Business in Ivory Coast is booming. Côte d’Ivoire—or the Ivory Coast—represents one of the most significant economies of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)—around 40% of the GDP of the West African Economic and Monetary Unit. Many international companies operate in the Ivory Coast, and the country offers a lot of potential to those willing to invest. If you are interested in importing into Côte d’Ivoire, check out the information we’ve put together for you to learn about certain aspects of the import process. These steps below are highlights of what it takes to import into the Ivory Coast, and they are meant to give you a general idea of the process. If you’re serious about getting started—reach out to us today for further guidance.
If you haven’t done so already, your first step is to register your company in Côte d’Ivoire with the Ministry of Trade. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll need to obtain your importer status, register for taxes, and secure the import/export code. To register as an importer, apply to the Tribunal de Commerce d’Abidjan. When you go, bring documentation, including your application, prior business activity authorization, registration form, two certified copies of your articles of incorporation, two counterparts of your tax clearance status and of the compliance certificate or a notarized declaration of payment, two counterparts of the certified true list of managing directors who can commit on behalf of your company, and two copies of criminal records of the two listed individuals. Registering as an importer requires a fee of 50,000 CFA.
Next, head over to the Directorate General for Taxation. Take your trade registration document, ID card—either national identity card or passport, and your Ivorian citizenship certificate. Obtaining your taxpayer number means that you will be liable for tax payments proportionate to the remaining months until the end of the current fiscal year.
To get your import/export code and your valid tax code, you will visit the Ministry of Trade by the Direction de la Promotion du Commerce Extérieur. The import/export code allows you, the holder, to import goods into the country. The cost of the code is 10,000 CFA. Along with money for the fee, bring with you:
• A handwritten application to the Foreign Trade director;
• Your Ivory Coast trade registration;
• Your fiscal registration and declaration;
• Your certificate of declaration of fiscal existence;
• Patent and charged taxes;
• Non-tax arrears certificate;
• Certificate of tax clearance; and
• A photocopy of your national identification card or residence permit.
Use of a Côte d’Ivoire bank is required, so if you don’t have one already, you must obtain a local bank account. Finally, you need to hire a local clearing agent/customs broker. This person will serve as your intermediary and will manage coordination of the entire trade process, up to the final release of your items.
Register for the Single Window for Foreign Trade
The Single Window for Foreign Trade, operated by Webb Fontaine, is a platform that allows all stakeholders in the import/export business to come together online to facilitate the import process. On the single window site, you can request certificates and licenses, obtain an exemption license, receive an e-delivery of a unique manifest, pay fees related to your transaction, and monitor each stage of the import process. You must register as an importer to use the site. You can begin the registration process here, where you will download the request form, fill it out, have the legal representative of the applying company sign it, and send it to Webb Fontaine along with scanned copies of the legal representative’s ID card, applicant’s ID card, authorization certificate for Ivory Coast customs brokers, valid Fiscal Code Certificate for importers/exporters, and valid shipping agents authorization for shipping agents.
Obtain a Certificate of Insurance and Required Licenses
Ivory Coast imports require a certificate of insurance from a local insurance company. This insurance, which protects your goods from certain losses during shipment, is required regardless of whether you ship by water, land, or air.
If the goods you wish to import are restricted or regulated by the Ivorian government, you must first receive special permission or licenses prior to shipping. Regulated goods include 1) goods subject to governmental approval (regime d’agrement), and 2) goods subject to import licenses (quote/regime de limitation). Goods in the first category include meat, fish, maize, oil seeds, pharmaceutical products, arms, and ammunition, while goods requiring import licenses include mineral oils, cotton, meat, wheat flour, and iodized salt.
General Customs Overview
While your customs broker will be responsible for a substantial amount of the process, it will still be your responsibility to make sure that your broker knows what she or he is doing and is keeping on top of the steps. On your behalf, your broker will register in SYDAM—the General customs Directorate.
An electronic cargo tracking note (CTN), also known as the Bordereau de Suivi Cargaison (BSC), is required for all imports shipped by sea. It contains information on the cargo and its movement from port-to-port. The BSC can be applied for and obtained by your broker through the Ivory Coast Customs Single Window for Trade, mentioned above. The BSC/CTN must be attached all documentation related to your cargo being shipped under that particular note. Your broker will also need to provide the CTN to the carrier at the loading port so that it can be noted on both the manifest and bill of lading. The CTN number must be obtained for all shipments to Côte d’Ivoire and validated at least five days prior to the arrival of the ship to its destination. If your shipment arrives without the CTN, you will be in violation of Ivorian transport regulations and will likely be assessed high fines. Application for the CTN can be access through OIC’s website, here.
Your broker is tasked with establishing the Import Declaration Form (IDF) document called the IDF. The IDF, like many other documents, can be submitted electronically through the Single Window for Foreign Trade.
Another important step in the customs process is obtaining the Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR), which is required for any import of goods with an FOB value over 1,000,000 FCFA. Once you have received your final documents—including the bill of lading and final invoice—you or your broker will fill out the Final Documents Delivery Advice Form (AD), located here. Once you’ve completed this form, you will bring it to the Webb Fontaine Ruling Center in Abidjan, along with the following documents:
• Two copies of the Import Declaration Form (IDF)
• Final Invoice
• Bill of Lading
• Packing List
• Freight receipt or invoice
• Any other available certificates, such as the certificate of origin, certificate of analysis for food and chemical products, etc.
Five days after submitting the above, Webb Fontaine will email you the FCVR. This will show Webb Fontaine’s assessment for value and HS code. If Webb Fontaine determines that discrepancies exist in your application, it will issue a query form with requests for information.
Finally, any Ivorian import requires the payment of a duty. The payment amount will be a percentage of your import’s value. After your payment has cleared, you will be closer than ever to getting your goods. Multiple units are involved in physically examining the imported goods, some of which require certain scanning and x-rays, depending on the type of your goods and the circumstances surrounding your shipment. After release, you’ll now be able to accept your imported goods.
Partner with Ways to Cap—the First African focused B2B Marketplace
If the process outlined above seems entirely confusing and complex—that’s because it is. The steps sketched out above in this post are not exhaustive—there are countless other regulations and instructions you must follow when importing into Cöte d’Ivoire. It takes a significant amount of experience, time, and knowledge of Ivorian import/export regulations to follow all the necessary steps and laws.
That’s where Ways to Cap steps in. We will save you valuable time by guiding you through the Ivorian import process, step-by-step. With our background and expertise in the international trade business in Côte d’Ivoire, we can help you discover products, negotiate terms, execute a pro forma invoice, perform due diligence, submit documents, obtain trade insurance and finance, and arrange delivery of your products. Contact us today for more information.
Fastest way to get Ivory Coast BSC, GetCTN, http://getctn.com/ivory-coast-bsc/.
Cote D’Ivoire BSC, Foremost, http://www.ectn.hk/ectn-besc/cote-d-lvoire-bsc/.
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Waiver Certificate Requirement, African Waivers, http://www.africanwaivers.com/waiver-information-by-country/cote-divoire-waiver-certificate/.
Cote D’Ivoire Regulations, CMA CGM, 9 April 2014, https://www.cma-cgm.com/static/eCommerce/Attachments/Cote%20d%20Ivoire%20111115.pdf.
Elaboration of Procedure and Edition of BSC Online: User’s Guide, OIC, http://oic.ci/source/fr/circulaire/Guidesimplifie_Us.pdf.
Guichet Unique Pour Le Commerce Extérieur, https://guce.gouv.ci/.
Guide for Exporting to Cote d’Ivoire, IZF, http://www.izf.net/content/guide-exporting-c-te-d-ivoire.
Hariesh Manaadiar, Cargo Tracking Note—What Is It? Shipping and Freight Resource, 19 October 2010, https://shippingandfreightresource.com/cargo-tracking-note-what-is-it/.
Office Ivoirien Des Chargeurs (OIC), http://www.oic.ci/source/fr/.
OIC’s BSC Main Page, OIC, https://bscoic.sgs.com/.
Webb Fontaine in Ivory Coast, Webb Fotaine, http://www.webbfontaine.ci/webb-fontaine-en-cote-divoire/?lang=en.