Shipping & Mail Forwarding to Saudi Arabia


Clearance Process

Working with Customs officials throughout the world, FedEx has developed innovative technology to eliminate many paperwork-handling steps and expedite the movement of international shipments. This is the FedEx Expressclear electronic Customs clearance system.  Starting at the origin, state-of-the-art technology allows the processing of shipment paperwork and electronic transmission of documents to the designated FedEx hub and destination clearance location. The Expressclear system also keeps a database of regulatory information which includes importers numbers, broker designation, corporate contact names and telephone numbers.  At a FedEx hub, international shipments are sorted, scanned and loaded onto an international flight. Vital shipment information is keyed into a worldwide manifest database, which is linked to computer systems operated by brokers and Customs officials in many countries.  Even before the plane has taken off, or while it is in the air, Customs agents and brokers at the destination airport of entry can begin examining shipping manifests, querying air waybill data if they need more details, assessing duties and taxes and selecting which shipments they wish to examine.  International shipments are scanned at all key points throughout the process and allows for up-to-date status reports including when Customs clearance is obtained.

The importation of goods into Saudi Arabia is governed by a myriad of laws and import regulations that would be considered unique by western standards. Importers and exporters wishing to do business there must comply with strict adherence to these laws. It is important to remember that the Saudi rule of law, Shariah, is derived from the Holy Quran and the Muslim faith permeates throughout.  Any product deemed contrary to Islamic law is prohibited.

In Saudi Arabia, the Customs department is the government agency responsible for the enforcement of the tariff and Customs rules and regulations. Although, Saudi Arabia is a member of the Customs Coordination Council, customs officers do not have the authority to do investigative work on business premises, nor do they have enforcement powers. These powers are vested with the Ministry of Interior.

Saudi Arabia is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, there are still inconsistencies which go against WTO accepted trade procedures. The United States government is working with the Saudi authorities to upgrade customs valuation procedures.

Every shipment to Saudi Arabia carried via Federal Express International Priority Service, regardless of value or commodity, requires an airway bill and a commercial invoice. Additionally, shipments with a value of $13,000 (USD) or more require a Certificate of Origin legalized by the Saudi Arabia Royal Embassy. Additional documents or permits may be required based on the type of commodity. It is port practice for shipments clearing in the city of Jeddah to require a Certificate of Origin for all commercial shipments. Shipments with a value over $2600.00 (USD) are considered commercial shipments.

Shipments containing dangerous goods are not acceptable to Saudi Arabia via Federal Express International Priority Service.

Registration requirements

Importers of commercial shipments are required to provide Saudi Customs with their importer code number that is listed on their trade license that they receive when they register with their local Chamber of Commerce.

Tariff classification

Saudi Arabia has signed the International Customs Organization's Agreement on Harmonized System Agreement. They have also joined the Agreement on Harmonizing and Simplifying Customs Procedures (KYOTO). Therefore, the Saudi tariff nomenclature is consistent with the harmonized system.


The Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO) has implemented a program known as the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP) that applies to 76 regulated products. The purpose of the program is to protect the Saudi Arabian consumer. ICCP is administered worldwide by Intertech Testing Services and the program consists of two related but separate processes: Registration and Inspection.

Regulated products exported to the Kingdom are required to be registered by the manufacturer and must have a Certificate of Conformity issued by Intertech. Failure to provide this certification will result in the rejection of the import entry by Saudi Arabian Customs. The complete details on how this process works can be found at the ICCP website:

Free Trade Zones

There are no free trade zones in Saudi Arabia.

Temporary Import Bond Shipments

Temporary goods which are imported for promotional use, require an invoice with the value of the goods endorsed by the local Chamber of Commerce, and a certificate of origin. The invoice should clearly state that the goods are being imported for exhibition purposes only and will be re-exported.  A refundable deposit of 5% or 20% must be paid to the Saudi Customs. The customs authorities will collect handling charges.  ***Please note that Federal Express does not accept Temporary Import Bond (TIB) Shipments on FedEx International Priority (FXIP) service.  Please contact your local FedEx customer service representative for alternative shipping services with FedEx which will accept TIB shipments.***

Drawbacks/Return & Repairs

Products imported permanently into Saudi Arabia are subject to payment of Customs Duties. The Saudi Customs regulations do not allow for refund of customs duties unless the importer can prove to the customs department that he is unable to sell the products in the local market. Machinery and the like re-exported for maintenance by the manufacturer are exempted from payment of duties when brought back in the country.

Document Requirements

Every shipment to Saudi Arabia carried via Federal Express International Priority Service regardless of value or commodity requires an airway bill and a commercial invoice. Additionally, shipments with a value of $13,000 (USD) or more require a Certificate of Origin legalized by the Saudi Arabia Royal Embassy. Additional documents or permits may be required based on the type of commodity. It is port practice for shipments clearing in the city of Jeddah to require a Certificate of Origin for all commercial shipments. Shipments with a value over $2600.00 (USD) are considered commercial shipments.

Customs Valuation

For statistical purposes, the valuation of import consignments is based on the Cost-Insurance-Freight (CIF) value. However, all merchandise is appraised by Saudi Customs.  Duties are collected on Customs valuation of the merchandise which are often contrary to the declared for actual transaction value.  Minimum prices are used as well. These practices are not WTO-consistent.  Customs agents rely on their own experiences, contact with manufacturers and local pricing structures when assessing import tariffs.  The valuation of export consignments is based on Free On Board (FOB).

Import Duties

Although the majority of goods imported into Saudi Arabia are exempt from import restrictions, many are still subject to customs duty.  In general, basic consumer products, including rice and sugar, are duty free.  Customs duties of 20% are imposed on selected imported commodities, to provide protection for developing national industries.  Import duty on other items is 5% ad valorem on the cost, insurance, freight (CIF) value and is effective immediately.


Dumping occurs when a non-Saudi Arabian firm sells its product in Saudi Arabia for less than it sells it in its own country in order to gain market share or undermine an existing or emerging industry.  Saudi Arabia can apply anti-dumping or countervailing duties to these products. These additional duties are imposed on a temporary basis to counteract the effects of an unfairly low price or an unfair subsidy to the producer. An example of an unfair subsidy would be government grants, capital loans, favorable loan guarantees, export rebates, and tax incentives.  These duties can only be imposed if the imported goods have caused, or are likely to cause, material harm to the Saudi Arabian domestic market.  

There is an 'Agricultural Calendar' scheme which offers protection for Saudi produce at peak harvest. The scheme imposes additional customs tariffs on imported goods at peak Saudi harvest.

Excise Duties

Additional Duties
There are no additional duties for Saudi Arabia.

Import Taxes
There are no import taxes over the basic five percent duty and customs processing fee.

Customs Fees

There is a 20 (SAR) service charge for each dutiable shipment. 

Exchange Controls

Saudi Arabia imposes no foreign exchange controls and no other restrictions on the repatriation of profits or capital by foreign investors, beyond a prohibition against transactions with Israel.

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)

Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, go to the WTO website at:

Saudi Arabia is negotiating acceptance to the World Trade Organization (WTO). WTO membership should bring about a number of bureaucratic and regulatory changes that are currently viewed as restrictions to trade.

Saudi Arabia's pre-shipment inspection program known as the International Conformity Certification Program (ICCP) is controversial and is seen by many as a barrier to free trade. It adds various costs to imports and can cause delays. Shipments valued under $5000.00 (USD) do not require ICCP.

Genetically modified food (GMO) has specific labeling requirements. If a product contains any genetically modified plant ingredients the information is required to be communicated to consumers via the label. GMO imports must also be accompanied by a certificate issued by the producing country stating that the product was approved for consumption in the country of origin.

The government procurement methods give preference to fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members. GCC members enjoy a 10% price preference over non-GCC products.

Consular Fees

All document requirements to Saudi Arabia must be legalized by one of the Embassies or Consulates General of Saudi Arabia. There is a charge per document or page for both originals and copies.  Please contact your local Saudi Embassy for additional details and charges.

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