Trade Policy

All goods imported into Syria are subject to customs duty and unified tax. Duty rates are progressive and range from 1%-200%, depending on the government's view of the necessity of a product. Food and industrial raw materials carry relatively low rates, while rates between 150%-200% are imposed on luxury items such as automobiles. The unified tax is a surcharge on all imported goods and its proceeds are allocated to the military, schools, and municipalities. Unified tax rates range from 6%-35% and are collected by the Customs Department. Customs procedures are cumbersome, tedious, and time-consuming because of complex regulations.

Custom duty percentage Unified tax percentage
1 6
2 11
3-6 12
7-11 13
12-18 14
19-23 15
24-28 16
29-30 17
31-36 18
37-40 19
41-45 20
46-50 21
51-55 22
56-59 23
60-64 24
65-69 25
70-74 26
75-78 27
79-83 28
84-88 29
89-93 30
94-98 31
99-100 32
OVER 100 35

Below are examples of custom duties applied to a selection of imported products:

  1. Raw material inputs and medicines are taxed 1% at the rate of 11.2 SP/USD.
  1. Equipment for local factories is taxed between 1-20% at the rate of 43.5-44 SP/USD.
  1. Major food products such as rice, sugar, tea, and wheat are taxed between 1-7% at the rate of 11.2 SP/USD, while processed and canned food products are taxed between 30-50% at 43.5 SP/USD.

  1. Small electronic equipment (such as radios and VCRs) are taxed between 30-50% at 43.5 SP/USD; medical equipment is taxed at 7% at the 11.2 SP/USD rate; computers at 15% at the rate of 43.5 SP/USD. Passenger vehicles under 1000 kg in weight are taxed at 150%, over 1000 kg passenger vehicles are taxed at 200%. Taxes and duties on vehicles are paid in hard currency.

Customs Valuation
Prior to December 1993, the Customs Service valued imported articles using the "official" rate of exchange, 11.2 SP/USD. However, recent laws have altered the rates on most goods, with duty charges of less than 75% valued at the 23 SP/USD rate. Goods dutiable between 75-200% are valued at the 43.5 SP/USD rate. Also, items which the government began allowing into the country, such as telephones, fax machines, and previously banned consumer electronic goods are now valued at the neighboring country rate of 43.5 SP/USD.

Import Licenses
Registered Syrian merchants and industrialists must obtain an import license issued by the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade (or its affiliated directorates) for any product they wish to import. In general, an importer may obtain a license for any product listed on the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade's list of importable items. For more information about import regulations, please refer to export financing section below.

Export Controls
The exporting of Syrian goods requires no license. The exporter must prepare the following documentation:

  1. An invoice certified by a local chamber of commerce.
  2. Certificate of origin.
  3. A customs document of description.
  4. Except for fruit and vegetable exports, an exporter must produce a bank guarantee stating that hard currency earnings will be returned to Syria within four months (for goods exported to Arab countries), and within six months (for goods exported to other nations). The period for repatriating earnings may be extended up to nine months.

Exporters are taxed on their export earnings at rates between 1.5% and 3% of the value of the product(s) shipped.

Arab Boycott
Syrian public sector companies request in their tender announcements that bidders provide certificates stating that the bidders abide by the Arab boycott of Israel.

Import/Export Documentation
Documents for goods exported to Syria must include:

  1. Bill of lading.
  2. Valid import license.
  3. Commercial invoice in three copies describing the type of goods, price, basic specifications, and method of payment. The exporter should also include two statements on the invoice. The first concerns whether or not the exporter has an agent in Syria, and the second involves Israel boycott related language.

  4. Packing list in three copies.
  5. Certificate of origin in three copies.

All documents should be certified by the Chamber of Commerce and the Syrian Embassy in the country of origin.

To export, a Syrian company must be registered with a Syrian Chamber of Commerce. Goods leaving the country must be accompanied by a commercial invoice certified by the Chamber of Commerce and a packing list.

Temporary Entry
The Syrian government grants temporary entry for the following reasons:

  1. Large Projects: A foreign company executing a project in Syria is entitled to temporarily import any equipment necessary to finish the project. When the work is completed, the company must then re-export all equipment and vehicles. Several companies have experienced difficulties re-exporting equipment, especially computers and vehicles.

  2. International Organizations: IO's are entitled to import vehicles, furniture, and necessary equipment.
  3. Tourists: Tourists are entitled to travel around the country in personal vehicles.
  4. Trade Shows: Trade show participants may import temporarily goods for display, but must re-export them at the conclusion of the event. Occasionally, the Syrian authorities permit the permanent importation of goods that are displayed for a trade show organized in Syria.

  5. Exporting manufacturers: Local manufacturers are allowed to import raw material duty-free if the resulting manufactured products are destined strictly for export.

Special Import Provisions
Syria enforces the Arab Boycott of Israel. Goods of Israeli origin are prohibited for import into Syria. In addition, all imported goods must come directly from the country of origin, with some exceptions. These exempted items include: harvesters, spare car parts, commodities exchanged on the open markets (rice, sugar, coffee), refrigerated containers, and large construction equipment.