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How to Import Goods to Sri Lanka

This article summarize the procedure of importing goods to Sri Lanka. New entrepreneurs who want to start a business which involve importing goods to Sri lanka will specially find this article useful. We have also included important information on how you can import personal belongings to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Customs is the regulatory body for all the Imports and Exports of the country. Before going into discuss about the procedure of importing goods, Let me give you an overview about import division of Sri Lanka custom department.

Sri Lanka Customs has been introduced with an automation process which is currently been implemented deploying a more advanced version of ASICUDA World (Automated SYstem for CUstoms DAta). It will provide e-services with the support of service providers which lead to release of exports and imports more speedily thus will enable the Customs to move towards a paperless system.

The Imports Division of the Sri Lanka Customs Department consists of three separate units namely Long Room, “D” branch and Postal Appraising unit according to the functions; headed by Director (Imports and Tariff)

1. Long Room

The Long Room, being the Import Goods Declaration Processing Center for sea cargo which are subject to Customs duty and other levies, is the highest revenue collecting point in the Customs. With the implementation of ASYCUDA system the import document process was computerized and which eventually lead to minimize delays, errors and irregularities and provide efficient and effective service to the trading community.

2. Postal Appraising Unit

Documentation and delivery of all mail cargo are processed in this office. There are separate counters for Air ,Sea, Packets and Express mail. Once the POD (Post Office Document issued by the Postal Department) is submitted the parcel/packet will be examined and appraised by the Customs staff in the presence of the recipient or a nominee and Customs duty and other levies will be collected by the Postal Department.

3.  D” Branch

The “D” branch is the secretariat of the Imports Division and plays a vital role in the Department. This is the final authority for all the classification disputes, exchange and import control violations and all the documents related to these discrepancies are referred to “D”branch for final decision. Duty waivers, concessions and exemptions are registered and provisional CUSDECS and refunds documents are processed here. Registration of Customs house agents, investigations and inquires arising on matters related to the Imports are also conducted in the “D” branch.

Responsibilities and Objectives of the Imports Divisions

  • Collect correct Customs Duties and other levies such as Goods and Services Tax, national.Security Levy, Excise Duty etc on importation.
  • Ascertain whether commodities are correctly classified and valued for collection of correct Customs duty and other levies and statistical purposes.
  • Enforce Customs law and other related laws in the country.
  • Facilitate the trade by providing effective and efficient service.
  • Take suitable actions against the violators of the Customs Law and other related laws.

I hope now you have an idea about the import division of Sri lanka custom and its responsibilities and objectives.

Detailed Import Procedure:

A.  Importing your personal belongings (that you have used in another country)

Documents Required:

  • Passport
  • Residence Visa/Blue Card
  • Unaccompanied baggage declaration must be made at airport
  • Inventory (valued)

Customs Regulations:

  • Customer must be present at time of Customs clearance.
  • Sri Lanka Nationals & Expatriates may import household goods and personal effects duty-free provided they have been outside the country for a year or more
  • Some Customs exemption granted with Residence Visa
  • Shipments must arrive within three months of Customer
  • Refundable Customs deposit payable on all shipments

B.  Importing of Goods

For process the Imports documents, duly filled Customs Form no: 53 (CUSDEC 1 & 11) using the official codes wherever necessary, signed by the consignee and the declarant and submitted to this office with all the required documents. A guideline to fill the CUSDEC forms is published in the Sri Lanka Customs website. Link :

The CUSDECS should be submitted in following copies:

1. Warrant copy  2. Delivery copy  3. Statistical copy  4. Exchange copy  5. R.M.V. copy for motor vehicles  6.            Consignee’s copy  7. Excise copy (if applicable)

Following documents should be always filed along with the CUSDEC:

1. Delivery order  2. Bill of Lading  3. Invoice as per exchange involved  4. Exchange documents  5. Packing list  6.        Certificate of origin  7. Import control license (if applicable)  8. Certificate of registration and translation for used motor vehicles  9. Load port survey certificate for food items  10. S.L.S.I/Quarantine certificate. If applicable)  11.      Catalogues/literature( If necessary).

It is important to submit duly filled CUSDECS with necessary documents to avoid delays.

Pre-imports classification rulings:

As a measure of facilitation to the trade, the Imports Division gives pre import classification ruling on commodities. Importers who desire to have the HS Classification of any commodity that they intend to import, could make an application to the “D” Branch of the Imports Division and obtain such a ruling. At the time of submitting such an application, all particulars of the commodity to be imported, including relevant literature, chemical composition if applicable, the end use of the commodity, etc. will have to be provided. It would be useful if a sample also could be made available to the Customs. Once an application is in order, and had been accepted, a fee of Rs. 300/- has to be paid. Based on the details given by the Importer, the Customs would decide the HS No. applicable to that commodity. This ruling would be binding on the Customs for a period of six months form the date of the ruling.

However, if at any time after the ruling is given, the Customs becomes aware that certain information had been either withheld, or some wrong information had been given by the Importer, and opinion of the Customs had been based on that, the Customs has a right to withdraw the opinion given and change the HS classification, dependent on the new material available, and this opinion would be applicable to all the imports made on the basis of the earlier opinion given.

An opinion given could be periodically renewed by making a fresh application prior to the expiry of the 6 months period.

If at any point of time within the validity period of an opinion, the Customs Administration becomes aware that it had erred and given a wrong HS Number, it would inform the importer, giving the correct HS Number applicable without prejudice to the validity of the ruling for the applicable six months. In such instances, the new HS Number given would be applicable after the earlier ruling expires.

Sandun W

Sandun joined Lanka Help Magazine as a contributor in June, 2011. He has been consistently writing articles to our magazine. Many useful articles of this site are under Sandun's name.

6 thoughts on “How to Import Goods to Sri Lanka

  1. Awesome! Its actually amazing paragraph, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this piece of writing.

  2. If some one desires expert view concerning import of goods to Sri Lanka after that i propose
    him/her to pay a quick visit this webpage, Keep up the good work.

  3. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s really informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  4. What are the procedures to be followed,when a new 150cc bike is been bought and imported to sri lanka from india..And also the tax rates?

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