Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
Last Published: 8/9/2019
For an imported shipment to be accepted at Customs in Egypt, the shipment must have the following documents:
  • Commercial Invoice: Two copies plus the original document are required. Legalization by the Egyptian consulate in the country of origin is required in most cases.
  • Certificate of Origin: Two copies plus the original document are required. The Certificate of Origin must be authenticated by the Egyptian Consulate in the country of origin. Natural products are considered to originate in the country where the goods are extracted. The Certificate of Origin must bear a statement that the information given is true and correct to the best of the shipper's knowledge.
  • Packing List: A packing list may be required by the consignee and is recommended in most cases.
  • Bill of Lading: A bill of lading must show the name of the shipper, the address, and the number of bills of lading issued. There are no regulations specifying the form or number of bills of lading required for shipment. The number of bills of lading required depends upon the carrier.
  • Pro Forma Invoice: This is an invoice required by the importer for submission along with the import license. It must show the country where the goods were manufactured.
  • Letter of Credit: The Central Bank of Egypt advises all banks operating in Egypt that L/Cs must be covered 100 percent in cash by the importer, except for some food items. This replaces the previous procedure whereby banks and their clients reached their own agreements and usually covered 10-20 percent of an L/C’s value. In general, the exporter may not ship the goods before the Egyptian bank has provided notification of the opening of a L/C. If the goods are shipped before the L/C is opened, the importer runs the risk of being fined up to a maximum of the value of the goods. If the importer does not bear the cost, then the exporter will have lost the value of such a shipment, and in the case of products with a limited shelf-life, the delay at Customs can mean that even if the exporter (e.g. a U.S. company) wanted to take back the shipment, it’s no longer of any use.  According to new regulations, the U.S. exporter must submit the invoice as well as export documentation to his bank and the U.S. bank should inform the Egyptian bank about a request to open the L/C. Import transactions are based on document collections.
  • Content Analysis of the Commodity: Required for those products that may be subject to standards testing.

All certificates issued concerning the shipment of product, and the product description, must be countersigned by the Chamber of Commerce and notarized by the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin.

Investment Barriers
Under the 1986 United States-Egypt Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), Egypt is committed to maintaining an open investment regime. The BIT requires Egypt to accord national and Most-Favored Nation (MFN) treatment (with certain exceptions) to U.S. investors, to allow investors to make financial transfers freely and promptly, and to adhere to international standards for expropriation and compensation. The BIT also provides outlines for binding international arbitration of certain disputes.  Despite these assurances, in recent years U.S. pharmaceutical investors were repeatedly prevented from repatriating profits earned in Egypt.
Based on a review of Egypt’s investment policies, the OECD invited Egypt to join the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.  Egypt signed the Declaration in 2007, becoming the first Arab and first African country to join.  During this process, Egypt agreed to review the restrictions on investors identified in the OECD’s 2007 Investment Policy Review of Egypt, such as certain limits in the tourism sector.

Other Barriers
Pharmaceutical Price Controls
In 2009, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) issued Decree 373 to replace Egypt’s “cost-plus” system of pharmaceutical pricing with a new “reference pricing” system that set the price of brand-name drugs in Egypt 10 percent lower than the lowest international sales price for the drug.  The decree also sets a price ceiling for generic drugs at 60-70 percent of the amount of the brand-name drug, which is higher than the average sales price for generics in Egypt.

In 2012 the decree was replaced by new pricing decree 499 using the same referencing system, with an increase of the pharmacy and distribution margins deducted from the ex-factory prices.  The decree remains in force, though MoHP only enforces the reference pricing elements of the decree but has not implemented pricing adjustments based on exchange rate fluctuations. Pharmaceutical companies have also not implemented the pharmacy or dealer compensation elements of the decree except for the products that enjoyed a price increase. Pharmaceutical companies are engaged with MoHP and seeking the revision of certain “reference pricing” elements of Decree 499.

Sanitary/Phytosanitary Standards
Egypt has a complex array of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and quality standards regulating its food imports.  Inspection and testing procedures are often non-transparent.  Its SPS and TBT measures are frequently not in compliance with Egypt’s WTO obligations and impede market access. U.S. poultry parts and offal, beef and beef products, wheat, soybeans, seed potatoes, and feather meal exports are impacted.

Anticompetitive Practices
Under Egyptian competition law, a company holding 25 percent or more market share of a given sector may be subject to investigation if suspected of illegal or unfair market practices.  The law is implemented by the Egyptian Competition Authority, which reports to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.  However, the law does not apply to utilities and infrastructure projects, which are regulated by other governmental entities.

In 2008, Law 3 of 2005 on Protection of Competition and Prohibition of Monopolistic Practices was amended and passed by the People’s Assembly under Law 190 of 2008. The amendment sets the minimum fine for monopolistic business practices at EGP 100,000 (USD 5,500 and the maximum at EGP 300 million (USD 16 million). It also provides for doubling the penalty in cases where violations are repeated. The first trial under both new laws involved a cement company, which was convicted in 2008 and fined EGP 200 million (USD 11 million), which was upheld on appeal.
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More Information

Egypt Import Regulations Trade Development and Promotion