Customs Clearance Procedures
Commercial Clearance Guidelines on Imports & Exports
These are goods imported for commercial purposes by any individual or organisation. Clearance of such importations is done by a Bill of Entry which is processed in the ASYCUDA system. The importer should have a Business Partner Number which is activated for Customs purposes.
Importers are encouraged to engage the services of professional clearing agents because of the complexities of the valuation system and the Harmonised System of classification of goods. The following documents are required when clearing commercial importations:
- Bill of Entry (Form 21)
- Suppliers’ invoices
- Export or Transit Bill of Entry from the country of export (where applicable)
- Value Declaration Forms.
- Consignment notes, for instance, Rail Advice Notes or Air Way Bill (AWB) or Bill of Lading
- Freight statements
- Cargo manifests
- Insurance Statement
- Certificates of Origin where preference is claimed
- Port charges invoices (where applicable)
- Original permits
- Licences, Duty-Free Certificates, Rebate Letters, Value Rulings (where applicable)
- Agent / Importer’s Worksheet
- *N.B. Copy of Income Tax Form 263 should also be attached.
Calculation of Duty
Duty is calculated on the basis of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of the imported goods up to the point of entry into Zimbabwe. Insurance and Freight inside Zimbabwe is excluded from the Value for Duty Purposes (VDP). The CIF value of the imported goods is an aggregate of the cost of goods, insurance, freight and any other charges incurred outside Zimbabwe.
Submission documents and Clearance of Goods
A Bill of Entry (Form 21) is lodged through the ASYCUDA World system. This is an internet-based system where clearing agents and registered companies submit their clearance documents electronically. All the supporting documents should be scanned and submitted as attachments online (in ASYCUDA) together with the bill of entry.
If the importer has no tax clearance certificate (ITF 263) Informal Cross Border Trader’s Tax of 10% of the value for duty purposes will be due and payable together with any duties and other charges which may be due before goods can be released by ZIMRA.
Payments of duty are done by way of bank deposits into the ZIMRA account. The deposited amount will be credited to the agent’s or importer’s account with ZIMRA.
Documents are processed, assessed and if correct a Delivery Release Order is issued authorising the collection of goods from the carrier or detention. If there is need to inspect the goods, an Examination Order is issued and an inspection carried out to verify the quantities, classification, origin, values or any aspect that needs clarification.
After the assessment, two sets of documents in hard copies must be submitted for the final release of the goods.
- Origin and Preference
- Preferential duty regimes and certificates of origin
These are trade agreements so that goods can enter Zimbabwe or be exported to any member state duty-free or at lower rates thus making them cheaper
Where goods are imported from SADC, COMESA or any Member State with which we have a bilateral trade agreement, preferential rates of duty will be applicable if the correct certificates of origin are attached.
Available trade agreements are COMESA, SADC, Zimbabwe-Malawi Trade Agreement, Zimbabwe-Botswana Trade Agreement, Zimbabwe – Mozambique Trade Agreement, Zimbabwe- South Africa Trade Agreement and Zimbabwe-Namibia Trade Agreement.
A certificate of origin signed by the exporter or manufacturer of the goods and duly authenticated by the relevant authority in the country of export should be produced.
For goods to be exported from Zimbabwe, the exporter and the goods should be registered with ZIMRA under the relevant trade agreement.
Importation into bonded warehouses
Goods can be imported into a licensed bonded warehouse and can be kept there for a period of up to two years before payment of duty. The facility is meant for importers who want to make bulk purchases and enjoy quantity discounts and cheaper transport costs for bulk shipments. The importer also has two years to sell his goods direct from that warehouse and will only take out small quantities as per customer requirements. This helps the importer in that cash is not tied-up on goods not yet marketable.
Removal of Goods in Bond
This is removal of goods in bond for final clearance at an inland port. A clearing agent who has a bond with ZIMRA or an importer who does in-house clearing and has a bond with ZIMRA can move goods from an entry point (border post) and do the final clearance inland. Goods moved under Removal In Bond are expected to be entered for consumption within 10 days.
Removal of Goods in Transit
This is the removal of goods destined to other countries through Zimbabwe. Security for duty at stake for those goods will be through a clearing agent who has a bond with ZIMRA or a cash deposit. Goods removed in transit are expected to make exit within three days. The bill of entry will be acquitted in the system as proof that the goods have made exit. If the bill of entry remains outstanding in the system, the goods are taken to have been consumed in the country and duties waived at the time of importation will be called for or the bond on those goods will be called-up.
Dealing with Transit Cargo
Transit cargo has posed so many challenges both for ZIMRA and the clearing agent involved. For ZIMRA, a lot of revenue has been lost as some of the goods would never make exit but disposed of on the local market. For clearing agents, after making the transit entry they do not have control over the driver and whatever may happen on the way yet they would have committed themselves to ZIMRA on processing the entry. To curb that problem especially on vehicles in transit, such motor vehicles need to be transported on a carrier as from 1st November 2010.
Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs)
Different importers import goods for different reasons and as such different Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) will be used on such importations. Such codes will enable importer to enjoy any privileges they are entitled to, for instance, importations for the exclusive use of the Government will come in duty-free and a specific code for that was created. Some goods were granted a suspension of duty and such CPC was created also for that purpose. Some importers enjoy certain rebates and such codes will enable suppression of the duties due. However, each declaration is verified by checking also if the CPC used is applicable. If one tries to take advantage of non-applicable codes, it becomes a false declaration and the goods will be liable to seizure.
Documentation has to be done by either a registered importer or a registered clearing agent. No duties are payable on export but clearance fees will be due and payable.
A Bill of Entry (Form 21) is lodged through the ASYCUDA World system same as for imports with the following supporting documents attached electronically to the entry:
- Exchange Control CD1 forms which are obtained from commercial banks
- Suppliers’ invoices
- Consignment notes
- Copies of Export Permits/Licences (where applicable)
- Temporary Importations
These can be cleared as follows:
- By payment of a temporary deposit which is refundable on export.
- By an ATIP (Application for Temporary Importation Privileges) which is guaranteed by a bank or insurance.
- Temporary Import Permit Extensions
Tourists and visitors clear their vehicles on temporary importation permits (TIPs) which are valid up to the date endorsed on the day of entry. If this permit expires before the visitor or tourist leaves the country, he/she can visit the nearest ZIMRA office for an extension. Listed below are the requirements for an extension to be granted.
- copy of the TIP
- valid Carbon Tax payment
- valid insurance
- motor vehicle
- Importation of Goods
Private importations which are not merchandise can be cleared on Form 49 (receipt) without the need to engage the services of a clearing agent. The importer completes a declaration form called Form 47 and submits invoices for the goods and some of the documents listed below depending on how goods were transported to Zimbabwe.
- Rail Advice Notes – transport by rail
- Bill of Lading
- Freight Statement
- Vehicle Registrations
Motor vehicles acquired outside Zimbabwe need to go through ZIMRA formalities so that owners will be able to register them locally. The following are documents required for the vehicles to be registered locally:
- Customs Clearance Certificate
- Police clearance
- Proof of residence (utility bills)
- National Identity Document
- Clearance papers required:
- Bill of Entry
- Form 49 Receipt
- Release Order
- Change of ownership of second-hand motor vehicles bought locally
Second-hand vehicles bought locally are subject to a Special Excise Duty at 5% of the value or fair market value before the change of ownership can be authorised.
Who may approach ZIMRA for change of ownership
- The buyer/seller of the motor vehicle
- A clearing agent registered with ZIMRA
The following are required for the change of ownership to be processed:
- Original vehicle registration book
- valid police clearance (Validity period is 14 days from date of stamping)
- proof of residence for both buyer and seller
- National Identity Cards for both buyer and seller
- Original agreement of sale with the following details
- Details of buyer and seller i.e. full names, addresses and id numbers
- Details of the vehicles sold i.e. make, model and year of manufacture, engine and chassis numbers.
- Full sale price
- Signature of both the buyer and the seller
- An affidavit, signed and stamped by a Commissioner of Oaths will be required where the original agreement of sale has been lost.