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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

Since the beginning of 1990's, Egypt considerably liberalised its market. There is no licensing system, even though the import of certain products requires previous authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Trade.
One of the main difficulty when importing lies in the obligation to send the goods directly from their country of origin (decree 619/98, November, 1998), therefore preventing the goods to be grouped together. However, this law was softened for the companies possessing subsidiaries in some other countries, by authorising them to import either from the country where their head office or their subsidiaries are established. At the same time, the obligation was made to legalise certificates of origin from the country of origin of the goods (even if the exporter was able to gather products of different previous history).
The documentary constraints are important (3 originals of the commercial invoice, the proforma invoice for documentary credits, certificate of origin in 2 originals, the packing list). Most of these documents can be legalised by the counterpart Chamber of Commerce of the country, and only then by the Embassy or the Egyptian consulate.
Finally, some products are still forbidden, especially in the framework of textile, poultry. Motorcars should be imported on the year they were made.
The packaged goods should be marked in Arabic and all the special instructions of handling should be marked both in English and in Arabic.
ProductControl qualityProhibition
Fragments of poultryX
Products of clothingX
Farm productsX
Domestic appliancesX


Customs duties
Egypt applies the Harmonised Customs System. The customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value. The maximum rate of the customs duty is 40%, but nevertheless, there are much higher rates, which apply to goods that were formerly forbidden to import (70% for poultry, from 600% to 3000% for alcohol, and 54% for textile).
Within the framework of its membership of the Arabic League, Egypt is in the process of discussion to create an Arabic Common market with the suppression of customs duty.


Import taxes
The following taxes should be added to the customs duty:
  • Customs excess load: 2% of the customs cleared value if the applied duty is between 5% and 30%, and 3% if the customs duty exceeds 30%. An Excise duty is also levied on alcohol drinks and coffee. A supplementary tax is collected on brandy, cognac, gin and whiskey.


Regulations governing payments
It is today compulsory to detain 100% of the amount credited in the bank to be able to open a documentary credit. There are no exchange controls.


Egypt is the most populated country in the Arabic world. It also has the lowest per capita revenue and there is large disparity in the income distribution. The conglomeration of Cairo constitutes 25% of the 60 million Egyptians and is the main commercial activity centre, followed by Alexandria.
The process of liberalisation of the Egyptian economy began in the 1990's which helped in the development of the distribution in Egypt.

The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
This market is still dominated by a number of private small shops and private suppliers. The development of large-scale distribution is a rather recent trend and still only addresses to a restricted part of the population having sufficient income.
Despite the opening of several private mini chains with a surface exceeding 100 m2 (Sunny Supermarket, ABC, ALPHA MARKET), dozens of small independent supermarkets - often family businesses - appeared. On the top of it, there are more than ten shopping centres located near the well-off districts of the capital (Zamalek, Maadi, Heliopolis).

The Business to Business (B to B) market
Sales in Egypt are channelled in two main axis: international call for tenders published by public companies for all their acquisitions, and private sector contracts. We can point out that more than 10% of State owned companies were privatised and that the private sector becomes every day more important. In most cases, Egyptian companies look for foreign investors who will buy a major participation and will modernise the company by implanting new technologies. Some companies are sold through the Cairo Stock Exchange,a relatively new concept for the government, which turned out to be very effective.


Transportation of goods

By road
The road network is very dense and relatively modern, but out of the 45,000 km of existing roads, only 17,000 km of interurban ways can be considered as being in good condition. 90% of the internal transport of goods is made by road. The Government launched a programme of construction for new highways financed by the private sector in exchange of concessions of exploitation for 99 years.

By rail
The Egyptian railroad network, with its 5,500 km of railroad (935 km of double ways), is the oldest in the region. This requires important investments for its improvement and modernisation, particularly in order to be able to face containers transport from Egyptian ports up to inland Africa. The railway transport presently amounts to 7% of the internal traffic of goods.

By sea
The main Mediterranean port is Alexandria; a third of the Egyptian international trade goes through it. The other ports in ascending order, are Port Saïd, Suez and Damietta. At El Dikkeila, near Alexandria, there is a mining port. It is necessary to highlight that with the Nile and all the various canals, Egypt has 3,100 km of internal waterways.
The Suez Canal: 173 km long, connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. About 17,500 boats pass through it every year, what offers important income for the country. Tankers represent only 25 % of the traffic. Important works are in progress to increase the depth of the canal to be able to let the most modern tankers pass through it.
Oil pipelines: the Suez-Méditerranée oil pipeline (SUMED), operational since 1977, constitutes an important alternative for the transport of petroleum between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is the property of Egypt, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Furthermore there is a dense network of oil and gas pipelines for the internal transport and the distribution meant for domestic consumption.

By air
Egypt is an important air centre in the region and the air connections serving Cairo are numerous. Égyptair, member of Arab Air Carriers Organisation, is the second airline of the region. There are airports in the main tourist centres and populated areas.
The international airports are: Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Port Saïd, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheik.


Egypt does not recognise any organisation of International certification. Egyptian Organisation for Standardisation and Quality Control (GAEIC) established a list of products which are subject to quality controls. This requirement affects about 25% of the imports. The controls of quality and labelling are of an excessive frequency and respond in practice to measures of hidden protectionism.
Besides the GAEIC, which takes charge of guaranteeing the imports according to the Egyptian standards, two other public bodies have competence in this domain: The Egyptian Organisation for Standardisation and Quality Control (EOS), responsible for defining the national standards, and Industrial Control Authority (ICA), responsible for defining the national standards for the industry.

Patents and brands

The body responsible for Industrial property is the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Cairo.
Egypt adheres to the Agreement which establishes the World Intellectual Property Organization and is a member country of the Agreement of Paris for the Protection of Industrial Property. In terms of trademarks, the country is a member of the Madrid Convention on the International Register of trademarks and the Hague Convention on the International Deposit of trademarks and Industrial Designs. For patents, Egypt signed the Convention on International Classification of Patents (Classification IPC).
It is possible to obtain licences for the use of patents and trademarks, but the agreements which allow the use of patents for payments outside borders should be authorised by the General Authority for Investment (GAFI).

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Strasbourg agreement 15 years with possibility of further continuation for 5 years in some cases
Trademark Trademarks Law Initial period of 10 years renewable


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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