Any importer, who wish to imports goods from outside Somalia must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and be in possession of export/import licence as well as required permits, licences and other line ministry registrations. In addition, the importer is required to have a Tax Payer Identification Number provided by the Customs Division at the Ministry of Finance.
All goods imported into Somalia 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 Somalia Customs Division uses the SOMSAD for processing customs declarations. A declaration is made electronically on a Single Administrative Document (SAD) by capturing an import declaration (IM) on the SOMSAD system, attaching the following scanned supporting documents where applicable:
MoCI import permit/certificate;
Bill of lading,
Veterinary Import Permit
Veterinary Health Certificate
Certificate of Origin
Commercial documents: invoice, bill of lading, packing list
Preclearance/ Advanced Declaration
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. 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.
In accordance with the Customs Law 2020 clearance of goods in Somalia can be done through licensed Clearing Agents.
Goods Classification and Valuation
Customs duty is payable on imported goods as a percentage of their declared value. The rate of duty payable on goods imported into Somalia varies according to the commodity and the country of origin, where duty preferential is applicable. Commodities are classified using the 6-digit Harmonized System (HS) Code (commonly called tariff code) which is maintained and, from time to time, amended by the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
Payment of Duties
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 or using mobile money payment such as platforms. Once the payment is confirmed and the declaration is processed, a Release Order is issued, and goods are released to the importer.
Goods can be imported under special temporary import permit 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 special permit. 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 special permit 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 Act 2020. 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 Somalia, 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 Somalia. See the following:
Counterfeits, mis-leading marks;
Weapons and war ammunition;
Asbestos and products containing asbestos;
Foodstuff with insufficient shelf life
Controlled/ Restricted Goods
Before importing controlled or restricted goods into Somalia, 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 Somalia, go the ‘Measures’ link of the Trade Portal.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements
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 Somalia 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 Somalia Bureau of Standards (SoBS). Compulsory Standards can be seen in the Somalia Standards & Quality Control Law No. 27 enforces at import/export which traders should familiarize themselves with by visiting the ‘Standards’ link of the Trade Portal.
Somalia has trade agreements with a number of countries in the region, which affects Cross-Border Trade. Please check the Trade Agreements section of the Portal, for further information.