Expatriate Tips

    Tusen Consulting

    Are you a foreign national that is about to relocate to Nigeria as an expatriate? Then you need to check out this advice given by Clementine Wallop, a seasoned expatriate who is currently working in Nigeria.

    In an Article in publication, The Telegraph, Clementine Wallop who is an expatriate living in Nigeria advises on getting the right paperwork before you relocate: It can be difficult securing a resident’s permit. Ensure your employer is taking advice from Nigeria-specific immigration lawyers and that the terms of your visa and contingency for failure or delays are laid out in your contract. Take out a health insurance policy that will cover you in Nigeria or check that your existing company insurance covers you adequately. You may also choose to take out kidnap and ransom insurance, depending on where you’re living (oil workers in Port Harcourt are at higher risk than development workers in Abuja). Note that not all companies will tell employees that they’re covered for kidnap and ransom.

    Expatriate, Clementine Wallop, also advises that before moving to Nigeria, new expatriates should go to a specialist travel medicine clinic to discuss vaccinations and to talk through options for long-term antimalarial medication if you choose to take it. She also says, “many drugs sold at some Nigerian pharmacies are counterfeit, so buy a large first aid kit at the travel clinic that includes broad-spectrum antibiotics. Take a job lot of Coartem for malaria, paracetamol, diarrhoea medication, cold and flu sachets, mosquito repellent, bite cream
and Vicks VapoRub with you. If you need to see a doctor, be prepared to pay in cash up front at the clinic.”

    Before you move to Nigeria for expatriate work, Clementine Wallop, advises that you talk to your bank about the implications of a move to Nigeria. “Some banks will stop credit card transactions coming via Nigeria because of the prevalence of credit card fraud, and some will also prevent withdrawals from Nigerian ATMs,” she says. She also advises that you check out local banks including Zenith, GT Bank, UBA, Ecobank, Access Bank and Stanbic. Wallop also says: “Setting up an account can take time and can depend on having a local form of identification such as a Nigerian driving licence, so bring cash when you arrive to tide you over. The Nigerian naira isn’t convertible, so you’ll have to bring in money and change it here. Local money changers prefer pounds sterling to US dollars and they like them in big denominations, so bring 50 pound notes to secure the best rate. Most business in Nigeria is conducted using cash rather than cards, so get used to carrying naira around for errands like renewing a monthly Wi-Fi subscription or buying fuel.”

    Another important #Expatriate tip concerns housing. Seasoned expatriate, Clementine Wallop says: If your employer is not providing accommodation in one of their own buildings and is not covering your rent (this is very unusual), note that Nigerian rents are generally paid two years up front. Rents are high, so think carefully through the financial implications of a move where the cost of living may cancel out an increased salary. Lagos ranked number 20 and Abuja number 35 on Mercer’s Cost Of Living Survey 2015, which compares the cost of living for expats in more than 200 cities around the world. If you’re shipping furniture, paperwork problems and congestion at Nigeria’s major ports can hold up your container. We waited nine months for ours to arrive. Don’t pack anything in your container that you might need in a hurry. Nigeria has frequent power cuts; it is essential your property has access to a well-maintained generator and a borehole. Ask your landlord to fumigate the property and spray any garden areas a week before you arrive and arrange repeat fumigation every quarter.

    Transport: For expats coming to Lagos, many companies provide a car and driver. Lagos traffic demands an expert hand. Abuja, the capital, was a built as a motor city and most expats drive its expressways with relative ease. If you decide to buy a car I’d recommend a 4×4, especially if you’re planning to take road trips outside the city. Always carry complete car paperwork including registration documents, insurance and licence in the car with you in case you need them at police or military checkpoints.


    Speaking on moving to Nigeria as an expatriate, seasoned expatriate Clementine Wallop says: “Nigeria’s new government is pledging a crackdown on the country’s infamous corruption, so we’re hoping to see this change for the better over the coming months. You may encounter occasional requests for “dash” [a small bribe], including from the police. If someone asks “what do you have for me?” it’s usually fine to offer regards rather than cash. Be courteous rather than angry. It’s polite to give something to someone who has gone out of their way to help, for instance by helping carry water barrels at the supermarket, or by smoothing your way at a land border checkpoint.”

    For workers moving to Nigeria for the first time as expatriates you should know that the majority of mobile phones are pay-as-you-go, and you’ll find vouchers for calls, texts and data for sale on any street corner. Wi-Fi may be a bit more expensive than you are used to and your Internet service may be slower than you’re accustomed to.

    For workers moving to Nigeria for the first time as expatriates, be sure to pack fine, cool clothing, with long trousers and sleeves for the evenings to avoid bites. Desert boots or canvas trainers with thick soles are best for tramping about the city. Pack modest clothing suitable for wear in areas of the country where Islam is the dominant faith.

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