Import Licensing

Category: International Trade Sub-category: Export Import Procedures
Document type: article

Import Licensing

An import license is a document that authorizes the import of certain goods in a country. It  issued by a national government .When used as a way to discriminate against another country's goods in order to protect a domestic industry from foreign competition . Import licenses are considered to be non-tariff barriers to trade.

The Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures says import licensing should be simple, transparent and predictable so as not to become an obstacle to trade.

It is less widely used now than ,however import licensing systems are subject to disciplines in the WTO. According to  Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures  import licensing should be simple, transparent and predictable. For instance, the agreement requires governments to publish sufficient information for traders to know how and why the licenses are granted.
It also describes how countries should notify the WTO when they introduce new import licensing procedures or change existing procedures.

The agreement offers guidance on how governments should assess applications for licenses.
Some licenses are issued automatically if certain conditions are met. Criteria for automatic licensing has been set by the agreement so that the procedures used do not restrict trade.

Other licenses are not issued automatically. Here, the agreement tries to minimize the importers’ burden in applying for licenses, so that the administrative work does not in itself restrict or distort imports. The agreement says the agencies handling licensing should not normally take more than 30 days to deal with an application — 60 days when all applications are considered at the same time.