Trade Promotion

What kinds of products are considered for export?

All kinds of products are eligible for export.

How does the Ministry identify innovative skills for trade development?

Liaise with relevant avenues and identify potential skills where available.

How does the Ministry disseminate trade and trade related information?

Through different media platforms including public gatherings and road shows.

How often does Ministry disseminate such information?

It is an ongoing process

To what extend is the Ministry involved in market and product development?

Capacitating the private sector on the principles of market and product development done through class room setting, public networking sessions as well as participation in national, regional and international trade fairs/ expositions.

Consumer Protection and Dispute Resolution

Are consumers well informed about the products before buying?

Every Consumer has a right to information; as stipulated in the Consumer Protection Policy. The consumer has the right to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice or decision. The information provided should be relevant relating to goods and services they want to acquire. This includes among others, services available in the market, their quality, durability, value guarantee etc.

Are the consumer rights protected and reflected in every purchase?

There is a consumer Protection Policy available that provides for the protection of consumer rights and obligations; meant to deal with unfair business practices and malpractices by traders.

How does the Ministry facilitate after-sales service provision to consumers by traders?

Traders are educated on ethical trading behaviour.

How does the Ministry reach out in creating awareness on food / other consumer items safety?

  • In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, business inspections are conducted
  • Regular consumer education campaigns are being held country wide

Enhance Market Access

How does the country benefit from trade negotiations?

A trade agreement which is a result of trade negotiations is a very important means by which countries reduce/eliminate trade barriers. This enables locally produced goods and services to have a competitive advantage in the global markets. Lesotho will therefore be able to increase the level of employment and economic growth that will eradicate poverty.

Do exporters have access to information on negotiated markets?

Yes, publications are available on Lesotho Trade Portal and other related websites. E.g LRA website. Outreach programmes are being held to sensitize business community on market access opportunities.

What procedures are followed for exporting?

There is a need to understand conditions for exporting as well as provisions contained in the trade agreement. This includes: Rules of Origin condition, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary Phytosanitary measures (SPS), as well as customs procedures.

What are Lesotho products that are commonly exported?

Below are common export markets for the following products

EU: Rough Diamonds, Essential Oils and Rosehip, Textiles and Clothing
USA: Textiles and Clothing
South Africa: Textiles and Clothing, Leather Seat Covers, Footwear, Handicrafts, Apples and Cherries
Japan: Trout
However, there is a need for product diversification to international markets.

How does the Ministry monitor cross border trade issues?

The Ministry in collaboration with border agencies is responsible for facilitating movement of goods across borders. As the custodian of Trade Facilitation Agreement, the Ministry is mandated to among others to oversee the implementation of the Agreement in order to ensure smooth transit of goods to markets.

What are the requirements for obtaining a Liquor Licence?

We do not issue Liquor Licences. Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture does.

What time does it close at our Accounts Office?

The office closes at 1500hrs Monday to Friday.

What are the requirements for obtaining a Catering Licence?

We do not issue Catering Licence. Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture does.

How long does it take to obtain a Licence?

It takes a maximum of 3 days.

What are the requirements for obtaining Cannabis Licence?

We do not issue Cannabis Licence, Ministry of Health does.

Do we have standards in Lesotho?

Yes, the department can assist providing standards to individuals.

Is the department able to offer barcode services?

Yes bar-coding and labelling services are available.

Does the department offer any testing facility for water and other food products?

No, there is no such but the department can give an appropriate contact for laboratories within SADC region.

Licensing Section

What is the procedure to obtain a trading licence?

First Step: Application is lodged with the secretariat of the Licensing Section
Second Step: The Local Licensing Board considers the application
Third Step: The client pays the prescribed fee for the approved application
Final Step: The licence certificate is issued

What are the requirements for obtaining a trading licence?

Certificate of Incorporation, Particulars of the Company extract (Company and Articles of Incorporation)

Commercial lease and or sub- lease agreement-certified copy/copies

Health Certificate of the premises to be used, this document is obtainable from Maseru City Council (MCC) or Public Health offices in other districts and areas not within the MCC jurisdiction

Educational Certificates for businesses such as Builder and contractor and Consultant-Certified Copy

Health certificate for food handlers business outlets

License Fee

What is the standard operating time for the issuance of the trading Licence?

It takes five working days for lodging, processing and obtaining a trading licence.

Does the Trading Enterprises Act allow for businesses to operate at home?

Yes, for example, Consultant, Builder and Contractor, Broker. Agent of foreign firm, Advertising Agent, Florist, Hawker to name but a few

What is the main objective for licensing?

To reduce the time and cost of doing business in Lesotho.

What laws regulate starting a business in Lesotho?

The Trading Enterprises Act 1993
The Trading Enterprises Regulations 1999
The Trading Enterprises Amendment Regulations 2011
(The laws cited above regulate only the Retail sector as prescribed)

Note: There are other types of businesses that are not regulated by the above laws. The liquor industry for example is regulated by the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture. The Financial Sector is regulated by the Ministry of Finance through the Central Bank of Lesotho. The Security Sector is regulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Police department.

Are there businesses which are exempted from obtaining trading licenses under the Trading Enterprise laws

All services being offered in their professional status. For example, Engineering Services, Medical practitioners and professional accountants are exempted from obtaining trading licenses.

Does the licensing function give priority to disadvantages and vulnerable groups in society?

The licensing function is open to every person in Lesotho regardless of status.

Is there need to licence businesses?

 The main reason why businesses have to be licensed is to maintain database through which interested organisations will have access for their institutional needs.

Importation and Exportation of Goods

What type of goods is allowed for importation from within the SACU/SADC region and internationally?

Everything but arms, ammunition, and drugs, but note that the importation of these goods do not require Import permit if imported from within the SACU region. For SADC and the rest of the World an Import permit is required.

What are requirements (procedures) for Importation and exportation of goods?

For importation of the above mentioned goods, one has to lodge an application which comprises of a Pro forma invoice, certified copy of passport, and affidavit, (This is in the case of individual applicants), For importation of the same goods by a trader, the Pro forma invoice, traders licence and Affidavit are required

What export documents are required to export to the USA?

In addition to documents which are required by Customs, the Import and Export Section issues out Government of Lesotho movement certificates and endorse AGOA documents.

What is the lead time for the issuance of the Import permit?

The import permit is issued on arrival ONCE the process as stated in 2 above has been followed and is complete without errors.

Does the import permit carry any cost/fee?

The import permit is issued cost free, that is, there is no fee payable for granting the permit.

Does your office maintain data on imports and exports?

Data is captured electronically and hard copies on application and accompanying document are filed for reference.

Can applicants be able to process application for import permits on-line?

No, not yet because the software application is not yet web-enabled.

Is the data available on hard copies and or soft copies?


Is the data on imports accessible to stakeholders?

Stakeholders in need of data on Imports will have to communicate their request to the Director of OBFC and arrangements can be made as to in what form and quantity such data can be given. Otherwise, the data is not yet accessible on-line.

Can applicants be able to process application for import permits on-line?

No, not yet because the software application is not yet web-enabled.

Who are the beneficiaries of the data on imports and exports?

Interested parties and government ministries such as the ministry of Works and Public Transport, Ministry of Development Planning, LRA, including LCCI, Business Foundation of Lesotho, and other relevant institutions play a pivotal role on trade issues.

What laws regulate imports and exports of goods?

Import and Export Control Act 1984, Import Restrictions (amendment) Regulations 2009.

Is it a must to engage a clearing agent when importing goods from abroad?

Not at all, one is free to import goods on his or her own, but would have to be registered first before embarking on the process of lodging an application, also on assumptions that detailed work of clearing goods at the destination, one has that knowledge. Otherwise, one is also free to engage a clearing agent on payment of a commission.

What should happen when a citizen of Lesotho returns home for goods bought overseas and are imported into Lesotho as Second hand items?

This particular question can be covered adequately by the Customs division.

Does the import permit cover all goods including second hand goods?

No, in terms of the Import Restrictions (Amendment) Regulations, the import permit is restricted to three items, namely; used clothing, used cars and tyres. The statute however, shows other ministries where permits can be obtained for other types of goods.

Is there a customs duty reduction provided for manufacturers?

Yes, there are reductions in the form of rebates on certain items provided terms and conditions are fulfilled. Tariff Investigations section at the One Stop Business Facilitation Centre and or Lesotho Revenue Authority can respond to specific issues in this regard.

Refunds and drawbacks are also available.

Where is the Tariff Investigations section located?

Tariff Investigations section is at the 1st floor of the Ministry of Trade and Industry head quarters in Maseru, LNDC.

The Compliance Section

In terms of the law, who is entitled to inspect businesses?

The trade inspectors, health inspectors and police officers are entitled to inspect businesses.

How should we identify them?

They must have their identification cards bearing their photographs, their names and their positions

Should we allow anyone who does not have the identification card to inspect our businesses?

No one should be allowed to inspect your businesses without his/her identification card.

Is there any money that needs to be paid to inspectors when inspections are conducted?

There is no money that needs to be paid to inspectors while they are doing their inspections.

Are inspectors allowed to come to our businesses for inspections with their private motor vehicles?

Inspectors are not allowed to come to your businesses for inspections with their private motor vehicles.

When are inspections conducted?

They are conducted as and when it is necessary to do.

What exactly is being inspected at our businesses?

The inspectors look at whether the trader’s license is still valid, whether it has been properly displayed, whether the business is selling the merchandise that it is authorized to sell in terms of its license, whether the business is clean and whether there is proper sanitation.

What should happen when a business sells merchandise which it is not authorized to sell?

Selling merchandise not authorized by the trader’s license is tantamount to trading without a license which is an offence punishable by law.

What should happen when a business sells merchandise which it is not authorized to sell?

Selling merchandise not authorized by the trader’s license is tantamount to trading without a license which is an offence punishable by law.

Which businesses are mandated to file their annual reports with the Registrar of Companies?

It is only businesses which are operating as companies which are mandated to file their annual reports with the Registrar of Companies.

When are companies mandated to file their annual reports?

They are mandated to file their annual reports at the end of their financial years.

What is the procedure for filing the annual report?

In order to file the annual report, a person needs to fill in Form 12 and attach the financial statements of the company. That Form 12 must be signed by the two directors of the company or one director of the company if that company has got only one director.

When is the company’s financial year end?

The company’s financial year end is on its anniversary, however, a company is given a grace period of three months within which to file its annual report, for example, if a company’s financial year ends in March, it has to file its annual report in June.

What should happen if the company fails to file its annual report with the Registrar of Companies?

The Registrar of Companies is empowered by law to de-register such a company.

After the company has been de-registered, is it allowed to be reinstated, and if so, what are the requirements for reinstatement?

A company is allowed to be reinstated after being de-registered, and these are the requirements for reinstatement:-
– An application letter to the Registrar of Companies stating reasons why your company should be reinstated
– Fill reinstatement form
– Fill annual report (Form 12)
– Attach certified ID copies of all directors and shareholders of the company
– Copy of trader’s license
– Copy of LRA tax clearance certificate
– Financial statements for the past two financial years
– M150 fee and penalties

What other circumstances empower the Registrar of Companies to de-register a company?

If the company is not found at its registered address of service for six months and if the company has failed to commence business for a period of 12 consecutive months unless such failure has been caused by delays relating to licensing and other legal requirements.

Department of Marketing

What are the requirements for importation of Fruits & Vegetables?

Bring a copy of Traders Licenses that deals with fruits & vegetables, Tax clearance certificate, if individuals bring certified copy of ID/Passport but if it is a company bring company extract, certificate of incorporation and ID’s/Passports of Share holders.
Bring a letter from Chief, Certified copy of ID/Passport, Bank Statement, and MCC health certificate. Then the person(s) will receive a License to trade with fruits & vegetables so that they can be given a permit.

How does one find a Farming license?

Farmers are not licensed by law in Lesotho so there is no farmer in Lesotho who has a license for agricultural production.

Work Permit Section

What do I need to apply for the work permit?

Covering letter from the company
A completed first application form
Passport copy that includes a visa (certified copy)
Certified copies of Educational Certificate/testimonials
Certified copy of manufacturing license
Certified copy of company Tax Clearance

Work permit is valid for how long?

Maximum of 2 years and less

Can I apply for work permit while still in my country?

Yes, you can apply

Can I work everywhere in Lesotho if I have a work permit?

No, only at the firm specified on the work permit

How long does it take to get a work permit ready?

The minimum of two (2) working days after the date of application.

How much does it cost to apply for a work permit?

Application Fee: M 500.00
First Application of Work Permit: M 3 000.00
Renewal of Work Permit: M 3 000.00
Replacement of Work Permit: M 1 000.00

What do I have to do with the holder of work permit who is found to have committed misconduct or poor work performance?

He/she shall be repatriated by his employer from where he came and the work permit will be cancelled.