This page presents information about Ethiopian import and export procedures.

  1. Import Procedures
  2. Export Procedures

Import Procedures

One can find info on import procedures in Ethiopia in relation to the pre-shipment inspection on goods; applications submitted to commercial banks in Ethiopia to obtain import permit; modes of payment allowed for import, documentation requirements to effect payment and document checking and verification.

An importer who wishes to import goods to Ethiopia should pay through commercial banks. All payments above USD 2000 should be made through Letter of Credit or Cash Against Document. Preshipment inspections apply for all imports from China. 

Go to our  Starting A Business section to find out more on the procedures to start import business. 

Pre-shipment Inspection:

Goods imported are not required to be inspected prior to shipment except when they are imported from China or if the importer and the supplier have an agreement for pre-shipment inspections.

Pre-shipment Inspection on goods imported from China:

The Ministry of Trade has made arrangements with China Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ) so that the latter would carry out the inspections prior to shipment and issue the quality certificates.


  1. Pre-shipment Inspection requirement on all goods purchased from China implemented in effect since January 1, 2007
  2. ­ Pre-shipment inspection certificate is one of the documents required to effect import payment from China.
  3. ­ Pre-shipment Inspection certificate requirement is mandatory for all import purchases made from China in excess of USD 2,000
  4. ­ Banks are required to insert requirement in the LC and also to insure that purchase order transmitted clearly depict to have CIQ inspection requirement.
  5. ­ Banks can not accept documents without CIQ certificate if goods are imported from China.

Import Payment

Foreign exchange can be availed by banks to any importer provided they can present one of these

  1. Import License issued by Ministry of Trade
  2. Industry License issue by Ministry of Industry (If applicable)
  3. Investment License issued by Investment Agency

Applications submitted for import should be accompanied by the Proforma Invoice / contracts from suppliers stating

  1. The type of commodity
  2. Quantity of the commodity
  3. Price per unit
  4. FOB amount
  5. Freight if any
  6. Other charges
  7. No insurance payment is allowed for payment in Foreign Exchange, so the importer should make insurance arrangement locally.

Mode of payment allowed for import

  1. Letter of Credit
  2. Cash against document
  3. Advance payment up to USD 5000

Documentation requirements to effect payment:

It is important that the required sets of documents that should be presented by the supplier to demand payment should be mentioned in the LC or Purchase order. The following are mandatory for payment and always mentioned in the LC or Purchase order:

  1. A final invoice (commercial invoice) attested by the chamber of commerce of the country of the supplier
  2. Original sets of Bill of lading, Airway Bill, Truck way bill, Railway Manifest (depending on the mode of transportation)
  3. Country of origin invoice attested by the chamber of commerce of the country of the supplier
  4. Packing list
  5. Certificate of quality where appropriate

Importers who wish to import using CAD

  1. Should first get approvals of the their Bank on the purchase order they wish to pass to the supplier
  2. The purchase order should clearly sate document requirements and certificate to be attached.
  3. Shipping documents normally required for import payments
  4. Payment can only be released on CAD provided the importers get the prior approval from its bank.

On Document checking and verification

  1. Banks shall have the responsibility to check documents and insure that goods shipped are in accordance with the L/C term or the purchase order issued (in case of CAD) which should clearly sate the list of documents that should presented .
  2. If the documents presented are in compliance with the letter of credit terms pr the purchase order approved (in case of CAD) then the documents shall be accepted and the payment will be released. If not, it will be kept in suspense pending receipt of clarification and amendments.

Export Procedures

Businesses that wish to export from Ethiopia should know the export procedures needed to obtain export permit by commercial banks; should prepare Application for Quality Testing and Certification to obtain Export Authorization Certificate from the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia; should fill the Customs declaration. We have included all these export procedures in Ethiopia and also the VAT registration for exporters from Ethiopia and VAT rate applied on goods exported from Ethiopia.

Export permit by commercial banks

Documents required for Export Permit Approval: 
(taken From Dahsen Bank)

  • Duly signed contract by seller & buyer
  • Undertaking letter of our customer that consignment will be settled within a maximum of 90 days from date of the Foreign Exchange Permit for Cash Against Document (CAD) mode of payment and Authenticated message of L/C opened for Letter Credit mode of Payment.
  • Seller’s invoice
  • Export License Valid for the year
  • Tax registration certificate (TIN certificate)
  • Export permit application form duly filled, signed & stamped (as appropriate) by the customer.
  • NBE (National Bank of Ethiopia) issues delinquent list of exporters periodically. Customer’s name should not appear in the delinquent exporters list of NBE for the period. If the name appears, there should be subsequent list indicating the given customer has cleared all outstanding items at NBE.

In regards to payment, the exporters should:

  • Know thoroughly the foreign counterpart’s (buyer’s) financial soundness, reliability, integrity, full address, etc.
  • Sales/Purchase contract should exist between the two parties (importer and exporter).
  • (LC Mode of Payment) Go through text of L/C opened in their favor and make sure that compliance can be met without doubt. Otherwise, amendments need to be requested from opener as soon as L/C has been received or at the earliest – long before shipment of consignments.
  • (CAD Mode of Payment) Follow up the payment, as nonpayment or even delay of remittance above 90 days will put name of exporter in delinquent list freezing further exports until proceeds are received.

Application for Quality Testing and Certification:

When export products are ready, make arrangements for suitable packaging and apply to the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia for quality testing, and acquire the Export Authorization Certificate.

Customs Declaration:

To avoid costly delays, the exporter declares all facts about the export consignment, and all supporting original documents should be forwarded to the Customs Clearing Agents to enable customs formalities and authorization of the dispatch of the export goods. Accordingly, the exporter must hand over the Export Permit, the copy of the Customs Declaration Annex form, the Ethiopian Customs Declaration form, the Certificate of Origin, and the special movement forms/certificates (the EURI Movement Certificate and the GSP form A) to the clearing agents.

Exporters, VAT and VAT Registartion

According to the Value Added Tax Proclamation (285/2002) and the Regulation by the Council of Ministers on VAT (Regulation 79/2002), all exports of goods and services are liable to VAT at the zero rate. This means that VAT is charged at 0% (or no VAT has to be charged). However, more importantly an exporter is entitled to reclaim the VAT on all the goods and services purchased to produce the exports.

But since this still means an exporter is still making taxable supplies even at a zero rate, the law requires the exporter to register if the turnover exceeds the registration limits.


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