An importer wishing to import goods into Zambia must register with the Zambia Revenue Authority for a Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN). Without a TPIN an importer cannot process an import transaction with Customs, as such, the Consignee field on the Customs Declaration Form (SAD) has been configured as a mandatory field.
All goods imported into Zambia must be declared to Customs and duty is payable on them unless they are covered by an exemption, a suspension or they are duty free under the law. In all the above cases certain documents or permits, depending on the goods, must be obtained from the relevant government agency and presented to Customs. Before importing goods under this regime, please contact Customs to obtain advice as to what documentation will be required for specific circumstances. Note that Zambia Revenue Authority uses the ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data) for processing customs declarations. A declaration is made electronically on a Single Administrative Document (SAD) by capturing an import declaration (IM) on the ASYCUDA system, attaching the following scanned supporting documents where applicable: a. Supplier’s Commercial Invoice b. Bill of Lading/Cargo manifest for sea and land cargo or air waybill for air cargo c. Shippers’ or freight invoice d. Certificate of origin (to benefit from preferential treatment) e. Import/Export Permit or License for regulated goods f. Bank Statements and related documents g. Contracts of Sale h. Packing List Declarations can be submitted electronically to an appropriate port of clearance within Zambia. Attached here is a list of ZRA Customs stations at which clearance of commercial goods can be done. Livingstone Kazungula Katima Mulilo Victoria Falls Chirundu Kariba Kasumbalesa Nakonde Ndola Kitwe Chingola Kapiri Mposhi Kenneth Kaunda International Airport Lusaka port Luangwa Mwami Chanida Chipata Lunsutha Mfuwe Chavuma Kipushi Nchelenge Kashiba Mpulungu Zombe Mokambo Goods can be presented to Customs for clearance at a border station, Airport or at an inland office following a removal in bond declaration at the port of entry. The international Airports at which clearance for imported goods can be done include Kenneth Kaunda (Lusaka), Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe (Ndola), Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (Livingstone) and Mfuwe. Goods presented for clearance at an inland office may have been deposited in a Customs Area or a bonded warehouse. Goods removed in bond if bond warehoused must be cleared within 15 days from the date the goods are released from the entry point. For goods placed in a warehouse, clearance must be effected within 12 months of the goods placement in a warehouse.
In order to facilitate the process of clearing imported goods, an importer can submit a pre-arrival Customs declaration following the same procedures as a normal declaration. The law stipulates that such a declaration can only be done 7 days prior to the arrival of the goods at the border. At the same time of submission of a pre-arrival declaration (Pre- Clearance), an importer can pay the import duties due. However, the goods will only be released to the importer after finalization of Customs formalities at importation. In addition, an inspection of the imported goods may be required upon arrival of the commodity depending on whether the goods are selected for physical inspection. (RED CHANNEL).
In accordance with the Customs and Excise law (CAP 322 of the laws of Zambia), clearance of goods in Zambia is done through licensed Clearing Agents. All goods of a Customs value of USD 2,000.00 and above should be presented to Customs through a Customs Agent appointed by the importer.
Customs duty is payable on imported goods as a percentage of their declared value. The rate of duty payable on goods imported into Zambia varies according to the commodity and the country of origin, where duty preferential is applicable. Commodities are classified using the 8-digit Harmonized System (HS) Code (commonly called tariff code) which is maintained and, from time to time, amended by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). One can view the full Zambia Tariff Classification and Tariff rates by referring to this website. www.zra.org/Tariff Guide It is an importer’s responsibility, guided by their Clearing Agent, to declare the correct classification, origin, value and quantity of the goods imported. The classification should be determined based on the brand name and use of the product. If in doubt, seek advice from the ZRA’s Advice Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org The basis for the calculation of duties is the actual transaction value of the goods (as evidenced by the commercial invoice or other contract of sale documents) plus the insurance and freight cost, leading to a Cost Insurance and Freight or CIF value. Zambia uses the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) principle in determination of Value for Duty Purposes (VDP). If the Importer does not provide a commercial invoice for Customs to determine the value of the imported goods, Customs will attempt to establish the value of the goods using 5 more methods in line with Article 7 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947). These are commonly known as the GATT Valuation methods.
Once a declaration has been submitted to Customs and assessed, an importer will be required to pay the total import taxes due. At most customs offices, payment is made through the bank using e-payment platforms. Once the payment is confirmed and the declaration is processed, a Release Order is issued, and goods are released to the importer.
Certain goods as prescribed under the law can be imported into Zambia under the Bonded Warehouse Regime if an importer is not intending to release them into circulation for home consumption immediately. Payment of import taxes will be suspended for the period the goods are in the bonded warehouse (a total of 12 months) and will be payable when the goods are finally released into circulation. There are different types of bonded warehouses, the main ones being Public and Private bonded warehouses. To admit the goods into a bonded warehouse, a warehousing declaration (IM7) is submitted to Customs and processed according to warehousing procedure with guarantee equivalent to the payable duties and taxes. The Importer should ensure the selected Clearing Agent has enough guarantee to cover the warehousing (bonding) of the goods.
Goods can be imported under the Temporary Admission procedure or Temporary Imports Regime in the following circumstances: Goods to be used in the manufacture, processing, assembly, transformation or repair of items which will subsequently be re-exported (inward processing), Vehicles imported for the purpose of project supervision or for tourism or business visits as long as they are re-exported within the allowed time, Materials required for project supervision purposes, Exhibition, educational or scientific materials. For these types of goods an importer must submit a declaration under Temporal Imports Regime (IM5). Duties are not usually payable on these imports. The importer may be required to pay security deposit which is the equivalent of the duty which shall be refunded upon submission of proof of re-exportation or taxes on depreciation/usage where applicable. To import a vehicle into the country for the purpose of a temporary visit, an importer needs to make a declaration under the temporary Imports Regime to Customs at the border before crossing. An importer must present a valid Registration certificate for that vehicle. Vehicles imported under this regime must be re-exported within the allotted time frame and through an appropriate Customs station For goods imported for exhibition purposes security in form of a bond, guarantee or cash deposit, is payable to Customs which is refunded when the goods are re-exported.
Exemption from Customs duties and other obligations are available for certain categories of importers and categories of goods as provided for in the Customs and Excise (General) Regulations - SI 54 of 2000, under Part X, the Rebates, Refunds and Remissions of Duty. The objective of these Tax exemptions as provided for by Government is to provide relief for deserving or vulnerable groups of people or entities in the society, to support the development of specific products or industry sectors and to encourage and support investment.
The list of all Duty exemptions and their specific requirements are listed under the Customs Tax Exemptions list.
Before importing goods into Zambia, an importer should ensure that the goods do not fall into the category of prohibited goods. Prohibited goods cannot be imported, sold or circulated in Zambia. If there is an attempt to bring prohibited goods into Zambia, the Importer may be fined or penalized in accordance with the Customs and Excise law, the goods may be forfeited to the state, destroyed or otherwise dealt with in accordance with the Customs and Excise law. Follow this link to view a list of all goods prohibited for importation into Zambia.
Before importing controlled or restricted goods into Zambia, an importer should ensure that the goods have the necessary permits and licenses issued by appropriate authorities. To determine what goods are controlled or restricted at importation into Zambia, go the ‘Measures’ link of the Trade Portal.
If the goods you intend to import are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary measures you will have to comply with the special regulations relating to those products as provided for under the relevant laws of Zambia and enforced by relevant government agencies You may need to get a permit from a specific Government Agency depending on what you are intending to import. For details on the specific sanitary and phytosanitary measures applicable to a specific item intended for import, click on the 8-digit tariff code of the product in the ‘Measures’ link.
For certain types of products, it may be necessary to obtain a permit that certifies that these products conform to certain technical or quality standards. These technical and standard regulations are set by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and enforced by the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency (ZCSA). Currently there are sixty-one (61) Compulsory Standards which ZCSA enforces at import/export which traders should familiarize themselves with by visiting the ‘Standards’ link of the Trade Portal.
Zambia has a Simplified Trade Regime (STR) Agreement with Malawi, DRC and Zimbabwe in the region. Under the STR, governments have agreed on a list of products that do not require a commercial certificate of origin for small consignments. The list of products eligible for clearance under the STR regime is displayed at the border posts and is available at the offices of the Cross-Border Traders Association (CBTA) and Zambia Revenue Authority both at the border and at the inland Customs stations. A Simplified Declaration and Certificate of Origin can be obtained at the border post and is signed by the Customs Office. Only goods of value of up to USD 1000.00 are eligible under the STR. The link below provides a list of products eligible for clearance under the STR regime. List of products eligible for clearance under the STR regime The STR is about proving the origin for the goods in a simple way. Some goods such as agricultural products obviously originate in one country. Other items, especially manufactured, may be made up of parts from other countries. There are special rules that determine whether a product can be of ‘local origin’, depending on what proportion of the material is imported, or what percentage of the value added is local.