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Visa

The East Africa Tourist Visa allows for multiple entries to Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda for 90 days. Processing fee costs US$100.

The holder of the East Africa Tourist Visa must first enter from the country that issued the visa and can then proceed to travel within the two other countries without applying for another visa or paying another visa fee.

The East African Tourist Visa can be obtained upon arrival at Rwanda after payment of the prescribed fee, without prior application. Please note that Rwanda has to be the first destination in order for the Rwanda-issued Visa to be valid.

A visa extension can be applied for at any office of the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, land borders and the Kigali International Airport.

Rwanda will grant visa free of charge with 90 days validity to nationalities of:

Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Haiti, Senegal, Seychelles and Sao Tome and Principe.

This is in addition to Democratic Republic of Congo, East African Community Partner States, Mauritius, Philippines, and Singapore.

It is not necessary to apply online beforehand. Rwandan embassies and high commissions no longer provide such consular service.

Should you wish to apply beforehand, please head to https://irembo.gov.rw/rolportal/web/dgie/single-entry-visa

Imports and Exports

Yes, there is a quick release procedure that facilitates importing the goods. This is called pre-clearance. Pre clearance can be granted for example to perishable goods, drugs and agricultural inputs.

Go to pre-clearance to see how you can apply for this procedure, to see the conditions under which you can apply, and to download the form.

Pre-clearance link:
https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=229

If the imported goods exceed a value of 200,000 RWF (USD$226), the goods have to be brought to the inland port of Gikondo (Inland Customs Office) to be processed.

In case you need permission to import and process commercial goods exceeding the value mentioned above you will need to write to the Commissioner for Customs and Excise expressing your reasons for this.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=60

Port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania

Port of Mombasa in Kenya

  1. Items contained in the personal luggage of travellers
  2. Personal property belonging to physical persons, brought into the Customs territory following the transfer of their normal place of residence;
  3. Education, scientific, technological and cultural materials, such as: books, news papers and tourist information literature
  4. Equipment and instruments used only in conserving and protecting the environment
  5. Donations to the state or its Institutions
  6. Items for charitable and philanthropic organizations
  7. Articles intended for handicapped persons
  8. Samples of negligible value
  9. Good imported for examination analysis or test purposes
  10. Articles imported for religious ceremonies
  11. Solar energy equipment and the accessories
  12. Importation of goods for Diplomatic Missions, Consulates and International Organizations.
  13. Importation of reproductive animals
  14. Consignments of negligible value
  15. Gifts with negligible value sent by one person to another
  16. Pharmaceutical products, instruments and apparatus, intended for Medical research, diagnosis or treatment of patients, pesticides, agricultural tools and fishery equipment
  17. Honorary decorations or awards
  18. Fuel, lubricating oils, spare parts, regular equipment and stores for consumption on board of means of transport engaged in international air traffic
  19. Fire extinguisher vehicles.
  20. Agricultural inputs.
  21. Temporary importation regime

Prohibited and restricted imports generally:

https://www.rra.gov.rw/typo3conf/ext/complete/Resources/Public/download/pdf/prohibited_and_restricted_goods.pdf


Prohibited goods include:

  • Animals, dead or alive, and goods intended for consumption by humans or animals from third countries where an epidemic listed in sanitary, veterinary, and phytosanitary regulations has been signalled by the competent authorities;
  • Drugs and psychotropic substances;
  • Arms and ammunitions, except when destined for national security;
  • Publications and pornographic productions contrary to morals and public order;
  • Counterfeits;
  • Goods that destroy the environment including polythlene basg
  • Money laundering.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=60

EAC Common External Tariff rates (updated 2017)

0% for raw materials
10% for semi-processed materials
25% for processed goods

https://www.rra.gov.rw/fileadmin/user_upload/eac_cet_2017.pdf

Rwanda’s customs administration is now part of the East African Community Customs Union.

As part of the Customs Union, there is ‘duty-free and quota-free movement of tradable goods’ among Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.

A common set of import duty rates will be applied on goods from non-member countries (also known as the Common External Tariff).

https://www.rra.gov.rw/typo3conf/ext/complete/Resources/Public/download/pdf/Benefits_of_EAC_Customs_Union.pdf

For import and export among the COMESA member countries, the ‘Direct Consignment Rule’ states that goods shall be transported directly from a consignor in another member state, to minimize fraud through transhipment.

Exceptions to this rule are made for landlocked countries.

For import and export of goods from/to countries outside COMESA, it is mandatory to have a Certificate of Origin, Invoice, Bill of landing and a transportation license.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=60

Company Incorporation

RDB offers a wide range of business and investor services including;

  • Business Registration
  • Business and investment facilitation
  • Issuance of Investment Certificates that will facilitate in starting your business
  • Notary services to newly registered investors
  • Access to information on location factors and business opportunities
  • Immigration services

RDB can be contacted at:

Rwanda Development Board
KN 5 Rd, KG 9 Ave
Tel: 1415
Tel (International): (+250) 727775170
E-mail: info@rdb.rw

You will receive all communications regarding the registration in the Office of the Registrar General (ORG) portal.

You will receive your certificate in 6 hours.

You will need the following:

  • Power of attorney to present the company in Rwanda (Notarised)
  • A duly authenticated copy of the memorandum Articles of Association. (Notarised)
  • Certificate of Registration/Incorporation issued by the registration authority in the country of incorporation. (Notarised)
  • Notarised resolution from the authorized agency authorizing to open a branch.
  • Passport copies of the shareholders/directors.
  • List of directors residing in Rwanda (at least one)

It can be done online at http://swref.rdb.rw/#/ at the Office of the Registrar General (ORG).

Otherwise, it can also be done at the Office located at Rwanda Development Board in Kigali.

Starting a business in Rwanda requires 2 simple steps;
First step: Approval of a company name and submitting application.
Second Step: Obtaining a Certificate of incorporation.

Office of the Registrar General (ORG) - http://org.rdb.rw/

Taxes and Fiscal Policy

Energy, Exports, Tourism, Manufacturing, ICT

Belgium, Barbados, Mauritius, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Jersey, and EAC partner states (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan).

Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA).

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) also provides facilitation services.

At the RDB headquarters, an investor could register for taxes, pay their taxes and apply for tax exemptions. Our partnership with the Rwanda Revenue Authority means that our services to you are more comprehensive and delivered more efficiently.

Taxable income is rounded to the nearest thousand (1,000) Rwandan francs and taxed according to the following:

0 to 360,000 RWF (USD$406) = 0%
360,001 to 1,200,000 (USD$1354) = 20%

1,200,001 and above = 30%

Taxable Business profit is rounded down to the nearest one thousand Rwandan Francs (1,000RWF) and taxable at a rate of thirty percent (30%). Newly listed companies on capital market shall be taxed for a period of 5 years on the following rates:

- 20% if those companies they sell at least 40% of their shares to the public;
- 25% if those companies sell at least 30% of their shares to the public;
- 28% if those companies sell at least 20% of their shares to the public.

Venture capital companies registered with the capital markets Authority in Rwanda benefit from a corporate income tax of zero percent (0%) for a period of five (5) years from the date the decision has been taken.

However, a registered investment entity that operates in a Free Trade Zone or foreign companies that has its headquarters in Rwanda that fulfil the requirements stipulated in the Rwandan Law on Investment Promotion are entitled to:

- pay corporate income tax at the rate of zero per cent (0%);
- exemption from withholding tax mentioned in Article 51 of the Law nº 16/2005 of 18/08/2005 on direct taxes on income;
- tax-free repatriation of profit.

If a taxpayer exports commodities or services that bring to the country between three million (3,000,000) US dollars and five million (5,000,000) US dollars in a tax period, he or she is entitled to a tax discount of three percent (3%).

If he or she exports commodities or services that bring to the country more than five million (5,000,000) US dollars in a tax period, he or she is entitled to a tax discount of five percent (5%).

Companies that carry out micro finance activities approved by competent authorities pay corporate income tax at the rate of zero percent (0%) for a period of five (5) years from the time of the approval of the activity.

However, this period may be renewed by the order of the Minister.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=30

Property

Vehicle Registration Tax is a tax charged on motor vehicles and other non motor vehicle engines. The vehicle registration tax involves:

  • Plate fees or plate rental
  • Property tax
  • And road licence

Registration is done prior to the use of the vehicle since a non-registered vehicle cannot be allowed to circulate.

Imported vehicles’ registration is done from the customs’ premises situated in Gikondo. The vehicles within the country can be registered at any RRA office in the Provinces. Whereas in Kigali City, registration takes place from Revenue Protection Department office in Gikondo.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=45&L=0

According to the draft law, which was passed by Parliament on August 2, the tax rate on a parcel of land varies between zero and Rwf 300 per square metre.

It further states that any undeveloped parcel of land is subject to the additional tax of 100 per cent to the tax rate referred to in article 18.

Yes land can easily be obtained for projects and this is done in two ways;

  • Privately purchasing land from the private sector
  • RDB can apply for public sector land on your behalf of the investor for special considerations to cabinet, should RDB deem the project to be significant business or strategic importance

Accessing the region from Rwanda

  • Plate fees or plate rental
  • Property tax
  • And road licence

Registration is done prior to the use of the vehicle since a non-registered vehicle cannot be allowed to circulate.

Imported vehicles’ registration is done from the customs’ premises situated in Gikondo. The vehicles within the country can be registered at any RRA office in the Provinces. Whereas in Kigali City, registration takes place from Revenue Protection Department office in Gikondo.

https://www.rra.gov.rw/index.php?id=45&L=0

According to the draft law, which was passed by Parliament on August 2, the tax rate on a parcel of land varies between zero and Rwf 300 per square metre.

It further states that any undeveloped parcel of land is subject to the additional tax of 100 per cent to the tax rate referred to in article 18.

Yes land can easily be obtained for projects and this is done in two ways;

  • Privately purchasing land from the private sector
  • RDB can apply for public sector land on your behalf of the investor for special considerations to cabinet, should RDB deem the project to be significant business or strategic importance

As a member of the EAC Customs Union, Rwanda enjoys duty free importation of machinery and raw materials as per the East African Community Customs Management Act regulation.

Also under the same arrangement, investors in the tourism and hospitality industry shall continue to benefit from exemptions on customs duties and VAT for imported hotel equipment provided that that they engrave and mark the equipment’s with the hotel logo imported by a licensed hotel for its use.

A list of agricultural inputs and other agricultural and livestock materials and equipment exempt from value added tax is available. Please check with Rwanda Development Board for details.

Safety & Health

Yes Rwanda is very safe. In fact, Rwanda has been consistently ranked by the Gallup Global Law and Order Report as one of the safest countries in Africa and the world.

Travelers to Rwanda have commented on feeling safe even while walking around Kigali at night.

Yellow fever is a current risk in Rwanda due to outbreaks taking place in the region. It is recommended that all travellers over the age of 9 months receive this vaccine.

This is also important for travellers who will continue on to other EAC countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, which all requires yellow fever vaccinations.

The following vaccinations are recommended but not required when visiting Rwanda:

- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Malaria
- Typhoid
- Rabies

Good to know

Rwanda may be considered a rather conservative society, holding on traditional values in most aspects. However, business-wise, Rwandans generally become adaptable to the global setting when doing business.

Greetings are extremely important in Rwanda. When being introduced for the first time to prominent people, Rwandans shake right hands and may place the left hand under the right forearm as a sign of respect.

Thank-you notes go a long way. If possible, a handwritten note is perfect. If you prefer a paperless option, make sure your message is concise and thoughtful. The result will be priceless.

Time is important, and equally important always listen and pay attention during meetings and conversations; it looks impolite when one attends to one’s distractions.

Understand that Rwanda is recovering from a civil war and genocide in which approximately a million people were murdered. Many lost relatives and friends. Remember to be sensitive to this extreme tragedy when associating with people. Most people today are trying to forget. It is considered impolite to ask someone about their ethnic origin.

Unlike in many neighboring countries such as Uganda and Kenya where people talk freely about the government and political issues, people in Rwanda will be uncomfortable if asked about their views or even if seated at a table where national politics is discussed.

If you feel you are being overcharged by a trader, quietly persistence is likely to produce results much faster than an angry outburst.

Best time to visit is from April to October or December to January. English is the main language for business and conversation exchanges with executives and others, but also useful to learn a few words in Kinyarwanda as this will be appreciated and helpful when strolling.

Appearance is an element that gains you respect, at the workplace must dress appropriately. wearing appropriate attire for line of business, or leisure ensures everyone he comes in contact with will take him seriously. (Suit, Tie & Dresses, Skirts).

The country code is 250, Wireless internet is now available across the country, either by using a Dongle which can be purchased in Kigali and other major towns or using hotspots. There are also many internet cafes in Kigali and also large towns.

Most of the media are state-owned. The main newspaper is New Times and the regional East African is also widely distributed. International newspapers may be found in upmarket hotels, copies of the time and the economist is sold by vendors.

Rwanda is the Land of a Thousand Hills, most of the country is covered by rolling, grassy hills.

The culture of Rwanda is very diversified, and it has a unified state since pre-colonial times unlike many countries in Africa.

The Rwandan cuisine is famous all-over East Africa, with its signature East African dish – Ugali and vegetables. Rwanda cuisine is wide-ranging in taste, flavor, and variety such as Rwandan “Agatogo” with Collard Greens, Isombe and Green masala fish.

The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers, the backbone of the economy. It accounts for 39% of gross domestic product (GDP), 80% of employment, 63% of foreign exchange earnings, and 90% of the country's food needs. Although much of the economy relies on subsistence farming, Rwanda has a mixed economic system in which there is a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation.