Quick info guide

To obtain an import license you need to have;

  1. A copy of your Tax Identification Number (TIN);
  2. A copy of the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association for private limited and share companies;
  3. Two passport size photographs taken within the last six months;
  4. If the applicant is a foreign investor, the investment and residence permits; and
  5. A valid commercial registration certificate.

License fees: 102 ETB

Prohibited Imports

The following goods are prohibited imports to Ethiopia:

(i) Used clothing

(ii) Arms and ammunition, except by the Ministry of Defense

(iii) Goods of a commercial nature and quantity that are not imported through formal bank payment mechanisms.

How to import goods into Ethiopia

To start an import business, one requires commercial registration and a license from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The fees for commercial registration and business license are 102 ETB for each. For anyone who wishes to get started in business in general and import trade in particular, it is necessary to visit the Ministry of Trade and Industry which is located around ‘Kazanchis’ on the way to ‘Filwuha’ in the same building with the Development Bank of Ethiopia.

Steps to follow when importing goods into Ethiopia

angle-left Prepare the Customs declaration

Step 5: Prepare the Customs declaration

In this step the importer or his/her agent is required to fill in the clearance customs declaration and according to the Ethiopian tax laws the following duties and taxes are levied on imported goods:

(a) Customs duty – varies depending on the type of imported goods from 0-35%.

(b) Excise tax - varies depending on the type of imported goods from 10-100%.

(c) Value added tax (VAT) - is levied at a flat percentage rate of 15%.

(d) Surtax - 10% is levied on all goods imported to Ethiopia

(e) Withholding tax - 3% is collected on goods imported for commercial use

Then, tariff classification is used to determine the correct commodity code and duty and taxes payable on imported goods. In order to calculate the duties and taxes payable, you need to look up the applicable percentages for the tariff classification number. For example, the following table below provides how duties and taxes are calculated. The Ethiopian Customs Commission’s website also provides an online tax calculator which calculates duties and taxes based on the HS (Harmonized System) Code and the CIF (Cost Insurance Freight) value: