Egypt Import and Export Procedures
This is a guide to the import and export procedures for goods into Egypt. Including the customs procedures involved, the documentation required, and useful links.
With a population of almost 100 million and a GDP of $335 billion, Egypt is an important economic partner of the United States. The economic ties between the two countries remain strong. Egypt is the 45th largest goods export market globally and the third-largest in the Middle East for U.S. goods and services.
The strong commercial ties between the United States and Egypt mean that there are many opportunities for U.S. companies, especially as Egypt’s strategic location makes it the perfect hub for commercial activities both in the Middle East and Africa. That’s why exporting to Egypt can be a move if you want to expand your business.
This guide will give you some pointers on how to do just that. However, you are advised to always get the help of experts familiar with local laws and regulations.
Egypt: International Trade Agreements and Associations
Egypt has strong commercial ties to a variety of countries and economic blocs around the world.
It has particularly strong ties with other Middle Eastern and African countries. Egypt is a member-state of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). This is a pact signed between Arab League nations whose aim is to form an Arabic free trade area. It came into force in 2005. Egypt is also part of the common market of eastern and southern Africa (COMESA), which could lead to a customs union. Another economic agreement, called the agreement of Agadir, between Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Tunisia, entered in force in April 2007.
Beyond Africa and the Middle East, Egypt has a cooperation agreement with the European Union since 2004. This agreement allows Egyptian industrial goods to enter Europe duty-free. Egypt has also signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries, part of the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).
Non Tariff Barriers
Egypt does not apply a licensing system for imports. However, Egyptian importers may have to register their foreign suppliers. Additionally, some types of products do require prior authorization by the Treasury Department. About fifty commodities are listed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry as requiring registration at the General Organisation for Exports and Imports Control (GOEIC). These include steel, blankets, bikes, garments, furnishings, carpets, textiles, shoes, home appliances, motorbikes, watches, mineral/natural waters, and soda.
Overseas suppliers are required to submit to inspections of their imported goods by Egyptian technical teams. This is to ensure compliance with environmental and labor standards. A certificate of quality control may also be required. This certificate will have to be issued by a body recognized by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
According to Egyptian law, imported goods need to be shipped directly from the country of origin, which prevents the regrouping of goods. However, companies with subsidiaries in other countries may ship from the country where their office is located or from an overseas subsidiary. Importers also need to obtain certificates of origin for their goods.
Other limitations include the banning of some products, especially in the textile and poultry sectors. Automobiles can only be imported in the year of their manufacture. Instruction booklets must be in Arabic, and handling instructions are required to be written in both Arabic and English.
Egypt’s customs procedures have been in alignment with the World Customs Organisation since 2007 when the country joined the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonisation of Customs Procedures (Kyoto Convention) in 2007. The convention’s goal is to ensure that customs do not impede international trade and growth. The weighted average of customs duties is 6.9%.
All commercial agents and importers are legally required to have Egyptian nationality. Importing companies need to be fully Egyptian-owned, and the chairman and all members of the board must be Egyptian. However, distributor-type companies can market goods even if they are foreign-owned, although some conditions apply.
Documentation requirements are significant and include the original sales invoice and original certificate of origin, both in duplicate. The Egyptian consulate in the country of origin must certify and authenticate both sets of documents. The certificate of origin must specify that the information given is accurate. Also required is the package list, the bill of lading (including the name and address of the sender, and the number of bills of lading sent). All letters of credit must be paid 100% in cash by the importer. For products that need a content analysis, a complete description of the product content is required.
Import Requirements for Products
Labels for finished goods imported for distribution and sale in Egypt must be in Arabic and detail the manufacturer’s name, the country of origin, and the product description. There are further requirements for drugs, textiles, and food.
Food imports, in particular, must comply with a number of labeling and packaging requirements. Appropriate packaging that is clean, odorless, and capable of preserving the product and preventing damage needs to be used for all food products. Dates of production and expiration need to be shown clearly in Arabic on the packaging. Meat products, including poultry, must be shipped directly from the country of origin. Details must be displayed in Arabic inside and outside packaging.
The label needs to include the following information:
- Type of product
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Name and address of the importer
- Brand or trademark (if applicable)
- Country of origin
- Production and expiration dates
- Storage instructions or storage temperature
- Net weight
- Product use instructions (optional)
- Gross weight and the total number of packages per case or carton
- Percentages of each preservative used (if applicable)
Import and export regulations require that the package should be appropriate for the preservation of the product, and the product should occupy the space of the container in full. Wooden containers should be accompanied by an official certificate stating that it is free from pests and insects harmful to wood.
Data appearing on tools, machinery, and equipment must match data appearing on the package. Each item must have a non-erasable indication of the country of origin. These goods should also have an Arabic-language catalog that includes:
- Safety measures
- Mode of assembly and operation
- An illustrative design of the parts
- Maintenance procedure
- Electrical circuits (in the case of electrical equipment)
Import Shipment Documentation
Egyptian customs require the following documents to accept a shipment of imported goods:
- Commercial invoice: you will need two copies plus the original document, in most cases, authenticated by the Egyptian consulate in the country of origin.
- Certificate of Origin: you will need two copies plus the original document, authenticated by the Egyptian consulate in the country of origin, and including a statement that the information is true to the best of the shipper’s knowledge. Natural products are deemed to be from the country where they were extracted.
- Packing List: it is recommended in most cases, and may be required by the consignee.
- Bill of Lading: it must include the name and address of the shipper, as well as the number of bills of lading issued. The number of bills of lading required depends upon the carrier.
- Pro Forma Invoice: this invoice must be submitted submission with the import license and show the country where the goods were manufactured.
- Letter of Credit: these are required to be covered 100 percent in cash by the importer, except for some food items. As a general rule, goods may not be shipped before an Egyptian bank has provided notification of the opening of a Letter of Credit. Otherwise, the importer risks being fined up to the value of the goods. Failure to comply also carries risks for the exporter, including customs delays, loss of value of the shipment, and even of the shipment itself, in case of products with a limited shelf-life. According to new rules, a U.S. exporter is required to submit the invoice as well as export documentation to their bank. The U.S. bank will then have to inform the Egyptian bank of a request to open a Letter of Credit. Import transactions are based on document collections.
- Content Analysis: for products that may be subject to standards testing.
All certificates regarding the shipment of product, and the product description, are required to be countersigned by the Chamber of Commerce and notarized by the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin. You will find links and contact details for all institutions below.
Useful Links and Contacts
- Commercial Service in Egypt
- American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt
- U.S. Embassy Cairo
- U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security
- U.S. Department of Commerce’s Denied Persons List
- U.S. Department of Treasury’s Specially Designated National List
- Egyptian Organization for Standards and Quality Control (EOS)
- Ministry of Trade and Industry
- Egyptian Accreditation Council
- Egypt’s National Institute of Standards
- Central Bank of Egypt
- Egypt’s Maritime Transport Sector
U.S.– Egypt Business Council
Egypt–U.S. Business Council
National U.S.–Arab Chamber of Commerce
American–Arab Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Fay Beydoun, Executive Director
12740 W. Worren Ave., Suite 300
Dearborn, MI 48126
Tel: (313) 945-1700
Fax: (313) 945-6697
Website: American-Arab Chamber of Commerce
American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt
Dr. Sherif Kamel, President
Sylvia Menassa, CEO/Executive Director
33 Soliman Abaza St., Dokki, Giza
Website: American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt
Egyptian Chambers of Commerce
Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed El-Wakeel, President
4 Midan El Falaki St., Bab El Louk, Cairo
31 Chamber of Commerce St., Mahtet El-Raml, Alexandria
Tel: +2-02-2795-3677, +2-02-2795-2983, +2-02-2795-1136, +2-03-483-7808
Fax: +2-02-2795-1164, +2-03-487-3806
Email: [email protected]
Website: Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce
Cairo Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Ibrahim Mahmoud El Arabi, President & Second Deputy Federation President
4 Midan El Falaki St., Cairo
Tel: +2-02-2795-8261/2, +2-02-2794-0720
Fax: +2-02-2794-4328, +2-02-2797-9916
Email: [email protected]
Website: Cairo Chamber of Commerce
Alexandria Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed El-Wakeel, President
78 Abdel Salam Aref St., Gylim, Alexandria
31 El-Ghorfa El-Togareya Street, Raml Station, Alexandria
Tel: +2-03-483-7808, +2-03-582-5400
Fax: +2-03-483-7806, +2-03-583-7973
Email: [email protected]
Federation of Egyptian Industries
Eng. Mohamed Zaki ElSewedy, President
1195 Corniche El Nil Street, Cairo
Tel: +2-02-2579-6590/1/2, +2-02-2579-7074/5/6
Fax: +2-02-2579-6694, +2-02-2576-6672
Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
Website: Federation of Egyptian Industries
Alexandria Business Association (ABA)
Eng. Mohamed Sabry, President
52 Avenue El Horria, Fouad St., Alexandria
Tel: +2-03-484-8978, +2-03-484-8979
Fax: +2-03-487-2411, +2-03-487-2206
Email: [email protected].eg
Website: Alexandria Business Association
Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA)
Mr. Ali Helmy Eissa, Chairman
21 Giza St., Nile Tower, Giza, Cairo
Tel: +2-02-2573-6030, +2-02-2572-3020, +2-0100-538-4604, +2-0100-538-4605
Fax: +2-02-2572-3855, +2-02-2573-7258
Email: [email protected]
Website: Egyptian Businessmen’s Association
Key Government Agencies
General Authority for Investment (GAFI)
General Authority for Export & Import Control (GOEIC)
General Eng. Ismail Gaber, Chairman
Cairo Airport Complex
Fax: +2-02-2576-6971, +2-02-2575-8195
Cairo AirPort Office:
Tel: +2-02-19591, +2-02-2268-3251/61/+2-02-2268-1741
Email: [email protected]
Website: General Authority for Export & Import Control
Government Contacts in the USA
U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank)
811 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20571
Tel: (202) 565-3946, (800) 565-3946
Fax: (202) 566-7524, (202) 565-3839
Website: Ex-Im Bank
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
1100 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20527
Tel: (202) 336-8400
Fax: (202) 336-7949
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
740 15th Street N.W., 3rd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005-3544
Tel: (202) 272-0345
Fax: (202) 272-0344
U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)
1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1600
Arlington, VA 22209-3901
Tel: (703) 875-4357
Fax: (703) 875-4009
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