Rwanda - Country Commercial Guide
Import Tariffs
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Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) customs union along with Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Customs tariffs, rules of origin, import prohibitions, and trade remedy regulations have been harmonized through the EAC.  Rwanda applies the EAC common external tariff (CET) on the c.i.f. (cost, insurance, and freight) value of imports.  As part of the EAC, Rwanda uses a four-band duty structure for imports from outside of the EAC:

Table: four-band duty structure for imports outside of EAC
ProductRwanda/ EAC
Capital Goods and Raw Materials0%
Intermediate Goods not available in the region10%
Intermediate Goods available in the region25%
Finished Goods35%
Sensitive Goods>35% (as listed in Schedule 2 of the CET)

There are two exceptions to the CET:  stay of applications and the duty remission scheme.  A stay of application is a different rate of import duty from the CET available for specific products.  These are negotiated on a country-by-country basis, but once agreed, they are available for all importing taxpayers.  The stay of application rate can be higher or lower than the CET rate.  Once approved, the stays of applications are published by product (using HS Codes) in EAC gazettes.  The duty remission scheme is an exemption from import duty available to taxpayers who are importing goods to be used as inputs in the production of goods for export or in the production of particular goods for home consumption.  The list of particular goods for home consumption that the duty remission scheme can apply to is contained within EAC gazettes.  Taxpayers must apply for the duty remission scheme by writing a letter to the Commissioner for Customs Services Department, explaining the reasons for application.  If approved, the duty remission is valid for a period of twelve months.  For more information on conditions and recent changes in duty remission and stay of applications, contact RRA.

In addition to import duty (applied on CIF value), other taxes and levies are paid through customs.  These include excise duty (varying rates depending on products) applied on CIF+import duty+handling fees, VAT (18 percent) applied on CIF+import duty+excise duty+handling fees, withholding tax (varying rates depending on products) applied on CIF value, infrastructure development levy (1.5 percent) applied on CIF value, strategic reserves levy (assessed per liter) applied only on fuel and petroleum products, and African Union Levy (0.2 percent) applied on CIF value.  In addition to other taxes, motor vehicles pay a registration fee depending on engine capacity.  Warehousing fees are paid directly to bonded warehouses for storing consignments and rates vary depending on size, weight, and length of storage time.  VAT can be reclaimed but it is often difficult and time-consuming. 

Clearing agents have access to the One Single Electronic Window and are trained by RRA to assess duties and provide required information to their clients.  RRA keeps an updated list of clearing agencies.

The RRA expanded customs processing facilities, increased personnel, and introduced a computerized system to reduce corruption.  Other trade facilitation schemes include Simplified Trade Regime, Gold Card Scheme, Authorized Economic Operator, Pre-Payment Facility, Quitus Fiscal, Pre-Clearance Facility, Immediate Release of Goods, Duty Remission Scheme, Cargo Tracking System and Mobile Cargo Scanners.

Detailed information on current taxes, including import tariff lists and facilitation schemes, can be found at the Rwanda Revenue Authority website.

RRA Border Posts and Dry Ports can be used for imports, exports, and other customs processes.  Border posts are located in Rubavu and Cyangugu at the border with the DRC, in Kagitumba and Gatuna at the border with Uganda, in Rusumo at the border with Tanzania, and in Akanyaru at the border with Burundi USAID (through Trademark East Africa) and other donors supported border post improvement and expansion projects.  Additional resource: Customs Service Departments