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 Saudi Arabia.

For further information, visit the Saudi Customs website.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers


Single-column tariff based on the Harmonised System. Most duties are ad valorem assessed on the cost and freight (C&F) value (Incoterms 2000).

Most basic consumer goods (rice, tea, unroasted coffee, barley corn, etc.) are exempt of duty. No tariffs on equipment, ordnance, arms and munitions for military purposes, an export letter is required.

The most common rate is five per cent, with a 20 per cent rate being levied on commodities for which there are domestic substitutes.

Tobacco is subject to a 100 per cent import duty.

Shipments in transit are not subject to duty.

No tariffs on equipment, ordnance, arms and munitions for military purposes. An export letter is required.

Visit the Saudi Customs website for further information.

Import surcharges may occasionally be levied. Port fees may be levied on goods which are exempt of customs duties.

Non-tariff barriers

Import restrictions

The International Conformity Certification Programme (ICCP) was introduced by the Saudi Government in 1995 and is being managed by the SASO. In 1998, SASO announced that all food products are to be eliminated from the pre-shipment. This represents a major reduction in barriers to trade for the Australian food exporters, although exporters are still subject to Saudi quality controls and testing.

General information:

  • Consolidated shipments are not allowed. Back-to-back shipments consigned to forwarding agents are not allowed for duty exempted shipments.
  • Customs clearance is done at airport and seaport customs warehouses. There are no bonded warehouse facilities. Consignee's authorisation letter to broker is required.
  • Transshipments via Saudi ports are now allowed through special arrangement with S/S Line agent.
  • Temporary import on bond (duty on deposit) is permitted only to the importer under the special arrangements and prior approval from the ministry.
  • Customs duty for general commodities is five per cent. Some commodoties are 12 per cent and the 20 per cent rate is applied to imported commodities for which they are also domestic substitutes.
  • Turnaround shipments are not allowed unless the import entry clearance has been processed.
  • Actual description of material is to be declared on the MAWB and OBL and they must match other shipping documents.
  • Net weight/gross weight of shipments shown in all shipping documents should match.
  • Chemical/hazardous shipments require prior approval before being moved from the port of origin. Based on the details provided, Namma Cargo Services could approach consignee and Customs to expedite the relevant import licenses. Chemical/hazardous shipments are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. 
  • A temporary ban exists on some EU countries for the imports of meat due to the Creutzfeldt-jakob disease scare.
  • Import licences are required for flour, rice and sugar.
  • The import of arms and ammunition is strictly controlled.
  • A wide range of products must comply with the published standards of the Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO) to gain entry.
  • Import permits issued by the appropriate Saudi ministry are required for plants, seeds and agricultural machinery.
  • The import of alcoholic beverages, flour, nutmeg, pork, 14-carat gold, and a range of prefabricated buildings are prohibited.
  • Commercial agencies are limited to Saudi citizens and imports may be made only through such agents.
  • There are virtually no foreign exchange restrictions. Banks may require cash deposits when opening letters of credit..

Sea Port Shipments

Goods being imported to Saudi Arabia by sea does not have to be palletised, however if goods are not palletised, importer has to pay additional costs = SAR 350 for a 20 ft. container and SAR 750 for 40 ft. It is worth mentioning that many traders do not use pallets since it would be cheaper to pay the additional charges than using pallets.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Labelling and marking

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

All products, materials and goods must bear the name of the country of manufacture. If the consignment does not have printed/embossed/engraved phrases 'made in' or 'product of' legible on its packaging, the customs department will not permit the goods to be cleared and the importer's agency will be responsible for returning the goods to the original source.

Port authorities require a label to be affixed to the inside of the container door indicating the following:

  • the consignee name and address, plus their fax number
  • details corresponding with those on the packing list
  • the mode of packaging and the sensitivity/damageability of the contents.

Note: a clause to this effect must be inserted in the accompanying documentation. Fines of 500 riyals per bill of lading will be imposed if this information is missing.

Goods being imported to Saudi Arabia by land must be palletised whether it is inside a container or just on a truck. SAR 2000 fine will be imposed on carrier for the first time. In case it happens another time carrier has to pay SAR 5000 fine.

Dry bulk material should be packed in bags or bales, or could be shipped in jumbo bags fitted with lifting points. The shipment of dry bulk cargo by container is prohibited.

Specific regulations covering mechanical freight handling govern the types of containers that may be used.

The regulations governing the marking of packages are quite specific. Depicting human or animal forms and reproducing the government mark are prohibited.

The Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO) is responsible for establishing labelling guidelines and these are strictly enforced, especially with halal products. Labelling on foods must indicate, in both English and Arabic:

  • name of product
  • contents
  • net weight (in metric)
  • production and expiry dates (in Arabic only)
  • name of company and country of manufacture.

Other general information:

  • Adhesive labels on foodstuffs are not permitted.
  • Sweets, sugars and tahini sweets are prohibited unless net weight in English and Arabic is clearly marked in outer cover of packet.
  • Product literature for pharmaceuticals must be printed in both English and Arabic. Literature for products used in the treatment of neurotic and terminal diseases are exempt. 
  • Insecticides must include detailed information of contents and use on all cans and packages.
  • Operating manuals must accompany every piece of equipment, machinery, device, tool or instrument imported into Saudi Arabia and must be printed in Arabic.
  • All cigarette packets must carry a legible indelible health warning in Arabic.
  • Special labelling for genetically modified food and non-genetically modified food products is required.

Special certificates

The following certification from the appropriate Australian authorities is required:

  • Articles of raw hair must include a certificate that the consignment is free of anthrax germs.
  • Used clothing must include a certificate indicating the clothes have been satisfactorily disinfected.
  • Consignments of meat and meat products for human consumption must be accompanied by the halal certificate.

All animals, animal products, plants and plant products (including seeds and grains) require health certification issued by the approved authority in the country of origin.

Pharmaceuticals must be accompanied by a certificate of price issued by the approved authority (see 'Guidelines', section 2.3) and legalised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Steel for use in reinforced concrete must be covered by the following:

  • A certificate from the factory testifying that the product is subject to continuous experiments at the plant itself. Certificate must include chemical analysis, description of mechanical testing (tension, extension and bending) and diameter. 
  • A certificate from appropriate authorities testifying that the production of the factory is subject to periodic inspection and testing by that authority.

Exporters may be required to comply with the procedures and guidelines of the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP), which covers 76 product categories.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotations should be in Australian dollars with equivalents in US dollars or Pound Sterling, CIF or CIFC (Incoterms 2000) Jeddah or Dammam. Goods for Riyadh are usually shipped via Dammam.

Payment is usually by letter of credit (L/C) or sight draft. When opening L/Cs banks usually request a cash deposit which may range up to 100 per cent of the L/C value.

Documentary requirements

Fax signatures are not permitted. Note: Saudi Arabian consulate legalisation will only be made for goods of Australian origin.

Commercial invoice

No prescribed form and five copies are required. The invoice must indicate:

  • the country of origin
  • all marks and numbers
  • net and gross weights in metric
  • the value of consignments
  • a full description of consignment. 

The invoice must bear the following declaration: 'We hereby guarantee that this is a true and correct invoice and that the goods referred to are of the origin, manufacture and production of ........ (country of origin) Signed ............. (Director, Secretary, Partner, etc.)' 

Must be certified by an approved authority (see 'Guidelines', section 2.3) and legalised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Bill of lading/airway bill

No prescribed form. May be made out To Order.

One non-negotiable copy is required. Details on the bill of lading must correspond with those on the commercial invoice.

Original ocean bill of lading or master airway bill (forwarder's bill of lading or airway bill not acceptable).

Packing list

Must be provided and must describe accurately and in detail the contents of each outer container and show the net weight, gross weight and CIF value (Incoterms 2000). When applicable, details corresponding with those in the packing list must be affixed to shipping container doors.

Certificate of origin

Five copies are required and must be certified by an approved authority and legalised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

Public health requirements

Imports of animals, animal products, plants and plant products require health certification issued by an approved authority in the country of origin. In Australia this is usually the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry-Australia or the relevant state department of agriculture.

Live plants and seeds may also require prior approval from the Plant Protection Branch, Saudi Ministry of Agriculture.

Import permits are issued by agricultural offices licensed by the Ministry of Commerce, provided the prior approval of the Ministry of Agricultural is obtained.

Shipments of meat and meat products for human consumption must be accompanied by a certificate stating that the animals have been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rites. Frozen meat and food are subject to strict regulations governing their import and storage.

All imported foods must be approved by the Saudi health authorities.

Artificial sweeteners in food and beverages are subject to stringent restrictions. Pharmaceutical products require prior registration with, and approval for local sales by, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health.

Special regulations apply to the entry of articles made of untreated hair (see 'Special certificates').


Normal commercial practice but must be with a company with no Israeli connections.

Weights and measures

The metric system.