Wholesale trade and distribution is concentrated in major towns around the country, including Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola, Livingstone, Kasama, Solwezi, and Chipata.
Goods destined for Zambia arrive via South Africa (Durban, Port Elizabeth, and East London), Namibia (Walvis Bay), Mozambique (Beira and Nacala), and Tanzania (Dar es Salaam). Durban, Walvis Bay and Dar es Salaam are the most commonly used seaports. Imports coming via seaports in Durban, Walvis Bay, and Dar es Salaam can take up to two weeks to reach Zambia, due primarily to delays at border crossings.
Virtually all imports are transported by truck and enter Zambia through Chirundu and Livingstone (on the Zimbabwean border), Kazungula (on the Botswana border), Nakonde (on the Tanzanian border), and Sesheke (on the Namibian border). The Kasumbalesa border with DRC, Nakonde border with Tanzania, and Chanida border with Mozambique see a great deal of mining sector-related traffic. The volume of imports conducted through airports such as Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport is small relative to land-based imports.
Zambia has a few reliable express delivery services, including international companies such as DHL, Mercury Express Logistics, FedEx, and the Express Mail Service (EMS) offered by the Zambia Postal Service Corporation.
EMS has the widest domestic network utilizing Zambian Post Office infrastructure, which has 144 outlets and a fleet of delivery vehicles. Express delivery of letters, documents, and parcels within Zambia can be same-day or take up to 48 hours, depending on distance. International deliveries in the region and to Europe can take between one to four days; it is generally four to seven days to the United States and Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent international flight and border crossing disruptions have at times negatively impacted delivery timelines.
In the case of export, the government requires a customs declaration form and commercial invoice quoted in any convertible currency for clearance. The customer service centers and salesclerks at the above cited companies can advise on proper packaging. The minimum weight for a single parcel is 30 kilograms, but this is negotiable depending on the nature of the parcel. In the case of dutiable items, customs agents require recipients to collect parcels so officials can perform a customs examination. Any mail items valued above $300 would be assessed by customs officials, who would also charge a certain percentage for the package.
All U.S. companies should exercise due diligence before doing business in Zambia. The Embassy has the capacity to provide publicly available information about local companies when requested through a U.S. Department of Commerce district office or U.S. Export Assistance Center, or when contacted directly by a U.S. company requesting an International Company Profile (ICP) service. The ICP is the Department of Commerce’s background check on the reliability of potential trading partners. An ICP report includes information on a prospective client including principal owners, year established, size, sales, financial information, trade references, general reputation, type of organization and territory covered, and a personal visit by an Embassy official to give a professional opinion of the company. A U.S. exporter can obtain this information, as well as detailed answers to specific questions about the prospective partner, in a confidential report. In addition, the U.S. Embassy will provide a recommendation on the suitability of the profiled company as a business partner, based on publicly available information. For more detailed investigations into local businesses, local attorneys or business consultants can provide comprehensive assistance in determining the bona fides of a prospective business partner.