I. Overview of Brunei
Brunei is located in South-Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and Malaysia. It is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia and fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world. Major export partners include regional neighbours such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and India as well as Australia. Exports rely mainly on crude petroleum and petroleum gas. Brunei's foreign investments make up a large contribution to the economy, while small-scale manufacturing and primary production are the main non-oil sectors. The domestic market is highly import-dependent with a substantial share of imports originating from neighbouring countries. Brunei is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Brunei mainly exports crude oil and natural gas and imports mechanical and traffic equipment, industrial manufactured goods, food and chemical products.
As a member of ASEAN, Brunei boast all preferential policies among ASEAN economic community. Therefore, if a company invests in Brunei, its products can be easily exported to the whole ASEAN market. What’s more, Brunei enjoys the preferential treatment of free trade agreements as ASEAN member, including ASEAN-China Free trade Agreement, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN-Japan Free Trade Agreement, etc.
As a Muslim country, Brunei attaches importance to cooperating with other Muslim country and boost the development in the fields of halal food, Muslim product and Islamic finance.
II. Market opportunities
1. The most attractive commercial sectors include:
Upstream and Downstream Oil and Gas
Food and Beverage Franchises
2. In the agricultural sector, the following investment opportunities may offer lucrative investment opportunities:
Food Imports/Food Production
Brunei’s ICT sector seeks to benefit from international expertise as Brunei continues to upgrade its national telecommunications infrastructure, and the financial sector seeks to modernize its banking industry with digital platforms.
III. Import Procedures
1. Step 1
Register with the Royal Customs and Excise Department (RCED)
Any company who wishes to engage in importing or exporting or transiting of goods in Brunei Darussalam or appoint a Customs Agent (Forwarder) must be registered with the RCED.
An applicant can submit a one-time registration form online through the Brunei Darussalam National Single Window (BDNSW). The Registration is free of charge.
What are the documents needed for registration?
A copy of Business Certificate of Registration or Certificate of Incorporation
A copy of Business Owner’s Smart Identity Card.
A copy of each Company Partnership’s Smart Identity Card (for Company)
2. Step 2
Apply Permit for Controlled Goods
All goods may be imported except for prohibited goods in accordance to Section 31 of the Customs Order, 2006.
Do check if the goods to be imported are controlled goods or goods subject to restriction from respective responsible agency in Brunei Darussalam. Restricted and Controlled Goods will require the necessary license or permit before importation.
You may search using the description of the goods or Harmonized System (HS) code. You may wish to check with your appointed Customs Agents (Forwarders) or to check directly with the respective responsible agency on their licensing requirement.
How to apply license/ permit?
Appoint a Customs Agents (Forwarders) to apply for permit on your behalf; or
Apply for permits for your own or on behalf of your clients. To do so, you will need to register as a declarant and apply for a BDNSW user ID.
Some controlled or restricted goods still require a manual application for permit.
You can check with your appointed Customs Agents (Forwarders) or to check directly with the respective responsible agency on the application procedures.
How much does license/ permit application cost?
Some licenses/permits are free of charge.
You can check with your appointed Customs Agents (Forwarders) or to check directly with the respective responsible agency on the charges involved.
3. Step 3
Online Customs Import Declaration
Before arrival of imported goods, the importer is required to obtain a Customs Import Declaration.
How to submit Customs Import Declaration?
All Customs Import Declaration must be submitted via BDNSW.
Appoint a Customs Agents (Forwarders) to submit Customs Import Declaration on your behalf; or
Submit Customs Import Declaration for your own or on behalf of your clients. To do so, you will need to register as a declarant and apply for a BDNSW user ID.
How much does Customs Import Declaration cost?
Customs Import Declarations are free of charge.
If you are engaging a Customs Agents (Forwarders) for assistance in declaring, they may charge service fees. You may wish to check with your appointed Customs Agents (Forwarders) on the charges involved.
In which situation goods may be exempted from Customs Import Declaration?
Certain goods, unless they are dutiable, controlled and requested by Customs Officers to do so, do not require a Customs Import Declaration. These include, but are not limited to:
Personal or household effects accompany the passenger as hand-carry or check-in luggage.
Goods imported by Courier Services registered under De’Minimis Scheme (non-controlled goods which are not exceeding BND400 CIF)
Locally sourced stores loaded for use on board the vessel and aircraft
4. Step 4
Payment of Duty for Dutiable Goods
All goods imported into Brunei Darussalam are subjected to Customs Import Duties Order and Excise Duties Order which being enforced at this date.
Duty rates may be applied of the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value, which includes other charges, costs and expenses incidental to the sale and delivery of the goods into Brunei Darussalam, whether or not shown on the invoice.
How can I know which goods are dutiable or not?
Determination of classification of imported goods whether dutiable or not are based on Brunei Darussalam Tariff and Trade Classification 2017 derived from ASEAN Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN 2017).
You may search using the description of the goods or Harmonized System (HS) code.
Duties can be paid at:
Customs Payment Counter (at Headquarters or any Entry Points); or
Bill Payment Over Bank's Channel
5. Step 5
Inspection and Clearance
All restricted and controlled goods imported into Brunei Darussalam will be subject to customs inspection prior clearance of the goods.
In certain circumstances, normal goods will also be subjected to inspection.
The documents needed to provide
For every importation by sea, air or land, you are required to produce:
the Approved Customs Import Declaration; and
Supporting Documents such as Invoice, Bill of Lading/Air Waybill and License/Permit from responsible agency for any controlled goods (for manual permit) to the customs officers at the entry point for verification.
For importation via Post Office and importation of any personal goods or household effects accompany the passengers as hand-carry or check-in luggage, you are not required to present the Customs import Declaration, except in certain circumstances, when you are asked to do so.
For more details, visit: https://tradingacrossborders.mofe.gov.bn/SitePages/import-step1.aspx
IV. Notes of doing business
It is necessary to know the local trade environment and cultural background well before doing business in Brunei so as to take effective measures to develop business. Brunei domestic market is not large in scale but large number of businessmen, most of who are Chinese. Brunei’s market is disciplined in mode of payment and high-demand in the quality of products.
Reference: 1. Chinese Ministry of Commerce Department of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation
2. International Trade Centre
3. The International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce
4. Trading Across Borders Brunei