Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
IAM Note: Contact destination agent for further details.
Kuwait is a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See Travelling during Ramadan
Carry your passport or a Kuwait civil identification card at all times.
Entry to and photography near government, military and industrial and other restricted areas (e.g. near borders and oil fields) is forbidden.
In public, you should dress and behave modestly. Women wearing shorts or tight-fitting clothes, in particular in downtown or conservative areas, are likely to attract unwelcome attention.
The importation or possession of narcotics, alcohol, pork products or obscene material is a crime and can lead to imprisonment.
Possession and abuse of drugs can lead to a prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years, and a heavy fine. Bail is not usually given and even if found not guilty you can expect to spend several months in detention while the case progresses through the judicial system. Penalties for drug trafficking include the death sentence.
Drunken behaviour in public or driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, and/or deportation and the withdrawal of your driving licence.
Sexual intercourse between men and imitating the appearance of the opposite sex are punishable by law. See our information and advice page for LGBT travellers before you travel.
Intimate displays of affection between men and women are also frowned upon.
Co-habiting of unmarried partners in Kuwait is illegal. If you wish to live with your partner in the same house, you need to be married.
Bouncing cheques is illegal and the law does not provide for offenders to be released from custody on bail. Post-dated cheques can be banked immediately.
If you’re involved in a commercial dispute with a Kuwaiti company or individual, you may be prevented from leaving the country pending resolution of the dispute.
The British Embassy can’t intervene with labour disputes.
Valuation Kuwait implemented the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement (Article VII of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade) on 1 January 2001. In compliance with Article VII, Kuwait has agreed to five methods for determining customs valuation. The first criterion is based on transaction value (the price actually paid or payable plus costs and expenses). For transaction value to be applied, the parties must be unrelated. If Kuwait Customs rejects this valuation method, other valuation means can be employed such as transaction value of identical or similar goods, valuation on FOB, or CIF values.
Customs Union Kuwait allows entry of other GCC goods meeting the rule of origin criteria duty free. To receive preferential duty status, 40% or more of the value added of each product must originate in a GCC member country, with 51% of the producing firm’s capital owned by citizens of a GCC country.
In April 2018 Kuwait ratified the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement which will simplify customs and border procedures, improve transparency and access to information, and lower trade costs.
Key Regulatory Areas
Multilateral Export Regimes Technical Advisory Committees Wassenaar Arrangement
Export Administration Regulations The Government Printing Office (GPO) Export Administration Regulation website http://www.export.gov/regulation/index.asp, contains an up-to-date database of the entire Export Administration Regulations (EAR), including the Commerce Control List, the Commerce Country Chart, and a link to the Denied Persons List. EAR revisions are incorporated into this site within 48-72 hours and the EAR can be viewed, downloaded, and searched. This website also includes a table with all the Federal Register notices that revise the text of the EAR since its complete revision on March 25, 1996. In addition, users can subscribe to GPO’s paper version of the EAR from this website. Users can also e-mail the Regulatory Policy Division directly from this website, to get answers to general questions abo ut the EAR. Users can also attach a properly formatted advisory opinion (See Section 748.3c for the proper format) and forward it to BIS by e-mail. Customs Contact Information General Administration of Customs
Importers apply for import licenses from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and must be registered with the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Licenses are valid for one year, are renewable, and allow for multiple shipments.
Import licenses for industrial machinery and spare parts are also required, which are issued by the Public Authority for Industry. Various ministries and agencies also issue licenses for products, including firearms, explosives, pharmaceuticals, and wild or exotic animals.
Only the local agent is authorized to clear items at Kuwait Customs by showing an official letter of representation as well as a letter by the end-user.
Kuwait documentation procedures require a commercial invoice, certificate of origin, packing list, and a bill of lading or airway bill to accompany all commercial shipments. Certain products may require additional licenses or certificates.
One original and two copies are required, plus the certificate of origin. The invoice must contain an accurate description of the goods, marks and numbers, net and gross weights in metric measure, quantity, units, total value, and country of origin, and port and shipping information (name of vessel and transportation means). The invoice should be legalized by a local chamber of commerce or the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.
One original and two copies are required. If products are of U.S. origin, the invoice must also include a statement that the products being shipped are of U.S. origin and have been manufactured in the United States. This rule would also apply to U.S. commonwealths or territories. If the products are of U.S. origin but contain foreign content, the document must include country of origin of the non-U.S goods and percentage of content. The certificate of origin should be legalized by a local chamber of Commerce or the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce.
The packing list must provide detailed information on each item contained in any package and must be stamped with the company seal or stamp of the exporter or freight forwarder.
Three copies of the bill of lading are required. The bill of lading must show the name of the shipper, the name and address of the consignee, port of final destination, description of the goods, listing of freight and other charges, number of bills of lading in the complete set, and the acknowledgement signature that the carrier has confirmed receipt on board of the goods to be shipped.
The import license holder’s name must appear on the bill of lading, and he/she must be a Kuwaiti national.
For questions pertaining to document authentication, please consult with your importer and freight forwarder or customs broker.
The GCC established a customs union when it promulgated and implemented the Unified Customs Law and Single Customs Tariff, resulting in a common external tariff of 5% for most imported goods. Kuwait and other GCC countries reserve the right to assess certain exceptions until a uniform list of goods exempt from tariffs is adopted by all GCC member states. Kuwait officially approved the Single Customs Tariff on April 1, 2003, thereby setting a 5% import duty (CIF) on most goods. Exempt from the Single Customs Tariff are certain basic foodstuffs and medicines or medical items, which are duty free. Tobacco products are assessed a 100% duty.
Duties are to be paid in Kuwaiti dinars (KD). The dinar is pegged to a basket of currencies. U.S. companies needing assistance in determining their harmonized tariff schedule code number or requesting information on specific products should contact a U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center (USEAC).
Free import of 500 cigarettes or 2 lbs. of tobacco.
Prohibited is the import of alcoholic beverages and narcotics, unsealed milk products and salty fish unsealed (eaten without cooking), mineral water, olives and pickles not sealed by original manufacturer, food made at home (abroad) and fresh vegetables ready to eat, fresh figs, seashell having flesh and its by-products
Kuwait prohibits importing pork, alcoholic beverages, gambling machines, pornographic materials, and narcotics. Firearms and explosives require special import procedures.
A permit, issued by the Kuwait Ministry of Interior, is required from passengers wishing to import a firearm.
Note: the transporting airline’s station manager must be informed prior to arrival in case of Air Marshalls traveling on a flight.
Free export of cigarettes and tobacco products without restrictions.
Pets may be imported in cabin, as hold baggage or as cargo if:
Import is only allowed for falcons and pet birds (pigeons), incubating eggs and one day old chicks from Albania, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palestinian Territory, Thailand, Ukraine and Zimbabwe are allowed if adhering to the rules of veterinary quarantine and regulations.
All pets imported into/through Kuwait are subject to quarantine (located at the Air Cargo Terminal area). Four percent of the value of pets in Bill of Lading should be collected as Customs Tax.
Prohibited: all pets from Iraq.
Baggage is cleared at Kuwait International Airport.
Exempt: checked baggage of transit passengers with an onward connection to a third country.
Currency Import regulations:
Import of local currency (Kuwait Dinar-KWD) and foreign currencies up to a maximum of KWD 3000.- or equivalent, in currencies or gold bullion.
Currency Export regulations:
Export of local currency (Kuwait Dinar-KWD) and foreign currencies without restrictions. Customs Authorities must be informed about export of gold bullion.
Only certain animal species may be imported (cats, dogs, birds, etc.); contact the destination agent for specific information.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
Only Kuwaitis and their first degree relatives are allowed to enter Kuwait until further notice.
Visit visas are not issued on arrival or at Embassies outside Kuwait, until further notice
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
The Kuwaiti Government automatically extended visit visas and residency visas that expired after 1 March 2020 until 30 November 2020. A small number were subsequently extended for further three month periods. This only applies to visa holders already in Kuwait. If you hold valid Kuwaiti residency and are outside Kuwait, your residency is now valid until its expiry date, and does not automatically expire after 6 months outside Kuwait.
The Kuwaiti Government has suspended the visa on arrival and e-visa service. You should get a visa in advance from the Kuwaiti Embassy in London when this service reopens. On arrival in Kuwait, the immigration authorities may ask to see evidence of return or onward travel, a sponsor’s letter and hotel confirmation. For further information, contact the Embassy of Kuwait, 2 Albert Gate, London, SW1X 7JU (telephone 020 7590 3400).
For visit visas, obtained on arrival or in advance, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Kuwait.
For residency visas, your passport should be valid for a minimum of 2 years.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Kuwait. However, ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from Kuwait. Residents and tourists will need to get an exit stamp before leaving. Kuwait residency permits are cancelled when an ETD is issued.
If you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you may be refused a visa and/or entry into Kuwait.
For work or residency visas, apply to the Kuwaiti Embassy in London.
If you intend to use UK documents like academic records, marriage certificates, or your driving licence in your application, you should have all such documents authenticated by the FCDO in the UK or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country in which they were awarded and the nearest Kuwaiti Embassy. The same procedure is necessary for children’s birth certificates.
Your employers should not retain your passport.
Violent crime against foreigners is rare. However, you should take care if you intend to travel in conservative areas like Jahra, where there have been incidents involving firearms, and Jleeb Al Shuyoukh where there have been instances of robbery.
You should only use authorised road border crossing points into Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Border posts can be easily missed on the Kuwait-Saudi Arabian border, however you must get an exit or entry stamp before continuing your journey. Any other unauthorised movement near borders is illegal and dangerous. Armed guards patrol border areas. If you plan to cross the border from Kuwait into Iraq, make sure you have the correct paperwork. See the Iraqi Embassy to Kuwait website for more information
Landmines and other hazardous ordnance are still present in Kuwait. You should avoid off-road driving. If you do travel off-road, restrict your movements to clearly identifiable tracks, and take great care even if an area has been officially cleared. Don’t pick up any strange metal, plastic or other objects lying around.
If you have a visit visa, you can drive in Kuwait using an International Driving Permit (IDP) or a valid UK licence. From 28 March 2019, you should have the 1968 version IDP, as 1926 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Kuwait after this date. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
Before driving you must obtain third party insurance in Kuwait. If you’re hiring a car, you can usually get insurance through your car hire company. If you’re planning to drive a car belonging to a relative or friend then you’re responsible for obtaining insurance. The insurance document must be kept with you at all times while driving.
If you’re applying to live in Kuwait, see our Living in Kuwait guide for information on driving licences.
Driving is hazardous. Many drivers pay little attention to other road users; drive in excess of speed limits, switch lanes without warning, ignore traffic lights and use mobile phones while driving.
If you have an accident you must stay with the vehicle. Call the police on 112 and don’t attempt to move the vehicle before they arrive. If you have a major accident, where there are serious injuries or the car is not drivable, you must stay with the vehicle if it is safe to do so, call the police on 112, and do not attempt to move the vehicle before they arrive. If you have a minor accident, where there are no serious injuries and the car is drivable, try to take pictures of any damage to the vehicles involved in the accident if it is safe to do so. Record the licence plate numbers of any vehicles involved, and move the vehicle from the road to avoid blocking traffic (you can be fined if you fail to do so). Call the police and follow their instructions on what to do next.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, including near maritime boundaries and the islands of Bubiyan and Warbah in the northern Gulf and Abu Musa, and the Tunbs in the southern Gulf. The area in the northern Gulf, between Iran, Iraq and Kuwait has not been demarcated and vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected. There have been occasional arrests. Make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.
Following maritime restrictions issued by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior in 2011, you should take care when sailing in Kuwaiti waters. You should also remain alert to the effect any regional tensions may have on your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be under an increased risk of maritime attack.
Take care when travelling by Dhow, as the safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.
Demonstrations and protests are uncommon in Kuwait and are normally, but not always, peaceful. Rioting is rare. You should be vigilant, avoid demonstrations, follow the advice of the local authorities, and be alert to local and regional developments.