How to Import from China to Liberia: Duties, Permits, and Customs Clearance

Basic knowledge of imports in Liberia offers German exporters a brief overview of the country’s most important customs and import regulations. It provides information about import duties, accompanying documents, customs clearance, import bans and restrictions.

International trade agreements and import duties

Liberia has been a member of the WTO since July 14, 2016 and is a member of the West African Economic Community ECOWAS, which concluded a Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union in 2014. As soon as the EPA, signed by all contracting states, comes into force, tariffs on 75 percent of goods originating in the EU will gradually be dismantled in West Africa over a period of 20 years. Liberia is currently implementing the common external tariff of ECOWAS for third countries. The ad valorem tariffs are currently between 1.5 and 50 percent, specific tariffs apply to certain drinks. The assessment basis for customs is usually the CIF value. Additional duties are levied on various consumer goods. For vehicles more than ten years old, penalties of 10 to 50 percent apply. The goods and services tax GST of 10 percent, which also has to be paid for imports, is to be replaced in 2019 by a sales tax designed as value added tax. Beverages, tobacco products, cosmetics, fuels and certain games are subject to excise duties. In addition, there is a 0.5 percent ECOWAS fee and, if applicable, further handling fees. The import duties must be paid proportionally in US dollars.

Customs clearance

All sea freight shipments to Liberia, regardless of their value, are subject to a pre-shipment inspection, which the commissioned testing service provider Bivac / Bureau Veritas carries out in the export country. On the other hand, air freight shipments with a CIF value of US $ 2,000 or more are subjected to a destination inspection upon arrival in Liberia. There is no duty to broker. To initiate the goods inspection, the importer or customs agent must submit an “Inspection Request Form” to the inspection company for each import, regardless of the value of the goods, or submit an “Import Permit Declaration” to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry MoCI for those goods listed in the Administrative Notice MoCI /No.002/12/2015 are listed. Its eleven product groups include, for example, food, pharmaceutical and chemical products, mineral oil products, Construction and explosives as well as weapons and ammunition. Quality, quantity, price, customs value, customs tariff number, determined import duties and container sealing of the imported goods are checked. If the test result is positive, Bivac / Bureau Veritas issues a “Clean Report of Findings” inspection certificate, which is mandatory for customs clearance carried out electronically via “ASYCUDA World”.

Import licenses / permits

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, importers must apply for import licenses or permits from the relevant authorities for lubricants, refrigerators, air conditioning units, cooking gas and explosives. Pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority. According to Bivac / Bureau Veritas, the import of three-wheeled motorcycles (including ckd), ice cream (except for certain branded products), chicken feet and pig skin requires approval from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. According to the 2018 customs tariff, an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture is required for (including wild) plants, animals and their products, food, agrochemicals and wood. Permits for certain wild products, such as bush meat, hides, feathers, live animals,

Shipping documents

The following shipping documents must be enclosed with the customs declaration: commercial invoice, freight documents, packing list, if applicable certificate of origin, proof of insurance, inspection certificate and, depending on the goods, other certificates such as health certificates, analysis certificates or certificates of conformity.

Labeling and identification regulations, packaging

For some goods such as food, food additives and flavorings, medicines, textiles, electrical and electronic devices, special labeling and labeling regulations apply. The necessary information must be clearly visible, legible and indelible in English. Wooden packaging requires an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Import bans

There are currently import bans in Liberia for right-hand drive vehicles, oysters and mussels harvested in France, and certain energy drinks, among other things. Used vehicles more than 10 years old are subject to penalties, with the exception of some commercial vehicles. Long-lived organic pollutants (POP) such as aldrin, chlordane, DDT, heptachlor and methyl bromide are absolutely prohibited.

Certification, norms and standards

Special provisions apply to packaged drinking water and wheat flour fortification. The national standards organization LDS (Liberia Division of Standards) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is responsible for technical regulations and standards.

Customs authority: Liberia Revenue Authority

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