This week’s article focuses on clearance formalities for goods imported by post.

All imported goods, including postal articles, are subject to assessment for duty and other taxes and charges that may be applicable. The goods are also assessed for community protection risks, permits and approval requirements.

If goods are received from outside the country as mail (postal articles), the addressee becomes the importer of those goods. Payment of duty on postal importations is, therefore, done at ZIMPOST Offices where the parcels are held pending delivery.

If goods so received are an unsolicited gift sent to you by someone from outside the country, a duty-free concession known as gift rebate of US$75 is granted. What this means is that, if the total Value for Duty Purposes (VDP) does not exceed US$75, you will not be required to pay any duty. If the value exceeds US$75, you will be required to pay duty on the excess amount. The VDP consists of the cost of the items, the postage, insurance and packing (where applicable).

Where you are unable to provide evidence of the value of the goods, the Customs legislation provides other ways of determining the value. If a parcel (one consignment) addressed to you contains goods or other packages that were imported for other people (such as your friends or relatives) and the parcel has a Value for Duty Purposes exceeding US$75, the gift rebate will only apply to the consignment as a whole and not to the individual parcels contained therein. It is important to note that the gift rebate is granted to an individual or family only once in 30 days.

If you import goods yourself for personal use and they come by post, there is no duty-free concession extended to them and you will be required to pay the full duty applicable.

Goods which are not for sale or for commercial or industrial purposes and have been imported by private individuals will be assessed for duty using flat rates of duty. However, should the importer prefer use of tariff rates, he/she may request such application , prior to payment of duty, and the parcel may be returned to ZIMRA by the Post Office authorities for re-assessment.

If your goods arrive in Zimbabwe by mail and require a permit/approval or are restricted or prohibited under any law concerning the importation of goods into Zimbabwe, ZIMRA officials will hold the goods until such time when you can produce the permit or approval. You will, therefore, receive notification to that effect.

Goods which are for resale or commercial purposes and require to be cleared through a bill of entry are also detained and the importers are notified accordingly.

Upon detention of parcels addressed to you, ZIMRA will send you a postal detention notice. If you do not take any action within seven days (for those importers in urban areas) or 14 days (for importers based elsewhere), a second reminder is sent out. The third and FINAL reminder will be sent out again if there is no response after the same period of time and a response time of 10 days is given. If there is still no response, then the goods will be taken to the State Warehouse where rent will start to accrue. If the goods are not cleared within 60 days, they will be disposed of by rummage sale.

Making enquiries about your parcel

ZIMPOST is the official carrier of international mail in Zimbabwe. If you, therefore, wish to track your parcel or make an enquiry about delivery, then you liaise directly with them. But if the enquiry is about duties assessed then you contact the ZIMRA office at the Post Office where the duty was assessed.