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Detention of imported goods

ZIMRA officials may, in terms of Section 39 and 193 as read with Section 232 of the Customs and Excise Act, detain any goods for various reasons upon importation into Zimbabwe under Receipt for Items Held (RIH) or Notice of Seizure (NOS).

Circumstances which warrant detention of goods under Receipt for Items Held:

Failure by the importer to pay the duty due at time of importation

Importation of restricted goods without permit and/or import licence. Restricted goods are only allowed to enter Zimbabwe upon production of a valid import permit and/or licence from the relevant Government department, institution or body.

If one imports such goods and fails to produce a permit and/or licence at port of entry, the goods will be withheld by ZIMRA pending production of such documents, even if the importer has the money to pay the duty instantly.


Examples of such restricted goods are cooking oil, agricultural produce, medicines and many more.

Goods can be held pending investigations. In some cases, ZIMRA officials may suspect that an offence involving the goods has been committed (for example suspected fake export permit of the goods from country of export where there is a binding trade agreement restricting movement of such goods) but in the absence of overwhelming evidence at the time of importation the goods can be detained under Receipt for Items Held pending investigation.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, if importer is found not guilty the goods will be released to him but if an offence has been committed the Receipt for Items Held document will be converted to a Notice of Seizure.

When goods are abandoned in the customs control area and the importer is unknown.

Circumstances which warrant                   seizure of goods:

Where an offence has been committed the goods are detained under a notice of seizure. Such offences include:

Failure to declare goods properly with deliberate intent to avoid payment of duty


Importation of prohibited goods such as skin lightening creams

Where an importer makes a persistent offer of a bribe to the customs officer


Use of forged documents

Use of vehicle for conveyance of smuggled goods renders the vehicle liable to seizure

Release of goods from the state warehouse

For goods detained on Receipt for Items Held, an importer is given a maximum period of 60 days to clear the goods, failure which, the goods will be sold in terms of section 39 of the Customs and Excise Act Chapter 23:02.

For goods detained under Notice of Seizure an importer is given 90 days to make written representations to the Regional Manager for possible release of the goods, failure which, the goods will be forfeited to the state. If the seized goods are prohibited from importation, the Regional Manager will destroy them upon approval.

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Disclaimer: This article was compiled by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for information purposes only. ZIMRA shall not accept responsibility for loss or damage arising from use of material in this article and no liability will attach to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. 



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