Buying and Selling

flag Tanzania Tanzania: 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 International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
Member of the WTO - World Trade Organization

Member of EAC - East African Community

Member of SADC - Southern African Development Community

African Growth and Opportunity Act beneficiary country

Non Tariff Barriers
Trade reforms have abolished import and export licenses, except for goods deemed sensitive for health and security reasons. Trade regulations and standards generally reflect normal expectations to protect consumers’ health.

The customs department and the port authorities are the greatest hindrance to importers throughout Tanzania. Clearance delays and extra‑legal levies are commonplace when dealing with customs officials within the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA). These hindrances can cause unpredictable delays when importing goods into the country. However there are some benefits for large taxpayers who have a track record of compliance, including expedited clearance and reduced auditing.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Certain duty exemptions are made based on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements or investment incentive packages. A selected list of sensitive goods is rated at higher rates, up to 100%. In addition, a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 18% is charged on all non-EAC imports, unless exemption is received from the Tanzania Investment Center or Ministry of Finance. As part of the East African Customs Union, Tanzania imposes the EAC common external tariff on goods from non-EAC countries. The tariffs range from 0% for raw materials to 10% for industrial used goods and 25% for consumer goods.

Customs and excise duties Tanzania generally has adopted the East African Community (EAC) Customs Management Act and Common External Tariff, although differences may exist for Tanzanian customs purposes. Customs and excise duties are levied on a range of goods, at various rates. Duties and taxes on importation of goods are payable within 30 days from the date of assessment.

Customs Classification
Tanzania is a member of the World Customs organisation and does comply with the harmonised customs system.
Import Procedures

Import procedures have to follow the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA) 2004. The importer is advised to make declaration through his appointed Clearing and Forwarding Agent by lodging documents at least 7 days before arrival of the vessel.

  • The importer  is required to appoint a Licensed Clearing and Forwarding Agent (CFA) to clear goods
  • List of Clearing and Forwarding Agents
  • Documentation process is done online through Tanzania Customs Integrated System (TANCIS) for importations to the Mainland and ASYCUDA++ for importations to be made through Zanzibar and can be completed before arrival of the goods
  • Customs agents/importers lodge the documents in the clearance system i.e. Tanzania Customs Integrated System (Mainland) and through ASYCUDA++ (Zanzibar) attaching all other relevant import/ supporting documents. The importers/Agents are urged to lodge their at least 7 days before arrival of the goods.
Importing Samples
There is 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
Tanzania Revenue Authority
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
M2 Advertising Agency
Smart Codes
Horizon Digital

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
In Tanzania, nearly all goods are distributed through wholesalers and retailers. Tanzania lacks a formal retail shopping culture and it is estimated that up to 90% of food sales occur through traditional small stores, street vendors and unregulated markets. Since the 1990s there has been some growth in formal wholesale and retail of food in major towns and cities where supermarkets tend to serve largely expatriate and middle-class communities, often with a range of products imported from Kenya, Dubai, India and Europe. Wholesalers import goods in bulk from the manufacturers or other wholesalers abroad, transport the goods to bonded warehouses, and later distribute them to retailers in the local market. Retailers purchase the goods, pay the required duties, and sell in small shops, usually specializing in one type of product. Some wholesalers, usually operators of supermarket chains and shopping malls, run both wholesale and retail operations.
Market share
Compared to neighbouring Kenya, modern trade is less developed in Tanzania. At Dar es Salaam’s bustling Kariakoo market, hundreds of traders sell everything from food to fashion. Informal shops tend to be cheaper than supermarkets since they do not charge VAT and may even sell smuggled goods. Locals also find it frustrating to travel long distances to formal grocers. Despite Tanzania’s larger population, the retail market is also smaller than Kenya’s. Total retail format sales in 2014 were $17.8bn, compared to $25.8bn in Kenya.

Kenyan supermarket chain Nakumatt is active in Tanzania, with five stores. A number of other foreign brands such as Game (South Africa), Mr Price (South Africa) and Baby Shop (Bahrain) also have a limited presence. However, not everyone has found success in the Tanzanian market. In 2012, Kenyan retailer Deacons pulled out of the country citing expensive rentals, long supply chain lead times, a small upper-middle class and the generally high cost of doing business as the major reasons for its exit.

South African chain Shoprite also sold its three outlets to Nakumatt, describing its operations in Tanzania as unprofitable.

Retail Sector Organisations
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment

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Internet access
The number of Internet users in Tanzania is estimated at around 8.44 million,which is for 15% of the total population (Internet World Survey). This is behind average in the region and on the whole continent; respectively 27% and 35.2%. Also, Internet's penetration rate in the country is slow compared to the rest of the continent, standing at 11% between 2017 and 2018. Just like in other sub-Saharan African countries, internet is accessed mostly via mobile in Tanzania. There are 7.41 million mobile Internet users (Hootsuite Survey 2018). Mobile phones capture 85% of the web traffic, as against 14% for desktops and laptops. In regards to search engines, 96.23% of the country's internet users use Google, 1.94% use Bing and 1.33% use Yahoo (Statcounter).
E-commerce market
Though e-commerce in Tanzania is still at the embryonic development level, it has the potential to grow rapidly, especially considering the recent expansion of mobile payment methods such as m-pesa. In fact, most Tanzanians do not own credit cards (only 0.7% of the population owns a credit card according to a Hootsuite survey) and only 1% of the population buys stuff or pay bills online. Tanzanians are traditionally wary of online payment (94% of online shoppers choose cash on delivery as the method of payment according to data from Jumia) and prefer having the free return option. Lack of proper delivery adresses and trust in sellers has also hampered the growth of e-commerce.
Actors present in this sector in the country include Pan-African online marketplace Jumia, which has been operational in Tanzania for several years, competing with local players such as OLX, Zudua and ShopOnline Tanzania.
Social media
The number of social media users is significantly smaller than the total number of Internet users in Tanzania. Indeed, there are 4.90 million social media users in the country (8% of the total population according to the 2018 Hootsuite Survey). The figure puts Tanzania slightly above the average social media penetration rate in East Africa (7%). Unlike in most African countries, the number of total social media users declined by 2% between 2017 and 2018. Nevertheless, the number of social media users on mobile, 4.3 million people, grew by 2% during the same period. Almost all social media users have a Facebook account, nonetheless with a considerable gender imbalance: 62% of Tanzanian Facebook profiles are declared as male compared to 38% as female. The number of Instagram users is estimated to be around 2.1 million, accounting for 4% of the total population. Instagram also displays the same gender imbalance as Facebook. Unlike the case in most other East African nations, WhatsApp is the most popular messenger application used in Tanzania.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Tanzania Ports Authority
Tanzania Airport Authority
Sea Transport Organisations
Zanzibar Maritime Authority
Air Transport Organisations
Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority
Road Transport Organisations
Tanroads - Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication
Rail Transport Organisations
Tanzania Railway Corporation

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
According to Tanzania Invest, Tanzania’s industrial sector contributes around 25% to the country’s 2016 GDP and experienced an average annual growth of 8% over the past 5 years.
The general industrial structure of Tanzania is comprised of:
-    manufacturing (53%): the manufacturing sector in Tanzania consists mainly of food processing (24%), textiles and clothing (10%), chemicals (8.5%), and others, including beverages, leather and leather products, paper and paper products, publishing and printing, and plastics;
-    Processing (43%)
-    Assembling industries (4%)

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
123 Tanzania - Local business directory for Tanzania
Ewura - Tanzania local suppliers and service providers database - Tanzania business directory
NDC - Tanzania national commercial directory
TBS - Certified c ompanies by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards
Whizz Tanzania - Large online business directory of companies
YP Tanzania - Yellow Pages for Tanzania

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

Professional Associations by Sector
56 professional associations listed for Tanzania.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Tanzania Ministry of Finance and Planning
Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture
Tanzanian Investment Center
General Professional Associations
Association of Tanzanian Employers
Tanzanian Private Sector Foundation

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Latest Update: May 2024