Customs regulations for your trip to Kuwait

Last modified: July 25, 2023
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Customs regulations

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport (picture and signature page)
  • Packing list
  • Delivery order from shipping line (sea freight)
  • Civil ID copy for consignee
  • Temporary import license
  • ‘Itimad towkia’ copy from local sponsor company
  • Work permit copy/ “Izanamal” (in Arabic)
  • Valid Kuwaiti residence copy (stamped in passport)
  • Company authorization letter from employer confirming employment (2 copies)
  • Original bill of lading/ express release / seaway bill / air waybill (AWB)
  • Temporary work entry visa / NOC copy (duly stamped by Kuwait Immigration upon arrival to Kuwait) (air freight)

 Specific Information

  • Consignee’s presence is mandatory during inbound shipments.
  • The Kuwaiti residence copy must be a minimum of 12 months validity.
  • Temporary import license may only be obtained after the following documents from above are available at destination at least 5 days prior to arrival of the shipment in Kuwait:
    • Delivery order from shipping line
    • Packing list
    • Company authorization letter (2 copies)
    • ‘Itimad towkia’ copy from local sponsor company
    • Passport copy
    • Work permit copy
    • Valid Kuwaiti residence copy
    • Civil ID copy
  • Diplomats are permitted duty-free entry.
  • There is a 5% Customs duty applicable on all non-diplomatic sea imports.
  • Kuwaiti Customs will determine further charges depending on weight, volume, and type of HHG shipment.

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

  • High Performance Computers
  • Encryption
  • Deemed Exports FAQ’s
  • Process Improvements and Guidance
  • Anti-boycott Regulations
  • Regional Considerations

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

License

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.

Documentation

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.

Commercial Invoice
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.

Certificate of Origin

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.

Packing List

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.

Bill of Lading

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.

Dutiable Items

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).

Import regulations:

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

  • Books, audio/video tapes, and music may be imported but are subject to censorship.
  • Items manufactured by companies on the Israeli Boycott list will be confiscated.
  • The inclusion of medicine and drugs for medicinal purposes will invariably cause delays in clearance.
    • A special release order from the Ministry of Health is required.
  • Computer modems are subject to registration and an initial fee levied by the Ministry of Communication of approximately $400 USD and a renewable fee of $400 USD per year; this is not a Customs requirement but a requirement of the Ministry of Communication and is administered by the Department of Customs.
  • Do not include new electronic items in shipments.

Prohibited Items

Kuwait prohibits importing pork, alcoholic beverages, gambling machines, pornographic materials, and narcotics. Firearms and explosives require special import procedures.

  • Alcohol (including but not restricted to liquors, wine and beer) as well as alcohol producing kits/machinery
  • Pork products
  • “Walkie-Talkie” type radios
  • Narcotics, drugs, stimulants
  • Pornographic books, magazines and other media
  • Weapons, including antique weapons, firearms and ammunition
  • All materials and products connected with or manufactured by Israel
  • Statues, art work and literature defined as offensive to Islamic teachings and principles

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

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.

Export regulations:

Free export of cigarettes and tobacco products without restrictions.

Pets:

Pets may be imported in cabin, as hold baggage or as cargo if:

  • holding prior approval from the General Directorate for Agricultural and Sea Wealth and a Veterinarian Good Health Certificate issued at point of origin; and
  • transported in a proper box or cage according to IATA regulations.

Live birds:

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 Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at Kuwait International Airport.

Exempt: checked baggage of transit passengers with an onward connection to a third country.

Currency

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.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Certificate of title / manufacturer certificate (issued from vehicle manufacturer office)
  • Original commercial invoice
  • Certificate of origin (new vehicles)
  • NOC certificate issued from origin traffic department
  • Vehicle GSO certificate (should provide from vehicle manufactures office – new vehicles)
  • Certificate of import
  • Proof of ownership
  • Original bill of lading
  • Mechanical certificate from origin stamped by the Public Port Authority in Kuwait

 Specific Information

  • Customs duties are charged at a rate of 5% on the value of the vehicle as estimated by Kuwait Customs in addition to bank charges.
  • Motor vehicles older than 5 years cannot be imported.
  • Only Kuwait nationals are allowed to import vehicles for personal use in their name.
    • A resident / expatriate is not allowed to import vehicles in their name.
  • If a temporary import license is required by customs for auto import than a consignee must obtain it directly from the Ministry of Commerce in Kuwait.

Pets

Documents Required

  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate

 Specific Information

Only certain animal species may be imported (cats, dogs, birds, etc.); contact the destination agent for specific information.

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