Frequently Asked Questions
Uganda Standards are developed are developed through 9 Committees of volunteer experts representing the various segments of society including users, manufacturers, consultants, consumer bodies, universities, testing laboratories, and government regulatory agencies. The Committees include:
- Basic and General Standards
- Agricultural and Food Products
- Building and Construction
- Mechanical Engineering and metallurgy
- Chemicals and environment
- Textiles and Apparels
- Transport and Communication
- Management Systems
Uganda Standards can be accessed on UNBS Webstore (www.webstore.unbs.go.ug) or at UNBS Information Resource center, Standards House. The standards catalogue lists the titles, abstracts, numerical designations and prices of all Uganda Standards. It includes a search function that will help you quickly locate an individual standard, or will generate specific lists of standards based on a search by one or more keywords. Alternatively, you can simply browse the catalogue to get an overview of what is available.
Standards can be classified into two:
- Voluntary Standard: Standards are considered voluntary where they serve as guidelines, but do not of themselves have the force of law. In general majority of the standards issued by UNBS are voluntary in nature.
- Mandatory/compulsory Standard: Standards become mandatory when the Minister declares them as such. These cover mainly products that are likely to affect the health and safety of consumers. Such standards are then considered as technical Regulations and are enforceable by law.
Yes you can order Uganda Standards from UNBS site itself. The site gives contact information for the sales services.
A request for a code or standard may come from individuals, committees, professional organizations, government agencies, industry groups, or public interest groups. The request is first referred to the Standards Development for consideration. The Standards Development Division then assigns the request to an existing Technical committee of knowledgeable volunteers or determines that a new standards committee must be formed. Once an appropriate Committee has concluded that there is enough interest and need the standards developing process is initiated.
A document that lays down product characteristics or their related processes and production, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory. It may also include or deal exclusively with terminology, symbols, packaging, marking, labelling requirements as they apply to a product, process or production method
Yes, companies can establish their own Standards for use in their trade or other operations. Such Standards can be used in procurement, and other contractual obligations.
More than 70% of the Uganda Standards are based on International Standards.
UNBS provides National, foreign and International Standards in the Documentation and Information Centre.
Standards can be obtained on UNBS webstore www.webstore.unbs.go.ug , or /and at the UNBS Documentation and Information Centre.
An import is a good brought into a jurisdiction or a country, especially across a national border from an external source.
In line with the UNBS core values of professionalism, customer focus, integrity, teamwork & innovation, consignments for importation to Uganda are inspected for quality upon arrival at the entry points and this entails both document checks and physical inspection of goods. Depending on the value and nature of products, the law requires that they are subject to PVoC, undergo destination inspection or both.
Imports Inspection Department inspects products to ensure compliance with standards and regulations so that only quality products are sold to consumers. Products falling under compulsory standards are deemed to have a bearing on the health and safety of the consumer as well as the environment and as such they shouldn’t fall short of what is stipulated in the standard.
PVoC is an inspection and verification programme carried out on goods by appointed inspection agents in the country of export. Verification of compliance to technical regulations and standards is provided for in Article 5 of the World Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). PVoC was designed in accordance to the provisions of Article 5 of the TBT Agreement and in compliance with the notification requirements of WTO.
The PVoC came into force from June 2013.
The inspection is done at the country of origin/ source of goods
There were 6 appointed Service Providers by UNBS to carry out verification process on behalf of UNBS. These are private companies with presence in most of the countries internationally and carry out verification of products according to a list of given standards.
The three selected for General goods are BUREAU VERITAS, INTERTEK and SGS while those selected for used motor vehicle inspection are EAST AFRICA AUTOMOBILE, JABAL KILIMANJARO and JEVIC
COC (Certificate of Conformity) is a clearance document issued to the exporter after carrying out PVoC and the products conform to the required Uganda standards.
CRW (Certificate of Roadworthiness) is issued to the Car exporters after PVoC is done, if the car in question complies with the required Uganda standards.
A Non conformity Report is issued to the exporter after carrying out PVoC and the products or cars in question fail to meet the required Uganda Standards.
Any goods arriving at Ugandan entry points without a Certificate of Conformity (COC) will be subjected to a surcharge/ Penalty of 15% Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) as well as comprehensive destination inspection.
Once the goods arrive with a COC at the entry points to Uganda, the UNBS inspector will only cross check if the COC matches the goods in the container. He will also cross check if there were no damages within the process of transportation. Inspection is also done to audit the work of the contracted service provider.
The importer will then be issued with the UNBS imports clearance certificate and the goods shall be released.
For Regulated Products, PVoC (Pre Export Verification of Conformity) is an independent process within which is entailed a number of processes e.g. PSI (Pre Shipment Inspection)? PVoC is a conformity assessment process aimed at ascertaining the quality of goods whereas PSI is pre-shipment inspection aimed at verifying the quantity and the classification of the goods
Qn 23 : How is inspection for consolidated (when there’s more than one importer items in a container) goods be carried out?
The consignment shall have a team leader who will take on the role of arranging for inspection. The team leader or his/ her representative shall then contact the PVoC partner in the country of export once all goods have been consolidated and are ready for loading informing the PVoC Agent of the request for inspection. Preferably the list of goods in the consignment should be delivered to the PVoC partner in soft copy.
The inspection shall then be done.
For Food products and Cosmetics, samples shall be picked for testing; this is because food products and cosmetics are classified as risky by the UNBS.
Qn 24 : How is inspection for consolidated (when there’s one importer with assorted items in one consignment) goods be carried out?
The importer shall contact the PVoC partner in the country of export once all goods have been consolidated and are ready for loading informing the PVoC Agent of the request for inspection. Preferably the list of goods in the consignment should be delivered to the PVoC partner in soft copy.
The inspection shall then be done.
For Food products and Cosmetics, samples shall be picked for testing; this is because food products and cosmetics are classified as very risky by the UNBS.
Payment is supposed to be done by the exporter. However it can also be done by the importer.
The trader responsible for the products to be verified before export to Uganda pays the PVoC agent in the country of export before the PVoC process is carried out.
Qn 26 : Is a COC given per container, per bill of lading, or per consignment? How about consignments with more than 1 bill of lading?
The CoC is issued per shipment. The payment is therefore done per shipment. The shipment may then have one container or more. Where the shipment is done in lots, a remark indicating such shall appear on the CoC. The trader provides the proforma invoices to the service provider for all the goods in that shipment.
Where tests are not required and the documentation is submitted in time, the PVoC inspection process takes 3 to 5 days.
Laboratory tests could take an extra 2 – 15 working days depending on the product and the parameters to be tested
Qn 28 : Whose fault is it when goods arrive with a COC but are found substandard by UNBS officers at the entry points?
It will be investigated as to whether the products in the consignment are the ones that were inspected and were not substituted. If they are the ones, then the service provider did not do their work well, they take the blame.
Qn 29 : Isn’t the cost of doing business going to get a higher due to the additional costs involved in PVoC program? Isn’t it going to cause an impact on the final consumer?
NO. The costs incurred during the PVoC process are relative to the usual costs that were incurred during destination verification process that was being used before PVoC.
If we take an example of a container with 4 types of electric cables. If such a consignment was to be inspected here at the border, then we would draw samples and analyse them. Each sample costs 100,000/= for analysis. This would sum up to 400,000/= (USD 160). The goods are then only released to the importer after satisfactory results are out. This excludes demurrhage charges. With PVoC, for such a consignment with the rightful documentation, the inspection fee is USD 220. And for such a consignment, there would not be any demurrhage charges. Assuming an extra day of demurrhage this would increase the cost of inspecting here in the country by ~ USD 80. So PVoC will not necessarily increase cost of doing business, it will instead reduce the cost of doing business and enhance value for money for the consumer.
The Invoice informs the service provider of the volume of work for inspection so that the required number of inspectors are dispatched. It is also the guiding document for payment of the PVoC fees.
Importers can access the required standards for their products by purchasing the standards from our documentation center located in Bweyogerere Industrial Park.
Qn 32 : How does the trader deal with a non-conformity report; what happens to goods that do not conform after being verified in the country of origin?
A non-conformity report is information to the importer that the goods being supplied by the exporter do not conform to the requirements of the Uganda Standard. Such goods are not to be shipped into the country and should be returned to the exporter/ supplier.
By constant training and sensitization. Traders should always endeavor to inquire from UNBS and the service providers for any required information. A toll free line 0800133133 for UNBS is available for any queries.
Qn 34 : If goods are bought from a company that already possesses a service provider’s certificate, does the trader still need to be verified by the service provider?
Yes; In case the buyer purchases goods from the registered or licenced supplier by the service provider, the latter may allow the buyer to use their license or Statement of Registration; indeed CoC will be required for every shipment regardless, but the procedure of procuring such a CoC will be much easier.
No. Such goods will be scrutinised more thoroughly.
It should be noted however that most standards require a product to bear a trade mark or brand name.
Service providers have offices allover; both internationally and locally.
Qn 37 : Can the goods be verified by the service providers if the trader does not possess a TIN number?
Yes they can.
Qn 38 : Can the goods be verified by the service providers if the trader is not of a registered company?
Yes they can but proofs of conformity from such an entity will be scrutinised more thoroughly.
This depends on the regulations of the country where the verification process is done.
This is in respect to the regional mutual trade agreements; East African countries are regarded as one single territory.
Qn 41 : Are goods imported from the EAC region but not manufactured from the EAC also exempted from PVoC?
These are only exempted from PVoC if they have a valid and traceable CoC. Otherwise, they are subject to a surcharge of 15% CIF Value and comprehensive destination inspection.
UNBS eportal is accessed at this UNBS Website
Click here eportal.unbs.go.ug to register or login into your account.
Certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of a product, person, or an organization. This confirmation is often provided by some form of external review, assessment, or audit. Certification provides an assurance of conformity to the specifications.
Testing is performing a technical measurement or examination, from which a competent person can draw a conclusion as to whether or not a product or service meets the requirements specified in a standard.