To pay for imports of goods and services into Morocco, local importers do not need an authorization from the Foreign Exchange Office (Office des Changes).
Methods of Payment
In accordance with Article VIII of the International Monetary Fund statute dealing with convertibility for current transactions, and in line with the Moroccan liberalization measures initiated in 1993, the Foreign Exchange Office delegated to authorized Moroccans banks the power to “freely carry out settlements relating to imports, exports, international transport, insurance and reinsurance, foreign technical assistance, travel, schooling, medical care, savings on income, as well as all other operations considered as current.”
According to regulations governing foreign exchange, payment of goods imported into Morocco is processed only after the actual entrance of the goods into the country. Buyers are allowed to prepay up to 30 percent of the invoice amount for all goods. Although the Foreign Exchange Office website mentions 40 percent, the latest General Instructions for Foreign Exchange Operations issued in December 2013 revised the new limit to 30 percent, with a limit of 50 percent for companies in specific sectors (aeronautics and space). Banks are authorized to open letters of credit and/or to accept bills of exchange. The letters of credit must include a special clause that stipulates that “payment is subject to justification of direct and exclusive shipment of goods to Morocco exceeding an import value of MAD 200,000 ($21,000).” The transport documents justifying the shipment area freight bill, airway bill, bill of lading, document of combined means of transportation, or receipt from Post office for mail parcels.
Prepayment is permitted for the import of goods shipped Free on Board (FOB) valued up to $21,000 (MAD 200,000). With respect to capital equipment, and goods temporarily admitted for active refinement (admission temporaire) pour perfectionnement actif, ATPA), complete prepayment is permitted for import of goods shipped Free on Board (FOB) valued up to $21,000 (MAD 200,000). It is also possible for the Moroccan bank to ensure full prepayment upon receipt of a document showing that the merchandise is in transit.
Banks are authorized to issue bank guarantees to secure payments to foreign suppliers. Importers normally give local buyers up to 90 days credit.
The regulatory authority with oversight over foreign exchange transactions is the Foreign Exchange Office. Guides to Moroccan foreign exchange regulations can be viewed at its website at https://www.oc.gov.ma/en/regulation and https://www.oc.gov.ma/sites/default/files/2018-12/IGOC%202019.pdf.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide
To access Morocco’s ICS section on financing, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.
Morocco continues to modernize its banking system, originally modeled after the French system. Morocco’s banks are some of Africa’s largest, and several have become important on the continent and continue to expand their footprint.
The sector has a reasonably competitive landscape, with a number of homegrown financial institutions with international footprints, as well as several subsidiaries of foreign banks. According to the Annual Report on Banking Supervision published on July 2021 by the Central Bank (Bank Al Maghrib), the sector includes 24 , including five participatory banks (Umnia Bank, Bank Assafa, BTI Bank, Bank Al Yousr, Al Akhdar Bank) and 3 participatory windows 28 financing firms, 11 microcredit lenders, six offshore banks, and 20 payment institutions. The sector is dominated by locally owned banks, which account for 82.3 percent of industry assets. Credit is allocated freely, and the central bank uses indirect methods to control the interest rate and volume of credit.
The banking services penetration rate is approximately 78 percent, with opportunities for firms pursuing rural and less affluent segments of the market. Businesses must be registered in Morocco to open an account. In 2021, ten (10) credit institutions were listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE), including six (6) banks and four (4) financing companies. These institutions represent almost 34 percent of the market capitalization.
In 2020, Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) became Africa’s second largest stock market (measuring $72 billion in market capitalization) after Johannesburg, reflecting international investor recognition that the market is organized and well-functioning. Privatized in 1996 and demutualized in 2015, the CSE is managed by 13 brokerage companies, regulated by an independent oversight commission, and is one of the few exchanges in the region with no restrictions on foreign participation and foreign investors have identical tax exposure on dividends (10 percent) and pay no capital gains tax. With only 76 companies (including one Tunisian-based firm) currently listed on the exchange and only 15 new listings in the past decade, current investment options remain limited.
Foreign Exchange Controls
Morocco maintains a system of foreign exchange controls managed by the Foreign Exchange Office (Office des Changes). The Moroccan dirham trades within a 5 percent band of a reference rate currently weighted 60 percent to the euro and 40 percent to the U.S. dollar. Because this reference rate is more heavily weighted to the euro, variations in the dollar-euro rate are generally reflected in the dollar-dirham rate.
The authority to buy and sell foreign exchange has been delegated to the banking system. Banks and financial institutions will carry out transactions upon presentation of appropriate documentation, such as an invoice to pay for imports. Capital transactions require authorization from the Foreign Exchange Office and are routinely granted for business-related transactions. Under the Moroccan investment code, the government guarantees for foreign investors the repatriation of both invested capital and profits, provided that the initial capital investment was filed and registered appropriately.
U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks
Local correspondent banks:
- Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE) – being rebranded as Bank of Africa
- Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP)
- Attijariwafa Bank
- Banque Marocaine du Commerce et de l’Industrie (BMCI)
- Crédit du Maroc (CDM)
- Société Générale (SGM)
U.S. Banks with Moroccan Branches:
- Citibank Maghreb (Citigroup)