Import and Export Procedures in Brunei – Best Practices

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By Bradley Dunseith

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Officially Negara Brunei Darussalam, the oil-rich independent sultanate of Brunei shares land borders with the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo island and opens up to the South China Sea.

In 2015, Brunei exported US$6.35 billion worth of goods and imported US$3.89. Brunei’s principle export destinations include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and India. Brunei imports predominately from Malaysia, China, Singapore, the United States, and South Korea. 

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Registration

Both importers and exporters first need to register with the Registry of Companies and Business Names (through the Ministry of Finance) in order to obtain a company registration number. Then, importers and exporters should register with Brunei’s Royal Customs and Excise Department (RCED).

Afterwards, importers and exporters will be able to make an account on the Brunei Darussalam National Single Window – an online portal which streamlines all subsequent submission of documents as well as customs clearance and payments.

Required Documents

For importers

Businesses importing into Brunei must provide the following documents:

  • Bill of Lading;
  • Shipping Delivery Order;
  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Packing List;
  • Import Permit;
  • Customs Import Declaration; and
  • Certificate of Origin.

For exporters

Businesses exporting out of Brunei must provide the following documents:

  • Bill of Lading;
  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Customs Export Declaration;
  • Packing List;
  • Insurance Certificate;
  • Export Permit; and
  • Certificate of Origin.

Additional documents for certain imports and exports

Certain products require government permission to be either exported or imported. Below is a detailed list of products requiring additional permission as well as the concerned government authority.

For importers

  • Animal products or by-products meant for consumption (Halal Import Permit Issuing Board);
  • Broadcasting equipment (Prime Minister’s Office);
  • Chemicals (Ministry of Health);
  • Communications equipment (Authority for Info-communication Technology Industry);
  • Construction materials (Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources);
  • Fireworks (Royal Brunei Police Force);
  • Fish, aquatic creatures, or fishing equipment (Fisheries Department);
  • Herbal medicines or foods (Ministry of Health);
  • ‘Junk food’ (Ministry of Health);
  • Mineral water (Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources);
  • Non-motor vehicles (Royal Customs and Excise Department);
  • Paraphernalia with government insignia (Adat Istiadat Department);
  • Plants, live animals, or produce (Agricultural Department);
  • Publication material in print or digital mediums (Royal Brunei Police Force);
  • Religious books or goods bearing religious iconography (Internal Security Department); and
  • Used motor-vehicles (Land Transport Department).

For exporters

  • Antiques (Museums Department);
  • Chemicals (Ministry of Health);
  • Fish, aquatic creatures, or fishing equipment (Fisheries Department);
  • Plants, live animals, or produce (Agricultural Department);
  • Rice, sugar, and salt (Information Technology and State Store Department); and
  • Timber and products made of timber (Forestry Department).

Tariffs and Taxes

Brunei follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) for imported and exported goods not originating from members states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For imported and exported goods arriving from ASEAN member states, Brunei follows the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN).

Import tariffs and taxes

As of April 1, 2017, the vast majority of goods imported into Brunei do not incur a customs tariff. The few goods which do incur a tariff are charged at either five or ten percent.

Goods which incur a five percent tariff charge include: petroleum and bituminous oils; cleaning supplies; film equipment; lamps and lights; and wood.

Goods which incur a ten percent tariff charge include certain fabrics; blankets; curtains; and musical instruments.

Brunei does not charge other taxes on imports.

Export tariffs and taxes

Exports leaving Brunei do not incur tariffs.

Free Trade Agreements

Brunei is a partner to the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and a member of five regional FTAs through the ASEAN with:

  • Australia;
  • China;
  • India;
  • Japan; and
  • Korea.

The country also has a separate bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan.

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Conclusion

With Brunei’s single window customs clearance and low tariff rates, exporting into and importing out of the small sovereign state is considerably easier than trading with some of its South East Asian neighbors. Utilizing experts with up-to-date local knowledge can help exporters and importers ensure import and export activity occurs quickly and remains profitable. Local experts at Dezan Shira & Associates possess years of experience supporting the establishment and growth of businesses across ASEAN, and are well situated to guide companies through Brunei’s regulatory landscape.

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ASEAN Briefing is published by Asia Briefing, a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. We produce material for foreign investors throughout Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, Russia, the Silk Road & Vietnam. For editorial matters please contact us here and for a complimentary subscription to our products, please click here.
 
Dezan Shira & Associates provide business intelligence, due diligence, legal, tax and advisory services throughout the ASEAN and Asia. We maintain offices in Singapore, as well as Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, and maintain Alliance offices in Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila as well as throughout China, South-East Asia, India and Russia. For assistance with ASEAN investments into any of the featured countries, please contact us at asean@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com

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