Import Requirements

Start Importing

In order to avoid potential problems in the clearance of your merchandise, Division of Customs and Quarantine recommends that you familiarize yourself with the CNMI regulation, policies and procedures prior to actually importing/exporting your goods. You should also be aware of any entry requirements specific to the particular commodity you are importing/exporting, including those of other state government agencies.

Prohibited and Restricted Imports

It is unlawful for any person to knowingly enter the Commonwealth with the intent to import, or attempt to cause another to bring or import any of the following items:

  1. Controlled substances (drug, substance, or immediate precursor of opiates, barbiturates, etc.)
  2. Currency, coin, travelers’ checks, money orders, and/or negotiable instruments of a total of more than $10,000 unless the same is reported to the Division of Customs in a signed customs declaration form prior to entry into the Commonwealth.
  3. Firearms and ammunition. For a detailed list of exemptions, click here.
  4. Goods, merchandise or commodities that violate international or U.S. copyright or patent laws.
  5. Undeclared goods, merchandise, or commodities subject to excise tax.
  6. Cigarettes, the package of which fails to bear any warning label as required by United States federal law. (i) Exemption for Personal Consumption. An exemption from this subsection shall apply to allow each person entering the Commonwealth to import, for personal use and consumption, into the Commonwealth, up to 10 packs of tobacco cigarettes that do not contain the federal warning required by this subsection.
  7. Motor vehicles (which are not covered by a certification issued under 49 U.S.C. § 30115, as amended, and regulations promulgated thereunder)
  8. Used Tires
  9. Banned Pesticides

Permits-Required Items

There are items that are allowed for import into the Commonwealth, however, are required a permit from other state government agencies. They are:

Commercial Ships and Cruise Liners

Twenty-four (24) hours prior to the arrival of a vessel, the owner, agent or master must submit a “Notice of Arrival.” Immediately, upon arrival, the following additional documents are required: General Declaration, Passenger Manifest, Cargo Manifest, Transit cargo manifest, Bill of Ladings, Last Port Clearance (Original), Crew Manifest & Declaration list, Crew Personal Effect list, Ship Store List and CNMI Division of Customs Service Form 1350

Excise Tax Rates

There is an excise tax on the sale, use, lease or rental of goods, commodities, resources, or merchandise in the Commonwealth. These are the following tax rates:

Agricultural Commodities 1% ad valorem
Aviation Fuel 3% ad valorem
Beer and Malt Beverage $ 0.02 per fluid ounce or fractional equivalent
Boats and Yachts in Excess of $500,000.00 5.75% ad valorem
Cigarettes $ 3.75 per 20 cigarettes or fractional equivalent
Construction Material, Equipment and Machinery 3% ad valorem
Cosmetic 17.25% ad valorem
Distilled Alcoholic Beverages $ 0.18 per fluid ounce or fractional equivalent
Foodstuff 1% ad valorem
Goods Derived Locally 1% ad valorem
Hygiene and Toiletries 1% ad valorem
Jewelry 5.75% ad valorem
Leather Goods 5.75% ad valorem
Liquid Fuel $ 0.15 per gallon
Passenger Vehicle Not Exceeding $30,000 per Unit 5% ad valorem
Passenger Vehicle Exceeding $30,000 per Unit 5.75% ad valorem
Perfumery 23% ad valorem
Precious Metals, Precious or Semi-Precious Stones 5.75% ad valorem
Prescription Drugs or Medicines 1% ad valorem
Soft Drinks $ 0.005 per fluid ounce or fractional equivalent
Tobacco/Tobacco Substitute 60% ad valorem
Wine and Sake $ 0.05 per fluid ounce or fractional equivalent
All Others (not otherwise provided by law) 5% ad valorem

Environmental Beautification Tax

In addition to the excise tax imposed on the importation of goods, there is an additional rate of 0.42 percent ad valorem assessed on all consumer goods. (NMIAC §4-1401(f)). Exemptions to this rule may be found in 4 CMC 1402(c)(2) - (4) and 4 CMC 1402(d).

New & Returning Residents

Personal vehicle(s), personal household goods, and other items imported into the CNMI is allowable for the purpose of establishing a household. The new or returning resident must import or arrangement shipment of personal vehicle(s) or personal household goods or other items within six (6) months of first establishing a household in the Commonwealth. A returning resident is one who resided outside of the CNMI for a minimum of one year.

For example, if you are a returning resident from Texas, USA and will be shipping your personal belongings (vehicle, household items, including appliances and clothing, etc.), then you have six (6) months to arrange for your shipment of your personal belongings from your point of origin. You will be assessed excise taxes on your personal belongings if you do not ship all your personal belongings within the 6-month period. Any items purchased in between the port of origin to your final destination in the NMI is not exempted from taxes.

Also, if you are a returning resident and have lived outside of the CNMI for a period less than one year, then you do not qualify for the tax exemption. NMIAC § 70-10.1-110(i)

Churches & Other Tax-Exempt Organizations

Generally, all non-profit organizations are subject to all applicable CNMI taxes unless the organization applies for and is granted tax-exempt status by the CNMI Division of Revenue and Taxation. Items brought into the Commonwealth by churches for the purpose of carrying on the religions functions of the function shall be exempted from paying excise tax. Applicable items may include sacramental wine for use in religious rites, chalice, habits, cassocks, vestments, and other items. NMIAC § 70-10.1-110

Non-profit organizations are not automatically exempted from paying taxes. The organization must obtain tax-exempt status from the Division of Revenue & Taxation. For more information on Tax-Exemption in the CNMI, click here.

Non-Business /Personal Exemptions

Any person may bring for personal / non-business use goods and merchandise and not be subject to the excise tax, as long as the value of the item(s) is $1000 and below.

For example, you purchase a refrigerator from an outlet on Guam and the retail value is $2,699.00

Item Value: $2,699.00
Exemption of $1,000.00 per § 1402(c)(1): ($1,000.00)
Tax Base: $1,699.00
Excise Tax at 5%: $84.95 ($1,699.00 x 5%)
Beautification Tax at .42%: $7.14 ($1,699.00 x .42%)
TOTAL Tax Assessed: $90.09

Import payments and refunds

All taxes, fees and charges are due and must be paid in cash, or by US postal money order, or check drawn at a bank in the Commonwealth, or a bank in any of the states in the United States of America. Credit card payments (VISA/Mastercard) are also accepted. All payments shall be made within thirty (30) calendar days after entry.

Consignees that do not make payments within thirty (30) calendar days, shall be denied clearance and release on future importation of goods, commodities or merchandise and must pay all applicable penalties.

Any application for refund pursuant to 4 CMC § 1408 shall be filed with the Secretary within one year from the date the tax was paid or required to be paid or goods, commodities, resources, or merchandise entered the Commonwealth, whichever is earlier. 4 CMC 1 §1409

Payment of taxes and fees can be performed at the Seaport location.