Customs Declaration and Clearance

Export clearance is done through a Customs Clearing Agent. Export documentation is submitted to customs online, or physically where manual document processing is taking place. Once the documents are submitted they are subjected to documentary checks and /or physical inspection. A request for goods examination is triggered by risk management considerations that form part of customs clearance. Exports can be cleared at the inland stations of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu ports, or at the border stations. The documentary requirements are similar at all customs clearing offices.

Customs Bonded Warehouse

An exporter may be required to use Customs bonded warehouses. Customs bonded warehouses provide secure facilities in which goods can be held temporarily as the export documents are being processed. The facility also allows for approved processes to be conducted such as blending of different products of different countries of origin. The banded facility can be owned by both a customs agent as well as an exporter.

Clearing and Forwarding

Shipping and forwarding agents arrange land, sea, and air transportation of goods. They complete all procedural and documentation formalities involved in custom and port clearance on behalf of the shipper and arrange for warehousing of cargo before shipment of export cargo. Some shipping and forwarding agents also undertake consolidation of shipments which enables them to obtain preferential freight rates from the shipping line or airline.Shipping and forwarding agents also assist the exporter in selecting economical shipping routes; arranging packaging and marking of shipments; preparing shipping and regulatory documents; delivering goods to carriers; collecting transport documents; arranging insurance and processing claims; booking shipping space and providing advice on the relative costs of sending goods by sea or air.To find a freight forwarder, the exporter should consult the Malawi Revenue Authority, Malawi Investment and Trade Center, Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association of Malawi, or the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Quality and Standards

Quality has been universally recognized as one of the key strategic elements of product competitiveness in both domestic and international markets along with price and distribution. High quality is the pre- requisite for successful market access and for achieving continued customer satisfaction. An exporter has to understand that quality is best determined by the customer. Your products have to meet and if possible surpass the expectations of your customers. There are different quality systems that are accepted internationally. Quality systems are used to ensure that products or services being produced meet customer expectations and international standards. Details can be obtained from the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

When a customer is satisfied with your product or service the following benefits follow:-

  • The rate of reselling to that customer becomes higher.
  • The costs for marketing and selling, which are necessary to keep-up the relation to that customer, will decrease with time.
  • Old customers react less sensitive towards price increases than new customers
  • He will advise others on your company and support you by word of mouth.

Export Financing

Export finance can be defined as all resources needed to meet the export requirements. This includes financial requirements to be available to export the product.
It is very important in that:
  • It enables the exporter fulfill the order(s) within the agreed period of time with the buyer.
  • It reduces the financial burden on the exporter as repayment is not immediate.
  • It ensures good cash flow for one’s export busines

Transport Networks

Malawi is linked with overseas and regional markets by rail, road and air transport. The following are Malawi’s main routes:
  • By rail to the port of Nacala in Mozambique;
  • By air through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe to all major cities in the world;
  • By road through Mwanza, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa to the port of Durban;
  • By road through Mchinji to Zambia;
  • By road through Mwanza to the port of Beira in Mozambique;
  • By road using the Northern Corridor via Karonga and Mbeya (Tanzania) to the port of Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania;
  • By road to the port of Quilemane in Mozambique via Muloza boarder.

Air Transport

It is expensive but faster than all the other forms of transport. It is generally used to ferry perishables and high value commodities such as horticultural products.

Rail Transport

It is one of the cheapest modes of transport and is generally used for bulky goods. An exporter may decide to use rail transport during shipment of such products as timber.

Road Transport

It is the most expensive mode of transport after air transport and is extensively used in inland transport. However, there are advantages in sending goods by road as compared with sending them by other modes of transport.Goods sent by road can be moved from door to door without any transhipment and this is usual with small consignments. There is also flexibility in terms of timing as vehicles can be loaded and dispatched at any time and can travel even in remote parts of the country.

Sea Transport

It is heavily used in exports and imports of large shipments for all kinds of commodities, machinery, vehicles and chemicals especially from overseas.

Doing Business

World Bank site that provides detailed information on the time, costs, and procedures required for trading and doing business in 175 countries. 

E-Commerce Toolbox

US Department of Commerce ITA s Office of Technology and Electronic Commerce (OTEC) in Manufacturing and Services recently launched an innovative web site that advises firms about how to use the Internet to export. 

Export Blueprint

Video course for starting and expanding an export business. 


Free export webinars for international business professionals at different experience levels. 

Exporting Basics Life Cycle

Flowchart of the export process. 

Exporting Your Way to Success

Articles about starting and running an export business 

Growing Small Business Exports

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about exporting. 

International Trade Tools

Website with links to sites with quick answers to trade-related questions 

My Own Business - International Trade

An overview of starting an international trade business 

SME Toolkit

Business management information and training for small businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The subjects covered are: Accounting and Finance, Business Planning, Human Resources (HR), Marketing and Sales, Operations, and Information Technology (IT). 

Trading Across Borders

A report and resources from the World Bank that explains in detail the procedures of importing and exporting.