How to Import to Timor-Leste?

Preparation Steps

1. Correct Documents
  • Make sure that you prepare all of the correct import documents that are required to pass the customs formalities, and fulfil all compliance and regulations. Valid documents help increase the efficiency of the Customs Clearance process.
  • Required documents: Zoo or phytosanitary certificate; Certificate of origin issued by the local health service, certifying that the referred item originates in an area known to be free from quarantine pests or diseases; Commercial import authorization, pursuant to applicable legislation.
2. Business Certificate
  • Obtain a business certificate from SERVE. This is a license to carry out economic activity in Timor-Leste.
  • To import goods on a commercial basis, you must obtain authorization from the SERVE.
  • Fill the Application Form for Business Registration and Licensing (Serve F1-3)
  • See here for the different requirements for different types of businesses
3. TIN
  • Request the TIN for business from the Tax Authority. This is to ensure that illegal and dangerous goods don’t enter the country and that revenue is collected properly by the Customs Authority to further facilitate trade and boost economic growth.'
  • For the TIN, fill the TIN Application Form. Different types of businesses need to fill different forms, see here
To obtain the commercial license, prepare the following data:
    a) For individuals: name, age, nationality, place of birth and domicile
    b) For commercial companies: trade name and head office
    c) Commercial activity being requested
    d) Evidence of commercial registration by the pertinent entity and respective by-laws
    e) Location of the premises or the address of the requesting party in the case of street vending or merchant

Good to know

Timor-Leste prohibits the following products from being imported:
  1. Any proteins for animal feeding containing any meat powder, bone powder, blood powder, or fat from mammal tissues;
  2. Poultry powder for ruminant feeding;
  3. Any products from cows, sheep, or goats showing clinical signs of Spongiform 4 Encephalopathy;
  4. Any animals or any products of any animals showing clinical symptoms of certain diseases including, for example, foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu; and
  5. Non-transformed fat.

There are Specific Import Requirements for Animals, Plants, and Vegetables. Import licenses issued by the National Directorate of Quarantine and Biosecurity are required for all:
  1. Live animals;
  2. Live plants;
  3. Animal or vegetal products; and
  4. Any other goods, or merchandise, animal, or vegetal organism as specified by law.

The rate of import duty is 2.5 per cent of the customs value of the goods. Some goods are exempt from import duty.
  1. Imports of the type:
  2. - Exempted under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and Consular Relations of 1963;
    - Exempted under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations
    - Exempted under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies.
  3. Goods re-imported in the same condition in which they were exported.
  4. Goods, other than alcohol or tobacco imported by registered charitable organizations.
  5. Goods are to be used for humanitarian assistance and relief, education or health care.
  6. Goods for temporary admission.

Import License

To obtain an import license, you are required to submit the completed application form and attach a certificate of origin to the National Directorate Quarantine and Biosecurity. There are separate applications forms for different goods.

Import Plant Materials
This includes fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, plants or plant parts, tissue cultures (including in-vitro laboratory use) or seeds.

Live Animals, Reproductive Materials, Meat or Meat Products
This includes liver animals (for example, livestock, horses, laboratory animals, fish and insects), or reproductive material (for example, animal semen, fertile avian eggs, and embryos).

Biological Materials
This includes food stuffs for human consumption, animal feeds, fish feeds, therapeutics, cosmetics, vaccines, viable organisms, organic fertilizers, dried/processed plant material, laboratory material, and any other biological commodities.

Other Materials
This includes mined guano, chemical fertilizer, and machinery.

Required Documents

  • Quarantine certificate issued by the competent authorities of the exporting State.
  • Submission to post-import quarantine
  • Phytosanitary certificate issued by the country or district of origin to be submitted to National Directorate of Quarantine and Biosecurity service for inspection.
  • Fumigation certificate issued by the exporting country.
  • Inspection upon arrival in the national territory or in the import health district.
  • Import authorization in the case of importation into the national territory.
See Quarantine Requirements in Timor-Leste for further details.

Additional license for certain goods are also needed:

Imports of Drugs and Medicines: The National Drugs and Medicines Policy requires all parties involved in the procurement, import and distribution of medicines to follow the WHO Certification scheme, and the WHO based guidelines on good distribution and storage practices and good pharmacy practice procedures. All drug importers are required to be licensed by the National Drug Administration.

Imports of Fuel and Gasoline: A trading license permitting the import of fuel may only be issued to companies meeting the Minimum Requirements by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and National Petroleum Authority.

Imports of Vehicles: Importers of vehicles for sale, including leasing require written approval before the goods are dispatched, from both the National Directorate of External Trade, MTCI, and the Land Transport Department, Ministry of Transport and Communications. Importer must obtain a permit from the National Director of Ground Transporation. See Importing cars and motor vehicles for further details.

Imports of Explosives: Explosives for military use and construction (mining) require an import permit from the Ministry of Defense and National Security.

Imports of Equipment Containing Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC): Import equipment containing HCFC are required to register with the National Ozone Unit located in the MTCI.

Import Procedures

Once the documentation and legal requirements have been fulfilled, you should use the ASYCUDA system to ensure smooth customs process during the arrival of goods.

Within 24 hours before shipment come, the shipping agency enters the customs manifest into the "ASYCUDA" system
1 day

Broker submit "Declaration of Customs" into the "ASYCUDA" system
1 day

Customs staff verify the declaration form. They review the cargo value and credentials of the Importers
Up to 2 days

Broker and importers will pay applicable customs duty and levies (if any) and receive a receipt from the bank
Depend on the value of the goods

Then, the declaring party presents the receipt to Customs
Up to 7 working days

Customs release the cargo goods after confirming the receipt from bank
If more than 30 days, the declaring party will be penalized with demurrage

  • When imported goods arrive, they are initially considered to be in “temporary storage.”
  • Timor-Leste legally requires the goods to be placed under a “customs treatment” within a specified time frame.
  • Goods must be declared to customs as an import, re-export, or placed in an approved bonded warehouse facility.
  • Your business must submit the Customs declaration within a strict timeframe. Failure to do so will result in a financial penalty.
  • Arrival by sea: 30 business days
  • Arrival by air or land: 20 business days