4 Tips for Navigating African Customs and Border Regulations

Customs and border control are a big challenge for many African supply chains. If you have ever been engaged in importing and exporting, you will agree that the process can be tedious. Many times, it’s near frustrating.

As African businesses continue to grow, they are increasingly engaging in international or global supply chains, whether it is with neighbouring countries or those outside the continent.

But their constant challenge is the customs and border policies. These policies are often outdated, and the bodies do very little to help.

However, trade must go on. In this article, we review some tips that can help these supply chains navigate the situation.


1. Stay Informed

Information is key, and when dealing with customs and border regulations, it can be the difference between five minutes and five weeks.

Staying informed is one of the essential keys to properly navigating the custom maze across the continent. With the right information, you can explore loopholes in the regulations.

However, to effectively do this, you may need to get a custom lawyer dealing in the import and export of goods. The lawyer can help you get the right tools and resources to make your dealings with the custom better and more efficient.

Staying informed also entails building the right relationships with customs officials who can help you access materials that benefit your supply chain.


2. Compliance

Having information is one thing, but staying compliant is another. The process is already tedious enough. Getting compliant and staying there is a no-brainer.

When you are compliant, the process becomes simpler, and there are fewer delays resulting from irregularities or perceived lack of ownership.

Being compliant with customs and border regulations entails having the right documentation for any goods that you are importing or exporting. It also entails paying the dues or levies and passing through proper channels.

Staff training and education on the clearance process also ensure compliance.

To get ahead of the process, many businesses and supply chains resort to paying bribes. This could disrupt your entire supply chain if it goes south.


3. Custom Brokers

Custom brokers are agents who help with managing and navigating customs and border processes. Unlike the lawyers who are well versed with the policies and regulations, they have more boots on the ground and experience.

Custom brokers will aid your business and supply chain in accessing the proper channels, meeting the right officials, and speeding up the process.

They have the relationships and the know-how that can help simplify the entire customs clearance process. These agents will help make the process as seamless as possible.

However, when getting one, always pay attention to their experience, clearance rate, and the type of goods they can clear. Different customs enjoy different expertise.


4. Visibility and Transparency

Visibility and transparency of your supply chain will go a long way to ensuring access to real-time data on what is going on the ground. They are vital for managing customs and border regulations and processes.

You can do this by opening up communication between all partners and helping your supply chain out in the process. This could be done efficiently through tech solutions and systems.

Visibility and transparency also enforce tracking, which helps identify potential issues in the clearance process. This puts your team in front of the situation before it becomes an issue.

Although these two are very important, they cannot perform without adequate communication. This is something you have to tackle before getting in bed with any of your partners, whether it is the broker, lawyer, or any other person assisting in the process.