How to apply for customs licenses

The Department issues license and renew the existing licenses from time to time (Normally once in a Year) Eligible firms wishing to operate as Customs Agents, Customs Bonded Warehouses/Manufacture Under Bond Operators, Transporters of Goods under Customs Control or Inland Container Depots/Container Freight Stations Operators are normally invited to submit their applications to the Commissioner for Customs and Excise provided they meet the General Conditions as well as Specific Conditions for the respective license category.

A)   GENERAL CONDITIONS (for all license categories)

  1. Validated Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate for the Company;
  2. Validated Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate for each Director;
  3. VAT Registration Certificate, if any (for new applicants only)
  4. Current Tax Clearance Certificate, with a letter in support thereof showing tax position for the current year;
  5. Certified copy of a valid relevant business license;
  6. Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company (for new applicants only);
  7. Certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and Business Name Registration Certificate, where applicable (for new applicants only);
  8. A recent passport size photograph (not more than one megabyte) for each director of the company and at least two competent permanent technical staff who will transact Customs business (for all new applicants and for renewal only where there are changes);
  9. A valid identification document for each of the persons referred to in (8) above i.e. National ID, Driving License, Passport or Voter Registration ID (for all new applicants and for renewal only where there are changes);
  10. Letter(s) from guarantor(s) confirming annual premium remittances in respect of relevant bond securities (for renewals), or a relevant Customs security bond (for new applicants prior to issuance of license).
  11. A certified copy of title deed or lease agreement for a suitable office for the company which should be equipped with computing facilities capable of connecting to the Tanzania Customs Integrated System (TANCIS) – to be subjected to verification prior to granting of license;
  12. Non-existence of any outstanding Customs matter i.e. audit query, abandoned TANSADs, outstanding transit transactions or any other unresolved Customs issue (for renewals);


 Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents 

An application shall be made on the customs prescribed form (Form C.20) and must be accompanied with:

1)     Proof of payment of application fee – US $ 50;

2)     Certificate of registration with SUMATRA;

3)     Proof of affiliation or membership to a recognized clearing and forwarding association;

4)     A letter from the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) stating the current status of the company’s Directors and Shareholders;

5)     Proof of membership to a public social security fund for each employee of the company.

6)     A bank guarantee, drawn in favor of Commissioner for Customs and Excise, of at least shillings 100,000,000 and which shall remain valid for the whole duration of the license i.e. 1stJanuary – 31stDecember 2016 (new applicants to submit this after passing the examination);

7)     Valid Customs License for the preceding year (for renewals);

8)     For a new applicant, an introduction letter, in duplicate, for one of the competent persons in (8) above who will represent the company in the interview containing e mail and telephone contact provided he/she meets the following conditions:

  1. i)      He/she is a director or a permanent staff of the company, AND
  2. ii)     Possesses the East African Customs Clearing and Freight Forwarding Practicing Certificate, AND

iii)    She/he has never been a director of a company whose Customs agency license has been revoked;

9)     A signed declaration that none of the directors of the company has previously been a director of any licensed company whose license has been revoked in the last five years;

10)  A signed declaration that none of the directors of the company is a director of an existing licensed company;

11)  A signed declaration that none of the directors or shareholders of the company is an employee of TRA;

12)  Declaration undertaking to provide basic Customs services on a 24/7 work arrangement.

 Customs Bonded warehouses and Manufacture under Bond [MUB] Operators

Applicant of license to operate a bonded warehouse or Manufacturing under Bond is required to meet each of the General Conditions specified in (A) and must:

  1. Fill the prescribed form (i.e. Form C.18);
  2. Be accompanied with a site plan professionally drawn showing the location of the premises and its situation in relation to other premises and thoroughfare;
  3. Meet the minimum area coverage i.e.  1,000 meters squared  and 2,000 meters squared for private bonded warehouse and general bonded warehouse respectively;
  4. Be in a Commercial or Industrial area;
  5. Certified copy of the rental contract whose duration is longer than the duration of the license applied for or furnish proof of ownership of the premises;
  6. Have adequate parking yard or storage area which shall be made of rigid pavements, tarmacked or made of concrete finishing;
  7. Be well secured with a perimeter fence and lighting system;
  8. Be equipped with a fire fighting system;
  9. Production formulae approved by a competent authority (for Manufacturing under Bond)

Upon fulfillment of the above, be able to execute bond security by a licensed and approved guarantor as follows:

  • For a private bonded warehouse – a minimum of TSHS 500 million.
  • For a general bonded warehouse – a minimum of TSHS 1 billion.
  • For MUB – a minimum of TSHS 2 billion.

In addition to the above bond securities, successful applicants will be required to execute an appropriate revolving Customs Bond to cover the removal of cargo to and from the respective bonded warehouses/MUB at a minimum of TSHS 100 million.

 License to Transport goods under customs control

All Applicants for license to Transport goods under Customs control must observe the following additional conditions:

  1. Execute Customs security bond to the tune of TSHS 10 million.
  2. Certificate of registration with SUMATRA;
  3. Submit a renewal letter confirming annual premium for bond security of TSHS 10 million  from guarantor attached with copy of the original bond that is subject to renewal;
  4. Persons to directly handle Customs documents or transact with Customs shall be only the directors/owners/employees as per General Conditions in Part A; 
  5. Proof of affiliation or membership to a recognized relevant association;
  6. Payment of TSHS 1 million  for Certificate of Transporters (COT);
  7. Each individual carrying unit shall have to be licensed using form C.28 upon payment of TSHS 20,000                                                                            

Applicant for operating Inland Container Depots [ICD] and Container Freight Stations [CFS]) is required tofill the prescribed form (Form C.18) and is required to fulfill the following conditions:

  1. Fencing: At least 3 meters  high perimeter concrete wall with an electric wire on top;
  2. Entry/Exit gates: There has to be two separate entry/exit gates;
  3. Security: 24-hour security including security guards and electronic surveillance;
  4. Parking space: An ICD/CFS is a Customs restricted area. It may allow vehicles in and out for the purpose of loading and discharging.  Hence, the parking space shall be outside the ICD/CFS boundaries for trucks waiting to be loaded.
  5. Cladding/Paving: For the purpose of strength and durability, paving of the yard shall be with concrete, strong enough to withstand traction of heavy trucks and is to be well drained.
  6. Demarcation: Clear demarcation to separate imports or exports from verified goods and empty containers is necessary.
  7. Examination Area: Should be roofed and with a capacity of at least 10X20 container examination at a time.
  8. Transit shed: This is mainly for goods which cannot fit back into containers after di-stuffing for examination; the shed should be of a reasonable size.
  9. Customs Warehouse: The size of the Customs warehouse should be at least 300 meters squared.
  10. Customs Office: This should be able to accommodate at least 5 Customs staff and should be suitably furnished, ventilated, and with appropriate lighting, telephone, hygienic and other necessary facilities.
  11. Equipment:  There must be appropriate equipment for cargo handling, stacking, examination, measurement etc.  In addition, there must be at least two reach stackers for smooth operations just in case one of them breaks down. 
  12. Security Bonds: Upon fulfillment of the above conditions and prior to issuance of a license, applicants shall have to execute Customs Security Bond as follows:
  • CB 2 to be at least TSHS 500 million.
  • CB 13 at least TSHS 2 billion.
  1. Labour availability: The ICD/CFS should be able to engage sufficient labour force at all times during operations
  2. Size of ICD/CFS: The size should be at least 40, 000 meters squared and 10,000 meters squared for ICD and CFS respectively.
  3. Rail linkage: ICD/CFS should preferably have rail linkages.
  4. Land Lease: The ICD/CFS operator should either hold a title deed or a lease agreement for the land where the ICD/CFS valid up to not earlier than June 2016.
  5. Working hours: Licensee should demonstrate capability to operate on a 24/7 work arrangement.


Implementation of EAC Authorized Economic Operators Program

Tanzania Revenue Authority is implementing Authorized Economic Operator program (AEO) as part of facilitating trade in the region the program was introduced to enable compliant traders to benefit from a special treatment at the regional level throughout the cargo clearance process.  Establishment of AEO program is meant to enhance trade facilitation and promote partnership between Customs and business as per World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of standards.

AEO is defined as an individual, a business entity or a company that is involved in international trade and is duly authorized by the Commissioner for Customs to transact business with Customs under special arrangements 

How to apply for the program

Any trader involved in the international supply chain and carries out Customs related activity in the East Africa Community (EAC) can apply for the AEO status. An applicant will be assessed in line with the respective nature of business, and AEO status will be related to the specific trader’s categories that the trader has qualified for. The categories are:

1)    Importers

2)    Exporters

3)    Clearing and Forwarding Agents

4)    Transporters

5)    Manufacturers (engaged in import and export), and

6)    Bonded Warehouse Operators               

Regional AEO Benefits

The registered AEOs enjoy benefits applicable for the category/categories in which they are authorized for, throughout the EAC countries. The Regional AEO is uniquely identified throughout the clearance process. The benefits include: 

Importer/ Exporter/ Manufacturer

Expedited processing of customs declarations (entries). All AEO declarations are given priority throughout the whole clearance process. This will include:

1)    Automatic processing of declaration

2) No physical or document examination except for random or risk based interventions/exceptional cases

3)    Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) requirement waiver where applicable

4)    Expedited payment of refund claims

5)    Reduced Customs security wherever applicable

Clearing and Forwarding Agents

1)    Guaranteed renewal of Customs agent’s license

2)    Priority to participate in Customs initiatives

3)    Priority treatment in cargo clearance chain

4)    Waiver of movement bond requirements


This benefit does not absolve the Clearing Agent from any liability in the event that the consignment is lost or short-landed.



1) Guaranteed renewal of transit goods license and any other licenses issued by     Customs.

2)  Exemption from the mandatory use of Customs Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS).

3)  Priority clearance at the borders.


Warehouse Operators

1)    Self-management of bonded warehouse

2)    Guaranteed renewal of Warehouse Operator’s license

3)    Reduced Customs security wherever applicable



 To be eligible for authorization, the Commissioner for Customs and Excise may require to verify any statement in an application. The applicant should be able to provide information pertaining to all of the following or any other:

1)      Company details

Company details which indicate company profiles, contact persons, nature of business and employee profile. 

2)      Record of Compliance

Applicant should not have contravened any laws, rules and regulations pertaining to Customs, Domestic Taxes and all relevant Government Agencies for a period of 3 years prior to application for authorization. 

3)      Maintenance of records

The applicant is required to maintain timely, accurate, complete and verifiable records relating to its customs transactions. The applicant must demonstrate that the computer systems, the organizational internal operational procedures and processes will ensure compliance. 

4)      Financial Solvency

The applicant must demonstrate adequate financial standing. The applicant shall be deemed to have met the conditions of solvency if it can be proven for the past 3 years. The applicant must have fulfilled his obligations regarding payments of Customs duties, taxes and other charges for last three years. 

5)      Security and safety standards

The applicant must demonstrate a high level of awareness on security and established safety measures, internally and in its business activities with clients. Understanding and implementation of safety and security controls must extend to the applicants personnel.

 6)      Volume of business

The volume of the applicant’s business will be used to gauge eligibility (Risk assessment) for authorization.

7)      Nature of Goods Traded

The applicant shall be assessed as to the nature and flow of goods traded in.

8)  Trade Partners

The applicant shall have to prove to the satisfaction of Customs that its trade partners demonstrate high level of awareness of security and established safety measures.