How to import canned sardines from Morocco ?

How to Import Canned Sardines from Morocco?

Morocco Sardines are considered to be the best sardines in the world. Morocco has been the leading producer of canned sardines since 1988 when sardine supply was depleted in Peru, Japan, and Chile. Experts prefer Moroccan sardines for their superior quality. While Moroccans prefer fresh sardines, the majority of exports are canned sardines in olive oil. This short guide will help you find and import the best sardines in the world.

Steps to Importing Sardines

Before embarking on your quest to import the best canned sardines, there are a few logistical steps to prepare.

  • Trade Bureau – Register with the local trade bureau in your home country, and if necessary, in Morocco. This registration is an essential step before importing products of any type and failure to do so could result in critical consequences.
  • Tax Board – Obtain an official tax status with the local board or bureau, as you’ll most likely be required to pay taxes on your imports.
  • Import/Export Code – Obtain an import code for importing items from Africa.
  • Declaration – Prepare a signed statement detailing what products are being imported.
  • Certificate of Origin – Obtain a Certificate of Origin from the supplier to establish the quality and origin of the product, which is particularly important in the case of an illness or outbreak. In most cases, fishery needs both a certificate of catch and a health certificate.
    • Certificate of Catch – The certificate of catch guarantees that the fishery product was either raised on an approved farm or wild caught. The EU takes the certificate of catch very seriously and in the past has banned Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea among other countries for failure to certify their catch.
    • Health certificate – While the certificate of catch is focused on the origin of the fishery, the health certificate certifies that fishery meets EU health standards at the time they are shipped. This requires each exporter to thoroughly inspect products before being shipped to the EU.

Choosing  a Supplier

  • EU Approval – The EU maintains strict guidelines that govern trade within the European Union. All exporting companies must be approved by their home country. The EU maintains public lists detailing approved exporters from each country. At CBI.EU, you can find a list of approved countries and establishments categorized by product. If you are interested in importing sardines from Morocco, you would go through the following steps:
    • Open the “list of approved countries and establishments” document on
    • Navigate to the “Food” heading and select Section VIII: Fishery Products
    • Navigate down the list to Morocco and select that list (it was last updated on 24 May 2018)
    • Review the list of approved exporters and select one from which you can import canned sardines


What if my supplier of choice is not on the list of approved establishments?


If you’ve found a supplier that you’d like to work with, perhaps from a business trip to the locale or a referral and they are not on the list, their product is not approved to be imported into the EU. In theory, the process is quite simple, for all that is required to be on the list is approval from the vendor’s home country. What may complicate matters is the time/process it takes to be approved in the country and also when the home country will send the updated list of approved vendors to the EU. As of this writing, the current list of vendors is two months old. Regardless, importing from an approved vendor is an essential first step before going any further in the process of importing canned sardines from Morocco.


  • Types of Sardine – When importing sardines, it’s imperative that you consider the kind of sardines that you plan to import. Morocco sardines are typically Sardina pilchardus (pilchard) and are typical of higher quality and more expensive than other varieties. The less expensive sardinella, is also suitable for canning, but of lesser quality. Sardinella is found along the West African coastline.
  • Certification – The EU has stringent requirements for packaging and labeling fishery products. Whether the imported Morocco sardines will be sold in a retail store or prepared in a restaurant or kitchen in a catered event, two popular certification schemes will give fishery an advantage. Suppliers can apply to be certified via the IFS (International Featured Standards) or BRC (British Retail Consortium).

Challenges in the Morocco Fishing Industry

Although many consider Moroccan sardines the best sardines to eat, the Moroccan fishing industry must overcome several obstacles to retain a competitive market position.

Market Domination

Currently, the primary importers of sardines are Russia, South Africa, and the United States, but top importers of Morocco sardines are Nigeria, Guinea, Ghana, France, Spain, and Germany.  The Morocco fishing market must develop relationships with top importers including Russia and South Africa to retain its place in the market.


Likely the biggest obstacle to sustainable fish trade is lack of infrastructure and logistical planning to ensure the quality of Moroccan sardines. Lack of equipment and technology hinder Morocco’s ability to preserve, store, and prepare large quantities of sardines for top importers. Also, transportation and other logistical issues sometimes make it difficult for Moroccan sardine companies to fulfill exporting requirements, such as providing an official certificate of origin.

Limited Research and Innovation

While it’s easy to find the best canned fish, such as boneless sardines in Morocco, the Moroccan fishing industry has yet to mass produce filleted sardines, pâtés, marinades, and sauces that add diversity to the type of sardines offered on the market. Currently market diversity is limited to a variety of preservative sauces, including tomato sauce, chili, olive oil. With Morocco failing to experiment or develop new ways to process and eat sardines, the country may lose market share to a more innovative sardine producer.

The challenges above are easily overcome with the help of a trusted partner that will help you find the best sardines to import. Specifically, it’s important to have an advocate that can ensure you only work with the best sardine exporters who have perfected details of quality and logistics.

WaystoCap partners with businesses in Africa by providing a secure platform where companies can find the best brand of canned sardines and manage and pay for goods. Joining the market as a sardine importer will assist with navigating the African B2B trading sector, increasing your market share, and expanding into new territories and departments.  




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