Customs clearance procedure for imports into Tunisia:
The exporter provides his Tunisian customer with an invoice which must include:
Date and number
The description of the product to be imported
Quantity unit price and total
As for the origin of the product if the product is of European origin, it is advisable to provide an Eur 1 certificate (without limit of value) or to specify it at the bottom of the invoice (an accurate formula must be added) if the amount is < or = EUR 6000. If the exporter has the status of “approved exporter”, it will be enough to mention it at the bottom of the invoice by adding the reference assigned to it by customs (as for the ‘Eur 1, there is no limit on the value for the goods to be exported).
The import freight forwarder will have to:
Check whether the invoice complies with the details mentioned above.
Check if the customs reference mentioned on the invoice is correct (this mention is not compulsory).
Overview of The import procedure
Most goods are free to be imported as per regulations.
However, there are goods that require permission issued by the relevant authorities depending on the goods nature.
The customs authorities will determine if goods are free or not (HS CODE) that will be used.
There are two kinds of definitive import depending on whether it concerns import with or without payment. The importation document can be done before arrival of the goods.
Importation with payment:
Free items importation: the importer opens an import document via Tunisia TRADENET “TTN” (portal of the Ministry of Trade) and the importer’s bank.
Items subject to import authorization: the authorization request is also submitted via TTN. The Ministry of Trade will then be responsible for checking the file (for some HS CODE) or will submit the file to relevant Ministries (industry for manufacturing products, some chemical products, the Ministry of Health for products which concerned this ministry, the Ministry of Telecommunications for products which concerned telephony sector, for example).
Importation without payment:
All these importation (all HS CODE combined) are subject to an import authorization and are treated in the same way by the Ministry of Trade. The file is therefore submitted via the TTN portal.
The Ministry of Trade requires that the reason for the gratuity demonstrated by the importer (for example a maintenance contract, warranty or other). This type of request can be submitted to the Ministry of Trade before the importation of the product in question (this will avoid storage costs and other demurrage).
The customs clearance procedure:
The submission of the detailed declaration of goods to customs can take place as soon as the goods arrive.
If goods are subject to an import authorization this document must be attached to custom’s file.
The appointment of the customs officer for the physical inspection of the goods is made through the system in a random manner.
As per principle all the goods are physically checked by the inspector in charge of the file, then the file is subjected to a second checking by the “reviewer” custom’s officer (if no second customs visit required the checking control is simply made on documents).
If HS Code declared to customs is in compliance with the imported goods the customs inspector will agree to declaration and the importer can proceed with payment of customs duties and taxes which are shown on the custom’s declaration.
Otherwise, the customs will draw up a report in which the inspector will state his decision (he will propose another HS CODE in most cases) and will set the amount of the penalty for false declaration reasons or other reasons which will be also mentioned.
In case of contestation from the Importer an appeal to the Regional Customs Department is possible. In this case, the importer will have to deposit by check value of the custom’s fine and additional costs.
If the importer request is right and accepted, the deposit amount will be returned to him. This procedure allows importer to contest customs decision and also to clear his goods.
Finally, the amount of duties and taxes depends on the customs tariff position of the goods to be imported.
If importer is able to provide an Eur 1 certificate an invoice which includes the mention of the preferential origin or the reference of the approved exporter for goods of European origin, he can benefit a total reduction Customs duties (0%).
It is impossible to review all the situations that may occur during the customs clearance procedure due to the nature of the goods to be imported and complexity of the tariff classification procedure.