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

Import regulations and customs duties

Some export controls are seldom used. Some mineral resources can be controlled when exported. Re-export of equipment goods is normally not allowed except if the import is temporary.
Import licenses are rarely obligatory, but some products are subject to an import license: fire arms and explosives require an import license from the Ministry of the Interior.
Import certificates are required for certain products subject to a special control. All foodstuffs and agricultural imports are submitted to the achievement of sanitary and phytosanitary certificates to be allowed to export.
Medicines, food products and cosmetics need to be registered with the Ministry of Health.
If alcohol products are imported, a label has to be fixed around the corking system of the bottle. Imported cigarettes must also undergo this procedure.


Customs duties
Customs duties are contained between 5 and 20% (there are certain exceptions like private vehicles: 35%). On average: 12%. The tax on wholesale transaction is 16.5% (on CIF price + import duty + customs charges). In the free zone of Margarita, this duty is applied only to services. The duty on luxury products ranges from 10 to 20% , depending on the product. This duty is calculated on the result of the wholesale tax mentioned above. There is a specific certification for oil products and their derivatives.
Non tariff barriers
The import of private second-hand or new vehicles, but not pertaining to the current year, is prohibited except for a private person within the framework of his shifting of residence. The import of pork meat and its derivatives is prohibited. Within the framework of the WTO, compensatory duties are established on basic food-processing products: milk, certain cheeses, cereals... Dumping duties are applicable to some products like jeans originating from China.
Observations: The exporter is advised to follow the importer's instructions and for products requiring registration (food products, pharmaceuticals and perfumes), to ensure that the procedures have been carried out before shipping.




Distribution is not limited by any law and is not subject to any regulation. Manufacturer representative or commission agent, wholesale importer distributor, retail importer or direct importer for final consumption, ... everything is possible. Moreover it is a common place to find that Venezuela's companies undertake some of these functions simultaneously. No specific licence is demanded for a local or individual company desiring to import. Many retailers manage their own imports, and sometimes by shipping their orders through agents or by directly buying from foreign suppliers.
Franchise is permitted thanks to the existence of foreign investment laws. Payment agreements regarding franchises, royalties, patent or technical assistance must be registered, but are not subject to new negotiations or other controls. Certain payments for the use of franchise rights must be subject to deferred taxes. Franchises will be successful only if they bring technology along with services which are not available in Venezuela.
In the trading field, the government is carrying a support policy to particularly dynamic or potentially exporting productive activities. Within that framework, a new stimulus has been given to the food-processing industry: to the production of tropical fruits, alcohol drinks, coffee, rice, tobacco, cocoa, automobile and spare parts industry, audio-visual production...


Transportation of goods

By road
Road is the most used means of transport. The country has a road network of 95,725 km long.

By rail
Venezuela has a few railway lines from Puerto Cabello to Barquisimeto, up to Acarigua and another railway line for the transport of iron ore right from the iron ore mines up to the destination of Puerto Ordaz.

By sea
Orinoco is the only navigable river having a relatively dense traffic for bauxite and iron ore.
The functioning of the ports is achieved by private companies for carrying out operations of handling , development and all this has led to the development of the ports.

By air
Out of 280 authorised airports and landing strips, only 40 are used for commercial purposes. Airports are under the central Government control. The airports are being modernised and privatised exactly like the ports.


The COVENIN has prepared more than 300 compulsory standards as much for the domestic market as for the import market . These standards do not exactly or professionally correspond to the European Standards. Some importers have met some difficulties: no foreign standard has been recognised and hence Venezuela makes it compulsory to obtain a certificate.

Patents and brands

Venezuela is a member of Paris Convention (for industrial property), Berne Convention (authors copyrights). But it is very difficult to implement control in this country, to protect patents, trademarks, designs etc.. therefore it is preferable to have registration of these goods and services within the country. One must also know that the country is not a signatory to Rome Convention (which deals with the protection of artists and interpreters).

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Decision No. 486 of September 14, 2000 of the Commission of the Cartagena Agreement on the Common Provisions on Industrial Property : 20 years :
Trademark Decision No. 486 of September 14, 2000 of the Commission of the Cartagena Agreement on the Common Provisions on Industrial Property : 10 years, renewable for further 10-year periods :
Design Decision No. 486 of September 14, 2000 of the Commission of the Cartagena Agreement on the Common Provisions on Industrial Property : 10 years :


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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