoption Order

Issuing Authority: The Family Court or The Chief Magistrate’s Court

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Multiple versions of this form are issued in varying formats.  They are typically typed and printed on white paper.  Seals may be embossed, sometimes over a red sticker, or they may be inked, most often in red or purple.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Magistrate

Registration Criteria: By order of Court

Procedure for Obtaining: Prospective Adoptive Parent (PAP) to notify The Ministry of Social Welfare of the State where the adoption is to be done, of their intention to adopt. When a child becomes available, and the request is approved, there is a 3 month Fostering Period for the PAP to be in custody of, and bond with the juvenile, thereafter, application is made to the Family Court or the Magistrate Court to approve the adoption through an adoption hearing.

Certified Copies Available: Yes.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Only Citizens of Nigeria can adopt under Nigeria’s Adoption Laws. The following States do not have Adoption Laws and so cannot issue valid adoption Orders: Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Gombe, Borno, and Yobe States.

ALL /
ALL /
Identity Card

National ID Cards

 

Available

Fees: Free

Document Name: National Identity Card

Issuing Authority: National Identity Management Commission

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A

Registration Criteria: Must be a Nigerian Citizen of full age

Procedure for Obtaining: Register at the approved centers set up by the National Identity Management Commission.

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: Nigerian International Passport.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments:  Available, but not widely used.  All Nigerians should have a national identification number; however, registration for this number is rarely completed.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Court/Prison Records

 

Unavailable

Comments:  The police record gives all prison sentences, although reliability is questionable.

 

Police Certificates

 

Available

Fees: Over the years, applicants are known to have paid five thousand Naira for the Police Character Certificate. The fee should be in the form of a bank draft payable to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Fingerprint Section, Nigeria Police Force.

Document Name: Police Character Certificate

Issuing Authority: The Nigeria Police

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  They are typically printed on white paper with red background lettering.  Seals are inked, most often in blue, black, or purple.  Bio-data is typed in Times New Roman font. Fingerprint cards must be submitted along with the police certificate.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Central Registrar, Deputy Inspector-General “D” Dept., For Inspector-General of Police

Registration Criteria: N/A

Procedure for Obtaining: Applicants need to contact the Deputy Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Department, Nigeria Police Force, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.  The applicant should bring information regarding their full name, place and date of birth, nationality, passport number, date and place of issuance (for current passport or passport used during applicant's stay in Nigeria), exact periods of residence in Nigeria and addresses where applicant resided. 

Certified Copies Available: No.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: Applicants outside the country are advised that mailed requests for police certificates are not an effective method of obtaining the records. It is recommended that applicants outside Nigeria obtain a police certificate upon their next visit, or enlist the assistance of a friend or relative able to physically visit the Deputy Inspector General. Note that each applicant 16 years of age and above must also provide (1) a copy of the first three data pages of his or her passport, (2) the pages containing Nigerian visas, entry and departure stamps and (3) a complete set of fingerprints taken by the police in the district where the applicant resides. The Police Character Certificate is obtained by applying to the relevant Police Department of the Nigeria Police

Military Records

Unavailable

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Travel Documents

 

Types Available (Regular, Diplomatic, Official, etc.): All are available

Fees: Diplomatic and Official Passports are Free. Regular Passports when paying in Nigeria cost N8,750 ($65 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged 0 – 17 years, N15,000 ($94 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged from 18 – 59 years and N8,750 ($65 when paying from abroad) for applicants aged 60 years and above. These are for the 32 paged passports. For the 64 paged Passports, the fee is N20,000 ($125 when paying from abroad) across the board.

Document Name: Diplomatic Passport, Official Passport, Standard Nigeria Passport, Pilgrims Passport, Seaman’s Book

Issuing Government Authority: The Nigeria Immigration Service

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: N/A

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A

Registration Criteria: Must be a Citizen of Nigeria.

Procedure for Obtaining: Pay the appropriate fee and provide the following:

1.       Local Government letter of identification.

2.       Birth certificate / age declaration.

3.       2 recent color passport photographs

4.       Guarantor's form sworn to before a commissioner of Oaths / Magistrate /  High Court Judge

5.       Parents' letter of consent for minors under 16 years

6.       Marriage certificate where applicable

7.       Police report in case of lost passport

8.       Submit application with supporting documents to passport office / Embassy / High commission

Alternate Documents: Emergency Travel Certificate issued to Nigerians abroad who lose their Passport for the purposes of traveling back to Nigeria. ECOWAS Travel Certificate issued to Citizens of ECOWAS countries for travel within the sub-region.

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: N/A

Other Documents Available: See alternate documents above.

Other Records

Education Credentials

Those who have successfully completed high school must take the West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations to receive their diplomas or enter a university.  The examinations are scored on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being the best and 9 the worst.  To enter a university, the applicant must have received credit (a score of 1-6) in five subjects.  For diploma programs, he or she must have received 3 or 4 credits.  Scores of 7 or 8 are only ordinary passes and give no credit.  A score of P8 or F9 indicates failing.  There is a national WAEC office in Lagos where all results can be checked to verify educational level.

Visa Issuing Posts

Post Contact Information

 

Post Title: U.S. Embassy Abuja

Address: Plot 1075 Diplomatic Dr, Central Business District, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 9 461 4000

Visa Services: NIV only

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

 

Post Title: U.S. Consulate General Lagos

Address: 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 01 440 6218

Visa Services: NIV and IV

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

Visa Services

 

Post Title: U.S. Consulate General Lagos

Address: 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

Phone Number: +234 01 440 6218

Visa Services: NIV and IV

Comments / Additional Information: All applications are reviewed by appointment only.  See Nigeria.USEmbassy.gov  for more specifics.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 986-8400 (202) 362-6541

Atlanta, GA (770) 394-5233 (770) 394-6261 (770) 394-6237 (770) 394-5233

New York, NY (212) 808-0301 (212) 687-1476

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Abuja
1075 Diplomatic Drive
Central District Area, Abuja
Nigeria
Telephone
+(234)(9) 461-4176 (Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Emergency
+(234)(9) 461-4000
Fax
+(234)(9) 461-4171
Nigeria Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.