Tariff & Non-Tariff Barriers

All imported goods, except those previously exempted by law, are subject to import duties. Import duties are generally calculated according to the goods' original invoice price (CIF value). When the buyer does not present the original invoice, the Customs Service evaluates the market value of the product and applies the appropriate rate. Imported goods must be declared at Customs after landing, and the SGS inspects the nature, price, quality, and quantity, and compares them with those reported in the original invoice.

Mauritania’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the EU/Africa Caribbean Pacific (EU/ACP) Lomé Pact has supplied some momentum to its trade liberalization policies. However, Mauritania is one of several developing countries benefiting from a ten-year exemption in the application of WTO requirements.

Import Tariffs
In spite of relatively high tariffs, import demand is growing. The import tax is usually based on the local market value of the item, rather than the price listed on the commercial invoice. Customs officials use a list showing import taxes and duties for various items. Tariffs vary according to the importance attributed to the particular commodity (between zero and 45 percent, for instance, for "essential" goods).

Trade Barriers
Since the economic and trade liberalization of the early 1990s, trade barriers have been rendered obsolete. Non-tariff barriers are now limited to delays in transferring money for payment to suppliers from local banks.

Import Requirements and Documentation
The documents generally required from Mauritanian importers include the commercial invoice, the bill of lading or certificate of origin, and the certificate of inspection given by the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). The commercial invoice should contain the name and address of the seller and buyer, the place and date the invoice was prepared, the method of shipment, the quantity, description, and price of the goods, and delivery and payment terms. Payments of large amounts are usually made by irrevocable and confirmed Letters of Credit under the control of the Central Bank of Mauritania or by direct transfer from the bank of the importer abroad to the bank of the exporter. Cash payments are also frequently used for smaller purchases.

Importers require pre-shipment inspection and quality control. The certificate of inspection should accompany imported goods.

Temporary Entry
Personal effects, including professional equipment, that are carried by hand or in luggage may be temporarily imported into Mauritania free of duties and taxes under the Customs Convention on Temporary Importation of Professional Equipment. Goods imported for exhibitions may enter under an ATA carnet, which may be obtained from the International Chamber of Commerce.