Ethiopia - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation
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Imports to Ethiopia require:  

  • Agency agreement
  • A bank permit
  • A bill of lading or airway bill
  • Certificate of origin
  • Commercial invoices
  • Customs import declaration
  • Foreign exchange authorization
  • Import license
  • Insurance certificate
  • Packing list
  • Tax identification number (TIN) certificate
  • Pre-shipment inspection clean report of findings
  • Transit document
  • Value added tax (VAT) Certificate.  

In July 2022, the GOE decentralized the import licensing process and delegated the authority to issue import licenses to regional state trade bureaus.  Most regions have operationalized the new online import licensing process, although the new process remains unavailable in some regions due to structural issues such as poor Internet access.  In addition to obtaining an import business license, importers must obtain an import registration number before bringing products into the country.  Imports of food or drug items must receive additional certification from the Ethiopian Food and Drug Administration without regard to the risk of the food or drug product.  Trading companies must submit a proposal to the Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MOTRI) or regional authorities to obtain a currency exchange permit certificate, which includes obtaining a letter of credit for the total value of an import transaction and applying for an import permit, before placing an order.  The new online process typically takes about 30 minutes after all required paperwork is provided.  However, even with a letter of credit, import permits are not always granted, and there are often delays of several months or even over a year before an importer is allocated foreign exchange.

Medicines, medical supplies, and medical equipment must be registered with the Ethiopian Food and Drug Authority (EFDA) before entering to Ethiopia. A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is also required for processed food and pharmaceuticals.  For some items depending on their type, specific agency permissions may be required. 

Plants or plant products, including seeds, agricultural inputs such as chemicals, pesticides. and fertilizers cannot be imported to Ethiopia unless registered and duly authorized for import by the Ministry of Agriculture.