Imports/Exports Procedures

Import procedure:

Customs Clearance / Introduction:

It is a common belief by the importers in Pakistan that custom clearance is very difficult, time consuming and cumbersome procedure. As a result it has become a common practice to engage a clearing agency in fulfilling the requirements and procedures of the customs departments, as well as clearance of consignments. However a part of the negative perception relates to the low awareness level about the compliance requirements for import procedure. It can be divided into two major segments. First, appraisal, where the goods are physically verified and customs duty is calculated and second appraisal where the actual or final duty is calculated and levied upon the importer. This document covers all the necessary aspects, which is the fundamental part in clearance of goods/shipment and the process of assessment of customs duty and taxes. Shipments may be received at either the Sea, Airport or Dry port declared by the customs authorities as customs ports, customs airport and land customs station; the procedure for clearance is same for every customs station.

Arrival of the Goods at Customs Ports:

The Federal Board of Revenue off and on declares the customs ports comprising of sea, land and air ports for the purposes of clearance of goods. The customs clearance process starts with the arrival of cargo ship, plane or other carrier of goods in the country on the designated sea, land and air ports. Upon arrival of the goods at the customs port, the port authorities issue the Import General Manifest (IGM) to each shipment. It is a number indicating the serial of the shipment arrived during the year. Upon receipt of the IGM the consignment is further indexed to allow for a systematic reference of all goods received. After issuing this number, the shipment is off loaded and sent back to port warehouse. In the case of land customs station i.e. dry port etc. the IGM is issued not at the time the goods reach the land customs station but at the time the goods are off loaded at the sea or airport. Upon arrival of the off loaded goods, the clearance process starts. Normally at this point a clearing agency is engaged by the importer to facilitate the process of customs clearance and to reduce interface with the customs officials.

Clearance Procedure for Imports:

Following documents are required and provided to the clearing agent for processing:

  • Invoice of shipment
  • Packing list
  • Bill of lading
  • Copy of the Letter of Credit or Contract
  • Copy of the Sales Tax Registration Certificate as an importer
  • Copy of the National Tax Number
  • Copy of the most recent sales tax return

Note:        There is no import/export license

Checklist of Documents for Import:

Process phases Documents/information Required
First phase (ordering) Purchase order
Order Acknowledgment
Performa invoice
Letter of credit
Shipment Advice & Plan
Second phase (Documentation) Commercial invoices
Packing list
Bill of Lading/Airway bill
Weight Note
Health certificate
Halal Certificate
Certificate of analysis
Sanitary certificate
Insurance cover note or Marine insurance
Third Phase (Clearance) Bill of entry(Goods Declaration)
Duty receipt
Excise duty Receipt
Transportation if any
Fourth phase (Remittance)  Submission of documents
Remittance telex
Payment done

Note: Bill of Lading/Airway Bill is most important document without this consignment cannot be released by bank.


Export Procedures:

  • Register your business name and get NTN, Sales Tax number/certificate
  • Open a bank account
  • Register business with relevant Chamber of Commerce & Industry 
  • Select a product for export
  • Identify potential market
  • Do market specific research including size of the potential market, product preference, unit price, import regulations, certifications required, etc
  • Quote a price including packing cost, processing cost, insurance, credit, agent’s commission, octroi duties, documentation fee, marking charges, transportation charges, export duties, etc
  • Packaging should be strong and as per client’s requirements
  • Select a mode of transport keeping in view the perishability of the product
  • For financing pre-shipment or post-shipment credits are also available
  • Insurance to recover cost in case of loss (optional)
  • Sign a contract with the prospective Buyer including names of exporter/importer, unit price, total quantity, terms of delivery (FOB, C&F etc), currency and terms of payment (Cash Against Documents or through Letter of Credit), mode of shipment, etc
  • Select a suitable clearing & forwarding agent
  • Prepare shipping documents
  • Transport the consignment

Documentation Checklist:

Following documents vary according to consignment:

  • E-Form (through authorized Commercial Bank).
  • B/L or AWB (through clearing agents)
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate Country of origin (through Chamber)
  • Phytosanitary inspection certificate (through Plant Protection Dept)
  • Pre-shipment certificate (if required)
  • Non GMO certificate (for selected countries like China)