Customs and Excise
Customs Duties

Customs Duties

Last Updated: 14 April, 2023 - Print

What are Customs duties?

Customs duties are taxes levied on goods imported from outside Malawi and sometimes on exports by the Customs authorities of the country. Customs duties consist of import duty, import excise, Value Added Tax (VAT) and export duty.

How duty is calculated:

An example on how duty is calculated is as follows:

Assuming the total value for 2, 000 small bottled glycerine for sale is MK500, 000:
import duty @25%, excise duty @ 10% and import VAT @16.5%

MRA uses the Customs & Excise Tariff Order book to determine duty payable. In order to arrive at the duty payable, a Customs officer will refer to how the goods have been classified in the Customs & Excise Tariff Order book.

Thereafter, duty will be calculated and an assessment notice will be presented to the taxpayer for payment of duty.

Calculation of duty:

Duty = K500, 000 x 25% =K125, 000.00

= (K500, 000 + K125, 000) x 10 % = K62, 500.00
16.5% VAT = (K500, 000 + K125, 000 + K62, 500.00) x 16.5%

= K113, 437.50

Total duty payable =K125, 000 + K62, 500.00 + K113, 437.50 = K300, 937.50

Payment of Customs duty

When an assessment notice has been issued, the importer is required to pay the duty due to Government in full. Payment can be through cash, direct cash transfer, bank certified cheque or through E payment. The importer should always ensure that an MRA receipt is issued as evidence of payment.

Why does MRA sometimes use different rates of duty on similar goods imported from the same country?

When one has imported goods from a country or countries that are party to a bilateral, regional or global trade agreement with Malawi, depending on the terms of agreement, his/her goods will enjoy preferential rates of duty.

Preferential rates of duty are applied to goods originating from Member States which are under a specified trade agreement such as COMESA, SADC and World Trade Organization (WTO), among many others. Lower rates of duty or duty free status on imported goods is applied but in most cases excise or VAT is still payable wherever applicable depending on the terms of the agreement. Note, that preferential rates of duty will only be
applied if the importer produces a valid Certificate of Origin.

Why do some goods attract higher rates of duty than others?

Some goods have higher rates of duty than others and this is due to the fiscal policy of the Government. Such rates are intended, among other reasons, to:

  •   Protect the society from dumping of sub-standard goods or non-basic goods like alcohol or cigarettes
  •   Protect some industries that are of strategic importance to the economy
  •   Raise Customs revenues

Procedures to follow before going out to import goods

When one is planning to go outside the country to import goods it is very important to check in the Customs & Excise Tariff Order book on how goods are classified and applicable rates of duty. The tariff book can also be accessed on this website: www.mra.mw. One may also call 01822588 to get more clarification from MRA or sending an email to: tax@mra.mw.

You can also visit any MRA office nearer to you to get clarification from our officers. It is important to note that some items of the same make are classified differently and may attract different rates of duty if the exporting or importing country signed a trade agreement with Malawi that provides for concessionary rates of duty or none at all. Please, note that some goods require import or export licence or permit.

Procedures to follow at the border

When one arrives at the border he/she is required to truthfully declare the quantities and values of their goods using Form 47. Customs officers may physically examine the goods to determine the description and quantity of the goods in order to come up with an appropriate Customs procedure or other statutory requirements.

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