Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to Kuwait.

For further information, please visit the Kuwait General Administration of Customs.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers


The General Administration of Customs collects four per cent general tariff on most imports. The cost, insurance and freight (CIF) incurs a flat rate on imported goods.

Most imports are subject to the general rate of four per cent, assessed on the CIF value or on cost and freight (C&F) value (Incoterms 2000) plus one per cent of the value of the goods. On all other items wherein a similar product is manufactured in Kuwait, the duty will range from 15 to 25 per cent.

Goods exempt from duty include:

  • most foodstuffs
  • raw gypsum
  • unworked mosaic stones
  • most live animals
  • books
  • newspapers.

Protective tariffs also exist on ‘infant industries’ where imports compete with locally manufactured goods and can be up to 25 per cent. Items subject to the higher duty include:

  • ACR batteries
  • paint
  • certain aluminium doors and windows
  • roofing felt
  • steel furniture
  • wooden household furniture.

The Kuwaiti Government may also raise tariffs in order to raise revenue and ‘harmonise upward’ with the tariffs in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

There are no customs duties on food, agriculture items or essential consumer goods. Some machinery, most spare parts and all raw materials are also exempt from customs duty.

Transit duty is two per cent ad valorem.

Non-tariff barriers

Import restrictions

Import licences are required for most private imports and are issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Most fresh foodstuffs are exempted.

Importers must be Kuwaiti nationals, registered with the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and possessors of a general import licence.

Customs clearance is prompt and takes about three hours for perishable imports arriving via air, land or sea. The importer must present the import licence and quality test certificate. An importer does not need an import licence for each product for each shipment. However, an importer needs to obtain an annual import licence from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Imports that do not have the established standards may be allowed a three month temporary entry against storage fees. Goods coming in for transhipment may be allowed temporary entry.

The following products are not permitted into Kuwait:

  • pork and pork products
  • alcoholic beverages and products containing alcoholic beverages
  • gambling machines
  • materials considered pornographic
  • Kuwait also prohibits imports from Israel.

Product certification, labelling and packaging


Kuwait labelling standards have been adopted as the standard for the GCC, all goods imported must be clearly labelled with the country of origin. All foodstuffs should carry an Arabic language label.

Outer containers must show a distinguishing mark which consists of a triangle containing:

  • package number
  • cable address of the importing merchant or importing agent (whichever held the relevant import licence)
  • country of origin.

The mark of the importing merchant or that of the importing agent may be added outside the triangle if desired. Goods to which these rules cannot be applied e.g. iron, timber, pipes, etc. are exempt.

Outer packaging must contain a description of the product in Arabic (other languages used in addition, such as English are permitted).

Basic information must be provided on the packing list submitted to customs:

  • invoice number
  • marks and number
  • gross weight of total cargo
  • description of the kind and type of contents
  • statistical code of the goods (available in Harmonic System code)
  • total package of each type
  • packing type of each type
  • total units and gross/net weight of each type
  • value (free on board (FOB) or C&F) of each type.

In preparing the packing list, the following points should be noted:

  • The packing used for each kind of goods, must be described in the relevant section of the packing list.
  • Description/information about the cargo should be clear and informative and describe the nature of the goods.

If the above information is not provided to customs, the transaction will be described as lacking documents. An undertaking letter with a deposit would be needed, with the exception of break bulk and cargo of the same kind. If the invoice contains all the information required on the packing list, a packing list will not be required.

The country of origin must be shown on each item of the imported goods in such a manner that it cannot be removed or altered. This information must conform to details contained in all other documents. Goods that cannot be labelled individually e.g. fresh fruits, may have a sticker attached or their packaging labelled instead.

If an imported product consists of components from more than one country, the percentage from each country should be indicated.

Information must form an integral part of the label (stick-on labels are not acceptable). Food labelling must include the following:

  • the name of the food
  • the contents i.e. ingredients in descending order of either weight or volume
  • the date of manufacture/production
  • the expiry date
  • net and gross weights
  • country of origin.

Strict labelling laws concerning some pre-packed foods have been introduced. Exporters should confirm all requirements before exporting.

Specific labelling regarding health warnings must be indicated on cigarette and cigar packets.


Packing should be strong and should guard against extreme heat in summer, humidity in winter and possible storage in the open.

Special certificates

Animals and animal products must be accompanied by health certificates issued by the competent authorities in the country of origin.

Consignments of meat and meat products must be accompanied by an original slaughter certificate issued by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils stating that the animals have been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Sharia rites.

When registering food products, a certificate stating that the food does not contain any form of cyclamate compound is required by the Ministry of Public Health.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotations can be C&F US dollar, Pound Sterling, French Francs or Swiss Francs.

Some importers may request CIF quotations.

Payment is usually by irrevocable letter of credit.

Documentary requirements

Commercial invoice

A minimum of one original and three copies are required and must indicate:

  • country of origin
  • marks and numbers
  • full description of goods
  • net and gross weights in metric quantities
  • unit and total value
  • name of transporting vessel
  • names and addresses of manufacturer, shipper and consignee.

Declaration of origin on invoice must be signed and state: 'We hereby certify that the goods enumerated in this invoice are not of Israeli origin nor do they contain Israeli materials and are not to be exported from Israel.'

All discounts and rebates must be stated.

Invoices should be certified by an authorised chamber of commerce and legalised by an Arab consulate or embassy.


Original commercial invoice, original certificate of origin and original packing list must be legalised by the Kuwait Embassy/Consulate and should be attested by the local chamber of commerce. If there is no Kuwait Embassy/Consulate, legalisation can be done by any Gulf Country embassy, if available, or any Arab embassy.

All original shipping documents must be sent along with the shipment. Immediately after stuffing the container, the origin station should be advised and given details of container number, number of packages, bill of lading etc. Other details regarding shipper, consignee, copies of the Affidavit of Support (AOS) bill of lading manifest should reach the agent within seven working days prior to the vessel's arrival at the Kuwaiti port of entry.

Pro-forma invoices

Pro-forma invoices may be requested to facilitate the establishment of letter of credit.

Certificate of origin

A certificate of origin is required and must be certified by an approved authority prior to consular legalisation. A minimum of three copies is required and must indicate:

  • country of origin of manufacturer or processor
  • net and gross weights
  • recorded trademark mentioned in the manifest
  • value
  • type of packing
  • transportation medium.

The following declaration must be made and endorsed by an official of the exporting firm: 'We hereby certify that the goods enumerated in the invoice are not of Israeli origin.'

Bill of lading/airway bill

No special requirements, although the usual details should be indicated in accordance with the manifest. It must also indicate whether the freight is pre-paid or payable. Two originals are required.

Packing list

Required with Harmonic code and gross/net weight. Note: For each shipment (no matter what value or weight) an original certificate of origin is required. This must be legalised by the Kuwait Embassy/Consulate and attested by the Chamber of Commerce as an original.

Public health requirements

Detailed quarantine and health regulations apply and exporters should check before shipment.

Cattle and sheep need to be vaccinated against various diseases and will require certification issued by the approved authority in the country of origin.

Animal products require a health certificate issued by the approved authority in the country of origin.

Foods must be sample tested and approved by the Kuwait Ministry of Health before importers can take delivery.

The use of cyclamates in foods or beverages is prohibited and a certificate stating that no form the compound is contained in an imported food product must be provided, in triplicate, to the Ministry of Public Health on application for product approval.

The proportion of and reason for using any other artificial sweeteners in preserved foods must be stated on the outside of their containers.

Pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Kuwait Ministry of Health. This generally requires the presentation of a certificate of free sale issued by the approved authority in the country of origin (proving that the drug is allowed to circulate in that country). In Australia the issuing body is generally either the Therapeutic Goods Administration or the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals.


Usually arranged by importer.

Weights and measures

The metric system.