How to do business in Kuwait
Islam is one source of legislation in Kuwait, but not the main source. The legal system is based on Latin Civil Law, which is mainly derived from French Law.
A list of the laws relating to business is available on the Kuwait Government website at: https://www.e.gov.kw/sites/kgoEnglish/Pages/HomePage.aspx.
Contact the DIT team in Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-kuwait#contact-us to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements.
You must have a licence to supply anything on the UK strategic export control lists to Kuwait.
You can find out more about getting a licence to export military or dual use goods, services or technology to Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/beginners-guide-to-export-controls.
To find out which products will need certification or licensing before they can be exported to Kuwait, see: https://www.gov.uk/starting-to-export/licences.
The restrictions and prohibitions of goods are determined in accordance with GCC Customs Tariff Codes. However, if you want to re-export within other GCC markets, you should take note of the individual member states’ lists, as they are not harmonised.
Protecting your intellectual property (IP)
Trademarks, designs, patents and copyright are the principal forms of IP protection available to companies and individuals.
Kuwait is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a signatory to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Patents must be registered with the Patents Office at the Trademark Control Department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI). See: http://www.moci.gov.kw/ (site not in English).
Industrial designs must be registered in the Industrial Designs and Models Register. An application for registration must then be submitted to the Trademark Control Department at: https://www.e.gov.kw/sites/kgoenglish/Pages/Services/MOCI/ApplicationForRegistrationForeignBrand.aspx. The registration is valid for five years and can be renewed for two additional consecutive terms.
Kuwaiti Commercial Code, Law No. 68/1980 governs trademark registration and the penalties for infringement. You can apply to register your trademark at the Trademark Control Department. When approved, protection is granted for ten years and can be renewed for another ten.
Article (17) of Law No. 64/1999 defines period of copyright protection.
You should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to Kuwait. Refer to the information provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/exports.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Kuwait takes the lead on IPR. UK companies who feel they have an IPR issue should contact the Director of DIT in Kuwait.
See the GCC Patents Office website: http://www.gccpo.org/DefaultEn.aspx and also the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at: http://www.wipo.int/portal/en/index.html and the information provided on the gov.uk Intellectual Property page at: https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview.
[Source – DIT/ gov.uk]
UK Export Finance
The government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance (UKEF) – the UK’s export credit agency. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance.
For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see UKEF’s cover policy and indicators for Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#kuwait.
[Source – DIT/UKEF/gov.uk]
Standards and technical regulations
No one ministry has responsibility for standards and technical regulations.
All goods imported into Kuwait must be clearly marked with the country of origin.
Some imports have additional labelling requirements. Foodstuffs, for example, must include composition (ingredients and additives), production and expiration dates as well as other indicators.
You should consider taking out product liability insurance if you manufacture or supply a physical product that is sold or given away for free. See: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/business-insurance/liability-insurance/product-liability-insurance/.
You can check with The GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) at: https://www.gso.org.sa/gso-website/?lang=en, for further information on health certificates, shelf-life standards and labelling requirements.
Your goods should be appropriately packed for Kuwait. Consider cultural norms and values when designing and developing product packaging for a Middle Eastern market.
Packages may receive heavy handling and be left in the open air for longer than anticipated, so you must take into account Kuwait’s climate.
The UK and Kuwait have signed a double taxation agreement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/kuwait-tax-treaties, ensuring the same income is not taxed in more than one country. The agreement entered into force in 1999.
The Kuwait Tax Authority (KTA) has responsibility for taxation in Kuwait.
Contact the DIT team in Kuwait at: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/department-for-international-trade-kuwait#contact-us for a list of local taxation experts.
Sales tax/indirect taxes
There is currently no Value Added Tax (VAT) or sales tax in Kuwait, however there are custom duties charged in Kuwait at a rate of 5%. Both Excise tax and VAT are being muted to be introduced in the short to medium term.
A corporate tax of 15% is applied to the foreign body corporate executing a contract or performing a service in Kuwait.
Zakat at 1% of annual net profits is levied on Kuwait public and closed Joint Stock Companies, and similar GCC entities with operations in Kuwait.
In addition to Zakat, National Labor Support Tax (NLST) is chargeable on the listed companies at a rate of 2.5%
[Source – KPMG/DIT]
Complying with HMRC regulations to export to Kuwait
You must make export declarations to HMRC through the National Export System (NES) (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/export-declarations-and-the-national-export-system-export-procedures) to export your goods to Kuwait.
You must classify your goods as part of the declaration, including a commodity code and a Customs Procedure Code (CPC).
Commodity codes and other measures applying to exports can be found in the UK Trade Tariff at: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff.
Contact the HMRC Tariff Classification Service at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports#list-of-useful-contacts for more help.
You must declare any goods that you take with you in your baggage to sell outside the EU, at: https://www.gov.uk/take-goods-sell-abroad.
Temporary export of goods
You cannot use an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet to simplify the customs procedures needed to temporarily take goods into Kuwait. Instead, use a Duplicate List. As with an ATA Carnet, you do not have to pay customs duty or tax. There is no fee.
Before you export the goods, prepare a list on company stationery. Include:
a description of the goods
how many there are
serial numbers, if the goods have them
value of the goods
At customs, you will need to provide:
two copies of the list
a completed HMRC form C&E 1246 (PDF, 638 KB): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374161/ce1246.pdf
Contact the HMRC Imports and Exports Helpline in advance to make the arrangements, at:
Telephone: 0300 200 3700
Textphone: 0300 200 3719
Outside the UK: +44 29 2050 1261
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
See: https://www.gov.uk/taking-goods-out-uk-temporarily/duplicate-list for information.
You will need an export licence to temporarily take dual use goods to Kuwait.
A temporary export licence can be applied for at: https://www.spire.trade.gov.uk/spire/fox/espire/LOGIN/login.
The Kuwaiti General Administration of Customs has responsibility for Kuwaiti customs procedures. See: https://www.customs.gov.kw/.
The import of alcohol and pork products into Kuwait is prohibited. Certain meats from the UK are also banned. The Kuwaiti Customs site at: https://www.customs.gov.kw/ provides full details of restricted items.
You can find more about import tariffs in the EU’s Market Access Database at: http://madb.europa.eu/madb/indexPubli.htm.
The documents required to export to Kuwait are:
invoices – initiated by supplier
Certificate of Origin
bill of lading/air waybill
import licence and quality test certificates as applicable
Original Islamic Compliant Slaughter (Halal) meat products
customs duty payment receipt
The accompanying documents must be legalised by the Kuwaiti Embassy (https://www.embassypages.com/missions/embassy15650/) and also certified by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs (http://www.mofa.gov.kw) upon arrival of the shipment.
A licensed customs clearing agent is required in order to facilitate the customs clearance process and for practical considerations.
A list of lawyers in Kuwait is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/kuwait-list-of-lawyers.
[Source – DIT/ gov.uk]
Shipping your goods to Kuwait
If you are not knowledgeable about international shipping procedures you can use a freight forwarder to move your goods. A forwarder will have extensive knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transportation costs and banking practices in Kuwait.
Find freight forwarding companies to help you transport your goods to Kuwait via the British International Freight Association (BIFA) at: http://www.bifa.org/home or the Freight Transport Association (FTA) at: http://www.fta.co.uk/.
You can find out about sending goods by post to Kuwait at: http://www.royalmail.com/kuwait.
Shipping dangerous goods
Special rules apply if you are shipping dangerous goods to Kuwait. See: https://www.gov.uk/shipping-dangerous-goods/what-are-dangerous-goods.
Terms of delivery
Your contract should include agreement on terms of delivery using Incoterms: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/international-trade-paperwork-the-basics#international-trade-contracts-and-incoterms.
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