Moving to Malawi

Moving to Malawi

Customs Regulations

Household Goods

All immigrants are required to be physically present at the customs clearance.

The following documents are required for the importation of household goods and personal effects for immigrants or residents returning after two years:

  • Passport
  • Residence or work permit
  • Bill of lading or airway bill
  • Inventory with serial numbers for electrical appliances
  • For returning residents who have been working/studying proof of termination of employment / completion of studies is required.

**** All personal effects and household goods must be imported within six months after the returning resident’s time of arrival or after the time the work or resident permit has been granted to an immigrant.

The following documents are required for returning residents after an absence of less than two years:

  • Invoice/receipts of goods being imported since the goods will be paying duty.
  • Inventory
  • Bill of lading or airway bill.

The following documents are required for estates from the deceased (goods forwarded to beneficiaries in Malawi not for sale):

  • Certified copy of the will
  • Statement of the value of the goods by the executor of the estate
  • Written undertaking not to sell or dispose of the goods by the executor of the estate
  • Copy of the death certificate
  • Inventory list
  • Bill of lading or airway Bill

Duties are required to be paid on office equipment, computers, cash registers and telex and telefax machines.  Duty is assessed according to the value including freight of the item.

For diplomatic shipments, a diplomatic card or letter of identity from the embassy or organization is required. All documents, duly completed and signed by the diplomat must be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then Customs for final clearance.

Diplomatic shipments must be imported within six months after the time of the diplomat’s arrival.

Motor Vehicles

For immigrants or residents returning after an absence of not less than two years, the following documents are required:

  • Passport
  • Residence/work permit
  • Invoice and proof of ownership are required for all vehicles.

Motor Vehicle or caravans not exceeding one for each family or not exceeding one for unmarried adult person which is of value USD350 OR has been owned and used for not less than one year prior to importation will be duty free.   If the person lends, hires gives away or otherwise disposes of such motor vehicle within five years of the date of customs clearance on importation, he may be required to pay such duty as he would have paid on its importation.

One will have to pay duty and import tax on any motor vehicle acquired from outside Malawi subsequent to one’s arrival into Malawi.  This duty can be very high and one should first check with the Department of Customs and Excise to find out exactly how much will have to be paid.


Pets are subject to import control.  Applications should be made to the Director of Veterinary Services.

Prohibited/Restricted Articles

The following items are prohibited:

  • Drugs, narcotics
  • Pornographic materials
  • Offensive weapons
  • Forged documents
  • Counterfeit money

Other Useful Information

The best port into Malawi is Beira  but  shipment should be through ‘Bill of Lading’ to arrival Blantyre or Lilongwe Terminals

Shipment are cleared within three days from the time of shipment arrives in either Blantyre or Lilongwe.

Customs officials may demand physical examination on household effects.

Citrus fruits, seeds, and deciduous plants may not be imported unless an import license has been obtained in advance from the competent agricultural authorities.

Persons visiting, or returning residents may import alcoholic beverages into Zimbabwe. Those who are 18 years or older may import up to a maximum of 5 liters of alcoholic drink, of which not more than 2 liters may be spirits.

Firearms may be imported with a special permit from the Secretary of Home Affairs.

For precious metal jewelry, customs duty may be required to be deposited.

For new furniture and household goods, freight charges apply, and invoices are required.

For inheritances, no duties are payable provided the following documents are presented:

  • Copy of the will
  • Death certificate
  • Letter from the executor

For wedding trousseaux, freight charges apply and invoices are needed.

Customs will assess the value of accompanied luggage, and if the value exceeds USD140.00, duty is payable on the excess.

For unaccompanied luggage, customs will need proof that the declarant owns the consignment, or customs will charge import duty on the full value.

Stuttafords International Malawi
For Providing the above Customs Information

Please note:
The information on this page is intended as a guide and NOT as a complete or definitive resource.
The information on this page should not be used as an authoritative reference.

Updated April, 2008