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Your One Stop Source: TRADE GUIDELINE Click on the flag to search
Muslimtrade Network members
about Lebanon.

L  E  B  A  N  O  N 

1.1 General characteristics
1.2 General Information
1.3 Legal framework of trade relations

2. TRADE STRUCTURE (1996):  
2.1 Main imported and exported products
2.2 Trading partners

3.1 Imports regulations
3.2 Exports regulations 
3.3 Other formalities and documents

4.1 Banking system
4.2 Exchange system
4.3 Methods and means for international settlement

5.1 Applicable duties and taxes
5.2 Special provisions

6.1 International transports
6.2 Telecommunications
6.3 Distribution system



1.1 General characteristics:

Official name Republic of Lebanon
Surface 10,452 square kilometers
Population 3.1 millions inhabitants in 1996.
Density 296 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Capital  Beirut.
Climate The climate varies with altitude .The coastal lowlands are hot and humid in summer, becoming mild in winter (cool and damp) In the mountains snowfalls and rainfalls are heavy in winter.
Main holidays January 1st, February 9th (St Maron), May 1st, August 15th (Assumption), November 22nd (National Day), December 25th, Good Friday*, Easter Monday*, Ascension Of the Prophet Mohamed*, Ascension of the Christ, Eid ul-Fitr*, Eid-ul-Adha*, Muharram 1st*, Mouloud*, and Ashoura*.
Weekly day off Saturday- Sunday.
* Variable Dates

1.2 General Information

Language Arabic and French are official languages and English is used in business circles.
Currency Lebanese pound (£L). 1 US$ = 1595 £L in 1996.
Local time GMT +2 (GMT+3 between June and October) 
Working hours 

Government offices and Business

Monday to Thursday – From 8H/8H30 to12H/13H/14H. 

Friday: From 8H/8.30H to 12.30 or to 13H 


From 8.30 to 12H30 from Monday to Friday. 

Saturday: from 8h30 to 12H.

1.3 Legal framework of trade relations:

Lebanon is a member of the following international organizations:

World Trade Organization (W.T.O);

United Nations Organization (UN) and its main specialized institutions (IMF, World Bank, FAO etc.);

Organization of the Islamic Conference (O.I.C);


Lebanon is a member of the League of Arab States and signed economic and trade co-operation agreements with the Arab States and Eastern Europe countries, Turkey, the European Union and African countries. We may quote among others, the economic and social co-operation agreement signed with Syria (abolition of customs duties, free movement of natural persons…), trade agreements were ratified between Lebanon and Cameroun, China, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey and Ukraine. Besides, economic and social development co-operation agreements were also ratified between Lebanon and Iraq, Morocco and Rumania, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.

Thanks to the co-operation agreements established between Lebanon and the European Union, Lebanon has been able to benefit from very low customs duties for some products with the countries of 15. In the near future Lebanon will be provided with a free trade area with the entire Mediterranean zone.

Investment agreements were signed between Lebanon and Rumania (18/10/1994) and Ukraine (25/3/1995, and Cuba (14/12/1995) and Spain (22/2/1996).


2.1 Main imported and exported products:

Main imported products

Main exported products

Electric items

Paper and paper products

Equipment and transport

Textiles and ready-made garments

Metallic products

Metallic products

Processed agro-food products

Processed agro-food products

Textiles and ready-made garments

Plants and vegetable products



2.2 Trading partners:

Main suppliers

Main customers

United Arab Emirates


Saudi Arabia

United States of America








United Kingdom


In Lebanon, foreign trade was liberalized and all suppliers are allowed to Export all sorts of goods and services in collaboration with Lebanese importers. Very often foreign firms resort to local agencies, which know better the country.

3.1 Imports regulations

Foreign trade and customs regimes have been substantially simplified in recent years. Currently, the Lebanese government applies the lowest ad valorem rates in the region. It is within this framework that the Lebanese government abolished all discriminatory barriers against foreign imports. 

Lebanon does not impose any import quotas but it has maintained a complex system of Export and import licenses. 

Oil and oil products imports are restricted to twenty local firms. Import or Export licenses cannot be transferred to third parties. Export licenses are required for large consumption goods. Violation of the license requirements makes exporters liable to various fines determined in the Lebanese customs code.

Goods prohibited for imports are as follows:


Arms and military equipment; 

Cars older than eight years; 

Products threatening public morals; 

Products threatening public health; 

Certain agricultural products.

There are three categories of licenses that are required for the import of agricultural products:

Seasonal licensesrequired for the import of fresh or frozen potatoes, onions, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, eggplant, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, green barnia, watermelon, sweet green pepper, pears, peaches, grapes, apricots, passion flowers, green almonds, lima beans and green peas. 

Licenses required all year roundolives, pine seeds, potatoes and onions for plantations and silk cocoon.  

Goods banned for importAll kind of citrus produce, apples, quince, sweet tomatoes, cherries, plums, almonds, strawberries, leaf vegetables, parsley, mint, coriander, spinach, thyme, lettuce, green onion, carrots, radish and olives.

Lebanon has planned to prohibit in the course of 1997, the import of trucks and buses that are more than five years old.

The following products require import licenses that should be obtained from:

The Ministry of Foreign TradeWheat, wheat by-products, olive oil, orange, juice, apple juice, mustard seed, silk worms. 

The Ministry of IndustryWhite cement, gypsum, tar, petroleum, fuels, fuels oils, gas kerosene, silk thread, pyjamas, electrical wire, unprocessed leather, telecom wire, copper wire, industrial machinery and equipment. 

Other MinistriesPharmaceutical (Ministry of Health), Chemicals (Ministry of environment).

In compliance with Lebanese customs regulations, imported pharmaceutical products and foodstuffs must bear specific labels containing the following information: 

The manufacturing and expiry date of the product; 

The product’s country of origin.

Violations of the labeling rules are liable to sanctions under article 358 of the Lebanese Customs Code and can lead to the re-exportation of the infringing products.

The Regie des Tabacs enjoys monopoly rights to import or Export in Lebanon.

3.2 Exports regulations

Lebanon has not provided for any subsidies to domestic exports. Anti-dumping measures and countervailing duties are applied in pursuance of the legislative decree of August 31st 1967. As for imports, Export licenses should be obtained from:

The Ministry of Foreign Trade for: Wheat, wheat by-products, olive oil, concrete, butane gas, hydrocarbons and liquid gas bottles. 

The Ministry of Industry: Unprocessed leather, tar, unprocessed silk, paper, cardboard, silk worms. 

Ministry of Agriculture: Potatoes seeds, eggs, pine seeds.

To Export to Lebanon , the following documents are required:

Original invoices for the goods showing their country of origin. These invoices must include the prices of goods and should be certified both by a Foreign Chamber of Commerce and Industry and recognized by the High Customs Council and by the Lebanese Consulate in the Country of Origin.  

If the cargo is imported by sea, a unique document is required duly signed by the carrier’s official and specifying the number of packages, their label, the nature of the cargo and the port of loading; 

Exporters must also produce a statement declaring that the goods are not of Israeli origin.

3.3 Other formalities and documents

In January 1996, Lebanon adopted the Revised Harmonized Commodity Description/Coding system in compliance with the Customs Co-operation Council in Brussels. 

In January 1997, Lebanon introduced a new Customs Declaration form, which conforms to the international Single Administrative Document. In January 1997/98, the customs authorities will begin the installation of an Automated System of Customs Data Entry (ASYCUDA). The first pilot unit will be installed at the port of Beirut.


4.1 Banking system:

In 1996, the banking system of Lebanon was made up of the Central Bank of Lebanon, 75 deposit banks of which 14 foreign banks, 18 investment banks and 7 long and medium terms credit banks. 

The central bank of Lebanon is restructuring its banking sector by developing capital markets through the establishment of regulations and institutions. 

Between 1995 and 1996, deposit banks and investment banks showed an average annual growth rate in their balance of sheet estimated at 29.9% and 82.4 % respectively.

4.2 Exchange system:

The exchange rate of the Lebanese Pound is determined according to demand and supply in the exchange market. 

The duties and taxes on goods and services imposed by the authorities on services and goods are expressed in dollars in accordance with local currency. 

Banks do not finance transactions exceeding an amount of 500,000 unless such transactions are related to foreign trade. 

4.3 Methods and means for international settlement:

Banks are obliged to ensure that importers possess a valid import license before issuing letters of credit. Importers must place with their banks a deposit in local currency equivalent to 15% of the value of import letters of credit; however banks are not obliged to deposit such amounts with the bank of Lebanon. 


The Lebanese customs Tariff is characterized by low import rates. In 1995, the system was considerably simplified and ad valorem tax rates are among the lowest of the area.

5.1 Applicable duties and taxes:

High tariffs are applicable to luxury goods. As a matter of fact a 100% rate is applicable to salmon, caviar, alcoholic beverages and watches, tobacco 25% and standard electrical goods 15%. Tariffs applied to electrical goods depend on the sophistication of the product. 

Fiscal stamps are imposed on transactions and documents, including certificates of origin, shipment documents, copies of legalized bills of lading and letters of credit. Duties amount to US$ 12 for certificate of origin and US$ 3.1for shipment documents.

5.2 Special provisions:

In addition to import duties here above quoted, the Beirut Port Development Bureau levies a small percentage on overall duty imposed on goods entering Lebanon.


Transport in Lebanon is diversified and is made up of land, railway, maritime and air transport.

6.1 International transports:

Road NetworkLebanon is provided with two international motorways. They constitute the north-south coastal roads linking Beirut with Damascus.

Railwaysare made up of three lines:

Nakoure- Beirut-Tripoli  

Beirut-Riyak (Bekka); 

Tripoli-Homs and Aleppo in Syria and serving also Ankara and Istanbul.

Maritime transportsThe largest port is located 16 km away from Beirut and a second project is underway.

Air transportsLebanon is provided with two lines: Middle East Airlines and Trans-Mediterranean Airways. Middle-East Airlines is provided with 11 Boeings 707 and three Boeings 747.

6.2 Telecommunications:

Telephone network in Lebanon is automatic. In 1993, the telephone network reached 35,000 national lines and 700 international lines. The installation of a cellular telephone network is also planned. 

6.3 Distribution system:

The distribution system includes national agencies and commercial representations that are the major suppliers. The latter are in direct contact with foreign exporters to Lebanon and wholesalers.





Ministère de l’Economie et de Commerce Artois Street Beirut Tel: (9611) 345250 

Fax: (6221) 349459
Chambre de Commerce et D’Industrie de Beyrouth Rue Justinien B.P.: 11-1801 Sanayeh 2100 Beyrouth Tel : (9611) 353390 

Fax : (9611) 602374
Banque Centrale du Liban P.O. Box 11-5544 Rue Masraf Loubnone Beyrouth Tel: (9611) 865303 

Telex: (9611) 20744