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Duties and Tax Exemption

For contact information regarding government custom authorities, please follow the link: 4.1 Sierra Leone Government Contact List

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?

WCO (World Customs Organization) member

Yes, 06 November 1975

Annex J-5 Revised Kyoto Convention

Yes, 10 November 2006

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)

African Union (AU),  ECOWAS, Mano River Agreement

Exemption Regular Regime (Non-Emergency Response)

The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) aid policy lays down a number of procedures for receipt of external aid in general, and technical assistance in particular. 

Ministries are expected to develop proposals for external assistance and have these formally signed off by the ‘Donor Harmonisation and Aid Coordination Committee’ prior to agreeing a package of assistance. NGOs offering assistance in Sierra Leone must acquire NGO status. Firstly, the NGO must be registered with the Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (SLANGO). After that registration, the NGO should further register with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED). Sierra Leone has no expedited inspection and documentation procedures in place to facilitate the rapid entry of goods and equipment intended for international disaster response operations. All goods imported into Sierra Leone are subjected to pre-shipment or destination inspections, which are, in turn, subject to a fee. Duty free concessions and waivers are accorded for the importation of relief items. The National Revenue Authority (NRA) is responsible for the administration of duty waivers while the Minister of Finance is responsible for policy guidelines in respect of waivers. There are a number of requirements to be fulfilled by those eligible for duty waivers. The first is that, at the start of each financial year, entities eligible for duty waivers must prepare and submit to the NRA an exhaustive list of goods for which they will be applying for duty waivers. Should there be any ambiguity in the request, an applicant may be required to pay duty up-front but refunded if the applicant can prove satisfactorily that they are entitled to a waiver. Also, entities entitled to waivers would pay a non-refundable fee of 500,000 Leones per consignment to the NRA as administrative costs for processing duty waiver applications. The NGO Policy states that all assets purchased or acquired with donor funds should be the property of the people of Sierra Leone who are the beneficiaries – rather than of the NGO itself.
 

Organizational Requirements to obtain Duty Free Status

United Nations Agencies

As per the agreement signed with the government of  Sierra Leone, UN Agencies are exempted from all Import/Export taxes, including the GST. However, a waiver should be obtained from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.

Non Governmental Organizations

The Government of Sierra Leone may provide relevant financial and institutional support to NGOs, in the form of duty waivers, tax allowances and other facilities to enable them develop, reinforce and sustain their organisational capacity for more effective delivery of service.

The GOSL has mandated the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) to approve all duty waivers. In the case of NGOs, the Ministry scrutinises NGO applications for duty waivers and recommends approval to the Minister of Finance. Duty waiver applications (including permit clearance) from NGOs will only be granted by the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development after recommendation by the Director General.

Exemption Certificate Application Procedure

Duties and Taxes Exemption Application Procedure

Generalities (include a list of necessary documentation)

The process of applying for duty free waiver concession in Sierra Leone is a very long one which incorporates as follows:

  • The Country Office applies for duty free waiver concession on every consignment whether Food or Non-Food Items imported into the country or to be exported out of the country. A letter, signed by the Country Director and / or Resident Representative or by the Deputy Country Director, attaching the Customs Entries which is prepared by our Clearing and Forwarding Agent together with a copy of the Bill of Lading or the Air Waybill and any other relevant documents.
  • The application letter together with the relevant documents are forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs first where it takes a minimum of 5 working days before it is accepted for approval for duty free waiver concession which should be signed only by the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself. The MoFA forwards the application to the Ministry of Finance for approval. The Ministry of Finance cross checks and confirms the customs duty assessed on the customs entry forms which is to be waived by the Government. At the Ministry of Finance, It usually takes an average of 5 days as well, the deputy can approve.
  • From the Ministry of Finance, it is sent to the National Revenue Authority to budget the assessed customs duty which has been approved for duty free waiver concession. It is later sent to customs to verify the entry. This normally takes 4 days. From the Customs and Excise Department, after verifying the customs entry, it is again sent to the NRA. This usually takes 2 days. As soon as it is sent to the NRA, the Commissioner General then approves for customs examination, verification and release. This process usually takes 2 days after which the duty free waiver application is completed and approved. From there the C&F Agent then pays the required Administrative Fees for Each consignment / Bill of Lading which amount to 750,000 Leone per B/L or AWB and 30,000 Leone for the processing in the Asycuda system.
  • When the duty free waiver application has been approved, customs then examines the goods whether Food or Non-Food Items, loosed or groupage, bagged or containerised, going through the scanning process, examining the containers / cargoes / consignments, and then sends the examination report to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise to verify and release the cargo / consignments for onward delivery. Only containers are scanned.

Process to be followed (step by step or flowchart)

 n/a

Exemption Certificate Document Requirements

Duties and Taxes Exemption Certificate Document Requirements (by commodity)

 

Food

NFI
(Shelter, WASH, Education)

Medicines

Vehicles &
Spare Parts

Staff &
Office Supplies

Telecoms Equipment

Invoice

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

AWB/BL/Other Transport Documents

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Packing Lists

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Other Documents

Certificate of origin, certificate of radiation, phytosanitary, certificate of declaration of diplomatic mission.
1 original copy, applies to UN and NGOs

n/a

Import Certificate from Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone

n/a

n/a

n/a

Customs Clearance

General Information

Customs Information

Document Requirements

An Import Declaration Application Form [IDF] has to be completed by the importer for every shipment to Sierra Leone and only one inspection will be performed per IDF.

Embargoes

None

Prohibited Items

Right hand vehicles, Antiques, Asbestos, Dangerous goods, haz. or comb. Mats, Furs, Gambling devices, Ivory, Narcotics, Pornography, Precious metals & stones

General Restrictions

Arms and ammunition (authorization from the Ministry of Interior, Intelligence Section, is required), Plants (authorization from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is required), Pharmaceuticals (authorization from the Ministry of Health is required), Pets of good health certificate and valid vaccination certificates can obtain permit.

Currency:

  • Residents: of up to 50,000 of local currency and of up to $5,000 worth of foreign currency
  • Non-residents: of up to 50,000 of local currency and unlimited amount on foreign currency that needs to be declared upon arrival.

 

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, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Invoice

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

AWB/BL/Other Transport Documents

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Packing Lists

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

Phytosanitary Certificate

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

n/a

Yes, Original, 1 copy, applies to UN and not NGOs

n/a

n/a

n/a

Other Documents

Certificate of Origin, certificate of radiation,
certificate of declaration of diplomatic mission, 1 copy each, applies to UN and NGOs

n/a

Import certificate from Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone

n/a

n/a

n/a

 

Transit Regime

The customs procedure depends on the instruction written on the Bill of Lading or the AirWay Bill. If the mention ‘in Transit’ is written on the B/L or the AWB then the transit procedures are followed. The clearing agent will establish the necessary document and the customs will provide the escort up to the exit point from the country.   

Transit from Sierra Leone is guided by the ECOWAS supplementary convention A/SP.1/5/90 establishing a community guarantee mechanism for inter-stat road transit of goods.