Lebanese Republic

International trade for SMEs

International Trade


FTAs and SMEs  |  FTAs signed by Lebanon  |  Import/export requirements  |  Customs procedures  |  Customs duties  |  Customs services fees  |  Payment of duties  |  Non-tariff measures


FTAs and SMEs

International trade is a rule based system that is considered as an important stimulant for economic development. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in their turn, are regarded as a key economic engine to foster growth and job creation. They constitute close to 95% of firms in Lebanon and employ about 50% of the population. As such, international trade for SMEs, regulated by free trade agreements (FTA) establishes an opportunity to advance local productive sectors and the economy as a whole.

Free-trade agreements, whether multilateral, regional or bilateral, allow for a preferential exchange of goods and services between the parties in a more transparent and predictable manner. FTA agreements ensure that favored measures are implemented among the parties of the agreements.

SMEs in their turn, benefit from such agreements by accessing raw material and technologies, two important elements to develop their own production processes, reduce their cost and improve their competitiveness in foreign markets. They also benefit from reduced customs tariffs on their exports.

 

FTAs signed by Lebanon

Most FTAs compel that exported goods benefit from preferential treatment (reduction or annihilation of custom tariff duties) only if the certificate of origin issued by the relevant authorities in the country of origin is submitted and it includes the required indications for the identification of goods.

Lebanon’s multilateral free-trade agreements are:

  • Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) Agreement: Goods are exempted from customs fees, if goods are originating in Lebanon (Certificate of Origin).

  • European Mediterranean Association Agreement: Imports originating in Lebanon (Certificate of Origin) are exempt of all customs duties, or any other charges having equivalent effect, upon entry into the European Union.

  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Agreement: Imports originating in Lebanon (Certificate of Origin) are exempt of all customs duties, or any other charges having equivalent effect, upon entry into any of the EFTA states members.

 

Import/export requirements (as per the Lebanese Customs)

Imported or exported goods must be declared. Declarations are conducted through an Authorized Customs Clearance Agent (which is any person acting as a clearance agent or the licensed forward agents; or traders and their authorized agents; or non-trader individuals in the name of which, for whom or from whom, parcels of goods are exceptionally sent). The goods are declared through a detailed customs declaration form: "Single Customs Declaration". The "Guide of the Single Customs Declaration" explains all aspects related to the form, fields and data of the declaration; this guide is included in the "Officer's Guide" and is available at all customs offices and forward agents (see also Customs Guides). 

Import to Lebanon Processing requires the following documents

  • Declaration form based on the Single Customs Declaration;

  • Bill of Lading, or any other substitute document;

  • Packing List, the detailed itemized lists if the invoices do not include the required details;

  • Original Purchase or Commercial invoice (original);

  • Any other document required by the applicable laws and regulations (such as: the proof of payment, special statement of value elements, etc.);

  • Certificate of origin according to the Customs Act and the bilateral or collective treaties signed by Lebanon.

Note that Customs grants a regular temporary entry permit to foreign product that will be manufactured or under processing in Lebanon and then re-exported from Lebanon or displayed in free zones. This permit is valid for six months and is renewable, provided that the total period shall not exceed two years.

Export from Lebanon processing requires the following documents

Note that in order to export to any country, an importer/seller in the country of destination must be identified, in order to issue an export order.

  • Declaration form based on the Single Customs Declaration;

  • Packing List, the detailed itemized lists if the invoices do not include the required details;

  • Original Purchase or Commercial invoice (original);

  • Any other document required by the applicable laws and regulations (such as: the proof of payment, special statement of value elements etc.);

  • Certificate of origin issued by the Ministry of Industry and certified by the Lebanese Customs Authorities for exporting goods to Europe in accordance with protocol number 4 with the EU, where necessary.

For more information on the other documents or procedures, please refer to the guide entitled "Restrictions and Prohibitions- Circular 1" available at all Customs offices, and forward agents (see also Customs Guides). Also refer to the EU Export Help Desk and the EuroMed Trade Helpdesk.

 

Customs procedures

The clearance procedures vary between the customs offices that implement the NAJIM System and the other customs offices that have not implemented the system yet. Some customs offices implement NAJIM system, the electronic customs declaration.

Visit this page for more information.

 

Customs duties

Imports

  1. Customs Duty – Refer to Customs website.

  2. Local Consumption Duty: applicable to certain types of goods including, but not limited to, tobacco products, fuels, cars, cement, lime, plaster and alcohols. This duty is applicable to imported products and locally produced products.

  3. The Value Added Tax (VAT) = 11% of the value of imported goods.

  4. Stamp Duty (LBP Fifty Thousand).

In case of Claims of Exemptions or Reductions, refer to the lists of products which may avail of exemptions or reductions according to commercial treaties are annexed to the customs tariff book.

As for the cases that benefit of exemptions or reductions for agricultural or industrial purposes or any other special purposes, they are included in the complementary notes of the explanations of the schedule of tariff of the Harmonized System which are also made part of the customs tariff book

The cases that avail of exemptions or reductions of customs duties pursuant to the applicable laws and regulations in force, are listed per codes in the " Officer's Guide" by the Customs Administration. 

Exports

The exported goods are not subject to any of the duties mentioned above. Goods of Lebanese origin and goods considered to be of Lebanese origin after the payment of duties, transferred by sea through coastal navigation, shall not be subject upon entry, when they are re-exported nor upon exit to any duty whatsoever, provided that customs formalities determined by the Director General of Customs are completed.

Insurance

There are no unified fixed fees for insurance. Insurance companies provide the services in terms of Marine Insurance, this may vary from one company to another.

Insurance is usually covered in terms of Cost, Insurance and Freight - CIF package, where usually it means that the seller (in the exporting country) pays costs, freight, and insurance against the buyer's (in the importing country) risk of loss or damage in transit to the destination. Hence, a clear agreement must be signed between the industrialist/enterprise, the agent and the importer.

 

Customs services fees

  1. Storage fee: Articles 321 to 327 of the Customs Act set forth any and all details in connection with the storage fee which is implemented in the warehouses of Beirut International Airport and all other Customs offices, the exemptions of storage fee and any and all other regulations governing storage operation as described on this page.

  2. Packing and sealing charges:  Lead, ropes and seals used by the Customs in sealing and packing operations shall be at the expense of the Customs Administration.

  3. Costs of administrative printings: The Higher Council of Customs shall determine the price of the printings offered by the customs administration to the parties concerned, after consultation with the Director General of Customs.

  4. Overtimes: The Higher Council shall set by decision the required procedures for the allocation of such sums.

  5. Services Fees: The Higher Council of Customs shall set by decisions the customs services fees.

 

Payment of duties

The duties are currently paid through one of the three means of payment indicated hereinafter:

  1. In cash

  2. By cheque . However, the cheque must be: Issued by one of the banks to the order of the central Bank. Initialed by the issuing bank that the balance exists or secured by a bank guarantee.

  3. By promissory note deposited with the Head of the Central Deposit.

Duties can currently be paid through one of these means of payment:

  • Cash.

  • Check, which must be: issued to the order of the Central Bank and certified by the issuing bank that the balance exists or issecured by a bank guarantee.

  • Promissory note deposited with the Head of the Central Deposit (a unit within the administrative structure of the customs).

 

Non-tariff measures

To know more about the Non-Tariff Measures NTMs on trade imposed by various Lebanese government state bodies on import and export of goods, such as prohibitions, licenses and visas TBT and SPS certificates, please refer to this report.

 

For correction or inclusion of additional information, please contact us at sme@economy.gov.lb

 

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