Whenever goods enter Cameroon, Cameroon custom often imposes various taxes and duties on them. One of these taxes includes customs duties and import VAT.
For those of you who don’t know, Custom Duty and import VAT (also known as import duties) are taxes levied on items imported in to Cameroon.
Simply put, after your shipment(container, package etc) has arrived at the Douala Seaport from whatever country, it will be held by the Cameroon customs authorities and you (the importer) will be expected to pay custom duty and import VAT charges, before the shipment can be released. This legal procedure is called Custom Clearance.
Custom Clearance in Cameroon is simply the payment of Custom Duties & import VAT (import duties) levied on an imported item or group of imported items.
Custom duties are usually calculated as a percentage of the declared value/total declared value of an imported item(s).
Customs duty tariffs which range from 5% to 50% are often levied on imported items, depending on the nature of the goods imported.
For example if the customs tariff levied on electronic products is 5%. Then the custom clearance fee which you will be expected to pay for an imported laptop which cost 100,000 frs will be 5000frs.
If the custom tariff is 50%, you will be expected to pay 50,000frs as custom clearance fee.
All goods imported in to Cameroon have been classified and an HTS (HS) codes assigned to each imported product.
To know the amount you will be expected to pay as clearance fee when your item arrives Cameroon, you just need to check the customs tariff of the item you wish to import.
You can easily find the customs tariff of an item by using the HTS (HS) code which has been assigned to it. Simply Google the TS (HS) code and you will know the customs tariff. You can then use it to calculate your custom clearance fee in advance to ensure that you don’t import an item which you won’t be able to pay its custom clearance fee or to avoid being cheated by the corrupt Cameroon customs authorities.
For example if the declared value (purchase price) of an item you imported from USA is $100 and Cameroon charges 20% as custom duty on the item, you will be expected to pay $20 (20% of $100) as custom duty before the Cameroon custom officials can released that item.
Import VAT (value added Tax) tariff is also calculated as a percentage of the purchase price (declared value) of the imported item.
It should be noted that custom duty rates varies from commodity to commodity while Import VAT is fixed..i.e. the Cameroon government may charge a fixed percentage of the purchase price of an imported goods.
Somebody may likely want to ask this question; why do i have to pay custom duties and import VAT tariff after paying the shipping cost???
Custom duties & import VAT tariffs, are levied on imported goods to prevent foreign products from dominating our home market and to some extend indirectly discourage the importation of certain category of products.
For instance, if not because of Custom duties and import VAT charges, many Cameroonians would have loved to purchase their products in US and UK markets rather than buying from the Cameroon market; which is now dominated by fake Chinese products.
If most Cameroonians develop the habit of buying from US Amazon and other foreign markets, the home industries will find it difficult to market their products and this will cause many of them to go out of business…and if they go out of business, Cameroun government will loose money…as this home industries pay huge amount of taxes to the Cameroon government.
Have you ever thought about what will happen to CEMENCAM, if every Cameroonian starts importing Cement from Nigeria.
Because Cement is also being manufactured in Cameroon by CEMENCAM and Dangute, the Cameroun government has to regulate the importation of foreign cements via custom duties and import VAT, in order to enable Cimencam and Dangute to easily sell their cements in the Cameroon market.
It should be noted that some items are duty free i.e. meaning that no custom duties are paid on such items. Goods essential for economic, social, and educational development are exempt from duty in Cameroon.
For example items like books, laptops and other very useful items not produced in Cameroon, may be exempt from duty or the custom duties and import VAT rates levied on those items will be very low as compared to other shipments.
By levying high custom duties and import VAT on imported items, the Cameroun government can indirectly discourage the importation of certain products in to Cameroon. For example the Cameroun government can charge high custom duties on cigarettes (Tobacco) to discourage people from importing this item
On the other hand, by charging low custom duties & import VAT on imported items or by making some imported items duty free, the Cameroon government can encourage Cameroonians to import more of these products in to the country.
Based on the above facts, items like Shoes, Handbags, Cloths, Cement, Roofing Sheets (Zincs),Oil and other items also made in Cameroon, will have a high custom duty and VAT rates while scarce items will have a low custom duty & import VAT.
How Custom Duties and Import VAT are calculated by the Cameroon Custom Officials
Like i mentioned earlier, custom duties (import duties) in Cameroon, are usually calculated as a percentage of the declared value/total declared value of an imported item(s).
For example If you import a Mobile phone which cost $100 and the custom duty rate for mobile phone is 20% and import VAT is 10%. You will be expected to pay $30 as Custom duty and Import Vat charges before the Mobile phone can be delivered to your doorstep.
20% of $100 = $20 for Custom Duty
10% of $100 = $10 for Import VAT.
It is also good to check the amount of custom duty and import VAT tariff which will be levied on your shipment before you even buy the item on Amazon from Cameroon.
So many Cameroonians have abandoned their shipments (cars & other items) at the Cameroon customs warehouse because they can’t pay the custom duty and VAT tariff levied on their shipments.
Those abandoned shipments are later auctioned (sold) by the customs officials at very low prices.
You can find a comprehensive list of Custom duties and taxes tariff for every category of commodities, on the Cameroon custom website.
Do your Arithmetic first, before importing any item in to Cameroon or else you may be asked to pay a clearance fee that is greater than the price of the imported item and this will cause you to abandon your shipment at the Douala Seaport.
Ok we have come to the end of this article, if you have any question, leave a comment below.
If you want me to calculate the custom duty of an item you intend to import and give you an estimate of how much it may cost for customs fees contact me via Whatsapp.