Cameroon is a country in flux, potentially emerging from decades of economic uncertainty due to increasing development in the country. As such, some are beginning to wonder how they might be able to import their used cars from the United States into Cameroon. In fact, some might be wondering about how importing used cars into Cameroon might be a business opportunity.
As a major trading hub for Central Africa, it is easy to ship vehicles to Cameroon. However, there are definitely some things you’ll want to know about the process, especially when it comes to clearing Cameroonian customs and paying import duties and taxes. Below, we’ll be covering all this and more, sharing everything you need to know about importing used or salvage vehicles from the United States into Cameroon.
Purchasing Used Vehicles at U.S. Online Car Auctions
When you’re looking save as much money as possible when purchasing a used car in the United States, there’s one option you should strongly consider: online used car auctions. Through websites that provide this service, you can have access to used and salvage car auctions taking place across the country at the tip of your fingertips! Better yet, through these auctions, you can sometimes save up to 80% on the cost of a used vehicle.
Getting started with online used car auctions is incredibly easy, too! To get started, you simply create an account and then make an initial deposit. The deposit is necessary in order to establish your bidding power. With most websites, a deposit will be considered as 10% of a potential maximum bid. For example, were you to deposit $1,000, you would then be able to bid up to $10,000 on used cars.
Once you’ve set up your account and made your deposit, you’ll be instantly connected to an extensive inventory of used car auctions around the country. To help you through the process of finding cars and setting bids, you will be provided with an auction agent or broker. This person can also help to find other used car auctions that cannot be displayed publically, something that can really connect you with great deals on used cars!
Shipping a Used or Salvage U.S. Car to Cameroon
Home to the largest container port in Central Africa, it should be relatively easy to find a port in the United States that offers shipping service to Cameroon. The only real decision that you’ll need to make is in your shipping method. Of course, you can opt for traditional container shipping, either through a full-sized or half-sized container. In addition, you can also opt for something that’s known as RORO shipping, which stands for “roll-on roll-off”.
Given that Cameroon assesses its import tax based upon the CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) value of your used vehicle, you may wish to opt for RORO shipping. Because your vehicle will simply be rolled onto the ship at your port of departure and then off once it arrives in Cameroon, this shipping method is significantly cheaper than traditional container shipping. Naturally, this allows you to save money on your import tax.
However, before you opt for RORO shipping, do understand that there are a few drawbacks. Most notably, it’s possible that your vehicle may become damaged while in transit. This could occur because the vehicle will be exposed to elements and not protected by a container. In addition, it may become necessary for ship workers to move your vehicle at one point or another, opening up the possibility of human error causing damage.
The Port of Douala serves as Cameroon’s sole container port. However, this port serves a vital role in the economy of both Cameroon and Central Africa more broadly, as it is the largest single container port in the region. This is therefore the port to which most shipping companies in the United States will offer service.
That said, those who will be shipping their used vehicles via RORO shipping may find that they’re able to secure services to one of the smaller, non-container ports that dot Cameroon’s coastline along the Atlantic. Some cities you may be able to secure shipping to via RORO will include Bamenda, Bafoussam, Garoua, and Yaounde.
The Port of Douala is overseen by Port Autonome de Douala. If you’d like to learn more about the port, you can visit Port Autonome de Douala’s official website right here.
Clearing Your Used Vehicle Shipped to Cameroon Through U.S. Customs
Once you’ve arranged for shipment of your used vehicle to Cameroon, you will then need to concern yourself with clearing that vehicle through U.S. Customs. Thankfully, the process is very simple, only requiring that you meet a 72-hour deadline for filing the appropriate paperwork and presenting your used vehicle for inspection.
As far as paperwork is concerned, you’ll need to make sure that you have an original copy of your vehicle’s Certificate of Title. In addition, you will either need to secure a certified copy of that Certificate of Title, or you will need to create two complete copies of the Certificate of Title.
Along with the above documentation, you’ll need to present your vehicle to U.S. customs at your port of departure at least 72 hours in advance of your vehicle’s ship date. To find out where you will need to present your vehicle and paperwork at your chosen port of departure, simply contact the appropriate Port Director.
Once U.S. customs has your used vehicle and the required documents, they will conduct an inspection. First, they will check to ensure that the documents you’ve provided accurately reflect the used vehicle. To do this, they will cross-reference the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) present on the vehicle and on the Certificate of Title. Second, they will thoroughly inspect the vehicle itself, making sure that nothing has been illegally stowed away.
If the used vehicle passes the above inspection, U.S. customs will then clear it for loading onto the ship by your chosen shipping method. Should you have any additional questions about clearing your used vehicle through customs, please consult the official website for U.S. Customs and Border Security.
Getting Your Used or Salvage Car Through Cameroon’s Customs
The process of clearing a used vehicle through Cameroonian customs is fairly straightforward, only requiring the proper submission of the appropriate paperwork and a post-arrival inspection. As far as paperwork is concerned, the following must be provided:
- The Vehicle’s Original Certificate of Title
- The Vehicle’s Original U.S. Registration
- The Original Bill of Landing
- A Commercial or Purchase Invoice (If Applicable)
- A Copy of Your Driver’s License
With respect to the Original Bill of Landing, there is some important information that must be present on the document:
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- The Engine Number
- Cubic Capacity of the Engine
- Year of Manufacture
- The Vehicle Make
- The Vehicle Model
Note that the above documentation should be submitted to Cameroonian customs at least one month in advance of the vehicle’s arrival in port. Failure to do so could lead to a lengthy delay in getting your used vehicle cleared. You’ll definitely want to avoid this, as anecdotal evidence suggests it can take up to three weeks for Cameroonian customs to process and clear a used vehicle imported into the country.
In addition to the above paperwork, you may also need to submit a signed Non-Sale Certification. This will be the case if you’re importing the used vehicle into Cameroon for your own personal use and have no intention of selling it. Should you wish to sell the vehicle (or vehicles) that you’re importing into Cameroon, you will need to be licensed as an automotive dealer or importer with the government.
In recent years, the government of Cameroon has moved to restrict the import of vehicle’s older than seven years. However, the enforcement of these restrictions has been lax at best and does not apply to classic or vintage automobiles. Still, it’s something to be aware of, and you may wish to consult Cameroon’s customs agency if you’re seeking to import vehicles that could be affected by this restriction. Aside from this, there are no other noteworthy restrictions placed upon used vehicles imported into Cameroon.
For more information about processing your used U.S. vehicle through Cameroonian customs and clearing it, you can consult the official website for Douanes Cameroun here.
Import Duties and Taxes for U.S. Vehicles Imported into Cameroon
When it comes duties and taxes for importing used cars from the United States into Cameroon, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Cameroonian customs does not assess a duty on the import of used vehicles. The bad news, however, is that there is a Value Added Tax (VAT), and it’s quite high.
The percentage of the tax depends upon the engine displacement of the car being imported:
- Vehicles with engines of less than 2000 cc are subject to a 58% tax.
- Vehicles with engines of 2000 cc or greater are subject to a 77% tax.
The tax is assessed on the CIF value of the car. CIF stands for “Cost, Insurance, Freight”, i.e. the total value of the car, plus the cost of shipping insurance and the cost of the shipping itself. Given the high taxes, it’s therefore paramount to keep the cost of the used vehicle as low as possible when importing into Cameroon. This as why, as discussed above, we recommend making your second-hand purchase in the United States through an online car auction.
The official customs agency of Cameroon is called Douanes Cameroun. Should you have any additional questions about duties and taxes, you can consult their official website (offered in English) right here.
The Used Car Market in Cameroon
Poverty remains a real problem in the country of Cameroon, and therefore the Cameroonian new and used car markets are much softer than you’d find in other nearby countries. That said, the car market that does exist in Cameroon relies exclusively on imports, with second-hand vehicles from the United States and Europe making up the vast majority of cars the imported into the country.
The preference among Cameroonian auto buyers is strongly for low-cost and easy-to-maintain vehicles. For this reason, you’ll find that Asian auto makes, particularly Toyota, are the most popular in the country. The reason for this is simple. These cars are usually quite fuel efficient, and replacement parts are easy to come by.
There is some demand in the country for luxury automobiles, which does present some opportunity for someone importing used U.S. cars into Cameroon. However, if the market for vehicles in Cameroon is soft (and small) overall, then the market for luxury vehicles is miniscule. Still, a used luxury vehicle purchased in the United States at a deep discount has a solid chance of finding a buyer, provided that the price is right.
When seeking to enter the used car market in Cameroon, it’s worth noting the effect of grey and black markets. Lack of government oversight and the aforementioned issues with poverty have led to corruption at various levels. For this reason, you may find it prudent to work with an experienced customs broker when importing used vehicles from the U.S. into the country.
The Most Popular Used Vehicles in Cameroon
Far and away, Toyota is the most popular automotive make with Cameroonian car buyers. In particular, the Toyota Yaris, Hilux, Avensis and Rav 4 all enjoy robust sales, taking into account the softness of the Cameroon used car market overall. One Toyota model that you may wish to target when searching for vehicles in online U.S. car auctions is the Corolla. These cars are among the most common that you’re likely to see when traveling on Cameroon’s roadways.
As mentioned there is demand for luxury vehicles in the Cameroon used car market. In fact, Mercedes is the second-most popular auto make overall, owning an 8.3% market share. (Note, however, that this market share is absolutely dwarfed by Toyota’s, which has nearly half of the used car market overall.) Outside of Toyota and Mercedes at the top, the rest of the used car market is a mish-mash of mostly Asian makes and models.