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Duties and Tax Exemption

For contact information regarding government custom authorities, please see the following link: 4.1 Rwanda Government Contact List


Rates of Duty & VAT
The rate of import duties is provided for in the custom tariff book. There are currently four rates of duty which are: 0%, 5%, 18%, and 25%. Imports from Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries that meet conditions as specified by the COMESA rules of origin are given preferential treatment through a reduction of rates. The rate of VAT is currently 18%.

 

Import Procedures for UN Goods
UN humanitarian agencies  have an agreement with the government of Rwanda (Article VI, Section’s 11 & 12) that they are exempted from taxation, customs duties and any other levies, prohibitions and restrictions on goods, imported or exported, related to humanitarian objectives.  
 

Clearing Documents
All imports will normally be cleared by customs on presentation of an online hard copy of the the following documents:

  • One original bill of lading, air waybill, non-commercial invoice or supplier invoice, packing list or outbound delivery and arrival notice, phytosanitary, import permit.
  • Copy of MoU between the respective organisation and the Government of Rwanda.

 

Exemption of Taxes
To be exempted from paying duties and taxes, the imported goods must be mentioned in article 182 of the customs law. An online customs entry with uploaded scanned copy of the original sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prepared for release and approval of tax exemption by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) for cargo / items in question and this usually take from 1 to 3 working days.

These are then presented to Customs who authorise it and the goods are released.

Single Customs Territory (SCT) was launched in October 2013, which removed many hurdles to free trade replacing a number of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) within the Northern Corridor. The implementation of the SCT has reduced the transit time which is now estimated to be only 6 days from Mombasa to Kigali versus 21 days before the implementation of the SCT. Transit time from Dar-es-Salaam to Bukavu is 7 days, from Kigali to Tororo 2 days, from Dar-es-Salaam to Kigali 5 days, and from Dar-es-Salaam to Goma 5 days. For more information, please see the TradeMark East Africa Website
 

Rwanda Electronic Single Window
The Rwanda Electronic Single Window (RESW) launched on 9 February 2012, paving the way for faster customs clearance through a single web-based platform. Through this single window, permits and clearances from the following agencies are obtainable:

  • Rwanda Revenue Authority
  • Rwanda Development Board
  • Rwanda Bureau of Standards
  • Ministry of Health
  • MAGERWA
  • All Clearing agencies
  • All Airlines using e-Cargo Manifest
  • All Pharmacies and depots
  • All Ministries handling Customs exemptions

The systems interface is the result of a collaboration between Rwanda electronic single window, Kenya Revenue Authority system (SIMBA), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TANCIS), Kenya Ports Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority (Asycuda world). It aims at allowing and ensuring a seamless and faster customs clearance process at the port of Mombasa and a better access to real-time exchange of information.

For more information, please see the Rwanda Electronic Single Window Website. It is important to note that all tax exempt goods are subject to final verification on arrival in Rwanda before final clearance by the Rwanda Revenue Authority.
 

One-Stop Border Posts  
Current operational One Stop Border Posts (OSBP) are located in Rusumo, Kagitumba, Nemba, Gatuna and Ruhwa. Other active border posts are located in Cyanika, Rusizi I, Rusizi II, Bugarama, Akanyaru, La Corniche & Petite Barrière in Rubavu.

Benefits include the reduction in clearance processes between Rwanda and neighbouring countries.  Easing the process has led to an increase in the volume of trade/imports and exports in Rwanda.

Emergency Response

[Note: This section contains information which is related and applicable to 'crisis' times. These instruments can be applied when an emergency is officially declared by the Government.  When this occurs, there is usually a streamlined process to import goods duty and tax free.]

Agreements / Conventions Description

Ratified by Country?
(Yes / No)

WCO (World Customs Organization) member

Yes, 3 March 1964

Annex J-5 Revised Kyoto Convention

Yes, 7 July 2014

OCHA Model Agreement

No

Tampere Convention (on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations)

No

Regional Agreements (on emergency/disaster response, but also customs unions, regional integration)

Yes, the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Strategy (2013-2017) is underway.

Exemption Regular Regime (Non-Emergency Response)

In order to receive duty and tax exemptions, an organisation has to be registered under the Rwanda Governance Board, credentials submitted to the Ministry of Finance, Foreign affairs and, (in the case of UN agencies) the Office of the President.

Below are the general rules for tax incentives, concessions and exemptions that apply to humanitarian organisations:

Customs Duty         
As of November 2013, for raw agricultural products such as maize, beans and animals, import permits must be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (MINAGRI). At the same time, the exporting country must provide an export permit. Similarly, export permits must be obtained for the export of raw agricultural products from Rwanda. The recipient country must provide an import permit.

Phyto-sanitary certificates must accompany such consignments into the country.
 

VAT Exemptions

  • Water Supply and Sewage Treatment Services
  • Goods and Services for health purposes including medical treatment, drugs and medical equipment and equipment for people living with disabilities
  • Educational Material and Services provided for/used by government education institutions and those run by NGOs
  • Goods imported for diplomatic missions, consulates, and international organisations and charities, educational, scientific and cultural materials. Pharmaceutical products, instruments and apparatus intended for medical purposes, pesticides, agricultural inputs and tools including fishery equipment

Organisational Requirements to obtain Duty Free Status

United Nations Agencies

  • Organisation has to be registered with the Rwanda Governance Board as a UN Agency
  • Online customs entry with uploaded scanned copy of the original sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for release and approval of tax exemption by Rwanda Revenue Authority for cargo / items.

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Organisation has to be registered with the Rwanda Governance Board as a UN Agency
  • Tax exemption form is obtained from the Rwanda Revenue Authority
  • Tax exemption application (which includes the form, commercial invoice and packing list) are submitted to and approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Tax exemption application is then approved by Ministry of Finance through RRA

Exemption Certificate Application Procedure

Duties and Taxes Exemption Application Procedure

Generalities (include a list of necessary documentation)

  • Organisation has to be registered with the Rwanda Governance Board as a UN Agency
  • Home consumption declarations (IM4) for inward transits are prepared and entered in the Rwanda Electronic Single Window (RESW) and forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval of tax exemption
  • On approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, online IM4 declarations are automatically processed by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) for confirmation of the electronic request which is later retrievable by clearing firm to proceed with the regularisation / formalisation procedure.

Exemption Certificate Document Requirements

Duties and Taxes Exemption Certificate Document Requirements (by commodity)

 

Food

NFI (Shelter, WASH, Education)

Medicines

Vehicle & Spare Parts

Staff & Office Supplies

Telecoms Equipment

Invoice

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

AWB/BL/Other Transport Documents

No

No

No

No

No

No

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Packing Lists

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Other Documents

Application from the importer

Additional Notes

Food from Kenya requires approval from the Kenya Bureau of Standards

Customs Clearance

General Information 

Customs Information

Document Requirements

N/A

Embargoes

Arms, Explosives

Prohibited Items

Polythene bags, illicit street drugs/narcotics, hazardous waste

General Restrictions

For more information, please see the Rwanda Standards Board Website.

Customs Clearance Document Requirements

Customs Clearance Document Requirements (by commodity)

 

Food

NFI (Shelter, WASH, Education)

Medicines

Vehicles & Spare Parts

Staff & Office Supplies

Telecoms Equipment

D&T Exemption Certificate

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Yes
Original

Invoice

Yes
Original

 

 

 

 

 

AWB/BL/Other Transport Documents

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Packing Lists

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Phytosanitary Certificate

Yes
Original

No

No

No

No

No

Other Documents

No

No

Certificate of Analysis;
Certificate of Origin;
Importation license from Ministry of Health

Certificate of Origin

 

 

Additional Notes

Import and Export permits required for the import and export of raw agricultural products.

In addition to the Certificate of Conformity (CoC) issued by SGS at the Ports of Mombasa and Dar-es-salaam, RSB also issues an independent CoC in order for the commodities to be allowed to enter Rwanda.

Transit Regime

Rusumo, Gatuna and Kagitumba borders are working 24 hours per day (including weekends and holidays). However, other borders posts are working 12 to 14 hours per day. The gazetted overland border posts for heavy vehicles where Rwanda Customs, Police and Immigration are present can be found in the following attachment: Rwanda Customs, Police and Immigration.

 

Transit Charges
There is a road-toll charge for foreign-registered trucks entering Rwanda of $152 per trip; in additional to this is a charge of RWF 3,000 ($4.00) which is referred to as a computer processing fee and a charge RWF 2,000 ($2.50) per customs seal. The minimum clearing charges for intra-region operations (EAC Single Customs Territory) are:

  • Import declaration from ports / container is $150+VAT
  • Warehousing declaration (IM7 & WH7) per truck is $150+VAT
  • Exports declaration per truck per entry is $100
  • Import declaration per entry from inside the EAC region per truck e.e. Kemba or Nakawa is RWF 100,000 ($124+VAT)

Storage and Handling at Overland Border Posts
The storage facility of the nearest town could be considered as an alternative to border post storage, for borders that do not have a storage facility. Information on this option can be found in the following attachment: Alternative Border Storage Options. Generally, the storage facilities are not up to the required standards. Therefore, there may be a need for repair and rehabilitation works before use.
 

Inspection Procedures
In May 2014, the Rwanda Standards Board launched the Imports Products Conformity Assessment to Standards (IPCA), which requires that all imports into Rwanda must be inspected at country of origin. A Certificate of Conformity must be issued by the inspection company at the origin. For more information, please see Imports Products Conformity Assessment to Standards (IPCA). However, for cargo weighing less than 1 mt, subject to intra-region movements and consumable before Kigali, inspection can be done at the entry points in Rwanda. Regarding bulky cargo and large consignments, they are released under seal for further inspection in Kigali.

All imported cargo arriving at the border crossing points are checked for quality and appropriateness of documentation by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), or contracted entity even when a Certificate of Conformity is issued. Where necessary, sample checks of the cargo type can be conducted as per international standards and procedures.

Customs documents are filled at the entry points and a general inspection is undertaken before trucks are allowed to continue to their destination. Truck movements are monitored by the Anti-Smuggling Unit at each check-point until they reach their destination. The Anti-Smuggling Unit evaluates the time trucks spend between check-points to check if there was any diversion on the way. 

For more information, please see the Rwanda Standards Board Website.

 

Available Facilities
The border crossing points that are also regional towns (Rubavu & Rusizi) all have adequate facilities that drivers require. The other crossing-points that are not near major towns have basic facilities such as food and lodging, small retail shops and standby security personnel. The Customs Offices with their respective codes can be found at the Rwanda Revenue Authority Website