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Customs Clearance

To obtain Customs Clearance from Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) Customs department this involves the calculation (and usually the payment) on behalf of the customer of taxes, duties and excises, the preparation of documents and/or electronic submissions thus facilitating communication between the customer and governmental authorities. Missing or wrong documentation, information and declaration may cause delays and may incur heavy fines to the forwarder or carrier which in some cases involve the customer and/or shipper.

Our experienced team of custom brokers will make it easier for you.

  • Clearance time: In order to support world-class service, our customs clearance time is measured not in weeks but days and soon we shall do every effort to set our measurement in hours. Sotrimex provides a reliable and consistent timely customs clearance, therefore creates an enormous competitive advantage for our customers.

  • Predictability: Delayed delivery of a key component can slow down an entire production line, at enormous cost. Arbitrary or unpredictable customs clearance delays are incompatible with efficient production. We try as far as possible to be proactive, to inform and to provide professional custom clearance advice and solutions to our customers as a tool of service quality.

  • Transparency: Unexplained or arbitrary changes in classification or valuation of goods can disrupt marketing plans and logistical flows, thereby seriously detracting from effective operation. We try as far as possible to champion good practice as a tool for providing professional advice and information.

Frequently-Asked Questions

What is Customs Clearance?
Customs Clearance is required for all products which are entering or leaving Mauritius. Customs clearance is the process for MRA Customs & Excise to account for any charges due and to check for documentation and conformity to Mauritian law.

Do I need Sotrimex to process Custom Clearance?
Representations can be made without the need for an agent however it is strongly advised that you should seek to appoint one due to the complexity of the system and even the most basic knowledge required to navigate the government systems.

Why do I need Sotrimex to process Custom Clearance?
Agents such as Sotrimex understand the laws applicable, the services and regulations which govern imports and exports within Mauritius and therefore are best placed to assist.

How long does Customs Clearance take?
The time taken for Customs clearance can vary from a few hours to a few days. The length of time taken depends on the type of product we are handling. Customs recognise that some products require further documentation checks and in some cases actual physical examination to ensure that declarations are correct, on average the service takes 48 hours but most commonly only a few hours and sometimes minutes.

What supporting documentation do I require?
This is dependant on the type of product being shipped. Basic documentation would be :

Health certificates ( for foodstuffs etc )
Import Permit
Packing list
Preference Certificates
Certificate of Origin
Original Invoice
Shipping document ( Bill of Lading )
Supplier's commercial invoice

Can I use a proforma invoice?
No, unfortunately Mauritius customs do not authorise the use of proforma invoices as supporting document. Original invoices must be used under Mauritian Customs Law.

Who decides how much import duties and taxes I have to pay?
VAT in the Mauritius is currently 15%.Duty is set at various rates depending on the type of product imported. All duty rates are set by The Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA).Confirmation of the duty rate for your products can be obtained from us and on receipt of specific information we can help classify your products into a particular "commodity code". This code will apply for your product and will determine how much you will pay in percentage, based on the value of the product. Imports from some countries can also be subject to preferential lower rates which are introduced to encourage trade from that country and at the same time you could be levied with additional duty rates known as "anti dumping" duty which exists to stop the influx of cheap products known to be produced from that country.

How do I pay for import duties and taxes?
When we complete a Customs declaration for you we will calculate how much money is due for Customs charges. Customs now encourage the trade to pay these charges by way of electronic transfer direct to their own bank which is very easy and less time consuming than say producing an actual bankers draft (Customs only accept cleared/approved funds). It is possible to pay by using a company cheque.

Can I use a Customs agent if I use a different freight forwarder for my actual movement?
Customs agents can be used at any time for your movement. Customs procedures are not restricted by the company actually carrying out your entire transport movement. An example of this is if you use a transport company for your goods but their clearing department is inefficient thus customs clearance takes a long time or , you can use an outside company to arrange this for you, such as ourselves.

What are the costs involved in Customs clearance?
Considering the time and expertise involved to successfully and professionally carry out the service, Customs clearance is a relatively cost effective service. It is dependant heavily on the type of products and frequency at which they are imported as some products are more time consuming than others. There are direct costs which are invoiced to us from third parties which we have to pay on your behalf and generally these charges are also included in our actual service fee.

What happens after Customs clearance?
Once we have advised you of Customs clearance, we are then in a position to give you copies of all documentation raised on your behalf in the form of official documents and we shall also return any original documentation used that Customs did not require and forward our invoice for payment. After the clearance it is then time to arrange the delivery of your products, a service which we also provide.

How do I check to ensure that my export or import is acceptable to Mauritian Customs?
There are certain commodities which cannot be legally imported into Mauritius by unauthorised persons, such as firearms and explosives for example. There is generally no problem with regular everyday items however some items which may seem normal to you on a daily basis may have very strict rules for import and export, agriculture being one of the most vulnerable is regulated in this fashion. If in any doubt about whether your products are allowed in Mauritius then you should check with us for confirmation or clarification prior to shipment. One other important issue here is to also check that there are no further financial penalties for importing a product, ie additional duties etc which would deem your products unviable commercially.

I am moving my home furnishings/ immigrating / importing my car, what do I do?
In Mauritius we have specific rules for persons transferring residence from outside. There are certain conditions which should be met to obtain VAT and duty relief at import which applies to personal effects and possessions. There are also specific forms which require completion with original signatures so if you are planning a move you should check with us regarding the documents and information required before making any plans to import items which belong to you. Imports of motor cars also attract rules and regulations which again are dependant on how long you have owned the vehicle for and what your intentions are for it when you arrive. Also other regulations which are not Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) Customs related need to be addressed and checked for road compliance and registration for example, these things can be extremely costly.

I am importing foodstuffs, is this a problem?
Commercially most foodstuffs are not a problem as long as they have satisfactory official documentation. Not all foodstuffs require back up documents but most do. The most common is the Food & Drugs permit which is issued to show that foodstuffs are of good quality and fit for human consumption and distribution within Mautirius for later resale which meets our standards. These rules also strictly apply to very small amounts which are imported personally along with your personal belongings for instance, if in doubt please call us or email us.

I am importing wood or a wooden crate, do I need a certificate?
Yes, Mauritian Customs require a phytosanitary certificate to proceed through customs.

What is a phytosanitary certificate?
A phytosanitary certificate is a document required for the import to Mauritius of non-processed, plant products. The word phytosanitary is derived from two Greek words...phyto meaning plant and sanitary, meaning clean.

If I use your service can you transport or store my goods?
Yes. We have storage facilities which is classed as a Freezone bonded area and as such we can store products for any length of time without having to make VAT and duty payments to Customs until such time as you require the goods. We can store complete container loads of products down to single pallets where required. As for transportation we can carryout varying forms of transport from small part loads to full truck loads, oversize items and temperature controlled distribution, if it can be carried by truck ship, we can help.

I need to become VAT registered, how do I do that?
If you intend to import or export on a regular basis you will need to become VAT registered. Details of how to become registered can be obtained from your local VAT office and details of your local office can be found in your phonebook under "VAT".

What is the turnaround time I should expect for my documentation?
Sotrimex is ideally located near world class steamship line offices, banks and Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) Customs division. This strategic location cuts turnaround time and comfortably allows for documentation to be received within two to three working days following the vessel departure from the port.

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