A brief guide by David Rowbory, August 2016, updated January 2017, March 2021
Transfer from UK (+other) banks
From 2021 you have to send in USD to Nigeria, but if you know a trustworthy FX person you can usually transfer into their account and they’ll give you Naira into your bank account. Check ngnrates.com for a guess at reasonable rates.
Set up an international transfer account
Use WorldRemit, Azimo, SmallWorld FS, TransferWise or Exchange4Free to send USD cash to pick up or put in a bank account – yours or a trusted FX agent. I have used all of them, shopping around for the best rates.
It used to be you could use these services to buy Naira directly into your Nigerian bank account paying from your UK/Europe or US accounts.
- worldremit.com using code DAVIDR474 (we both get £20) Usually a transfer fee. (~£1 as of 2021.) Sometimes better rates than Azimo. Now serves US & Canada & wider world.
- Once you’ve got set up they give fast transfers even at weekend in my experience.
- From 2021 you can collect USD cash or transfer to a domiciliary account – excellent for sending money to Forex agents. (See below.)
- The first time you use them will be slower for verification, so:
- do it Monday-Thursday, not near a weekend,
- check your email (and spam folder) for requests for id,
- try to avoid glare when photographing the id,
- do check every detail (eg phone number of recipient) is absolutely right.
- azimo.com/en/invite/redirect/token/DAVIDR (use my code and we’ll each get £10)
- Usually no transfer fee. Only serves Europe.
- SmallWorld FS
- Advertises a fee, but as of Oct 2016 this is waived.
Create an account, possibly giving scans of your driving licence or passport as ID. Verification the first time you open an account may take a few hours.
Use your debit card to charge your UK bank (or do an internet banking transfer – but that’s slower).
US & Canadian transfers seem to require a credit card. You’re probably best preloading your credit card with a positive balance to avoid the interest charges that would otherwise result from a cash advance, which the payment to Exchange4Free/WorldRemit would incur.
Getting USD Cash
You can arrange to send dollars (with WorldRemit or whatever converting your source currency to USD) to collect at a bank. This involves going to the bank with some ID and a transaction code and your phone and then filling a form and collecting the cash if they have enough in stock. You can then exchange the dollar cash for Naira on the street.
Getting Naira for USD
Through Foreign Exchange agents (Bureau de Change etc) you can send a bank transfer via WorldRemit etc into a USD account in Nigeria and they will send a corresponding amount to your Nigerian Naira bank account.
Before you start your transfer from WorldRemit you need to get in touch with a Forex person you trust to find out what rate they will sell Naira to you and what bank details (name, account, bank, phone number, email) they want you to use to send the USD to. When you have agreed a price then set up a transfer to that USD account and when it arrives the Forex person will send you Naira.
Speak to people you trust to find good contacts.
Thanks to all the people who have tried this and given feedback on how well it worked or didn’t so I could improve the instructions.