March 26, 2020

41 items not valid for forex: Why your cost of importation/exportation may be high

41 items not valid for forex – Are you aware there are goods that are not considered contraband yet, they don’t have same right and access to be imported with foreign exchange made available by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In case you’re not aware, foreign exchange remains a major clog in the wheels of importation in Nigeria, you certainly cannot pay a Chinese or Dubai supplier in naira, you sure need the USD to facilitate your payment so goods can be shipped to your destination.

If you can’t source the USD for payment, then business is not happening, alternatively foreign exchange is sourced at a very high rate that one may end up not making profits after such goods are being sold.

It’s on this premise that I deem it necessary to help you understand the validity of an item to source foreign exchange usually at a fair rate, to as well acquaint yourself with 41 items not valid for forex.

The following had been taken care of:

  • Valid for Forex meaning
  • Form M not valid for foreign exchange
  • CBN list of items valid for forex
  • CBN circular on 41 banned items
  • Banned items in Nigeria etc.

41 items not valid for Forex

These are goods which intending importers cannot source foreign exchange through the official CBN window to import into the country whatsoever, should you wish to import such goods, you will have to source money outside the forex department, which could be very expensive.

Read also: All you need to know about export documents

For the record, items not valid for forex are more than 41, they keep increasing as government policies unfold by the day.

Valid for Forex meaning

An item is said to be valid for Forex if foreign exchange for its importation can be sourced through the CBN window, at the moment, such items can be sourced at N362.1, depending on the item anyways, the aforementioned is a benchmark.

The items that made the list include animal or vegetable fats and oils fractions, hydrogenated- not including palm oil/ olein and margarine; prepared glues and adhesive based polymers of headings 39.01 to 39.13 or on rubber; other plates, sheets, film, foil, and strip of polymers of ethylene printed- only for pharmaceutical and manufacturing.

 Others are bobbins, spools, cops and similar supports of paper or paperboard used for winding textile yarn; uncoated Kraft paper and board, in rolls, uncoated Kraft paper, and board, in rolls, paper coated with kaolin (China clay), synthetic filament, artificial filament, woven fabrics of synthetic filament yarn, including woven fabrics obtained from material polypropylene fabrics, of the type used as carpet backing.

The list also include glass in balls, rods or tubes, unworked, float glass, colored throughout the mass opacified, flashed or merely surface ground only for pharmaceutical manufacturing, non-domestic heating/cooling equipment, non-electric water heaters among others.

They can be referred to as CBN list of items valid for Forex.

Form M not valid for Forex

By this approach, it means to address items that cannot be factored as those valid for foreign exchange via the CBN window while preparing form M documents, if they can’t be valid for Forex, they can’t be valid for Form M as well, you ought to know this beforehand prior embarking on importation.

CBN circular on 41 banned items

CBN circular on the said items reads thus:

E-mail address:



As a follow up to the Circular Ref. No. TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/010 of June 23, 2015, on the above subject, Authorized Dealers, the BDCs and the general public are hereby notified of the following additional clarifications.

As stated in the circular, all items on the attached schedule which have already been classified as “Not Valid for Forex” cannot be funded at the interbank, from proceeds of exports and Bureaux de Change sources.

Consequently, Authorized Dealers are enjoined to ensure that these items are funded from sources outside all the segments of the Nigerian foreign exchange markets. (Interbank, Export proceeds and BDC segments)

Authorized dealers and the BDCs are also reminded of the need to comply strictly with the requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria Circular reference no. TED/AD/62/2006 of April 4, 2006 which “inter alia” categorically stated that:

“BDCs shall use the cash purchased for the transactions listed below, provided the invoices/demand notes for the payment do not exceed US$5,000 (Five Thousand United States Dollars) or its equivalent in other foreign currencies per transaction.

  • Mortgage monthly payment
  • School fees abroad
  • Credit card payment
  • Utility bills; and
  • Life insurance premium payment

It is therefore necessary to note that BDCs are only authorized to sell dollar cash of not more than $5,000 per each of these transactions. Under no circumstances shall an authorized dealer engage in wire transfer of funds on behalf of any of the Bureaux de Change operators.

For the avoidance of doubt, any Authorized Dealer that is found to have used funds from the interbank, export proceeds and bureau de change to consummate these items classified as “Not Valid for Forex” or undertake money wire transfer for BDC shall be sanctioned appropriately.

Please note and ensure strict compliance.





1 Rice

2. Cement

3. Margarine

4. Palm kernel/Palm oil products/vegetable oils

5. Meat and processed meat products

6. Vegetables and processed vegetable products

7. Poultry-chicken, eggs, Turkey

8. Private Airplane/jets

9. Incense

10. Tinned Fish in sauce (Geisha/sardines, and Fish

11. Cold rolled Steel sheets

12. Galvanized Steel sheets

13. Roofing Sheets

14. Wheelbarrow

15. Head pans

16. Metal Boxes and containers

17. Enamelware

18. Steel Drums

19. Steel Pipes

20. Wire Rods

21. Iron Rods and Reinforcing Bars

22. Wire Mesh

23. Steel Nails

24. Security and Razor Wire

25. Wood Particle Boards and Panels

26. Wood Fiber Board and Panels

27. Plywood Boards and Panels

28. Wooden Doors

29. Furniture

30. Toothpicks

31. Glass and Glassware

32. Kitchen Utensils

33. Tableware

34. Tiles-verified and ceramic

35. Textiles

36. Woven Fabrics

37. Clothes

38. Plastic and Rubber Products, Cellophane Wrappers and Finished Aluminum Cans

39. Soap and Cosmetics

40. Tomatoes/Tomato Pastes

41. Euro bond/Foreign Currency Bond/Share Purchases

These items may be imported into Nigeria, but will not enjoy the same benefit of foreign exchange through the CBN window like items valid for forex.

It means they will sell at a very high price. That being said, let’s take a look at items banned from being imported into Nigeria in its entirety.

Banned/Prohibited items in Nigeria

You’re not allowed to import these items into Nigeria, otherwise referred to as contraband goods, you will have the Nigerian Custom Service to battle with, should you go contrary to this order and directives.

They include:

  1. Live or dead birds including frozen poultry.
  2. Pork, beef, bird’s eggs, excluding hatching eggs.
  3. Refined vegetable oils and fats (includes mayonnaise).   Crude vegetable oil is NOT banned from importation.
  4. Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose, in solid form in retail packs.
  5. Cocoa butter, powder and cakes.
  6. Spaghetti/noodles.
  7. Fruit Juice in retail packs.
  8. Waters, including mineral waters and aerated waters containing added sugar or sweetening matter or flavored, ice snow, other non-alcoholic beverages and beer and stout (bottled, canned or otherwise packed, but excluding energy or health drinks (liquid dietary supplements).
  9. Bagged cement.
  10. Medicaments as indicated below:  
      1. Paracetamol tablets and syrups;
      2. Cotrimoxazole tablets and syrups;
      3. Metronidazole tablets and syrups;
      4. Chloroquine tablets and syrups;
      5. Haematinic formulations; ferrous sulphate and ferrous gluconate tablets, folic acid tablets, vitamin B Complex Tablets (except modified released formulations).
      6. Multivitamin tablets, capsules and syrups (except special formulations);
      7. Aspirin tablets (except modified released formulation and soluble aspirin);
      8. Magnesium trisilicate tablets and suspensions.
      9. Piperazine tablets and syrups;
      10. Levamisole tablets and syrups;
      11. Clotrimazole cream;
      12. Ointments – penicillin/gentamycin;
      13. Pyrantel pamoate tablets and syrups;
      14. Intravenous fluids (dextrose, normal saline, etc.);
      15. Waste Pharmaceuticals.
  11. Soaps and Detergents in retail packs only.
  12. Mosquito Repellant Coils.
  13. Sanitary Wares of Plastics and Domestic Articles and Wares of Plastics (but excluding Baby Feeding bottles) and flushing cistern and waterless toilets.
  14. Rethreaded and used Pneumatic tires but excluding used trucks tires for rethreading of sized 11.00 x 20 and above.
  15. Corrugated Paper and Paper Boards, and cartons, boxes and cases made from corrugated paper and paper boards, toilet paper, cleaning or facial tissue, excluding baby diapers and incontinent pads for adult use.
  16. Telephone Re-charge cards and vouchers.
  17. Carpets and other textile floor coverings.
  18. All types of Foot Wears, Bags and Suitcases but excluding Safety Shoes used in oil industries, sports shoes, canvass shoes all Completely Knocked Down (CKD) blanks and parts.
  19. Hollow Glass Bottles of a capacity exceeding 150mls (0.15 liters) of all kinds used for packaging of beverages by breweries and other beverage and drink companies.
  20. Used compressors and used fridges/freezers.
  21. Used Motor Vehicles above fifteen (15) years from the year of manufacture.
  22. Furniture, but excluding baby walkers, laboratory cabinets such as microscope table, fume cupboards, laboratory benches, Stadium Chairs, height adjustments device, base sledge, seat frames and control mechanism, arm guide and head guides.  Also excluded are; skeletal parts of furniture such as blanks, upholstered or unfinished part of metal, plastics, veneer, chair shell etc.  Also excluded are Motor Vehicle seats and Seats other than garden seats or camping equipment, convertible into beds.
  23. Ball Point Pens and parts including refills (excluding tip).

Read also: How to import goods into Nigeria with Form M

In addition, NCS lists items whose importation is “absolutely prohibited:”

  1. Air Pistols
  2. Airmail Photographic Printing Paper.
  3. All counterfeit/pirated materials or articles including Base or Counterfeit Coin of any Country.
  4. Beads composed of inflammable celluloid or other similar substances.
  5. Blank invoices.
  6. Coupons for Foreign Football pools or other betting arrangements.
  7. Cowries.
  8. Exhausted tea or tea mixed with other substances.
  9. Implements appertaining to the reloading of cartridges.
  10. Indecent or obscene prints, painting, books, cards, engraving or any indecent or obscene articles.
  11. Manilas.
  12. Matches made with white phosphorous.
  13. Materials of any description with a design which, considering the purpose for which any such material is intended to be used, is likely in – the opinion of the president to create a breach of the peace or to offend the religious views of any class of persons in Nigeria.
  14. Meat, Vegetables or other provisions declared by a health officer to be unfit for human consumption.
  15. Piece goods and all other textiles including wearing apparel, hardware of all kinds’ crockery and china or earthenware goods bearing inscriptions (whether in Roman or Arabic characters) from the Koran or from the traditions and commentaries on the Koran.
  16. Pistols disguised in any form.
  17. Second-hand clothing.
  18. Silver or metal alloy coins not being legal tender in Nigeria.
  19. Nuclear Industrial waste and other Toxic waste
  20. Some spirits
  21. Weapons and ammunition of any description which in the opinion of the Comptroller-General are designed for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other similar substance.

Besides the import restrictions by NCS, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2015 restricted access to foreign exchange at the official window for importers of several items.

Instead, importers of the under-listed items source foreign exchange from the parallel market where the price of forex is significantly higher than the official rate.

However, in May 2017, the CBN lifted the restriction on importers whose cumulative transactions are $20,000 and below per quarter. (see export)


You should understand the difference that exist among 41 items not valid for forex, items valid for forex, banned or prohibited items in Nigeria.

Get your bank account officer to educate you properly on your choice of importation, what you choose to import determines if you get access funds from the CBN window, again if your goods will have a safe landing and clearing at the wharf.

Note: It’s very dangerous to import or deal with banned or prohibited goods, they are on their own awaiting time bomb, trade carefully to avoid losing your hard earned funds.

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