This article focuses on when, how and on what goods are detained by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) through issue of a Receipt for Items Held and Notice of Seizure.

  1. Receipt for Items Held (RIH)

This is a receipt issued when goods are detained pending fulfilment of certain conditions by the owner of the goods. The circumstances when goods are detained on Receipt for Items Held are as follows:

  1. a) When an importer properly declares dutiable goods but is unable to simultaneously pay the duties due.
  2. b) When an importer or exporter properly declares controlled goods but does not have the required permit or licence for the goods.

c)When an importer or exporter properly declares goods but does not have adequate documentation to enable the clearance.

d)When goods are abandoned or when the importer or exporter is unknown.

  1. e) Any other instances which warrant that the goods be detained.
  • Period of detention for goods on Receipt for Items Held

The owner of the detained goods is able to claim the goods upon fulfilment of the detention conditions within a maximum of sixty (60) days from the date of detention. Thereafter, ZIMRA can dispose of the goods through rummage sale or appropriation to the state.

  1. Notice of Seizure

Goods are seized when they are the subject matter of an offence on importation or when an importer contravenes the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act (Chapter 23:02) and any other laws relating to Customs and Excise.

  • Some of the most common offences are:
  1. a) Smuggling
  2. b) False Declaration.
  3. c) Forgery of documents for Customs and Excise purposes.
  4. d) Bribery
  5. e) Use of vehicle for smuggling purposes
  6. f) Prohibited goods
  • Period of detention for seized goods

The goods are detained until such time when:

  • The person from whom the goods were seized has made written representations to the Regional Manager for possible release of goods.
  • The owner of the goods has met the conditions set out by the Commissioner.

Such time should not exceed ninety (90) days from the date the goods were seized. Thereafter, ZIMRA can dispose of the goods through various disposal methods, which are available.

  1. Release of Detained Goods

Storage charges in the form of state warehouse rent for goods detained in a ZIMRA state warehouse are also payable and accrue from the date of detention to the release date. Please note that for goods held at a container depot, transit shed, or any other designated customs area, the storage charge applicable shall be that charged by the operator and the charge is paid to the operator.

  1. How Are Goods Disposed of by ZIMRA?

The following are some of the disposal methods:

  • • Sale of goods through a public auction.
  • • Sale of goods through an informal tender.
  • • Destruction of perishable and dangerous goods.
  • • Appropriation to the state.

Please note that perishable goods and dangerous goods may also be sold out of hand before the expiry of the sixty or ninety-day period.


This article was compiled by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for information purposes only. ZIMRA shall not accept responsibility for loss or damage arising from use of material in this article and no liability will attach to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

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