All Round Guide to Ghana Shipment

This article is an outcome of accumulated, desk research we have conducted following numerous appeals from followers. Whether you are a Business Trader looking for new opportunities or a Freight Forwarder keen to learn, we hope this read will be worthwhile for your time too. The article will address key aspects of the Ghana market’s seaborne Import data. The report will include sub-topics namely:

  • Data analysis
  • Prohibited to import
  • Role of Technology
  • Must-Have documentations
  • Tips for Exporters

Data Analysis

The analysis is based on the statistics of the United Nations, as well as our gathering from day-to-day assessment of transport documents. According to our conclusion, Ghana’s imports have steadily increased each year since 1995, reaching US$13,075 billion worth of goods in 2018. But the trade balance was against Ghana until the beginning of the second-decade 21st century. The exports overtook the imports just after 2010 leading to a positive trade balance with only fine margins.

In the past year, the top import products, in terms of value to Ghana, are by far Non-Crude Oil (US$1.8 bln), Passenger Vehicles (USD 1.5 bln), and Electronic appliances (USD 1.1 bln). Since 2016, these three groups of commodities have equally split and accounted for more than 30% of total Import value. This finding partially correlates to the outcome we have come up with by assessing documents submitted for CTN application.

The dissimilarities lay in the second most imported commodity, Passenger Vehicles, which account for 1.9% of total CTN Ghana applications. The reasoning is illustrated in the following sub-titles.

In the way of demographics China, the United States, and, to my surprise, Belgium and India complete the top markets supplying Ghana Imports.

Closing in the 20% mark, China has a market share more than the next three suppliers put together. Being a major supplier to most of the countries in the world, China dominated the supply chain of the West African country for the last 10 years.

Prohibited to Import Ghana

You have to be familiar with the list of prohibited items for any country you export to. It may be obvious, but when you look deep into a specific country, you may find things like certain literature and or even foreign calendars among the banned items. Here is a brief list of commodities prohibited to import into Ghana:

  • Raw Coffee
  • Books, newspapers, or any printed materials, that are defamatory, scandalous, or demoralizing
  • Counterfeit Products/Notes
  • Toxic Wastes
  • Used Refrigerators and Freezers
  • Dangerous Weapons
  • Banned Drugs
  • Gambling devices
  • Ivory
  • Pornography materials
  • Precious metals & stones

If you ship something that is on the prohibited list, your cargo will be confiscated, and in some cases, you may be prosecuted.

Role of Technology

Innovation and digitalization are cornerstones of the shipping and freight industry as well. From autonomous vehicles to drones, to delivery robots, the shipping industry has experienced a drastic change in the past few years. The latest surge in freight demand was only possible because the freight industry embracing technological developments so well. Technology scientists are creating it, Industry Moguls funding it, Freight Forwarders, Shipping lines, and Port managers adopting it, facilitating digitalization to blend perfectly into the advancing freight industry in a more cost-effective way.

There are ample cases of technology boosting the maritime shipping industry, but nothing stands out more than the notion of ‘Smart Containers’. The term is used for seaborne freight containers which are equipped with sensors designed to provide real-time tracking of their location and movements. This technology allows shipping lines, customers, government, and security agencies to track the progress of containers anywhere in the world. Once the system is widely implemented across all containers Customs Authorities may use it to plan their equipment and could be used in the security assessment of its content without physical checks needed.

  • ICUMS system

The role of technology is as important in the customs management unit as it is in other departments of the supply chain. With this in mind Ghana authorities have developed Integrated Customs Management System called ICUMS. This system has succeeded the Cargo Tracking Note, IDF, CCVR and PAARS systems previously needed to complete any shipment to Ghana. Here are the steps that the importer undertakes to clear the cargo with the new system:

  1. Once all the documents are received from the Exporter, the Importer needs to approach the customs broker with a license. The importance of a license is that only those customs agents have access to the ICUMS system to submit requests for clearance.
  2. The ICUMS system calculates how much import duty needs to be paid. Currently, instead of asking exporters to declare the cargo and its value, as was the case with CTN, Ghana customs officers use a predetermined list with values as Benchmark for the declared value of cargo. If the price lies below the predetermined customs value, the Customs officer will fix the import duty as per the Benchmark list.
  3. All the local fees need to be paid. These include shipping line local admin charges, THC, Documentation fees, customs fees, and delivery fees unless the importer is arranging pick-up.

Must-Have Documentations

Ghana Shippers Authority has been at the frontline of Ghana’s maritime industry over the years, collaborating with private and public entities to pursue a common goal. One of those objectives is ensuring the safety of citizens as well as problems relating to port, ship, and customs.

Ghana CTN Certificate (needed until August 2020)

In 2018, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority implemented the Cargo Tracking Note system, urging shippers to submit freight information through the CTN system. The Ghana CTN system is an electronic platform by which pre-arrival cargo information is received in advance. The information is used for planning and the commencement of the pre-clearance process. This is in a way to address the problems relating to high port operational costs and the demurrage charges faced by the shippers.

Studies conducted by the Authority reveal that shippers paid demurrage over US$75 million in one year. To assist shippers in saving costs and speeding up clearing at the ports, the Authority has initiated the process of deploying the CTN system. Although provided shippers and relevant government agencies with advance information on their cargo, the Ghana Customs Authorities terminated the CTN application and replaced it with the ICUMS system in August 2020.

In late 2019, Ghana authorities waived the CTN requirement for import shipments. So until further update, you don’t need to apply for a loading certificate. To check if your shipment needs a CTN certificate, get a free consultation

SGS Certificate

Implementing ICUMS is triggered by the Standard Authority’s decision to assess whether used cars only through SGS is adequate. SGS is yet another compulsory document every shipper must have to export into Ghana. Integrated with customs management systems, SGS is designed to support import and export processes. It also facilitates speed up transactions and reduces the costs involved in international trade. SGS also improves commodity compliance with the legal requirements of international trade and facilitates greater cooperation in the:

  • Customs processing
  • Transit and presentation
  • Classification
  • Electronic communication and document printing

The SGS certificate is proposed to the exporters to demonstrate product security compliance and the declaration of pre-arrival cargo information.

Certificate of Conformity

A certificate of Conformity is yet another compulsory document that must accompany any shipment to Ghana. This certification also acts as a pre-shipment inspection of goods. Many companies provide pre-inspection service among them Intertek and Bureau Veritas which can issue verification of Conformity.

Here is a tip for the exporters. If the goods being exported to Ghana have not been verified with the certificate of conformity, you may present the certificate from the manufacturer. So, you won’t need to bear the additional cost of the inspection while loading the container. As long as the certificate is available from the manufacturer, the importer in Ghana can use the same.

Lucas Santos GarciaAuthor posts

Avatar for Lucas Santos Garcia

With years of experience in the shipping industry, I am now dedicated to enhancing maritime trade in Africa and improving the quality of life in countries that need it. I have worked across various departments in this sector, building both professional and personal relationships in numerous countries.

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