Buying and Selling

flag Afghanistan Afghanistan: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
International Economic Cooperation
Member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Member of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)

Member of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)

Member of the World Trade Organization (since July 2016)

Non Tariff Barriers
Trade with Afghanistan is complicated and cumbersome. Customs regulations and procedures are neither transparent nor consistent (see below). The World Bank 2018 Doing Business Report ranks Afghanistan on the 183th position out of 190 countries in terms of ease in trading across borders.
Government procurement is covered by the Public Procurement Law (October 2005) which stipulates that procuring entities establish a domestic procurement requirement and provides a bid price incentive to entities that have a resident representative and pay Afghan taxes. The Hydrocarbons Law of 2009 and the Minerals Law of 2009 stipulate that if Afghan goods and services are similar and equivalent in quality, quantity, and price to imported foreign goods and services, contractors are obligated to purchase and procure Afghan goods and services.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Afghanistan Customs and Other Import Duties was at 32.55% in 2016, compared to 31.77% in 2015, according to the Aghanistan customs office.

Customs Classification
Afghanistan is a member of the World Customs organisation and does comply with the harmonised customs system.
Import Procedures
All imported goods and products must submit a customs declaration accompanied by an invoice or other proof of the price actually paid as well as a certificate of origin, and shipment documentation (original bill of lading and packing list).  Transit permission is required for shipments transiting through Pakistan; the Transit Department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) oversees transit permission. Importers and exporters must consider whether supporting documentation should be sought from “interested” Ministries prior to Customs declaration; armored vehicles require Ministry of Interior (MoI) certification; communication equipment requires the approval of the Ministry of Communications (MoC); and medicines require Ministry of Public Health certification.
You can consult the Afghan Investment Support Agency website to find out more about the process for customs clearance.
Importing Samples
There are no specific procedures for samples shipments. Sample shipments require the same set of documents as a normal shipment. The value of goods should still appear on the commercial invoice indicating "for customs clearance purpose only'' on the invoice. Zero value invoices are not acceptable.
For Further Information
Afghan Customs Department
Afghanistan Export Promotion Agency

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
KaPul Group
FKH Media

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Formal distribution and sales channels are not well-developed in Afghanistan. Most commerce is confined to small storefronts, markets, and informal roadside trading. Some major distribution centers can be found in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Kandahar.  Many commercial goods destined for Afghanistan are shipped through ports in Karachi, or Port Qasim in Pakistan, moved over land by rail, or truck, and enter the country via the Torkham (Nangarhar province), or Chaman (Kandahar province).  In addition, a significant amount of Afghanistan’s imports pass through Hairatan, the country’s third largest port, in northern Afghanistan. 
A 75 km rail link, from Uzbekistan to Marzar-e-Sharif, was completed in mid-2011, but there is no internal rail network in Afghanistan. 
Goods are currently distributed throughout Afghanistan by truck.  Another major overland route is through Iran via Bandar-i-Abbas, entering Afghanistan at the border with Herat province. Potential foreign investors should remain aware of U.S. and international sanctions legislation, targeting Iran that may impact shipping to Afghanistan via this route. More information is available at the website of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. 
Though a growing number of air cargo companies offer their services, this sector is still undeveloped, and remains expensive.
Market share
Formal distribution and modern distribution are not well developed in Afghanistan. The main international distribution channels are still not established in the country, mainly due to the security concerns and the barriers to implement a business in this country.
The operating channels, especially in Kabul, are :
-    A-one
-    Chelsea Supermarket
-    Finest Superstore
-    Spinneys
The traditional sales channels still dominate the retail sector.

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Internet access
Afghanistan has a population of 33.3 million, of which only 2.2 million have access to the internet (for a penetration rate of 6.8%). Though the country has seen a steady rise in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years, the Afghan market is still at an early stage of development and penetration remains relatively low compared to other countries in Asia. The most popular web search engines in Afghanistan are Google (96.3%), Bing and Yahoo (1.8% and 1.2% respectively).
E-commerce market
The e-commerce market in Afghanistan is still in an infant stage. This is due to several factors: first of all the country’s poor IT infrastructure, the lack of secure online payment methods and also the cultural tradition according to which Afghans prefer to buy from nearby shops they are familiar with. Long delivery times also hinder online retail (especially in the capital Kabul). As of now, the vast majority of payments are made as cash on delivery, though the government is planning to implement the “Afghanistan Payments Systems (APS)”, a national country level payment switch which is a gateway to all online local and international payment schemes (including mobile payments), which is expected to help e-commerce grow in the country. Some of the main local online stores are: Amtaa, Afghan Bazar, Azad Bazar,, and

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Organizing Goods Transport

Kandahar International Airport
Mazar-e-Sharif International Airport
Air Transport Organisations
Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan
Ministry of Transport
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Afghanistan Railway Authority

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
According to the CIA, the GDP of Afghanistan was composed of: 24% of agriculture (employing 78,6% of the workforce), 21% of industry (employing 5,7% of the workforce), 55% of services (employing 15,7% of the workforce). According to the World Bank, the industrial employment relies essentially on domestic raw materials, mainly cotton, wool, hides and skins, and fruits. Substantial constraints to rapid development of the sector exist, most of which are linked to the country's income level and to its landlocked situation and mountainous terrain.

To search directories by industry in Afghanistan, check out our service Business Directories.

Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Islamic Republic of Aghanistan
Afghanistan Builders Association
Afghanistan Central Business Registry
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries
General Professional Associations
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries
Afghanistan Builders Association

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Latest Update: April 2024