The National Port Authority (NPA) implements the Cargo Tracking Note/Advanced Cargo Declaration (CTN/ACD) system for shipments to any destination port, including transit through Liberia. This system is mandatory. Shipments without a valid CTN number will not be loaded or discharged. Therefore, shippers, exporters, and forwarders at various ports of loading around the world are required to obtain a validated Cargo Tracking Number (CTN) using the online platform and to submit the required shipping documents. Failure to obtain the CTN could result in additional fines in accordance with the NPA regulation, plus additional costs. The NPA also requires inspection through the exclusive pre-shipment provider Bureau Veritas or BIVAC, with such services costing 1.5 percent of the shipment’s value. Pre-shipment inspections are required for goods valued at US$3,500 and above. The penalty for importers who fail to complete the BIVAC pre-shipment inspection ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent of the shipment’s value. After clearing customs, importers present cost information to MOCI for price approval. Note: In July 2021, the government switched from pre-shipment to destination inspections and proposed to use a new contractor named Medtech to carry out the inspections. Medtech was planning to use BIVAC as a sub-contractor who would continue to conduct the actual inspections. However, this arrangement was suspended due to strong public pushback over the lack of transparency and the higher fees. This suspension is still in effect.
BIVAC lists the following products as items exempt from import (customs) duties:
- Goods with a value below the threshold of US$1,000 free on board (FOB).
- A reasonable number of personal effects and household items.
- Supplies for diplomatic missions and United Nations organizations.
- Gold, precious stones, objects of art.
- Explosives, pyrotechnic products, arms, ammunition, weapons and implements of war imported by the Liberian Armed Forces and other security or law enforcement entities.
- Fresh fish caught by local Liberian fishermen.
- Goods imported by parcel post not exceeding US$1,000.