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How to do business in Egypt

Legal considerations

Standards and technical regulations

The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) is the primary agency responsible for issuing decrees making standards mandatory. See: http://www.mti.gov.eg/english/Pages/default.aspx.

The Egyptian Organization for Standards and Quality (EOS) is the official body responsible for standardisation activities, quality and industrial metrology. See: http://www.eos.org.eg/en.

You should consider taking out product liability insurance if you manufacture or supply a physical product that is sold or given away for free. See: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/business-insurance/liability-insurance/product-liability-insurance/.

UK companies entering into agreements in Egypt should contact the DIT team in Cairo at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-egypt#contact-us for a list of lawyers offering professional advice.

Intellectual Property (IP) protection

IP rights are territorial, that is they only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. If you are thinking about trading internationally, then you should consider registering your IP rights in your export markets.

Egypt is signatory to the main Intellectual Property Conventions (Rome, Paris, Berne and Washington). Egypt passed a new IP law in June 2002, bringing practices in line with WTO Law 82 of 2002.

Patents are registered at the Egyptian Patent Office, see: http://www.egypo.gov.eg/default.aspx and trademarks at the Department of Trade Registry at the Ministry of Trade and Investment at: http://www.mti.gov.eg/English/Pages/default.aspx.

Trademark counterfeiting, copyright piracy and patent infringements remains a major problem in Egypt. Enforcement of IP law is not strong.

The Egyptian Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (ECIPIT) can help provide information for IP related queries. See: http://ecipit.org.eg/English/homepage_E.aspx.

Egypt is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and further information can be found in its WIPO country profile at: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=EG.

Information is provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview, and at the Intellectual Property Office – the UK Government agency providing free and impartial advice on protecting and registering your IP in the UK and abroad. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/gov.uk]

Egypt’s Intellectual Property Rights Index (IPRI) score increased by 0.09 to 4.43 in 2017, placing it 12th in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and 101st in the world. See: https://www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org/country/egypt.

Export licences for Egypt

You can find out about getting a licence to export dual use goods, services or technology to Egypt at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/beginners-guide-to-export-controls.

To find out which products will need certification or licensing before they can be exported to Egypt, see: https://www.gov.uk/starting-to-export/licences.

Law on marketing and selling

If you are selling to consumers you must be aware of and comply with relevant Egyptian consumer protection laws. It is recommended you consider using an agent in Egypt to provide customer support services. 

Labelling your products

Finished goods imported for distribution and sale in Egypt must:

  • be labelled in Arabic

  • show the country of origin

  • show the manufacturer's name

  • show the product description

Considerable additional requirements apply to foods, drugs and textiles, including – if meat or poultry – the statement that the meat “is slaughtered according to Islamic ritual” or “Halal” must be included. Packaging requirements and shelf-life standards are also complex and fairly extensive. Milk and dairy products, meat and meat products, fish and fish products, and poultry and poultry products have a shelf life determined by the Egyptian Organization for Standards and Quality (EOS). See: http://www.eos.org.eg/en.

Inspections can be carried out by the General Organization of Export and Import Control (GOEIC), see: http://www.goeic.gov.eg/en. However, some products may be subject to inspection by other relevant institutions too, such as:

Exporters to Egypt must be aware that import and customs procedures take a period of no less than two weeks; hence, expiration dates must be at least twice that length of time.

Because of the complexity of the regulations, it is recommended that you take advice from an agent, or contact DIT at the British Embassy Cairo first. DIT in Egypt can help you identify and meet potential agents and distributors. See: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-egypt#contact-us.

 

Taxation

VAT

The VAT rate is currently 14%.

Corporate tax

The corporate tax rate in Egypt is currently 22.5% on the net profits of a company. Oil exploration activities are taxed at a higher rate of 40.55%.

Other taxes

You should check with the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) for details of other taxes that might be relevant to your work.

Double-taxation agreement

The UK and Egypt have signed a double taxation agreement. This allows some taxes paid in one country to be deducted in the other. See: www.gov.uk/government/publications/egypt-tax-treaties.

You can zero-rate the sale of your goods to Egypt, provided you get and keep evidence of your export, and comply with all other laws. You must also make sure the goods are exported, and you must get the evidence within three months from the time of sale.

More information on GST in non-EU markets can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-exports-dispatches-and-supplying-goods-abroad.

Excise duty

You should check you have paid excise duty on any alcohol, alcoholic drinks, energy products, electricity or tobacco products you send to Egypt.

[Source – DIT/ gov.uk]

 

Customs

The Egyptian Customs Authority as a part of the Ministry of Finance implements laws and regulates customs, see: http://www.customs.gov.eg/ (site not in English). The Ministry of Finance issues decrees dealing with custom tariffs for each imported product. See: http://www.mof.gov.eg/english/pages/home.aspx.

For goods sourced from the EU (including the UK), the Egyptian Customs Authority accepts the EUR1 certificate of origin form and applies preferential import duties.

Import licences

Licences should be requested prior to the product’s arrival to avoid demurrage costs at points of entry. After approval, the licence is valid for 60 days (90 days for vehicles).

Tariffs

Egypt has recently increased import tariffs on a wide range of goods, mostly considered luxury items. These include some agricultural products, some confectionery and some electrical goods. Egypt levies prohibitive tariffs of 3,000% on alcoholic beverages. 

However, Egypt’s free trade agreement with the EU means that UK companies trading with Egypt are exempt from tariffs on industrial and some other products such as apples. See: http://www.theebcc.com/media/1126/eu-egypt-trade-agreement.pdf.

You can find out about import tariffs at the EU’s Market Access Database (MADB). See: http://madb.europa.eu/madb/indexPubli.htm.

The MADB also has a full list of trade barriers for Egypt at: http://madb.europa.eu/madb/barriers_result.htm?isSps=false&countries=EG.

Complying with HMRC regulations to export to Egypt

You must make export declarations to HMRC through the National Export System (NES) to export your goods to Egypt. See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/export-declarations-and-the-national-export-system-export-procedures.

You can find out how to declare your exports to Egypt through the NES at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/export-declarations-and-the-national-export-system-export-procedures. You must classify your goods as part of the declaration, including a commodity code and a Customs Procedure Code (CPC).

Commodity codes and other measures applying to exports in the UK Trade Tariff can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff.

Contact the HMRC Tariff Classification Service at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports#list-of-useful-contacts for more help.

You must declare any goods that you take with you in your luggage to sell outside the EU. See: https://www.gov.uk/take-goods-sell-abroad for further information.

Temporary export of goods

Egypt does not recognise the ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet system. You therefore need to use a duplicate list to temporarily export goods to Egypt. As with an ATA Carnet, you do not have to pay customs duty or tax. There is no fee. See: https://www.gov.uk/taking-goods-out-uk-temporarily/duplicate-list.

Before you export the goods, prepare a list on company stationery. Including:

  • a description of the goods

  • how many there are

  • serial numbers, if the goods have them

  • value of the goods

At customs, you will need to provide:

Contact the HMRC imports and exports helpline in advance to make the arrangements:

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3700

  • Textphone: 0300 200 3719

  • Outside the UK: +44 29 2050 1261

  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

[Source – DIT/gov.uk]

Import requirements/documentation

The following documents are required for any shipment to be accepted through customs in Egypt:

  • commercial invoice

  • certificate of origin (CO)(should be authenticated by the Egyptian Consulate in the country of origin)

  • packing list

  • bill of lading

  • pro-forma invoice and letter of credit

Egypt no longer requires import licences for most products, although licences are still required for animal products.

You may need to work with an Egyptian Customs Agent. Contact the DIT team in Egypt at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-egypt#contact-us for further advice and lists of agents.

 

Shipping your goods to Egypt

If you are not knowledgeable about international shipping procedures you can use a freight forwarder to move your goods. A forwarder will have extensive knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transportation costs and banking practices in Egypt.

You can find freight forwarding companies to help you transport your goods to Egypt via the British International Freight Association (BIFA) at: http://www.bifa.org/home or the Freight Transport Association (FTA) at: http://www.fta.co.uk/.

Posting goods

You can find out about sending goods by post to Egypt at: http://www.royalmail.com/egypt.

Shipping restricted, banned and dangerous goods

Special rules apply if you are shipping dangerous goods to Egypt. See: https://www.gov.uk/shipping-dangerous-goods/what-are-dangerous-goods for more information.

You should consider working with a local agent who can advise on the latest import licensing requirements. Contact the DIT team in Egypt at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-egypt#contact-us for assistance and information about third-party advisers.

Terms of delivery

Your contract should include agreement on terms of delivery using incoterms: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/international-trade-paperwork-the-basics#international-trade-contracts-and-incoterms.

UK Export Finance

The UK Government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance (UKEF) – the UK’s export credit agency. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance.

For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see UKEF’s cover policy and indicators for Egypt at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#egypt.

[Source – DIT/UKEF/gov.uk]


 

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