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Limark in Lesotho

Connecting Lesotho across Africa and beyond

Limark has a long-standing presence in Lesotho, helping customers navigate this landlocked nation’s unique trade landscape. Our expertise in Southern African logistics ensures efficient cargo movement across borders, connecting Lesotho to regional and global markets.

With operations in over 40 African countries, Limark offers a vast network for your Lesotho shipments. Whether you’re exporting Lesotho’s valuable textiles and manufactured goods or importing essential resources, we provide seamless solutions to streamline your supply chain.

Shipping to and from Lesotho

Import regulations

Importing goods to Lesotho requires navigating specific procedures and documentation. Here’s a breakdown of the essential requirements:

Lesotho is a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, and most of its imports go through South African ports before entering Lesotho. As a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Lesotho applies the same customs regulations and tariffs as South Africa for goods imported from outside the SACU region.

Product categories requiring import licenses/permits

  • Agricultural products (plants, seeds, animals)
  • Food and beverages
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical devices
  • Chemicals and hazardous materials
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Certain textile products
  • Radioactive materials

Prohibited and restricted imports

  • Narcotics and illegal drugs
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Certain agricultural products (due to phytosanitary risks)
  • Certain live animals and animal products (due to disease risks)
  • Used tires
  • Weapons and explosives (without permits)

Relevant agencies

  • Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) – Customs & Excise Division
  • Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
  • Ministry of Health

Demurrage charges apply when import containers are not collected from the port/terminal within the free period. Detention charges apply when containers are not returned to the shipping line after the allowed free period.

Free time periods

  • Imports: Usually 3-5 working days free time after container arrival
  • Exports: Usually 5-7 working days of free time after container pickup

Calculation methods

Demurrage/Detention is typically charged per container, per day beyond the free period. Rates vary by shipping line/terminal.

Storage limitations

Most terminals enforce a maximum storage period of 30-60 days before containers are auctioned or scrapped.

Applicable fees

Demurrage/Detention fees can range from $50-$150+ per container per day depending on size and shipping line.

Required Import documentation

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Bill of Lading (or Airway Bill)
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Import Permit (for regulated goods)
  • SACU Customs Declaration (Form SAD 500)

Commercial invoice

Detailed description of goods, quantities, values, terms of sale, etc. Used to assess customs duties.

Packing list

Specifies contents, weight, and measurements of each package in the shipment.

Bill of Lading/Airway Bill

Contract of carriage document issued by the freight carrier.

Certificate of origin

Document certifying the country of origin of goods, required for preferential duties under trade agreements.

Most goods can be imported into Lesotho without a license, but certain categories like foods, medicines, and chemicals require import permits from relevant authorities.

Application process

  1. Obtain application forms from the issuing ministry/agency
  2. Submit completed forms with required supporting docs
  3. Pay applicable permit fees
  4. Await approval/permit issuance

Validity periods

Import permits are typically valid for 6-12 months

Renewal process

Submit renewal application along with prior permit before expiry


Permit fees vary based on product category, from $25-$500+

Customs clearance procedures

  1. Submission of documentation (commercial docs, permits, declarations)
  2. Payment of applicable duties and taxes
  3. Inspection of cargo (document review, physical inspection if required)
  4. Release of cargo from customs custody
  5. Payment of demurrage/detention fees if applicable

Import duties/taxes

  • Import VAT: 15% (Some exceptions apply)
  • Customs duties range from 0% (SACU sources) to 25%+ for many goods


Physical inspections are conducted for random shipments or high-risk cargo. Inspections can also include sampling/testing of goods.

Port/Terminal operations

Major ports for Lesotho’s imports

  • Durban (South Africa) – Largest port serving Lesotho
  • Port Elizabeth, Cape Town (South Africa)
  • Maputo Port (Mozambique) Strategically located and equipped to handle bulk cargo and containers.

Air Cargo Hubs

  • OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Moshoeshoe I International Airport (Maseru, Lesotho – limited cargo ops)

Cut-off times

Vary by terminal, but usually 24-48 hours before vessel arrival/departure

Container operations

  • Most terminals offer stuffing/stripping of containers
  • Limited container storage of 5-7 days free time

Export regulations

Get a detailed guide that provides an in-depth look into every aspect of the export process to ensure your goods are shipped efficiently and in compliance with all legal standards.

Products requiring export permits/licenses

As per the Lesotho Revenue Authority, export permits are required for goods like wool, mohair, live animals, plants/seeds, diamonds, precious metals/stones

The application process involves submitting forms, supporting docs, and fees to the LRA Export division

Permits must be obtained prior to export for restricted/controlled items

Prohibited/Restricted exports

  • Firearms, ammunition, explosives without special permits
  • Narcotics and controlled substances
  • Counterfeit goods or items violating intellectual property rights
  • Certain agricultural/plant products due to biosecurity risks
  • Cultural property and national heritage items

Required documents

  • Commercial invoice with HS codes
  • Packing list
  • Transport document (B/L, Airway Bill)
  • Export permits/licenses for restricted goods
  • Certificate of Origin if preferential treatment requested
  • Other certificates like phytosanitary certs, and fumigation certs as required
  • Export declaration process (LRA ASYCUDA World):
  • Electronic export declaration (Cargo Declaration) filed through the ASYCUDA system
  • Includes details on the exporter, consignee, goods, value, destination
  • Supporting documents uploaded and any duties/taxes paid
  • Declaration passed to Customs for verification and clearance

Major ports for Lesotho exports

  • Most exports are trucked to Durban or other South African ports like Richards Bay
  • Maseru Bridge border post and rail terminal handle road/rail freight

Terminal procedures (e.g. Durban Cargo Terminals)

  • Cut-off times generally 24-48 hours prior to vessel arrival
  • Terminals have received windows (e.g. 6am to 10pm)
  • All documents must be submitted within the cut-off period

Container operations

  • Free storage time for export containers is typically 6 days
  • Reefer containers may have shorter free times like 2 days
  • Fees around $25-40/day per container after free time

Container return requirements

  • Lesotho exporters are responsible for returning containers within the allowed period
  • Shipping lines charge detention fees ($60-120+/day) for late returns
  • Drop-off depots for major lines located in Maseru

Export duties and fees

  • Lesotho charges export duties on some goods like 10% on wheat/flour
  • 15% VAT applied to export value for most goods
  • Terminal handling charges around $100-300 per container
  • Various inspection, documentation, and export certification fees
Shipping to and from Lesotho

Expertise You Can Trust

Navigate Lesotho’s complex trade landscape with Limark

Lesotho’s complex trade regulations and landlocked location can pose challenges for businesses. Let Limark’s expertise be your guide. Our deep understanding of Southern African logistics and thorough knowledge of Lesotho’s import/export procedures ensure seamless, compliant cargo movement.

We understand that reliable, predictable shipping is crucial for your Lesotho operations. With a proven track record of on-time deliveries, Limark delivers peace of mind. Our streamlined processes, partnerships, and strategic planning often translate into potential cost savings for your business. Contact us today and unlock the potential of Lesotho’s trade with Limark.

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Partner with experienced freight forwarders and customs brokers for seamless shipping to and from Lesotho. Ensure full documentation compliance with the guidance and logistics services of our team.