One of the characteristics of customs duty is its general scope. It applies to all individuals regardless of their qualities. However, this principle is not absolute. Exceptions, in terms of partial or total exemptions from duties and taxes, are granted based on legal or regulatory texts (Finance Law, Customs Code, Investment Code, International Convention, etc.).

Exemptions constitute an instrument of economic and social policy aimed at promoting economic activity or achieving social equity. The State waives the collection of certain taxes to alleviate the tax burden on certain categories of taxpayers.

They generally concern strategic sectors of the national economy (agriculture, livestock, fishing) and serve to facilitate the implementation of public investments (roads, hospitals, schools, etc.) or external financing. Exemptions also contribute to ensuring the well-being of representatives of States and international organizations.

Given the loss of customs revenue they entail, the use of exemptions is subject to rigorous control.


Several codes contain provisions relating to customs exemptions. This is notably the case with the Customs Code, the Mining and Petroleum Code, and the Investment Code.

Paragraph 1: Exemptions provided for in the Customs Code

The Customs Code constitutes the main legal basis for customs exemptions and privileges. Articles 290 of the national Customs Code and 165 of the UEMOA Customs Code list a series of goods whose importation duty-free may be granted. These include:

• Goods originating from the customs territory or nationalized by the payment of duties and taxes, returned from abroad, except for those which have undergone repair, additional processing, and whose added value is subject to the payment of duties and taxes;

• Gifts made to the State or its branches, and not intended for resale;

• Shipments intended for diplomatic and consular representations, the Red Cross, foreign members of international organizations, and organizations that have concluded a headquarters agreement with the State;

• Shipments intended for museums, libraries, scientific or educational establishments recognized for their quality;

• Donations to religious missions intended exclusively for the exercise of worship, except for any object liable to individual appropriation, notably vehicles, construction materials, musical instruments;

• Exceptional shipments devoid of any commercial character, commercial samples marked as such, of negligible value, advertising material;


This text is an extract from the book “BETTER KNOW CUSTOMS” written by Idrissou IMOROU.

We invite you to read the following article “The Different Forms of Economic Integration“.

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