I hold a Trade License. Do I require a special licence to import or export?
All traders require a Trade Licence. This license is issued by the local authorities i.e. the District Councils and the Municipal Councils. In addition, for import and export of controlled goods, the Tax Account Number or the VAT Number issued by the MRA is required.
Are there other licences required for some specific products and where do I get these from?
Generally, import permits are not required for majority of products. Licences are required for some products for security, health and environmental reasons. Some products require special permits and certificates from relevant authorities before they can be imported or exported. Examples of products that require special import permits and certificates include agricultural plants (Plant Import Permit from NPPO and Phytosanitary Certificate issued by competent authority in exporting country).
I have been advised to appoint a clearing and forwarding agent to help with import and export documentation. Where can I obtain information on firms that I could hire?
The umbrella organization for clearing and forwarding agents, the Customs House Brokers Association, can provide you with names of firms which are members of the association and registered with the Customs Department.
What is the basic documentation that is required for imports and exports clearance?
A commercial invoice is used as a supporting document for most trade procedures. Your freight forwarder or clearing agent should be able to arrange for most of the other import or export procedures that may be applicable by using the information contained in the invoice. The information should include all description of the goods, value, gross and net weight and country of origin of items. The Bill of Lading provides evidence of the contract between the exporter and carrier (ship). It evidences receipt of the goods into the custody of the carrier. If the goods are transported by air, then an airway bill is used. Another basic documentation is the packing list, which shows details such as marks and number of packages, gross and net weights, measurements and description of contents of each package. In addition, necessary certificates and permits need to accompany the documents. These include documents such as Certificates of Origin, Phytosanitary Certificates, import permits, etc.
How can I protect myself against foreign currency fluctuations?
A number of methods exist to protect business from adverse changes in foreign exchange rates. This is called hedging. The mechanisms of hedging, called derivatives, allow a trader to cover the risks of currency fluctuations. Examples include forward contracts, which are contracts to deliver foreign currency at a specified future date and at a specified rate, and options, which give the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specified amount of foreign currency at a specified rate within a specified period of time. You should seek advice from your bank on currency fluctuations when negotiating trade finance.
How can I insure my goods against loss or damage in transit?
Cargo insurance covers the risk of physical damage to your goods or their loss in transit by land, sea or air. You need to ensure that the goods exported or imported have insurance cover from the beginning of their journey until their arrival. The Association of Mauritian Insurers can provide you with the contacts of insurance companies that provide cargo insurance.
How can I get in touch with a transporter to bring my goods from Port Louis harbour or from the airport?
The local Transport Association is the umbrella body for road haulers. They can provide you with contacts of members of their association.
Are there specific requirements on how goods should be labelled and packed?
There are regulations regarding the labelling and packaging of goods, depending on the type of goods. If you are exporting, you can ask your customer to provide you with details of the country's specific requirements. All imports to Mauritius must comply with the local requirements concerning product labelling specifications.
Do I require a phytosanitary certificate to export agricultural products?
A Phytosanitary Certificate is issued by an appointed plant health inspection agency after certifying that a consignment of plant material is free from harmful pests and plant diseases. The agency responsible for phytosanitary inspections in Mauritius is the National Plant Protection Office (NPPO) of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security. As an exporter, you need to obtain information on phytosanitary and other requirements of the importing country to ensure that your products are not rejected for non-compliance.
What happens if I am unable to send the goods within the time period agreed with the buyer?
The implications of this will depend on what is contained in the sales contract between you and your buyer. The sales contract will set out the rights and obligations of the buyer and seller in different circumstances. You can get in touch with your buyer who may agree to a new delivery date.
Do I have to send my product in a container? What if my goods do not make up a full container?
You do not have to send a full container load. You can send your goods as loose cargo through a consolidator. As the name suggests, consolidators stuff different consignments in the same container for shipping. On reaching its destination, the container is de-stuffed and the different consignments released to the different owners.
I need to send an urgent package outside Mauritius and would like to use an express operator. How can I get in touch with a company offering such services?
There are various international express courier companies registered and operating in Mauritius. The Courier Services of Mauritius can provide a list of their members. The following are some of the courier services: DHL (Mauritius) Ltd, Midex International Express Courier & Cargo, IOL Express, TNT International, Fedex Express, etc.
What is a Letter of Credit (L/C)?
A Letter of Credit (L/C) is a valid document issued by a bank to an exporter that guarantees payment to the exporter if the terms and conditions specified in the L/C are fulfilled. It usually contains inter-alia a brief description of the goods, the documents required, the shipping date. As an importer, you are assured that the exporter will only be paid when the goods and relevant documents have been delivered and the terms of the sale are fulfilled. The documents that you would need to receive from the exporter include the commercial invoice, bill of lading (or other evidence of shipment by a carrier), packing list, certificate of origin and certificate of compliance.
How many days will it take to clear my imports from the port?
This depends on factors such as the port of clearance and the type of goods. It takes an average of one day at the port as well as the airport to clear your goods. Some imports may require further verification by regulatory bodies, such as the National Plant Protection Office (NPPO), Consumer Protection Unit (CPU), Trade Division and the Port Health Offices.
What extra charges, besides duties and taxes?
Other charges which you should take into consideration include: port charges, such as storage charges, which apply after a given free period; handling charges; shipping line charges e.g. container charges; and the clearing agent's fee (this could be a percentage of the CIF value of the goods or a fixed amount).
How do I ensure that the goods I wish to import meet Mauritian standards?
The Mauritius Standards Bureau is responsible for verification of imports with respect to quality, inspection, testing and issue of certificates. You need to ensure that certain goods you intend to import meet Mauritius standards or approved specifications before they are shipped by getting a Certificate of Conformity from your supplier.
Ministry of Industry, Commerce & Consumer Protection (Guidelines - Published in March 2012)