Required Trade Documents

Shipping documents must be authenticated at an Egyptian Embassy or Consulate, in the country of origin, or any other Arab consulate if there is no Egyptian Embassy in the country of origin

Prohibited Imports
On January 1, 2002, the Government of Egypt lifted the last item on the ban list: ready-made clothing. However, heavy import duties were placed on textiles, plus levying tariff fees (reaching $300 per piece for some items) on over 1,000 categories of clothing.

Domestic industries must comply with the specifications of Egyptian standard definitions. The Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (EOS), affiliated to the Ministry of Industry and Technological Development, is the only body responsible for issuing and developing Egyptian standards for raw materials, industrial products, measuring and testing instruments, technical inspection, quality control, calibration and technical classifications and terminology. All Egyptian standards are voluntary except for a few standards related to health and safety which are mandatory in nature. Although adherence to ISO 9000 certification is optional, it is increasingly of interest to Egyptian exporters.

Import and export in Egypt are regulated by Law 118 of 1995. Annex (8) of the import/export regulations lists commodities subject to quality control inspection prior to admittance into Egypt. The list consists of about 135 product categories including foodstuffs, spare parts, construction materials, electronic devices, appliances, and many consumer goods. Although Egyptian authorities stress that standards applied to imports are identical to those applicable to domestically-produced goods, according to WTO/TBT agreement, they are more strict in enforcing product standards on imported food products than on local food products. Moreover, importers face the problems of ill-defined or unwritten product standards, and backlogs result from authorities having limited staff or too few inspection machines to conduct their quality inspections.

In general, inspection fees range between 0.5 piasters (PT) ($.025) per kilogram to 10 Egyptian pounds ($2.00) per container, with an average inspection fee of PT 1 per kilogram. (Note: There are 100 piasters (PT) to a pound.) The inspection fee for goods imported for industrial purposes is lower than that applied to goods imported for retail purposes.

Ministerial Decree 99/94 exempts from quality control inspection of industrial inputs imported by factories. In contrast, the same products, if imported for resale, are subject to inspection. Imports for personal or private use are exempt from quality control inspection.

Free Trade Zones / Warehouses
The Sadat-era Law 43 of 1974 allowed the establishment of free zones in Egypt. The law was superseded by Investment Law 230. In May 1997, Law 230 of 1989 was canceled and replaced by the investment law known as Law 8 of 1997 which regulates operations in the free trade zones of Egypt. It allows for storage, warehousing, mixing, repacking, assembly, and manufacturing for export; and provision of services to firms located in the free zones. There are seven active free trade zones in Egypt: Cairo (Nasr City, near Cairo Airport), Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Ismailia, Damietta, and Six of October. New extensions are being added to Damietta and new zones are planned in North Sinai and the Red Sea. In January 2002, the Government announced that Port Said’s duty free status will be phased out over a five-year period.

Goods exported from or imported into the free zones are not subject to normal import/export customs procedures, duties or other taxes and fees. Likewise all instruments, machinery, equipment, and transportation equipment necessary for establishments authorized within the free zones are exempt from customs and taxes. Provisions of the labor law do not apply to companies operating in free zones, nor are they subject to currency transaction controls. Commodities manufactured and/or stored in free zones are considered "imports" subject to full customs duties if they enter Egypt.

The Customs Authority supervises both public and private bonded warehouses. The Ministry of Finance authorizes establishment of the warehouses, specifying the site of the bonded area, conditions of storage, storage charges, administrative charges, expenditures, guarantees to be presented, and other conditions relating to warehousing under bond.

Warehouse companies are subject to an annual fee of 1% on the imported product’s value, and production and assembly profits are subject to an annual fee of 1% on the exported product’s value.

Imported and domestically-produced commodities, which may be bonded in either public or private sector bonded warehouses, may not be withdrawn from bond unless the necessary taxes and fees are paid or a suitable bank guarantee is provided and accepted by Customs.

In May, the People’s Assembly approved the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Law number 83 for 2002. This law allows the establishment of special zones for industrial, agricultural or service activities that are designed specifically with the export market in mind. The law allows firms operating in these zones to import capital equipment, raw materials, and intermediate goods duty free. Companies established in the new zones also will be subject to lower corporate taxes and exempt from sales and indirect taxes, operate under more flexible labor regulations, and enjoy other incentives. As with the other new laws passed in 2002, the executive regulations that will clarify details have not yet been published.

Membership in Free Trade Arrangements

Customs Contact Information
Customs Authority - Ministry of Finance
Address: Ministry of Finance Towes , Nasr City - Cairo
Tel: 00202 3428840
Fax: 00202 3428840

General Authority for Export & Import Control - Ministry of Trade & industry
Address: Atlas Building, 1 Ramsis & Maarouf Streets, Cairo
Tel: 00202 5756933 - 5785877
Fax: 00202 5766971

The Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality Control - Ministry of Industry and Technological Development
Address: 6 Tadreeb El Modarebeen, Ameriya, Cairo
Tel: 00202 6031351
Fax: 00202 2593480