26 Categories of Invisible Trade

Last updated on June 30th, 2023 at 08:02 pm

Payment for services like website design, security consultancy, hotel lodge, medical bills, education fees, and business consultancy are some services that constitute invisible trade because they are services that do not require the transfer of physical objects.

What is Invisible Trade?

In international trade, invisible trade refers to transactions in foreign exchange in services that do not involve tangible goods or physical objects.

In Nigeria, estacode by politicians and senior civil servants, payment of foreign school fees by the privileged few, and payment in forex of medical fees fall under invisible trade.

As such, Nigeria’s apex keeps a close eye on its invisible trade because it’s useful in calculating the total balance of trade and keeping a close tap on the foreign exchange market.

Sample of Invisible Trade

The purchase of the Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is a visible trade. But the buyer wants more on maintenance and he seeks consultancy from an expert which he also pays for, the consultancy is an invisible trade.

For instance, in August 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) hinted that it engaged the services of a Barbados -based Fintech coy Bitt Inc, to design its digital currency eNaira. The service between Bitt Inc and CBN is known as the c.

There were criticisms from some quarters that why would Nigeria’s apex bank go all the way to Barbados to seek the services of foreign companies when there were more than enough blockchain and fintech firms in Nigeria that could handle the project. But the CBN hinged its decision on Bitt’s implementation experience, efficiency, and technological competence among others.

What Constitutes Invisible Transactions In Nigeria

Invisible transactions are payments that require duly completed Form A which is a regulatory form to be completed by customers who need US dollars, Pounds, EUR, and other foreign currencies to meet certain foreign expenses.

Also Read:  Naira Begins 2022 With NGN562/$1 At Blackmarket Rate

Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Foreign Education Fees, Foreign Medical Fees, and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) are all components of Form A.

Categories of Invisible Trade

There are more than 20 trade categories in Nigeria under Form A each with different services the CBN classified as invisible trades. They are:

Educational Services

  • Adult Education
  • Primary Education Service
  • Higher Education Service
  • Secondary Education Service

Tourism and Travel Related Services

  • PTA
  • BTA
  • Estacode
  • Hotel and Restaurant
  • Tourist Guide services
  • Travel Agency and Tour Operator services

Health Related and Social Services

  • Medical Allowance
  • Human Health Services
  • Hospital Services
  • Social Services

Business Services (Real Estate services)

  • Involving own or leased properties
  • On a fee or contract basis

Business Services (Professional Services)

  • Accounting, auditing and bookkeeping services.
  • Engineering services
  • Architectural services
  • Legal services
  • Veterinary services
  • Services provided by midwives, nurses, physiotherapists and para-medical personnel
  • Integrated engineering services
  • Medical and dental services
  • Taxation services
  • Urban planning and landscape architectural services

Business Services

This includes rental/leasing services without operators. Examples of such services are:

  • Relating to other machinery and equipment
  • Relating to ships
  • Relating to other transport equipment
  • Relating to aircraft

Business Services

Such as Computer and Related Services, examples are:

  • Data Base Services
  • Software Implementation Services
  • Consultancy Services related to the installation of computer hardware
  • Data Processing Services

Construction and Related Engineering Services

  • General construction for building works
  • Installation and assembly work
  • Building Completion and finishing work
  • General construction work for civil engineering

Communication Services

  • Postal services
  • Courier services

Communication Services (Audiovisual Services) 

  • Motion picture projection services
  • Radio and television services
  • Radio and Television transmission services
  • Sound recording
  • Motion picture and video tape production and distribution services

Financial Services ( All insurance and insurance-related services)

  • Non-life insurance services
  • Reinsurance and retrocession
  • Services auxiliary to insurance (including brooking and agency services)
  • Life, accident and health insurance services
Also Read:  Approved Documents for Invisible Transactions in Nigeria

Transport Services(Internal Waterways Transport)

  • Freight transportation
  • Maintenance and repair of vessels
  • Pushing and towing services
  • Rental of vessels with crew
  • Passenger transportation
  • Supporting services for internal waterway transport

Distribution Services

  • Franchising
  • Commission agent services
  • Wholesale trade services
  • Retailing services

Financial Services (Banking and other financial services (exclude insurance)’

  • Capital Transfer
  • Acceptance of deposits and other repayable funds from the public
  • Dividend and Transfer
  • Provision and transfer of financial information
  • Settlement and clearing services for financial assets
  • Participation in issues of all kinds of securities
  • Guarantees and commitments
  • Money broking payment of judgement debt
  • Guarantees and commitments
  • Money broking payment of judgement debt
  • Repayment of Loan(Principal and Interest)
  • Repayment of Loan(Principal and Interest)
  • Advisory and other auxiliary financial services

Transport Services(Air Transport Services)

  • Maintenance and repair of vessels
  • Passenger transportation
  • Supporting services for air transport
  • Freight transportation
  • Rental of vessels with crew

Communication Services (Telecommunication Services)

  • Electronic mail
  • On-line information and database retrieval
  • Packet-switched data transmission services
  • Private leased circuit services
  • Telegraph services
  • Voice mail
  • Facsimile services
  • Voice telephone services
  • Telex services
  • Code and protocol conversion
  • Electronic data interchange (EDI)
  • Enhanced/Value Added facsimile services, inc store and forward, store and retrieve
  • On-line information and/or data processing (including transaction processing)
  • Circuit-switched data transmission services

Business Services (Research and Development Services)

  • Interdisciplinary R and D services
  • R and D services on social science and humanities
  • R and D on natural science

Recreational, Cultural And Sporting Services

  • Entertainment services (including theatre, live bands and circus services)
  • Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural services
  • News agency service
  • Sporting and other recreational services

Transport Services (Road Transport Services)

  • Rental of commercial vehicles with operator
  • Supporting services for road transport services
  • Freight transportation
  • Maintenance and repair of road transport
  • Passenger transportation
Also Read:  Naira Continues Its Free Fall As $1 Exchanges For N535 At Black Market Rate

Business Services (other Business Services)

  • Packaging Services
  • Services incidental to energy distribution
  • Management Consulting Services
  • Convention services
  • Building Cleaning Services
  • Investigation and Security
  • Services incidental to manufacturing
  • Maintenance and Repair of Equipment not including Maritime (Vessel, aircraft and other transport equipment)
  • Technical testing and analysis services
  • Services incidental to agriculture, hunting and forestry
  • Related Scientific and Technical consulting services
  • Services incidental to fishing
  • Placement and Supply services of Personnel
  • Services incidental to mining
  • Services incidental to construction

Advertising Services

  • Market Research and Public poll Services
  • Photographic Services
  • Printing, Publishing

Transport Services (Services auxiliary to all modes of transport)

  • Freight transport agency services
  • Cargo-handling services
  • Storage and warehouse services

Transport Services (Rail Transport services)

  • Maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment
  • Freight transportation
  • Pushing and towing services
  • Passenger transportation
  • Supporting services for rail transport services

Transport Services (Pipeline Transport)

  • Transportation of other goods
  • Transportation of fuels

Transport Services (Maritime Transport Services)

  • Pushing and towing services
  • Passenger transportation
  • Rental of vessels with crew
  • Maintenance and repair of vessels
  • Freight transportation
  • Supporting services for maritime transport

Environmental Services

  • Sanitation and similar services
  • Refuse Disposal Services
  • Sewage services


Invisible trade refers to transactions for services that do not involve physical objects. In Nigeria, services under Form A are classified as invisible transactions by the Central Bank of Nigeria. All applications for invisible trade can be made through the single window Trade Monitoring System forex digital platform of the apex bank


  • Opeyemi Quadri

    Ope is a finance writer and researcher with 10+ years of experience in content creation. His interests cut across real estate investment, foreign exchange, government policies and politics. He has a knack for breaking down complex financial concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Ope is available on Twitter @OpeQuadri.

2 thoughts on “26 Categories of Invisible Trade”

  1. Pls can my upkeep be paid into my foreign account or be paid to the school account as a foreign Nigeria postgraduate student abroad.

    • Hello Okechukwu ,

      Yes, if you’ve not exceeded the allocation. Even if you’ve exceeded the allocation you can use the alternatives like P2P Crypto platform if you’re familiar with crypto. But note that crypto is risky


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