Buying and Selling

flag Bahrain Bahrain: 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
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Member of Arab League.

The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.

Non Tariff Barriers
Products such as live animals, fruits and vegetables, plants, weapons and telecommunication material are regulated. Their entry/import into the Kingdom of Bahrain is only permitted on presenting a valid permit or authorisation from the competent regulatory body.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs Classification
Bahrain uses the Harmonised System (HS).
Import Procedures
Anyone who wishes to import goods to Bahrain for the purpose of sale or consumtion must obtain a general licence from the Directorate of Customs and Ports of the Ministry of Finance and National Economy. Importers must fill in the customs declaration and present the following documents:

1. Import Customs Declaration Form (CDF)
2. Delivery note from the exporting agent to the importer (with valid CR)
3. Three copies of the exporter's invoices (originals) to the importer
4. Two copies of the Packing List with details of weight, packaging and commodity classification for each article submitted
5. A certificate of origin (original) of the competent Chamber of Commerce of the country of origin of goods
6. A copy of the insurance policy
7. Original Bill of Lading
8. Import permit / authorization of the competent authority for the import of controlled goods
9. Bank statement / guarantee (if applicable)
10. A statistical declaration if the final destination of the goods is within countries of the Cooperation Council (GCC)

After the Customs Declaration has been submitted using the deCAS system, the clearance procedure for the imported goods is as follows:

1. Pay the duties and taxes due at the customs office where the goods are to be cleared
2. Submit all necessary documents to the customs officer
3. Pay the handling fee and make an appointment at the counter of the port operator for moving cargo
4. The port operator moves the container to the checkpoint
5. Customs assess the risk level of the goods and may decide to carry out an inspection
6. Finally, the goods are cleared and can leave the customs office

For more information, consult the website of the Customs affairs.

Importing Samples
Trade samples for expositions can sometimes be temporarily admitted, but they must be then reexported or moved to the free-trade zone or handed over to the customs office or warehouse.
For Further Information
Bahrain Customs Office

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
Ad Mark
Al Waraqoon
Media Solutions

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Bahrain’s retail market has grown to a value of BHD 2.2 billion (5.8 billion USD) per year according to a new study by KPMG made in 2017, with a low average retail density per resident indicating the potential for further growth. Bahrain’s retail sector has been growing steadily over the past decade and remains one of the most dynamic sectors in the Kingdom, with an annual growth rate of 13%, according to a new study by KPMG.
During the 2007-17 period, the increasing population coupled with household income growth, as well as the inflow of tourists from Saudi Arabia, have led to the tripling of retail capacity between 2007 and 2017. The sector is still dominated by traditional markets (souks) and corner shops, especially concerning traditional goods and services usch as gold, textiles and sweets. Modern distribution channels are nevertheless becoming more prominent, with the appearance of large malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets. The kingdom's retail market is dynamic also thanks to its close connection to tourism - a large part of retail sales is carried out in sectors other than the food sectors.     

However, the average number of retail square meters per resident is less than half in comparison to global cities such as New York and Dubai, and is more comparable with cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. This means the local retail market has still not reached full maturity, which indicates positive signs for growth potential.
Market share
Despite being a small country with a relatively modest population, the kingdom has more than twenty malls and the same number of supermarkets/hypermarkets. These have appeared in the last 20 years and have taken advantage of traditional channels (souks, travelling salesmen, stands). The largest supermarket chains include: Géant, Midway, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, Jawad. The largest wholesalers are: BMMI, Jawad Business Group, HHM Group (Fine Food), Ali & Sons (Foodco).
Retail Sector Organisations
Entrepreneur's Organization Bahrain
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce
Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism

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Internet access
With a population of approximately 1.6 million people, and over 1.5 million internet users, Bahrain has the highest internet penetration rate in the Middle East (98%). Competitive prices for broadband have also led to high levels of mobile internet penetration. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, there has been a remarkable increase in mobile broadband traffic in the last five years, which was mostly driven by the growing number of smartphone users in the country. Although Bahrain has some of the best internet penetration and speeds in the world, online freedom is an issue in the country. In 2017, Freedom House ranked the internet in the Bahrain as “Not Free”, given that authorities restricted internet connections, censored websites, and detained people for what they posted on social media. Google is by far the most popular search engine in the country. As of July 2018, the leading search engines in Bahrain ranked by market share were Google (89.95%), YANDEX RU (5.7%), (2.05%), Yahoo! (1.2%), Bing (0.89%) and DuckDuckGo (0.09%).
E-commerce market
The Middle East is a growing market in transition. E-commerce is beginning to come into its own as economies look to diversify away from petrochemicals to more sustainable industries. In Bahrain, the segment has been expanding rapidly over the past few years. In 2017, there was an estimated US$ 651 million in online sales. Airline tickets, electronics and jewellery are particularly successful online retail categories. Major global e-commerce websites, such as Amazon, eBay and Aliexpress are the most popular ones in Bahrain, ranking ahead of regional e-commerce retailers like Souq, Namshi or Alshop.  Given the small size of the population, their share of the regional total e-commerce revenue is also small, especially when compared to Middle Eastern giants like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The market still faces some challenges in the region. A significant one is that a lot of online shoppers are still reluctant to give away personal information online, which is why the most popular payment method in the country is cash upon arrival. With most of the population connected to the internet on their mobile phones, 56% of online shoppers use their smartphones to place orders. Also, with the high number of social media users, small informal businesses like Instagram stores are very popular in the country.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Most goods enter Bahrain through the Khalifa bin Salman (Mina Khalifa) port located in the industrial city of Hidd, the main import/export centre of Bahrain. The Khalifa bin Salman port has becoming a major transhipment hub.

Goods can olso enter Bahrain by land from Saudi Arabia, through the King Fahd viaduct or by plan through the Bahrain International Airport.

Khalifa bin Salman Port 
Mina Salman Port
Bahrain International Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport, Ports and Maritime Authority
Air Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport, Civil aviation Affairs
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport, Land and Transport Affairs
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport, Land and Transport Affairs

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
More than half of the GDP of Bahrain comes from the service sector, especially from finance and tourism. The industry sector is dominated by the exploitation of hydrocarbons (oil and gas processing and refining) and associated petrochemical industry (fertilizers), as well as aluminum production (second largest export field after oil). Operating costs are among the most competitive in the region.

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

Professional Associations by Sector
23 professional associations listed for Bahrain.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Bahrain Investors' Center (BIC)
Economic Development Board (EDB)
Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry
General Professional Associations
Bahrain Family Business Association
Business Women of Bahrain Association

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Latest Update: April 2024