Includes information on average tariff rates and types that U.S. firms should be aware of when exporting to the market.
The DRC’s external tariff is based on a 1949 decree that was implemented by law in 1950 (Note: The DRC gained independence from Belgium in 1960). It has not been substantially amended since that time. The DRC adopted a harmonized system of tariff classification in 1998.
With the decree n°DGDA/DG/DGA.T/dg/2011/005 of December 28th, 2011, relating to the value added tax on imports and a new sanitation tax to be administered by the DGDA, the customs tariff in the DRC has increased considerably beyond the 12 percent estimated by the World Trade Organization in 2008. All of DRC’s tariffs are ad valorem and charged on a Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) basis.
The DRC’s tariff customs structure (import duties) includes three rates as follows: five percent for equipment goods, raw materials, agricultural and veterinary supplies, and unassembled equipment; ten percent for large, consumed food items, industrial inputs, spare parts, items for social services such as for hospitals and disabled persons; and 20 percent for clothing, furniture, cigarettes, and other finished products. Postage stamps, fiscal stamps, stamped papers (which have a face value), central bank notes, and titles are exempt from import duties in the DRC. Exemptions are given to the following categories: imported goods for official use of embassies, consulates, and international organizations; imported goods for personal use of diplomatic and consular agents and international civil servants; and imported goods given as a donation or non-reimbursable subsidiary in the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects. Imports of cement are also exempted from import duties as well as some agricultural sector equipment. Importers of pharmaceutical equipment and inputs, and medical materials are charged a preferential rate of 2 percent on the CIF value of these products.
In addition to tariffs, there are multiple taxes collected on imported goods by several government agencies with often limited or no coordination. Added to official tariffs on imported goods, the additional taxes importers pay on goods and services range between 0.59 and 40 percent. The VAT is fixed at 16 percent. The following goods are exempt from VAT: 1) goods imported by non-profit organizations for social, sport, cultural, religious, educational and philanthropic purposes; 2) official stamped papers; 3) organs, prosthetic devices and human blood imported by medical facilities or accredited organizations; 4) pharmaceutical products and inputs and medical material covered by a ministerial decree; 5) fishing equipment; 6) equipment, material and chemicals imported by mining and oil companies for prospecting, exploration and research; 7) goods imported for official use of diplomatic missions, consulates, and international organizations according to the quota set by the Ministries of Finance and Foreign Affairs; 8) furniture that is imported not for industrial or commercial purposes, but for personal use by people immigrating or coming back to settle in the DRC; 9) goods from an inheritance given by a deceased person to a person living in the DRC; 10) funeral equipment; 11) products used on an experimental basis; 12) donations, bequests or gratuities offered to the state, provinces, decentralized territorial entities and public enterprises; and 13) the baggage of travelers that are exempt from duties and taxes related to the customs code. A ministerial decree authorizes the importation of vehicles no more than 20 years old.
The principal tax collection agencies include: the Direction Générale des Douanes et Accises (DGDA), the DRC Customs Authority; Industrial Incentive Fund (FPI); Office of Maritime Freight Management (OGEFREM); National Office of Transportation (ONATRA); the Tax Authority (DGI); General Directorate for Revenue Administration (DGRAD); and, the Congolese Office of Standards, (l’Office Congolais du Contrôle - OCC), the import-export control agency.
The DGDA assesses and collects tariffs and duties based on established rates under the DRC’s tariff schedule. The OCC charges a two percent tax (ad valorem) on the CIF value of all imports exceeding $2,500 plus an additional charge of $5 per ton of goods and uses a sliding scale for imports valued less than $2,500. Importers of duty-free goods must pay a nominal sum for the company’s own use and consumption. Importers of duty-free goods must pay an ad valorem administrative fee of $5, which applies only when the importer is partially exempted.