Time taken to import goods into a country is determined by import regulations, documentation processes, traffic in the ports, and the operations of the customs offices. In some countries, such as Afghanistan, it takes over 800 hours to import goods into the country while in some countries, including Singapore, it takes only 12 hours. In an era where the information and computer technology (ICT) sector is dominating business operations, most countries are adopting digital ways of conducting paperwork when importing goods. Digital paperwork has significantly reduced the time it takes to import goods by almost 30% according to 2014 Forbes report. Countries such as France and Ireland have reduced their import paperwork to just two documents. However, there are some countries with as high as 17 documents required to import goods. Some of the countries requiring the most paperwork to import goods are looked at below.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is one of the countries with the highest levels of import restrictions and delays. The country’s complex trade legislation regulations and excess paperwork have limited the number of import goods into the country. According to World Bank Doing business project, an importer is required to fill in 17 documents to import goods or receive merchandise into the Central African Republic. Some of these documents include a bill of lading, electronic cargo tracking note, commercial invoice,certificate of origin, import declaration form, insurance, packing list, import license, and transit documents. These documents are mandatory before goods are released to the owner. Any missing document means a delay in accessing import goods.
Ivory Coast is one of the largest economies in West Africa, accounting for 40% of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Many companies and organizations, including Africa Development Bank, house their operations in Ivory Coast’s capital city of Abidjan. The country faces several challenges especially in doing business including corruption, poor infrastructure and import delays among other problems. Import delay is mainly caused by congestion in the ports and a great deal of paperwork involved in importing commodities. Importers are required to have thirteen documents when shipping products into Ivory Coast including bill of landing, pre-import declaration, commercial invoice, cargo release order, certificate of origin, import declaration, packing list, electronic cargo tracking note, insurance certificate, import license, inspection report, and terminal handling receipt.
Nigeria has several import regulations on goods entering the country. Anyone importing goods in Nigeria will have to process form ‘M’ through the bank. The form and relevant Pro-forma contain the details and description of the goods imported. All imports into the country must be accompanied by 13 documents according to World Bank. These documents include a packing list, combined certificate of value and origin, manufacturer’s certificate of production, bill of lading, letter of credit, laboratory test certificate, customs fee payment receipt, exit gate, cargo release order, and terminal handling receipt.
Rationale for Highly Involved Import Filing Processes
A significant quantity of paperwork is required by these countries to reduce, if not virtually eliminate, the possibility of receiving contraband goods into the country. Besides, the paperwork ensures that all the custom requirements are met. However, with such a significant amount of paperwork, there is a duplication of information and delays, often leading to a loss for the importer. Other countries that require most paperwork documentation when importing include Uzbekistan (13), Liberia (12), Kazakhstan (12), South Sudan (12), Cameron (12), Mongolia (12), Malawi (12), Tajikistan (12), Eritrea (12), and Burkina Faso (12).