The much-anticipated Customs Law Executive Regulations (“Customs ER”) was recently issued by the Ministry of Finance, furthering Egypt’s plans to unify and simplify the procedures relating to international trade, streamline customs release operations and procedures, and improve the customs tax refund process. The Customs ER also details the mandatory procedures and documents to be submitted electronically in order to obtain an initial customs registration number, or ACID (Advance Cargo Information Declaration) for the pre-registration of shipments prior to planned to enter into force on the 1st October, 2021. In furthering the Egyptian Customs Authority’s goal to reduce cargo clearance time periods, the Customs ER also details the conditions that must be satisfied in order for shippers/carriers to take advantage of the newly introduced temporary release of cargo mechanisms.
Background to the Customs ER
The Customs ER came into effect as of the first day following its publication, 1 September 2021, following the issuance of Customs Law No. 207, issued in 2020. The Customs ER repeals the prior executive regulations, in force since 2006.
Advance Cargo Information (ACI) Pre-registration
At least 24 hours in advance of shipment to any Egyptian customs point, importers must electronically provide all data and documents specified in the Customs ER, which includes the exporter’s data. Electronic signature of the customs declaration is effected via the new e-portal, nafeza.gov.eg, designed to serve as a national single window for foreign trade. Once the Customs Authority assigns the cargo with an ACI number, the ACI number must appear on all shipping documents.
A separate set of document and cargo data obligations must be satisfied via the nafeza e-portal by the carrier or the master of the ship.
The Egyptian Customs Authority reserves the right to reject any incoming cargo that does not have an ACI number clearly assigned to it, among other additional documentation requirements. In such cases, the cargo will be returned back to origin on the same vessel at the cargo owner’s expense.
The Customs ER provides the ability for the importer/his agent to clear the cargo before its arrival by paying initial charges and later paying all customs duties assessed after the cargo’s arrival and its inspection.
Additional mandatory customs procedures must apply after shipment and before the arrival, as well as after the arrival of cargo.
It is intended that all customs taxes due will be paid online, in accordance with the Egyptian government’s policy of eliminating cash transactions and implementing an electronic system for the entire international trade process.
The Customs ER also provides for the right to pay the customs tax in installments, and sets out the required data and documents required by the Customs Authority in order to take advantage of installment payment options. Certain goods may be eligible for customs duty refunds.
Customs exemptions may be applicable to certain imports by certain Egyptian governmental bodies and for certain companies/authorities related to such Ministries e.g any imports by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Military Production, General Intelligence Directorate, the Ministry of Interior, and so forth.
Customs brokers (clearing agents)
The Customs ER give the ability for a person to become custom clearing agent after obtaining a license from Customs Authority, defining his obligations and abilities.
Ministries, public authorities, public entities, public sector corporates, embassies and consulates can also have their own customs clearing agents after acquiring specific licenses and fulfilling the required documents. These licenses can be canceled in specific cases, as detailed in the Customs ER.
Customs procedures on incoming/outgoing cargoes:
A set of requirements are listed for specific customs procedures concerning the following:
- The Logistic zones,
- E-administration (DATA CENTER),
- Inspection areas,
- Incoming/outgoing cargo through Post service- respecting the international postal Conventions and prohibiting any Egyptian or foreign cash entry through Post service, and
- Packages consolidated cargo shipped in containers or planes.
Additional key provisions of the Customs ER
The lengthy Customs ER govern a number of additional matters that may be of significant interest to those dealing in import/export activities, ranging from the temporary storage of cargo; goods in transit procedures; customs warehouses conditions; duty free zones and special economic zones. The Customs ER also provides for streamlined and quicker resolution of any grievances or customs disputes.