Tariffs & Non-Tariff Barriers

Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers

Saudi Arabia is a member in the World Trade Organization (WTO).  In right to this membership, the country's trade regime should become more transparent and more accommodating to non-Saudi businesses.  Moreover, the Saudi Arabian leadership has embarked on a wide-ranging restructuring of the entire Saudi economy.  A number of economic and policy reforms are underway had laid the foundation for a better climate conducive to foreign enterprises.  Some of the legislation and regulations promulgated within the past few years are:

Import Licensing Guidelines/Procedures (2000/2002)

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (2000)

Law on Ownership of Real Estate by Non-Saudis (2000)

Saudi Arabian Standards Organization Technical Directives (2000)

Negative List excluded from Foreign Investment (2001 with revision in 2003)

Telecommunications Act (2001)

GCC Patents Law (2001)

Private Laboratories Law (2002)

Trademark Law amendments (2002)

Trade Information Law (2002)

Copyright Law amendments (2003)

Capital Markets Law (2003)

Law on Publication of Government Contracts (2003)

Insurance Regulatory Law (2003)

Tax Law (2004)

Enhanced Money Laundering Regulations (2003)

Beside regulations connected to WTO matters of focus:

Commercial Agency regulations

Companies' Law

Unfair Competition Law

Anti-dumping Law

Customs Valuation guidelines

Labor and Workmen Law

Residence and sponsorship regulations

Prohibited Imports
Saudi law prohibits importation of the following products: weapons, alcohol, narcotics, pork, pornographic materials, distillery equipment, and certain sculptures.

There are health and sanitation regulations for all imported foods.  The Ministry of Commerce has issued a number of directives aimed at preventing outdated goods from entering the Kingdom and requiring Arabic and point of origin labeling.  In addition, a directive mandating labeling of Genetically Modified Organism food has been recently adopted.

Import Taxes and License Requirements
The importation of certain articles is either prohibited or requires special approval from competent authorities.  In addition, importing the following products requires special approval by Saudi authorities: agricultural seeds; live animals and fresh and frozen meat; books, periodicals, movies, and tapes; religious books and tapes; chemicals and harmful materials; pharmaceutical products; wireless equipment; horses; products containing alcohol (e.g., perfume); natural asphalt; and archaeological artifacts.

Saudi exporters need to submit a copy of their commercial registration, which indicates they are allowed to export.  They are also required to submit a certificate of origin of Saudi products (issued by the Ministry of Commerce). Certain items such as antiques, Arabian horses, livestock, or subsidized items need special approval to export.  Exports of oil, petroleum products, natural gas and wheat all require export licenses.

Customs Regulations and Contact Information
The Department of Customs at the Ministry of Finance and National Economy appraises all merchandise moving through Saudi customs ports.

Import valuation is primarily used for collection of import duties.  The valuation of imported merchandise is based on the Cost-Insurance-Freight (CIF) value, while the value of exported merchandise is based on Free On Board valuation (FOB).  The Saudi tariff nomenclature is consistent with the Harmonized System.

Saudi Arabian Department of Customs
P.O. Box 3483, Riyadh 11471, Saudi Arabia
Phone:  (966 1) 401-3334, Fax:  (966 1) 404-3412

Temporary Goods Entry Requirements
For temporary entry of goods for promotional purposes, imports need an invoice with the value of the goods endorsed by authorized parties and related councils, and a certificate of origin.  The invoice should state that the goods are being imported for exhibition purposes only and will be re-exported.

Saudi Customs requires a deposit for these goods (equivalent to the tariff rate -- either 5% or 20% of the total value).  This deposit is refundable when the exhibition is over and upon showing a document that the owner of the equipment officially participated in a trade show.  Additionally, the customs authorities will collect handling charges.  Reimbursement takes between two to four weeks.

Special Import/Export Requirements and Certifications
There are no special import provisions.  Unusual cases should be worked out on a case-by-case basis with Saudi Customs.  The following documents are required for exporting goods to Saudi Arabia (Documents need to be certified by the authorized parties and related councils:

  • Certificate of origin;

  • Commercial invoice (in triplicate) which must state the country of origin, name of the carrier, brand and number of goods, and description of the goods including weight and value;

  • A clean bill of lading or airway bill;

  • Documents indicating compliance with health regulations, if applicable;

  • Insurance documents if shipments are sent CIF; and,

  • Packing list.

  • The original documents must be accompanied by an Arabic translation of a radiation certificate, if applicable.