Ethiopia flag Ethiopia: Buying and Selling

International convention and customs procedures of Ethiopia

International Economic Cooperation
Member of African Union

Member of Common Market for Eastern and Souther Africa (COMESA)

Member of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

Non Tariff Barriers
Some sectors still remain closed to foreign investment (namely telecom and financial services) in Ethiopia. Increased trade and investment are constrained by poor infrastructure, bureaucratic procedures, non-transparent manual systems, shortage in foreign exchange and high transportation & transaction costs.

Importers face difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange, particularly those that import goods for domestic sale.  The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has put in place a strict foreign currency control regime and must approve all foreign currency transactions. While larger firms, State-owned enterprises, and manufacturing industries have not faced major problems in obtaining foreign exchange, the remaining firms face burdensome delays in arranging trade-related payments. An importer must apply for an import permit and obtain a letter of credit for the total value of the imports before an order can be placed. 

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Customs duties in Ethiopia are payable on imports by all persons and entities that have no duty-free privileges. The rate of customs duty ranges from 0% to 35% with an average rate of 17%. In recent years, Ethiopia has reduced customs duties on a wide range of imports but duties are still too high for some items such as vehicles. Other taxes may also be imposed on imports. These are excise duties on selected goods (e.g., tobacco), surtax on many imports and the value added tax (15%).
Customs Classification
Ethiopia is a member of the World Customs organization and does comply with the harmonized customs system.
Import Procedures
Imports to Ethiopia require:

  • Agency agreement
  • A bank permit
  • A bill of lading or airway bill;
  • Certificate of origin;
  • Commercial invoices;
  • Customs import declaration;
  • Foreign exchange authorization;
  • Import license ;
  • Insurance certificate;
  • Packing list;
  • Tax identification number(TIN) certificate;
  • Pre shipment inspection clean report of findings;
  • Transit document;
  • Value added tax (VAT) Certificate.  

Medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment must be registered with the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration & Control Authority of Ethiopia (FMHCA).  A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is also required for processed food and pharmaceuticals.

Plants or plant products, including seeds, agricultural inputs such as chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers cannot be imported in Ethiopia unless registered and duly authorized for import by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Importing Samples
The main way to ship goods to Ethiopia is by air and road. As a landlock country, Ethiopia has no access to the sea and as a result, all of its imports pass through the port of Djibouti.

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls.

For Further Information
Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority
Business Portal for Africa

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Latest Update: April 2024