Monday, December 14, 2015

Importation Of Food Into Oman – What You Need To Know

In order to avoid potential problems in the clearance of your merchandise, understanding Omani customs laws is very important. This article sets out the rules and regulations that are relevant for an importer of food products.

Importation of food products into Oman is governed by the Uniform Customs Law (“UCL”) of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (“AGCC”) issued by Sultani Decree No. 67 of 2003.

Oman has signed a free trade agreement with the United States and, therefore, imports of nearly all U.S. products are duty-free, provided the products are for consumption in Oman. The UCL imposes a five percent ad valorem duty on almost all products imported from non-GCC countries. However, live animals, fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, grains, flours, tea, sugar, spices and seeds for planting are exempt from customs duty. Tobacco, pork, and alcohol products are assessed at 100% customs duty.

When a shipment reaches Oman, the importer on record (i.e., the owner, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee) will file entry documents for the goods with the Directorate General of Customs (“Directorate”). Documents that are required to be submitted to the Directorate include:

• an application for the release of shipment;
• a valid certificate from the manufacturer of the goods;
• a commercial invoice;
• a list of the contents of the shipment;
• a Bill of Lading;
• a certified health certificate from the government of the exporting country;
• a Certificate of Origin;
• a foodstuff specimen; and
• an import permit from the respective Ministry.

However, if the importer does not have a certificate of health or test report with the shipment, the Directorate may issue a no objection letter so as to release the shipment and, in such case, specimens of the food product will be taken for testing and examination as per the standard of that particular product.

The entire testing procedure will be completed within seven working days and, if proved to be fit, the entire shipment will be released.


Oman has adopted the standards GSO 9/2007 and GSO 150/2007 for labeling and shelf life. The GCC Standardization Organization (“GSO”) is a standards organization for the member states of the GCC and Yemen.

Labels of food products must mandatorily include the following information in Arabic on the original label or primary packaging:

• product and brand name;
• country of origin;
• ingredients, in descending order of proportion;
• additives (if any);
• origin of animal fat (e.g., beef fat);
• net content in metric units (volume in case of liquids);
• production and expiry dates;
• the name and address of the manufacturer, producer, distributor, importer, exporter or vendor; and
• special storage, transportation and preparation instructions (if any).

Moreover, products shipped in bulk must conform to GSO labeling requirements and should be accompanied by small, easy-to-handle samples for possible laboratory verification, which must contain a label that meets all labeling requirements.

Language on the Label

Bilingual labels, with one of the languages mandatorily as Arabic (e.g., Arabic/English), are required. However, Arabic stickers are permitted instead of the original Arabic or bilingual label.

No Arabic Label

In case a consignment does not contain a label in Arabic, the Ministry of Commerce may either waive this requirement or the importer may be required to affix Arabic language stickers on the package before releasing the product.


The date of production and expiry must be engraved, embossed, printed or stamped directly onto the original label or primary packaging at time of production, using indelible ink.