Everything You Should Know about Certificate of Occupancy in Nigeria, 2021

Getting the necessary documents when conducting a transaction whether in real estate or any other kind of business is usually very vital to the success of that transaction. When it comes to land purchase and property investment, there are documents to certify that the purchase or investment is legitimate. One of those documents and a very important one at that is the Certificate of Occupancy. 

Read also How to Protect Yourself from Real Estate Fraud in Nigeria

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A certificate of occupancy is a written document given to landowners in Nigeria by the government. The document confers proof of ownership on the land owner. The C of O resulted from the Land Use Act of 1978 which states that every land in a state belongs to the governor of that state. 

The certificate of occupancy is processed and granted to the land owner as legal proof of ownership. It also tells the purpose of the property, whether it’s for residential or commercial purposes or even both. 

The certificate of occupancy also known as “C of O” indicates that the property meets the required standards for use. Certificate of occupancy is a very important document as it protects the owner from losing their property. It is required in different cases such as when;

  • purchasing a land or property 
  • developing a property
  • converting a property for another use or
  • transferring ownership of the property


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How Do I Get a Certificate of Occupancy in Nigeria?

Certificate of occupancy is usually issued by the state government. You have to contact the appropriate department in charge of land and property purchases to begin the process of obtaining it. 

Check out What You Need To Know About Renting or Buying a House in Nigeria

How Much Does it Cost to Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy?

There is no fixed price for obtaining C of O in Nigeria as it varies from state to state. Some states could be more expensive than others such as Abuja or Lagos and the size of the land also matters too. 

Does certificate of occupancy expire?

Certificate of Occupancy has a validity of 99 years before expiration. 

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How Do I Get a Certificate of Occupancy in Nigeria in 2021?

The process of obtaining a certificate of occupancy varies slightly from state to state. However, there are certain requirements needed to carry out the process. Requirements for certificate of occupancy include:

  • Land information certificate.
  • Receipt for land information fee.
  • Receipt for application form.
  • Publication/inspection fee.
  • Capital contribution (to be calculated based on the size and location of land).
  • Land purchase receipt/agreement (duly stamped).
  • Copy of current tax clearance certificate (individuals).
  • Copy of N100 development levy receipt.
  • Sketch of site location.
  • Four passport photographs of applicant with white background.
  • Copy of approved building plan (if developed).
  • Copy of tenement rate receipt (if occupied) or Land Use Charge.
  • Cover letter addressed to the Executive Secretary, Land Use Allocation Committee (LUAC), stating all documents attached, as above and typed with applicant’s address. 
  • Formal Letter addressed to the Executive Secretary – Land Use and Allocation Committee 
  • A Standard Allocation Form with receipt 
  • Evidence of Income Tax payment  
  • Current development levy 
  • Survey plan
  • All payment receipts of Land Charges
  • Vital Information Form

The process of obtaining your certificate of occupancy is as follows:

  • Apply for land information and get your land information certificate. To do this, you need to pay an application fee at the Surveyor General’s office and provide a chartable survey plan (2 cloth, 2 paper)
  • Purchase a C of O application form. Prices may vary depending on whether it’s a residential or commercial building.
  • Fill and submit the application form to the Land Use Allocation Commission (LUAC) with the documents as stated in the requirements above.


When this is done, a letter of confirmation is issued to the Applicant with a plot and block number and the Scheme Officer processes the application for the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off on the file and forwards the files to the Executive Secretary of LUAC.

Then the Surveyor General provides the Scheme Officer with a digitized survey which is processed for two days. The Executive Secretary LUAC approves processing and signs a letter of allocation. He signs off on the file and sends the file to the Senior Special Assistant to His Excellency on Lands. He or she then vets the entire file and sends it with a covering memo to the Permanent Secretary Lands Bureau.

However, if the file has a query, the message is relayed back with due notice. When the Permanent Secretary is done, he signs off the memo and sends the file to His Excellency who approves and electronically signs the Certificate of Occupancy. After the approval and signing of the Certificate of Occupancy by His Excellency, he signs off and sends it to the Deputy Registrar for further processing. The Deputy Registrar processes the file further, signs off and sends it to the Registrar of Titles for final registration.

The Registrar of Titles then registers the Certificate of Occupancy, signs off and requests for its printing. The total process takes about a period of 21 days. Although, in these 21 days, the application is advertised to attract objections or no objections before it is processed.

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See also Luxury Real Estate Investment in Nigeria

There are other documents that are also required when buying a property such as the deed of assignment, right of ownership, survey plan and so on. But the Certificate of Occupancy is probably the most important. Although the process can be sometimes rigorous, it is well worth it if any issue arises. 

This is why we have properties well documented for that you can invest in or purchase without going through unnecessary hurdles. You can contact us here to get more information. 


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