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

Import regulations and customs duties

1 kg of tobacco or 1000 cigarettes or 1 litre of alcohol beverages may be imported without any document. A deposit may be required for cameras, mobile computers, recorders, etc. Pets : dogs and cats require veterinary health certificate issued in the country of origin and import permit. On arrival, the veterinary inspection will take place. The health certificate must mention: the country of origin, names and Christian name and address of the owner, species, sex of the animal, that the animal is free from ticks and has not been exposed to contagious diseases. Furthermore (for dogs and cats) the health certificate must state that they have been vaccinated against rabies since more one month but less than 12 months before departure. This certificate must be issued not more than 15 days before departure. Baggage is cleared at the first airport entry in Burundi.


Customs duties
The majority of imports to Burundi require import licenses. These licences are used for payment and statistical control purposes and are automatically granted. Applications for licenses must be submitted to the Central Bank through an authorised bank. Licenses are valid for four months and are assessed an administrative tax of 1% of the FOB value of the goods. Import Duties: Burundi maintains a two-column tariff schedule based on the Customs Co-operation Council Nomenclature ( CCCN ) system of commodity classification. The two customs duties are the revenue duty and the import duty which; they are both applied on an ad valorem basis. The revenue duty averages between 15 and 35% and the import duty ranges from 2% to 5% on selected items. Duties can be as high as 100% for some luxury goods. In addition, the government levies a 4% ad valorem statistical tax on all imports and a transaction tax of 15 percent on all commercial transactions. Burundi is part of the Lome Convention, and, as such, its goods receive preferential entry into the European Community ( EC ). Imports from the EC and the Franc Zone are not generally exempt from import duties. Documentation : Shipments to Burundi require two copies of the commercial invoice and bill of lading. When requested, two copies of the certificate of origin must be presented.


Import taxes
In order to encourage development of non-traditional activities, the Burundi government passed legislation on August 31st, 1992, making the entire country a duty-free zone for companies that may promote potential export from Burundi. Eligible companies must complete a form entitled Request for "Free-Trade Zone Regime", and send it to the Ministry of Commerce along with the company by-laws and document of incorporation. They will receive a response within 30 days. Very generous incentives are provided. Exchange controls : The Bank of the Republic of Burundi controls foreign exchange transactions. Foreign exchange is typically obtainable upon the shipment of goods. For exports made under global license, foreign exchange is available only after customs clearance. Profit may be transferred as follows : Up to 50 percent of after-tax, distributed dividends and income from bonds. Up to 50 percent of commissions paid to resident foreign administrators and auditors. 100 percent of fees paid to non-resident foreign administrators and auditors. The remaining 50 percent, if marked for the purchase of local savings, is transferable with interest as follows : 50% after two years ; 60% after four years; and 100% after five years. Burundi's average tariff rate is 17.6%. Non-tariff barriers include difficult border crossing, an inefficient customs service, and border thieves.


Regulations governing payments
In Burundi, the trade payment system is largely liberalised although there remain some exchange regulations and control due to the unfavourable state of foreign currency resources.


The Business to Consumer (B to C) market

The Business to Business (B to B) market


Transportation of goods

By road
There are main roads east from Bujumbura to Muramvya (once the royal city of Burundi) and South to Gitega. Both journeys can be completed without too much strain during the dry season, but any road travel can be difficult in the rainy season. Traffic drives on the right. There are bus services around Bujumbura and main towns only. Japanese-style minibuses operate between towns and are normally cheaper and less crowded than share-taxis; departures (when the vehicle is full) are normally from bus stands. Taxi: Tanus-tanus (truck taxis) are usually available but they are often crowded. Car hire: It may be possible to arrange some form of car hire via a local garage. Documentation: Driving licences issued by the UK are acceptable. Please note that public transport outside Bujumbura is reported to be dangerous. Motorists should be aware that land mines have exploded in a number of areas in and around Bujumbura, as well as other parts of the country. Travel through the edgy enclaves of the capital city is certainly to be avoided, especially at night.

By rail
There are no trains in Burundi.

By sea
Cargo/passenger ferries ply Lake Tanganyika between Kigoma (Tanzania) and Mpulungu (Zambia) calling at various ports including Bujumbura, when political conditions permit. There are normally some ferries to Kalemi (Democratic Republic of Congo). There are three classes. Ferries can often be delayed depending on the cargo being loaded or unloaded.

By air
Burundi's national airline is Air Burundi (PB). Other airlines serving Bujumbura include Cameroonian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airways. There are no direct flights from Europe or the USA at present.


Burundi is a part of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Patents are valid from the date of contract signature and importation patents are valid for up to 20 years. Patents must be worked within 2 years or face revocation. Trademarks : Registration of trademarks is granted for an unlimited duration. The first public user applying receives the trademark rights. In addition, Burundi is signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organisation ( WIPO ) and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Patents and brands


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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