FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR GOODS HANDLED AT ENTEBBE AIRPORT

Q. What are dutiable goods?
 
These are goods which are subject to payment of taxes when imported into the country.
 
Q. What are prohibited goods?
 
Prohibited goods are goods whose importation is strictly not allowed by any law in force. For example, used electronics such as used computers/Laptops, used fridges, used TV sets, used underwear among others. If you are found/convicted of importing prohibited items, the penalty ranges up to 5 years in prison or a penalty of 50% of the value of subject goods and the costs of destruction.
 
Q. What are Restricted goods?
 
These are goods whose importation into Uganda is regulated and require prior clearance by the competent government agency. Examples include, live animals, minerals, medicines, drones, animal products, items related to wildlife.
 
Q. Are goods for personal use or gifts such as a new mobile phone subject to taxes when passenger arrives with them at Entebbe airport? 
 
The law Exempts goods for personal use for every arriving passenger with a companied baggage who meets the following conditions 
  1. the Total value of the subject goods does not exceed USD 500$ 
  2. the goods are not for commercial purposes 
  3. the goods are not for distribution to other persons 
  4. the passenger arriving with the goods must have been outside the country for more than 24 hours 
  5. the items must have been in company of the arriving passenger. 
In the event that any of the above condition has not been fulfilled, then the goods in company of the arriving passenger will pay the applicable taxes
 
Q. As a passenger arriving from outside the country with goods for personal use, do I need to have a tax identification number to clear them and will I have to use the agent? 
 
Clearance of passenger accompanied baggage through customs does not require a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and no need to use of customs agent.  This is however limited to the goods whose value does not exceed USD 2000. In the event that the goods in passenger accompanied baggage exceed US D2000 or such goods are for a company or an organisation, then the TIN will be required and services of licensed customs clearing agent will be necessary.
 
Q. Are goods for donations subject to taxation?
 
Goods given as donations may be subject to tax if the goods are not exempt by law or if the receiver of the donation is not exempted from payment of taxes by law. Exemptions are provided for under section114 of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004 as amended and the list of specific exemptions/ Exempt organisations or persons is as per fifth schedule Part A and General Exemptions are in fifth schedule part B 
 
Q. Why are used laptops prohibited yet most Ugandans cannot afford new ones like schools in rural areas?
 
Used computers were prohibited in Finance act of 2009 under section 2 of the act. This is largely aimed at protecting environment. When the government banned used computers, it dropped import duty to 0% for new laptops.
 
Q. Why does URA charge my goods taxes when I bought them from duty free shop?
 
Goods sold in duty free shops have not paid taxes in the country where they are being sold from. The taxes are expected to be paid in the destination country where the goods will eventually be consumed. In the event that you arrive into Uganda with goods bought from duty free shop in the departure country and the said goods exceed the allowable limit for each passenger, then the goods will be taxable.
 
Q.  How does customs determine the value of my goods for tax purposes and why are taxes sometimes more than the amount I spent to buy my goods?
 
The primary method of determining the value of goods for tax purposes is Transaction value method. This implies that the importer has all necessary commercial documents relating to the subject goods. In the absence of authentic documents/Invoice, Receipts etc customs is empowered by law to determine the value of the goods using alternative methods including using the value of identical goods or similar products. 
 
Q. Are Transit goods subject to taxes when I arrived with them at Entebbe International Airport?
 
Transit goods are not subject to payment of taxes when you arrive with them at Entebbe. However, you will be required to process Transit documents and the subject goods will transit Uganda and bond. In the event that a traveler is not prepared to process Transit declaration, then taxes will be due as customs cannot guarantee that the said good will exit the country without being consumed. 
 
Q. Why do I pay penalty when you have confiscated my used Laptops, and I am not getting them back? 
 
Used Computers fall into the category of Prohibited goods in Uganda. Importing Prohibited goods is a crime and if convicted attracts penalty of up to 5 years in jail or in place of imprisonment, you pay penalty equivalent to 50% the Commercial Value of the subject goods or both.
 
If you arrive with used computers including used laptops, customs will seize the goods, extract a statement from you and if you admit in writing, customs may compound the case with penalty, upon payment of the penalty, the used laptops will be forwarded for destruction at the owners’ costs or the owner will be ordered to re-export them back to the origin country.
 
Q. We have travelled but why don’t we see payment of taxes at passenger baggage in other countries?
 
Different Countries have different Laws regarding what is allowed as passenger baggage and what is not, because each country is sovereign, the treatment will vary from one country to another. 
 
Q. Why are drones not allowed in Uganda?
 
Importation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) into Uganda is restricted on security grounds. This implies that you need clearance from Security Agencies of Uganda in order to be allowed to import and operate a drone in Uganda 
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