Import a Car to Zambia Q&A: Duty, Levies & Shipping (Updated for 2018)

How to Import a Car From Japan to Zambia

In recent years, many Zambians have started to import used cars from Japan, due to their low cost and guaranteed reliability. However, it is important to thoroughly research and calculate the multiple factors that can influence the overall cost of the car that you import. These factors include the age of that particular car, import duties and levies set about by the Zambia Revenue Authority, and clearance and delivery fees.

Q. Is There a Limitation to the Age of the Car?

A. No, the Zambian government does not place any restrictions regarding the age of the car you import. You can even import vintage cars, as long as you keep in mind as to whether or not they will be in a position to handle the rugged terrain and conditions of Zambia.

Q. What is the Import Duty of a Used Car?

A. Going by the size of the engine, there are a few varying factors that affect the cost of importing a used Japanese car to Zambia. For example, a car with an engine capacity of no more than 1500cc will have a duty of 74%, while a car with an engine capacity of 1501cc or above will have a duty of 89%.

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Coaches and buses that can carry 10 to 16 people will incur 67% of CIF. In addition, buses and coaches with a seating capacity of 17 people or above will have a duty of 33% of the total cost. For lorries, pick-ups, and other trucks that can carry a gross weight of 0 to 19 tons, the duty is 58% of the total cost. Vehicles with a gross weight of 20 tons or more will have a duty of 33% of the CIF.

Q. What are the Import Levies?

A. Like many countries in Africa cars are considered luxury items in Zambia, and that is why they are taxed heavily. However, many people do not hesitate to import a car from Japan to Zambia because when they import directly, they can get the best cars at the best prices. However, just like for other imported goods, Zambia levies some charge for any car that is brought in from Japan. The standard charge for cars is between 60% and 89%, depending on the model of the vehicle.

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The total value of all costs paid for importing the car is the one that the revenue authority body uses to calculate the amount you are to pay as Value for Duty Purposes (VDP). It is mainly influenced by the insurance charges, transport costs, the customs value which is also dependent on cost, insurance and freight (CIF), any other charges incurred in the process of importation, and the price paid for the car (also referred to as Free On Board).

Q. What Documents are Needed to Import to Zambia?

  • The invoice indicating the money paid for the vehicle
  • Bill of lading
  • Freight statement
  • Vehicle insurance documents
  • Other documents related to the purchase, acquisition, importation or shipment of the vehicle

Q. How Will My Car Be Shipped?

A. Once you finalise the transaction with the car dealer and arrange for the importation, the car is shipped through to either of two main ports – Durban or Dar Es Salaam. As the former is located in the Southern part of South Africa and the latter in Tanzania, you will also have to arrange to either pick up your vehicle yourself or have it cleared and forwarded to you. BE FORWARD offer knowledgeable forwarding agents for most countries—click here or here for more information for each respective port. It only takes around 3 to 4 weeks for the car to reach the port, after which it awaits clearance and delivery.

Q. What are the Clearance and Delivery Details?

A. The Zambia Revenue Authority has a list of custom clearance agents available on their portal. However, the body is allowed by the law to conduct a search on the imported vehicle. This happens if the importer or clearing agent provides insufficient information, for instance, on used car import and duty. Lastly, to compare the values of previously imported vehicles as per the requirements of the Customs Division VDP form.

Ready to find the perfect Japanese used car for you? Click below to browse BE FORWARD’s extensive stocklist of vehicles ready to be imported to Zambia now!


If you choose to ship the car through Durban, you will need to arrange for some transport for the car to be delivered to Zambia’s border entry point at Nakode. While this article provides a guide on the cost of importing a car to Zambia, it is highly recommended to check with the government revenue collector of Zambia for the latest used car import tax & duty rates. You can learn more in our FAQ section on our Zambia local page.