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.
Below are examples of custom duties applied
to a selection of imported products:
- Raw material inputs and medicines are taxed 1% at the rate
of 11.2 SP/USD.
- Equipment for local factories is taxed between 1-20% at the
rate of 43.5-44 SP/USD.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The exporting of Syrian goods requires no
license. The exporter must prepare the following documentation:
- An invoice certified by a local chamber of commerce.
- Certificate of origin.
- A customs document of description.
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.
Syrian public sector companies request in
their tender announcements that bidders provide certificates stating that the bidders
abide by the Arab boycott of Israel.
Documents for goods exported to Syria must
- Bill of lading.
- Valid import license.
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
- Packing list in three copies.
- 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
The Syrian government grants temporary entry
for the following reasons:
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.
- International Organizations: IO's are entitled to import
vehicles, furniture, and necessary equipment.
- Tourists: Tourists are entitled to travel around the country
in personal vehicles.
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.
Exporting manufacturers: Local
manufacturers are allowed to import raw material duty-free if the resulting manufactured
products are destined strictly for export.
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.