Back to basics; a guide to customs clearance
$163 821 million. That’s the figure WITS state Saudi imports have now reached. And imports into Nigeria have recently been quoted as having reached $46 532 265 thousand. It’s no surprise then that British exporters are looking to expand their business into the Middle East and Africa’s incredibly lucrative and growing markets, and have customs clearance front of mind.
Trouble is, for businesses that are relatively new to the Middle East & Africa the biggest hurdle is the incredibly steep learning curve when it comes to understanding product testing requirements and the Conformity Assessment Programme for exports.
And once they do manage to become informed, businesses then struggle to keep pace. Procedures continuously change, often without much notice, forms are complicated and riddled with jargon. Added to this, financial planning is difficult due to late payments and penalties on letter of credits due to incorrect documentation.
New to customs clearance? Here’s the FOUR FUNDAMENTALS you should consider:
1. Certificate of Conformity
Governments around the world place rigorous requirements on importers. They do this to protect their consumers from goods that are sub-standard.
This means that in order to clear customs smoothly, your shipments will require certain mandatory certificates (issued by an approved / accredited body), as part of the country’s Conformity Assessment Programme. Without this certification, your shipments will not be granted access.
Certificate of Conformity programmes apply to the following markets-
Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Kurdistan, Qatar and Lebanon.
Africa – Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Algeria and Botswana.
2. Country of Origin Certification
A Certificate of Origin (C of O) is an international trade document proving that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in a particular country.
Virtually every government in the world considers the origin of imported goods before deciding whether to grant customs clearance. But the process is far from straight-forward. That’s because the C of O requirements of each differ enormously, and are constantly evolving.
We can manage C of O certification in the following regions:
EC Certificate of Origin
Arab Country of Origin
EC Arab Country of Origin
3. Product Testing
From handbags, to industrial machines; in order to gain customs clearance your products will need to pass certain standards, regulations and product approval requirements. And, these will differ depending on which market you import into.
Successful international trade is fuelled through well translated commercial documents. You’ll need to consider customs, tax and duties, EU regulations and trade and negotiation contracts as well as product manuals, diagrams and technical reports.
Avoid the pitfalls
Businesses focused on international expansion come unstuck because the customs clearance advice they receive is generic; one-size-fits all. This does not work. To be successful, customs clearance must be based on a bespoke approach. After all, each business, and export market, is different and will raise very different challenges.