A Guide to Importing Coffee Beans into Saudi Arabia

Updated November 28, 2023

Reading time: 9 minutes.

Coffee has been big business in Saudi Arabia for centuries. While Arabic coffee culture has been central to everyday life for generations, the country is increasingly embracing specialty coffee sourced from some of the best farms and estates that the coffee-growing world has to offer. 

This embrace of specialty coffee is leading many of the country’s roasters, retailers, and coffee shop owners to form connections with new suppliers in their never-ending pursuit of the finest beans. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we specialize in sourcing the best Colombian green coffee beans for buyers in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Therefore, we’ve put together this guide to importing coffee into Saudi Arabia, to help importers through the process.

Finding a supplier

We like to say that buying a container of coffee is becoming almost as easy as ordering Nespresso pods from Amazon. But this all depends on the supplier you choose to work with. So here are some things to bear in mind when finding and choosing a coffee supplier:

  • Make sure they’re familiar with the laws and regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ask for case studies of other clients they’ve worked with in the country, along with references and testimonials.
  • They should also have knowledge of the tastes and preferences of Saudi consumers, to ensure they’re offering the most appropriate coffee beans for this market.
  • Beware of dealing directly with growers, who may not possess the required export licenses to facilitate the trade. This is why you usually need to work with a licensed exporter.   

Looking for a coffee bean supplier? Discover our range of Colombian exotic green coffee beans for export.

Arranging shipping

Shipping and logistics are the most complex parts of the process when importing direct trade coffee. Therefore, it’s advisable to let the exporter manage all of this on your behalf. As well as the actual shipping, they can also coordinate all the arrangements between farms, mills, packaging facilities, trucking, government agencies, ports, and customs.

The International Chamber of Commerce has established International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) that describe both types of shipping arrangements. These are the following:

  • When the buyer is receiving a price for goods that do not include any shipping costs this can be known as Ex Works (EXW) or Free on Board (FOB). 
  • Or on the opposite end, when the seller both includes the costs of transport and is responsible to bring the merchandise to a designated place of the buyer’s choosing this is known as Delivered at Place (DAP).

A further consideration is for buyers who are having their coffee shipped to Riyadh Dry Port. In this instance, you need to ensure your supplier can arrange the transport from the seaport of perhaps Dammam or Jeddah to the dry port by road or rail.  

Shipping costs

If you’re importing coffee into Saudi Arabia CIF, then the seller will calculate transportation costs and include this in the final price. If you’re importing Ex Works, then you’ll need to pay the following additional fees on top of the Ex Works coffee price:

  • Domestic transportation in the country of origin 
  • Documentation (e.g. certificate of origin and phytosanitary certificate)
  • Loading and unloading fees
  • Port and export taxes 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Freight costs
  • Insurance 
  • Export custom agent fees
  • Accreditation with the relevant Saudi Arabian authorities

Coffee imports product labeling requirements

Sacks need to be clearly labeled with the following information in both English and Arabic when importing coffee beans into Saudi Arabia: 

  • Country of Origin – بلد المنشأ
  • Name – اسم
  • Product Number – رقم المنتج
  • Net Weight (kg) – الوزن الصافي (كيلو)
  • Imported By – مستورد عن طريق
  • Manufacturer Name – اسم المصنع
  • Production Date – تاريخ الإنتاج
  • Expiration Date – تاريخ الانتهاء
  • HS Code – رمز النظام المنسق
  • Ingredients – مكونات  

Customs clearance declarations in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority provides a pre-clearance customs process. You will need to work with your supplier to complete the clearance form which consists of the following questions:

  • Item Description
  • Bar Code
  • Brand Name
  • Trade Mark
  • Hs Code
  • Net Weight
  • Country of Origin
  • Region
  • Farm
  • Coffee Variety
  • Farm Altitude
  • Processing Method
  • Country of Production
  • Country of Packing
  • Age Group
  • Usage Method
  • Packing Type
  • Shelf Life
  • Storage Temperature
  • Ingredients
  • Producer Name
  • Producer Approval Number (if applicable)
  • Warnings  (if applicable)
  • Food Label Image
  • Food Image

Coffee import customs duties in Saudi Arabia

Most of the basic consumer products are duty free, included unroasted coffee beans

VAT on coffee sales in Saudi Arabia

This is charged at 15% of the invoice total, a raise from 5% in July 2020.

Discover our range of direct trade coffee beans  

Here at Those Coffee People, we’re experts in sourcing the finest direct trade Colombian green coffee beans. We venture off into remote areas of Colombia’s beautiful coffee regions to search for new and exclusive offers, exploring the country town by town to identify the most unique and desirable origins for you and your customers.

Explore our unique Colombian coffee origins here and discover the story of every estate we work with. We can fulfill orders of every size for buyers in Saudi Arabia, contact us for more information.

If you’re looking to import coffee into the GCC, have a read of these importation guides:

Featured image photo by Yasmine Arfaoui on Unsplash

10 Responses

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