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

Import regulations and customs duties

All imports are generally subject to an import license, less and less difficult to obtain. There are forbidden imports and others that are imported by the State or by companies.
There are prohibited imports, which are narcotics, appliances, food products likely to compete with the local ones, cheese and fruits.


Customs duties
Any good imported from abroad is subject to the payment of duties and taxes. Import duties vary between 1 and 200% and the amount of customs duties varies according to the estimated necessity of a product by the Syrian Government. Raw materials are subject to a 5-10% duty, industries equipment 10-20%, food products 1-15% and machines 30-60%. Tourist vehicles weighing less than 1 ton are taxed at 150% and on heavier vehicles the duty levied is 200%. Then, an additional charge is imposed on products meant to be sold to military barracks, schools and municipalities. This additional charge is assessed at 6 and 35%.




Two types of distribution circuits can be listed:
on the public side, an import monopoly is held in a specific sector by a structure which has its own distribution network.
On the private side, the concept of mass distribution does not exist. The import agents who are also wholesale distributors work for companies. There are no supermarkets or hypermarkets, and consumer goods sales points are the retailers. The role of salesmen is reduced to the role of an advisor. Lots of progress remain to be done for the products' shelf space, their presentation etc.
Thanks to the growth and improvement in the means of transport, distribution is facilitated and faster. Moreover, it is to be known that the notion of quality is relatively important which is often a plus point in favour of foreign products.


Transportation of goods

By road
The road transport network is in a good state. In 1993, there were 36,377 kms of road in Syria. The main axis are served by national highways or two-lane roads. 90% of the freight is carried by road and not by railway.

By sea
As for maritime transport, the most important ports (Tartous, Lattaquie, Banias) are located on the Mediterranean side: the traffic is modest but constantly improving. Lattaquie is specialised in trade and works with private companies. The port of Tartous is a military port with a petroleum terminal.

By air
The airport of Damas is utilised by 28 air transport companies. The Alep airport is going to be opened for international air transport. The freight and passenger transport has been constantly growing.


There is a programme in charged of developing standards. There are currently 450 standards, similar to the French and United Nations ones. The ISO 9000 corresponds to the following Syrian standards: 1147, 1148, 1149, 1150, 1151 and to a large number of instructions relating to quality.

Patents and brands

Syria's legal system recognises and facilitates the transfer of property rights, including the rights of industrial property. Syria is one of the member countries of Paris Convention. A previous registration of intellectual property rights is required in order to follow up any infringement. .
Patents are valid for a 15-year period (renewable) if the invention has been used for two years.
As far as the copyright of authors is concerned, most of the books published in Syria are written in Arabic language and are written by Syrian authors. There is a legal vacuum in this field and the country's authorities seldom punish possible counterfeiting. There are counterfeiters who record CDs, videos, etc. Video cassettes are 100% copied but there is little repercussions on the global economy as such. However, it is advised that the persons victimised by this kind of phenomenon should avoid legal pursuit of the authors of frauds, Since the cost of legal action is often higher than the eventual indictment delivered in a legal suit. As for trademarks, they are registered for a period of 10 years and the first applicant is the proprietor of the trademark.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

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Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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