Import procedures and information on taxes, exemptions and prohibitions

  • Trading activities are open to Mauritanians and foreigners without distinction.
  • All regular importers must be enrolled in the Central Importers Register.
  • Any importer importing at least 30 million old ouguiyas (US$86,000) worth per year, must obtain a tax registration number (Numéro d'Immatriculation Fiscal - NIF) from the Customs.
  • Every enterprise whose capital exceeds 5 million old ouguiyas (US$14,000) must possess an (Numéro d'Immatriculation Fiscal – NIF), as must State suppliers.
  • A single window called "Single Fees and Taxes" (RTU) was set up in June 2016 for the payment of non-customs taxes paid to the Chamber of Commerce, the transport authority and the urban commune of Nouakchott (550 old ouguiyas (US$1.6) per ton). It is attached to the clearance chain.
  • All the customs offices use the automated customs system ASYCUDA++ as a measure to simplify customs procedures.
  • Mauritania has 27 customs offices across the country, of which seven are specialized in the following areas: three in mining, one in fishing, one in the Nouadhibou free zone, and two in hydrocarbons.
  • For every import or export operation, the goods must be declared by approved customs clearing agents or persons specially authorized to clear goods under conditions laid down by decree.
  • The procedure begins with the file being transmitted to the approved customs clearing agent, the issuing of the declaration and its input into ASYCUDA WORLD
  • According to Article 113 of the new Customs Code, a "detailed declaration" must be lodged for all imported goods, together with the following documents:
      • the commercial documents attesting to the purchase of the goods;
      • the transport documents;
      • and the sanitary/phytosanitary certificate, where appropriate.
  • There is a data-processing charge of 3,000 old ouguiyas (US$8.6) per declaration.
  • The clearance procedure comprises an examination of the declaration, an inspection (possibly with a physical examination of the goods), checking of the manifests/freight lists, and the payment of customs duties and taxes. There has been a relative improvement in the examination of the goods as a result of a relaxation of inspection depending on the quality and content of the information entered in the declaration.
  • In principle, all imports require an authorization issued by the Ministry of Trade. However, in practice, this authorization is not required at clearance.
  • The provisions of the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation have been incorporated in the Customs Code since 2002. According to the authorities, Mauritania no longer resorts to minimum import values and applies the WTO Agreement. However, for used cars, the Argus (trade-in) minimum import value is still employed.
  • In cases of infringement of the Customs Code and other import regulations, the sanctions range from the imposition of a fine of from 10,000 old ouguiyas (US$29) to 100,000 old ouguiyas (US$290) to confiscation of the goods and means of transport, or the imposition of a fine equal to four times the amount of the duties and taxes owed on the goods imported, depending on the seriousness of the offence. The penalty for smuggling is imprisonment for a maximum of three years.
  • In the event of appeals arising from a possible dispute, the new Customs Code provides for the creation of two dispute settlement bodies: the National Commission for the Arbitration of Customs Disputes and the Administrative Commission for Conciliation and Settlement of Customs Disputes. At present, according to the authorities, amicable settlements are still very widespread. If the parties are not satisfied with the amicable settlement, the case is brought before a Values Committee and, as a last resort, before the courts.

MFN applied tariff

  • The tariff communicated by Mauritania for the year 2018 is based on the 2017 version of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS).
  • The Import duty called the Droit Fiscal à l'Importation (DFI), it is applied ad valorem on all lines and comprises four rates (zero, 5%, 13% and 20%).
  • Apart from the DFI, the Government collects a uniform statistical fee of 1% on more than 90% of tariff lines.

Duty and tax concessions

  • Mauritania grants exonerations and exemptions from import duties and taxes as indicated in various laws and regulations. The granting procedure, which involves various ministries, and the monitoring of these special regimes.
  • Exemptions and exonerations can be classified in the following categories: exemptions granted to certain companies, in particular, the National Industrial and Mining Company (SNIM) and the Mauritanian Electricity Company (SOMELEC); exemptions granted under the Investment Code; aid and grants; diplomatic exemptions; special exemptions; and other exemptions and exonerations.
  • Mauritania made provisions for “bonded factories” which are establishments under the permanent surveillance of the customs administration with a view to allowing the use or manufacture of products with total or partial relief from the duties and taxes payable. The bonded factory procedure is granted by a decree that establishes the regulations applicable and the obligations upon the operators.
  • There is also provision for temporary admission with total or partial relief from duties and taxes which is granted for goods provisionally introduced into Mauritania with a view to being re-exported after processing or re-exported in the same state. If the goods are not re-exported or warehoused, the discharge of the temporary admission bond-note may exceptionally be authorized against payment of the duties and taxes in force on the date of registration of the notes in question.

Other duties and taxes (ODT) levied exclusively on imports

  • A data-processing fee is charged at the rate of 3,000 old ouguiyas per declaration, whatever the customs procedure is, and all imports are subject to a 1% statistical fee.
  • Since 2011 a 1% culture and sports promotion tax (PCS) has been levied on the c.i.f. value of imports of products of HS chapters 21 to 98, with the exclusion of minibuses, medicinal products, and agricultural tools and equipment.

Value added tax (VAT)

The standard rate of VAT in Mauritania id 16% (2016 Finance Law). A VAT rate of 20% is applied on petroleum products (in 2015) and 16% on telephony (in 2018). Where domestic products are concerned, VAT is applied to the delivery prices of goods and services. VAT on imports is calculated on the c.i.f. value (customs value), plus import duties and taxes, including the tariff and, where appropriate, consumption tax. Traders should collect VAT when they sell their goods.

Exemptions from the normal VAT regime (finance Law 2016)

  1. Operations carried out by natural or legal persons relating to the flat-rate regime with respect to the industrial and commercial profits tax (BIC) and operations subject to the simplified tax regime under Article 28 of the 2016 CGI;
  2. Medical acts, hospitalization costs and haemodialysis equipment and inputs;
  3. Sales made by administrative services or bodies, with the exception of public establishments of an industrial and commercial nature;
  4. Repair and conversion operations relating to: ◦ aircraft intended for airline companies whose services to or from abroad account for at least 80% of all the services they operate; ◦ aircraft belonging to the national airline; ◦ vessels for maritime navigation and vessels for international river navigation registered as such;
  5. Sales to the airlines mentioned under item 4 of products to be incorporated in their aircraft;
  6. The sale of goods or products for supplying ships or aircraft of the airlines mentioned under item 4;
  7. Income from the composition and printing of newspapers and periodicals, excluding advertising income, and sales of those same newspapers and periodicals;
  8. Operations having as their purpose the transfer of the ownership or usufruct of goodwill or a customer base, subject to the formality of registration;
  9. Operations carried out by insurance and reinsurance companies or other insurers, whatever the nature of the risks insured, and which are subject to the single insurance tax;
  10. Operations carried out by banking institutions, finance institutions and credit agencies subject to the tax on the provision of services;
  11. Air transport to foreign destinations and ticketing operations carried out by travel agencies in connection with air transport;
  12. Transport operations carried out by public passenger or freight carriers enrolled in the business register in that capacity and possessing the regulatory authorizations;
  13. Sales to shipping companies and professional fishermen of products to be incorporated in the vessels, together with gear and nets for sea fishing;
  14. The following goods:
    • bread and bakery products and pastry;
    • vegetables, meat, fish, shellfish and crustaceans, provided that these foods are fresh or dried, salted or smoked;
    • seed potatoes, seeds, spores, fruits, bulbs, corms, tubers for sowing, crowns and rhizomes dormant, in growth or in flower, other live plants and roots, including cuttings and slips, and mushroom spawn (mycelium);
    • fresh fruit, normally intended to be eaten in the natural state, excluding kolas;
    • ice;
    • water and electricity supplied in quantities of 8 m3 and 150 kW/h per month and per consumer (16 m3 and 300 kW/h per invoice if the latter covers two months), as well as public standpipes supplying low-income households;
    • domestic production of milk, pasta, couscous, flour and biscuits;

Minimum flat-rate tax (Impôt minimum forfaitaire - IMF)

Imports (other than grants) are also subject to the payment of a minimum flat-rate tax (IMF), which is wholly deductible from the (“Bénéfices Industriels et Commerciaux – BIC) at the rate of 25%), being regarded as an advance payment on the latter. This tax is applicable at 2.5% of the turnover of the most recent closed financial year, with a minimum levy of 750,000 old ouguiyas (US$2,143); at importation, it is levied at the rate of 2.5% of the c.i.f. customs value. The IMF is also imposed on exports of pelagic fish at the rate of 2% of the value of the products exported.

Consumption taxes are applicable only at importation.

Item Consumption taxes (levied exclusively at importation)
Cement 3,000 old ouguiyas (US$8.6) per tonne
Concrete reinforcing bar 15,000 old ouguiyas per tonne (2018 Code Général des Impôts - CGI)
Tea (20%) ad valorem
Powdered sugar (7.5%).
Tobacco products anti-cancer research tax of 7% of the c.i.f. value
All tobacco products 60%
Poultry meat and edible offal (20%)
Yoghurt and other sweetened dairy products (60%)
Scratch-cards (15%)
Mineral water (80%)
Alcoholic beverages (from 195% to 294% depending on the nature of the beverage).
Pasta 30%

Mauritania is not currently applying any quantitative restriction on imports for economic purposes. The following products are prohibited for reasons of safety, health or religious morality (Article 157 of the new Customs Code):

  • animals and goods from contaminated countries, under the conditions envisaged in the legislation on health, veterinary and phytosanitary policy;
  • narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;
  • arms, parts of arms and ammunition, with the exception of arms, parts of arms and ammunition intended for the national army or security forces; arms, ammunition, military uniforms and decorations may be imported only by the competent authorities;
  • pornographic writings, printed matter, drawings, posters, engravings, paintings, photographs, negatives, moulds, reproductions and any object contrary to morality or such as to disturb public order;
  • natural or manufactured products of foreign origin bearing directly on the products themselves or on the packaging a trademark or trade name, name, mark, label or decorative motif comprising a reproduction of national decorations, coats of arms or emblems such as to induce the mistaken belief that they were manufactured in Mauritania or are of Mauritanian origin.
  • Plastic bags


The Customs Code does not contain any prohibitions on imports of alcoholic beverages or pig meat. The importation of prohibited or restricted products may reportedly be authorized by a competent government authority.

The importation of fishing boats is subject to the prior authorization of the Minister responsible for fisheries.

A special regime continues to be applied to imports of petroleum products; the import authorizations are managed by the Ministry responsible for petroleum and energy.

Moreover, in Mauritania there are three lists of plants and plant products which are, in principle, prohibited from being imported or subject to authorization (Section 3.3.3).