How To Import Used Cars to Malawi: Understanding Taxes and Total Cost

How To Import Used Cars to Malawi: Understanding Taxes and Total Cost

This article is written based on the experience of BE FORWARD Supporters ID 70335 Delvin Chikaonda in Malawi.
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How to Buy Your Dream Car in Malawi

Fear of losing cash is what all people have to deal with on a daily basis. From our highly respected and paid chief executives to lower earning Malawian citizens, it is a common concern. This affects one’s decision on whether to purchase a vehicle locally, though expensive, or face the risk of importing and enjoy the mega savings.

This post will offer guidance for importing your dream car at the lowest cost possible. My first experience in importation of cars was in 2012. It was not an easy decision taking into account the risk of forwarding money to people or companies whom who do not know and have never dealt with before. However, I still gave it the benefit of the doubt and went on with it.

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Malawi Import Duty for Used Cars

When planning to buy your dream car, it is important to know the full cost, and to understand the Malawi import duty for used cars. We recommend visiting the Malawi Revenue Authority’s website ,which has a duty calculator and punched in the vehicle details such as cost (CIF), engine size, port charges and year of make. The website should be able to give you a precise estimate of the duty to be paid, although differences may occur due to the fluctuations of currency exchange rates.

Duty is calculated using the following thresholds on the CIF value:

malawi import taxes and fees for used cars

*Note: For the latest information, please refer to Malawi Revenue Authority’s website.

For the purposes of payment of import duty, every importer is required to have a Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN), which is issued by Malawi Revenue Authority after completion of forms. This certificate takes on average a day to come out.

Malawi’s tax system is flexible in the sense that you can either pay in advance (before the car arrives) or wait and make payment upon entry at the border. Due to the ever-increasing currency exchange rate, after I got my TPIN, I went straight and identified a clearing agent who made an assessment of the duty.

These agents are approved by Malawi Revenue Authority to conduct these services and their charges vary from MK15,000 to MK30,000. An official assessment report is then issued with your TPIN on it and details of your vehicle. I then made an advance payment and kept one copy of the deposit slips attached to the assessment for my evidence and the other copy was sent to the clearing agent at the border.

Car Transport Services by BE FORWARD

After sorting out the tax issue, my heart was torn apart between collecting the vehicle myself and outsourcing through city delivery service. I collected details of airfare to Dar es Salaam, accommodation for at least two days, food, local travel, and fuel and also considered the time cost and risk in terms of accidents.

This was compared against the slightly higher cost of outsourcing which came with benefits of repairs in case of damages, saving on time and stress of driving long distances. I finally made a decision to use city delivery by BE FORWARD Tanzania as it gave me an assurance that I will get my vehicle in the exact state that I bought it.

The other reason I opted to outsource was that it would give me time to concentrate on other issues during the 5-12 days BE FORWARD Tanzania would be clearing the vehicle at the port and driving it to my border. I thereafter requested an invoice from BE FORWARD Tanzania (, which included safety items (reflectors, triangles and fire extinguishers) and made payment using Telegraphic Transfer.

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Car Inspection at Kasumulu – Songwe Border

When I was notified that the vehicle had left the port and heading towards to my point of collection (Kasumulu – Songwe border), I also started off as the distance is equally the same. I arrived the next day and found my vehicle anxiously waiting for me at BE FORWARD offices on the Tanzania side.

I produced my identification and other documentation and after processes I inspected the vehicle with a BE FORWARD Tanzania officer. I certified that the vehicle was in good and perfect condition. I was given complimentary items and off I went with my vehicle. At Songwe I contacted my clearing agent who had already started the process.

He told me all that was left was for Malawi Revenue Authority officers to inspect the vehicle and issue a release order. He also told me that the insurance that BE FORWARD Tanzania made on the vehicle expires as soon as the vehicle enters another jurisdiction. I made payment for vehicle’s insurance at MK15,000 and refueled my vehicle in readiness of the approximately 800 kilometers long journey back home where my wife and daughter anxiously awaited to see the humble beast we had just acquired.

Approximately after 3 hours of my arrival at the border that morning, all processes were over and my vehicle was released. All fears of my money being lost in the World Wide Web were cast to the side. I put on my shades, lowered my car windows, popped up the volume and started off disappearing into the national roads of Malawi.


Writer: BE FORWARD Supporters ID 70335 Delvin Chikaonda in Malawi
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