Buying and Selling

flag Iran Iran: 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
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
International Economic Cooperation
Iran is the second producer country of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) 

Iran is the member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OEC) which includes nine other countries of Western and Central Asia (Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and five Republics of Central Asia) But the OEC has not succeeded in liberalizing exchanges between its members and continues to be passive in this regard.

Since 2005, Iran is an observer member of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (OCS) which includes China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The observer members include Mongolia, Iran, India and Pakistan. One of the goals of this organization is to facilitate co-operation between these States in the political, economic and commercial, scientific and technical, cultural and educational fields as well as in the fields of energy, transport, tourism and environment. The permanent members of the OCS account for 20% of the world oil reserves and 38 % of oil reserves.

Iran is in the process of negotiation to conclude a cooperation agreement with the European Union which has an economic dimension but for the moment these negotiations have stopped because of tensions related to the nuclear power file.

The country has signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP).

Non Tariff Barriers
A general license granted by the Ministry of Commerce (in Persian) is required to import into Iran. Furthermore, the importer needs the approval of the appropriate Ministry.
The market is open for staple commodities, capital goods, spare parts and raw materials. Capital goods, raw materials, medicines, wheat and other strategic goods do not attract any import customs duties. Finished products competing with a local production or local consumer goods cannot be imported. These goods are imported through non-official channels.
It is important to check with your national authorities present in the country, specific information, especially given the frequent changes made in import regulations.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Custom duties are on an average about 30% of the CIF value of the goods. Tariffs vary from 0% for the most important basic and strategic commodities to 100% for the few authorised consumer goods. Custom duties are relatively high in the free zones also, amounting to 50% in certain cases. Non Islamic goods cannot be imported. In the case of production under licence, the local share must be progressively increased.
Authorised importers paying customs duties must also pay other taxes.

Customs Classification
Iran uses the harmonized system of classification
Import Procedures
Presently, as Iran is focusing on its membership application to the WTO, the rules and regulations as regards imports and customs, duties, taxes and other aspects of this type change frequently.
Importing Samples
For Further Information
Iran Customs

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
Four Mind
PGt Advertising

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Retail business sector, which dominates the distribution sector, is very fragmented in Iran.
Iranian chain stores have a 120-trillion-rial ($3.2 billion) share of the country’s 1.3-quadrillion-rial ($34.6 billion) retail market, according to the National Union of Chain Stores. The current 9.2% share has been steadily on the rise in recent years, as it stood at 3% five years ago and increased to 7% in 2017. Retail business mainly related to food products is primarily carried out by traditional businesses (bazaars, stalls, mini-markets). Fruits and vegetables as well as the bakery products are widely distributed through this type of traditional business. Close to 1.8 million retail outlets are operating across the country, that is one for every 44 Iranians.

Average and mass distribution have fully developed. However, retail business and mass distribution are more and more linked with groups which provide logistics between Iranian and foreign companies (sometimes representing them) and distribution chains.

In Iran, online retailing currently has a 0.7% share in the country’s retail market and it is predicted to reach 3% by 2020. However, things have changed now and people shopping online are rapidly growing. Online shopping has become the mainstay of Iranian Internet users whose population adds up to 45 million. The tendency to shop online, especially among the young people, is growing noticeably. Online purchases in Iran have an annual growth rate of 60%. E-commerce companies such as Digikala, Bamilo, Zanbil, Modiseh, Chare, Tehrankala, Shixon, Kimia Online, Final and Albasco are some of the biggest names in the field, offering a variety of products to customers across the country.
Unofficial statistics suggest that Digikala is the leading online store with a 75% share in Iran’s online retailing, followed by Bamilo with close to 15%. The remaining 10% is divided among other online stores.
Market share
Retail business sector represented nearly 80% of the turnover of the distribution sector in the country.

The main players are:

- Ofogh Koorosh: 325 stores
- Refah: 215 stores
- Canbo: 150 stores

Retail Sector Organisations
Iranian Chamber of Commerce
National Union of Chain stores in Iran

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Internet access
Internet penetration statistics in Iran are notoriously unreliable. The numbers tend to vary between 40% and 70%. Official statistics, however, state that the penetration rate is around 85%, a number that is highly contested. The real rate is thought to be about 45%. Internet quality is low and prices are high, partially due to the fact that the state-owned Telecommunications Infrastructure Company holds a monopoly on bandwidth in the country. Additionally, demand for bandwidth exceeds availability by far. The country has a mobile phone penetration rate of 126% and 40 million smartphone users, one of the highest rates in the MENA region. An easily accessible 3G network has accelerated widespread penetration of the internet, which is why most people initially experience the internet through their smartphone. Over the past few years, the government has encouraged a wider use of the internet among Iranians, hoping to generate the benefits of a more modern economy. However, the internet seemed to be a helpful tool for organising protests against the government. For that reason, some social media platforms and messaging apps have been blocked in the country. In 2018, authorities created what they call a “halal net,” a locally controlled version of the internet.
E-commerce market
Iran has significant potential for e-commerce development. However the market is still small in the country, accounting for only 0.7% of GDP in 2017. Iranian e-commerce accounted for a revenue of more than US$ 18 billion in 2017. About 3% of all transactions in Iran are made through online shops. About 25% of Iranians are shopping online at least once a month, 16% at least once a week, and 5% are doing so on a daily basis. There are currently almost 9,000 active online shops in Iran which have the trust certificate (eNAMAD) from the Iranian e-commerce development centre. Most online shoppers live in urban areas and people living in the province of Tehran count for almost a third of the total number of transactions. Due to American sanctions, Iranians cannot purchase from foreign websites - like Amazon and Ebay - making Iranian websites the most popular ones among online shoppers. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had an important impact on Iran’s business climate, including e-Commerce, as the deal made it easier for investors from outside Iran, though not Americans, to invest in the country. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in the country include Digikala, Snapp, Pintapin, Bamilo, and Eskano.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Road transport is the most popular means of transport because the network is of a good quality and is the least expensive means.
Informations about ports in Iran
Iran Air
Sea Transport Organisations
Ports and Shipping of Iran
Air Transport Organisations
Civil aviation organization of Iran
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Roads and Urban Development
Rail Transport Organisations
Railway Companies of the Islamic Republic of Iran

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Oil, petrochemistry, fertilizers, textiles, cement and other materials of construction, food processing (sugar refining, vegetable oil), iron and non iron metals, arms.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories - Iran business directory
Iran Yell - Iran business directory
Iranian Yellow Pages - Iranian business directory
Maysa - Iran business directory by category
The Yellow Pages - Business in Iran.

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

Professional Associations by Sector
46 professional associations listed for Iran.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Iran Chamber of Commerce and Industries
General Professional Associations
The Association of Iran Industry and Manufacturers

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Latest Update: April 2024