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Rules and Laws

 

Rules and Laws

Iran Customs Administration is a government organization under supervision of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance which plays vital role as protector of the country’s economic borders and coordinator at entry and exit gates of the country and is responsible for executing customs Laws & Regulations related to export, import, transit and collecting duties and customs taxes and presenting technical requirements and facilitating the trade in the country.

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Trade Laws of Iran and Status of Goods
– Allowed Goods Do not require permission to be cleared from customs
– Conditional Goods Require permission (s) to be cleared from customs
– Prohibited Goods Illegal by the laws of Islamic Republic of Iran
– The general guideline of the custom laws of Iran does not prohibit any other goods from entering the country other than the list below but usually certain permits and licenses are required in order to clear your goods from customs.
– Alcoholic drinks;
– Gambling tools;
– Weapons, ammunition and explosive goods;
– Narcotic drugs;
– Magazines, photos, films and snaps and those goods, which are against religious and national dignity of the country
– Any type of writings which are against the official religion of the country and /or disturbing discipline and public purity and national dignity.
– Those types of goods which have legitimate and legal prohibition and /or their import and export have not been allowed according to the customs tariff table or special rules.

Import Registration

The import of all importable commodities by the governmental or non- governmental importers except in following cases will be subject to registration and receiving import certificate from the related Ministries upon observing other stipulated rules and regulations.

Trade Certificate

Trade certificate is a document for import or export of products. Trade certificates are issued by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture in Tehran or other provinces for the qualified applicants (whether Iranian or non- Iranian real and legal entities) for one- year period.

 Temporary Import

The import before export of raw materials and goods needed for manufacturing, finishing, preparation and packaging of export commodities relevant to Article 12 of the Export/Import Rules and Regulations, passed on Sept. 26, 1993.

See more and detail: www.iranbusinesstime.com


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Section I             Live Animals

Section II           Vegetable Products

Section III         Animal or Vegetable Fats & Oils

Section IV         Prepared Food Stuffs, Beverages

Section V           Mineral Products

Section VI         Products of the Chemical or Allied Industries

Section VII       Plastics & Articles Thereof

Section VIII     Raw Hides & Skins, Leather

Section IX        Wood & Articles of Wood

Section X          Pulp of Wood or other Fibrous Cellulosic Material Recovered (Waste & Scrap) Paper

Section XI        Textiles & Textile Articles

Section XII       Footwear, Headgear, Umbrellas, Walking-sticks

Section XIII     Articles of Stone, Plaster, Cement

Section XIV     Natural or Cultured Pearls, Precious or Semi Precious Stone

Section XV       Base Metals & Articles of Base Metal

Section XVI     Machinery & Mechanical Appliances, Electrical Equipment

Section XVII    Vehicles, Aircraft, Vessels & Associated Transport Equipment

Section XVIII  Optical, Photographic, Cinematographic, Measuring

Section XIX     Arms & Ammunition

Section XX      Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles

Section XXI     Works of Art, Collectors, Pipes & Antiques

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Employment of Foreign Nationals in Iran

The Law forbids employment of foreign nationals without a proper work permit. Diplomats, United Nations employees and foreign press reporters are exempt from this requirement. A work permit to a foreign national will be issued only if the following conditions are met:
1. Lack of expertise among Iranian nationals
2. The foreign national being qualified for the position

3. The expertise of the foreign national will be used for training of, and later replacement by, Iranian individuals.
Work permits will be issued, renewed or extended for a maximum period of one year. Moreover, no exit visa will be granted to the foreign national unless the national has paid all due taxes, duties, etc.
Foreign nationals are prohibited from working in Iran unless they receive work and employment permits (even if they are supposed to receive wage and salary outside the Iranian territory). The work permit serves as the employment license for the foreign nationals in Iran.
The work permit for the employment of foreign nationals in Iran is issued by the “Department General for Employment of Foreign Nationals” (also called Department for Employment of Expatriates) of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare upon a request by Iranian employers. In provincial capitals it is issued by the Foreign Citizens Divisions of the Department General of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare. (The general procedure for admission of foreign investment has been brought separately in the following part.)

 

The Iranian employers are obligated to seek the permission of the Department General for Employment of Foreign Nationals before concluding any contract that may lead to the employment of foreign citizens in Iran. The rules and regulations for acquiring work permit for the foreign nationals are available in the Labor Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran, ratified in 1990 (articles 120 through 129 and executive bylaw of Article 129). Although due to abundance of educated job- seekers in the country and for the purpose of reducing unemployment rate of the educated and skilled job- seekers the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Nationals has strict rules and regulations (stipulated in Article 121 of Labor Law) for issuance of work permits. The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPPA), passed in 2002, has considered promising provisions for issuance of work permits for foreign investors, managers and experts in relation with the investments under FIPPA.

 

Validity Period of Work Permits

The work permits of foreign nationals is issued, extended or renewed for a period of one year.

Extension of Work Permits

Upon expiry of the work permit, if the Iranian employer still needs the specialty of expatriates, he/she can apply for the extension of the work permit of his foreign laborer or expert. The application is sent to the Technical Board for Employment and upon approval the permit is extended for a period of one year.

 Renewal of Work Permit

Foreign nationals with valid work permits, whose contracts with employer become null and void for any reason, will be subject to renewal of work permit after changing the employer. The renewal of work permit – upon the change in employer or the type of work – will be carried out by the responsible divisions of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare after the approval of the Technical Board for Employment of Foreign Nationals.

 

Intellectual Property

The principle rules dealing with Intellectual Property (IP) in Iran are contained in the Law on the Registration of Patents, Industrial Designs, and Trademarks (IP Law) 2009 and in its Implementing Regulation 2009 (IP Regulation). The IP Law contains provisions on trademarks, patents, and industrial designs. Iran is also a signatory to a number of international treaties as indicated below.

Trademarks and Trade Names

The IP Law defines the concept of “Mark” as any visible sign which distinguishes the products or services of one person from another, and “Trade Name” as any name or title that identifies an individual or legal entity.

Registration grants legal protection for renewable periods of 10 years to the person having registered the trademark. Moreover, the IP Law protects the trademark even if not registered.

Violations of protected rights may be punishable by imprisonment and/or payment of penalties, as well as confiscation of all infringing goods, providing trademarks with full protection under Iranian law.

Patents and Industrial Designs

The registration of a patent grants the holder exclusive rights of use of the innovation for a period of 20 years. The IP Law further provides that the period of protection of registered industrial designs will be for an initial period of 5 years, renewable for two additional 5 year periods.

Protection mechanisms are similar to the ones provided for trademarks.

 

International Conventions

Iran is a party to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of 1891 together with its Protocol (1989) (Madrid Convention), which was ratified by Iran on 19 August 2003.

Therefore, international trademarks registered under the Madrid Convention are also protected by Iranian regulations. To this end, the IP Regulation provides that the owner must submit the application for registration pursuant to the Madrid Convention with the Registrar. Once such application has been advertised in the Iranian legal gazette, the intended trademark will benefit from all protections available to it under the IP Law.

Iran is also a party to the Paris Convention ratified on 12 December 1998. Under article 1 of the Paris Convention, all types of industrial property, including trademarks, trade names, and patents, are protected in the member countries.

Labor regulation

There is a minimum national wage applicable to each sector of activity fixed by the Supreme Labor Council which is revised annually.

The comprehensive Labor Law covers all labor relations in Iran, including hiring of local and foreign staff. The Labor Law provides a very broad and inclusive definition of the individuals it covers, and written, oral, temporary and indefinite employment contracts are all recognized.

The Iranian Labor Law is very employee- friendly and makes it extremely difficult to lay off staff. Employing personnel on consecutive six- month contracts is illegal, as is dismissing staff without proof of a serious offense. Labor disputes are settled by a special labor council, which usually rules in favor of the employee.
The Labor Law provides the minimum standards an employer must adhere to when forming an employment relationship. The minimum age for workers in Iran is 15 years.

 

Provisions of employment contract

To have a valid contract concluded under the law, the following provisions must be included:
1. Type of work, vocation or duty that must be undertaken by the worker;
2. Basic compensation and supplements thereto;
3. Working hours, holidays and leaves;
4. Place of performance of duties;
5. Probationary period, if any;
6. Date of conclusion of contract;
7. Duration of employment; and
8. Any other terms and conditions required according to nature of employment.
The employer may require the employee to be subject to a probationary period. However, the probation time may not exceed one month for unskilled workers and three months for skilled and professional workers. During the probation period, either party may immediately terminate the employment relationship without cause or payment of severance pay. The only caveat being that if the employer terminates the relationship, he must pay the employee for the entire duration of the probation period.

 

Suspension of employment contract

The fact that the employment contract can be suspended by an employee under certain conditions presents yet another challenge to employers. What this allows is suspension of the employment contract under the following conditions:
1. The period of military service (active, contingency and reserve), as well as voluntary enlistment during conflicts. This period shall be considered part of the employee’s service record at place of employment;
2. The closure of a workshop or parts thereof due to force majeure;
3. Educational leave for up to four years; and
4.The period of detention that does not lead to conviction;
Once the conditions giving rise to the suspension of the contract are removed, the employer must allow for return of the employee to work. If the position is filled or eliminated, the employer is obligated to provide a similar position for the employee. Failure to do the above is considered wrongful discharge and subject to legal action.

 

Termination of employment contract

The Law allows for termination of the employment contract only under the following instances:
1. Death of employee
2. Retirement of employee
3. Total disability of employee
4. Expiration of the duration of the employment contract
5. Conclusion of work in task specific contracts; and
6. Resignation of the employee.
The employer is bound to pay benefits under all of the above scenarios according to the years of service.

 

Dismissal of an employee

An employee may only be dismissed upon approval of the Islamic Labor Council or the Labor Discretionary Board. Grounds for dismissal include an employee’s neglect in carrying out his/her duties or violation of disciplinary by- laws of the employer. The employer must have provided written prior notice of the employee’s violations. If the board is not convinced that the employee’s dismissal is justified, the employer must reinstate the employee. Once an employee is dismissed, the employer is obligated to provide the legal severance package.

Severance & termination benefits

The Law mandates the following compensation for terminated, disabled and suspended employee:

1. Suspended Employee – Where an employee is suspended without cause the employer must reinstate the employee and pay for all damages and compensation resulted from the wrongful suspension

2. Terminated Employee – An employer is under legal obligation to provide thirty (30) days salary for every year of service for employees made redundant or retired
3. Disabled Employee – The employer must pay 30 days salary for every year of service. Moreover, if disability of an employee is due to working conditions, the employer must pay 60 days salary for every year of employee’s service period.

 

Working hours & overtime

The workweek in Iran is based on a 44- hour week. Typically, employees work Saturday through Wednesday (8 hours per day) and a half a day on Thursday (4 hours). Any hours worked beyond these will entitle the employee to overtime. The Law mandates a payment of 40% above the hourly wage to employees for any accrued overtime. The employee must consent to overtime work.

 

Holidays & leave

Employees are entitled to leave on all official state holidays (approximately 22 days a year) and Fridays. Any employee working during these holidays will be entitled to overtime pay. Additionally, employees are entitled to one- month holiday per annum. The annual leave for those employees engaged in hard and hazardous employment shall be five weeks per year. Employees are entitled to save up to 9 days of their annual leave.

In case of termination, disability or redundancies, employees must be compensated for any accrued leave. Finally, employees are entitled to 3 days of paid vacation for marriage or death of a spouse, father, mother or child.

Maternity leave

Women employees are entitled to 180 days of maternity leave. The employee’s salary during maternity leave will be paid according to the provisions of the Social Security Act. Maternity leave must be considered part of an employee’s service record. Employers must provide returning employees with the same position.

Health care & Social protection

The Iranian constitution entitles Iranians to basic health care, and most receive subsidized prescription drugs and vaccination programs. An extensive network of public clinics offers basic care at low cost, and general and specialty hospitals operated by the Ministry of Health provide higher levels of care. In most large cities, well- to- do people use private clinics and hospitals that charge high fees. Specialized medical facilities are concentrated in urban areas, but rural communities have relatively good access to primary care physicians at clinics in villages, where the government- sponsored primary health care system has raised the level of health education and prenatal care since the late 1990s.
Iran has a comprehensive social protection system with some 28 social insurance, social assistance, and disaster relief programs benefiting large segments of the population. These programs include training and job- search assistance, health and unemployment insurance, disability, old- age and survivorship pensions, and in kind- or in- kind transfers including subsidies (e.g., housing, food, energy), rehabilitation and other social services (e.g. long- term care services for the elderly), and even marriage and burial assistance.

Employer paid – social insurance contributions is 23% (gross salaries)
Employee paid – social insurance contributions is 7% (gross salaries)

 

Intellectual Property

The principle rules dealing with Intellectual Property (IP) in Iran are contained in the Law on the Registration of Patents, Industrial Designs, and Trademarks (IP Law) 2009 and in its Implementing Regulation 2009 (IP Regulation). The IP Law contains provisions on trademarks, patents, and industrial designs. Iran is also a signatory to a number of international treaties as indicated below.

 

 

 

Trademarks and Trade Names

The IP Law defines the concept of “Mark” as any visible sign which distinguishes the products or services of one person from another, and “Trade Name” as any name or title that identifies an individual or legal entity.

Registration grants legal protection for renewable periods of 10 years to the person having registered the trademark. Moreover, the IP Law protects the trademark even if not registered.

Violations of protected rights may be punishable by imprisonment and/or payment of penalties, as well as confiscation of all infringing goods, providing trademarks with full protection under Iranian law.

Patents and Industrial Designs

The registration of a patent grants the holder exclusive rights of use of the innovation for a period of 20 years. The IP Law further provides that the period of protection of registered industrial designs will be for an initial period of 5 years, renewable for two additional 5 year periods.

Protection mechanisms are similar to the ones provided for trademarks.

International Conventions

Iran is a party to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks of 1891 together with its Protocol (1989) (Madrid Convention), which was ratified by Iran on 19 August 2003.

Therefore, international trademarks registered under the Madrid Convention are also protected by Iranian regulations. To this end, the IP Regulation provides that the owner must submit the application for registration pursuant to the Madrid Convention with the Registrar. Once such application has been advertised in the Iranian legal gazette, the intended trademark will benefit from all protections available to it under the IP Law.

Iran is also a party to the Paris Convention ratified on 12 December 1998. Under article 1 of the Paris Convention, all types of industrial property, including trademarks, trade names, and patents, are protected in the member countries.

Foreign investors in Iran enjoy the same supports and privileges offered to the Iranian investors. The Direct Taxation Law passed in 1987 and the following amendments have considered no discrimination in taxation of domestic and foreign investors. This means both Iranian and foreign investors pay the same amount of taxes. Tax exemptions and discounts are also equally granted to domestic and foreign investors.

The Direct Taxation Law, passed in 1987, is regarded as the core of the taxation system in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The law was extensively reviewed and reformed in 2001 to be in tandem with the ongoing economic conditions in the country. Production and investment promotion in line with the economic development of the country was one major factor behind the need for amendment of the law (supporting the newly established manufacturing and mineral units according to Article 132 and investment promotion according to article 138).

Taxable Real and Legal Entities According to Direct Taxation Law

§  All owners, whether real or legal, for their properties inside Iran according to the taxation rules under Chapter 2 of the Direct Taxation Law;

§  Any real person residing in Iran for the incomes earned inside and outside the country;

§  Any Iranian real person residing abroad for all the income he makes in Iran;

§  Any Iranian legal entity for the incomes earned inside or outside the country;

§  Any non-Iranian real or legal entities for the income earned in Iran, and also for the income gained through delegation of authority dealership, technical and educational assistance or movie contracts (for any sort of income earned as rental, right of display and the like) in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The aggregate income of companies, and also the income, from the profit-making activities of other juridical persons derived from different sources in Iran or abroad, less the losses resulting from nonexempt sources and minus the prescribed exemptions, shall be taxed at the flat rate of 25%, except the cases for which separate rates are provided under the present Direct Taxation Law. Persons, whether legal or real, will not be taxable for the stocks or the dividends of their shares in other capital corporations.

Factory owners and legal entities are obligated to, even within the exemption period, submit profit or loss report, balance sheets provided from their official statutory books maximum four months after their tax year (March through February in Iran) along with the list of partners including number of shares and addresses to the appropriate tax department of the legal entity (Article 110). If these legal entities do not submit the documents within the stipulated time span any tax exemption will be null and considered void (Article 193).

Types of Taxes in Direct Taxation Law

Taxation for foreign investors fall under two categories of property and income tax in Iran. Since manufacturing units and economic enterprises are usually active as legal entities, we will here under focus on rules and regulations for taxation of legal entities income and their exemptions. Review the tables below for more information.

1-Property Tax

§  Inheritance tax

§  Stamp duty (It is a type of tax levied on some documents such as, checks, bills of exchange, promissory notes, negotiable instruments stocks and shares, etc …

2- Income Tax

§  Property income tax

§  Agricultural income tax

§  Salary income tax

§  Self-employment tax (the type of income a person earns in Iran through self-employment).

§  Corporate income tax (special for legal entities)

 

Tax Exemptions Stipulated in the Law on Fifth Five-Year Development Plan

The 5th five year development plan of Iran offers the following tax exemptions in order to promote the following business practices:

§  Facilitate and promote industrial and mineral investment in the country;

§  Develop of non-oil exports;

The Law on Fifth Five-Year Development Plan has stipulated the following tax exemptions:

§  (a)Article 159 – A: 15 percent increase in tax exemption relevant to Article 138 of Direct Taxation Law

§  (b)Article 159 – B: Increasing tax exemption period of industrial and mineral units in the less developed regions to the same level as the exemption of free trade-industrial zones (from 10 years to 20 years)

§  (c) Article 104: Levying any tax and tolls on non-oil exports and services during the FifthDevelopment Plan (except raw materials or commodities with low value-added).

Value-Added Tax Act (VATA) in Iran

The Value-Added Tax Act (VATA) was ratified by the parliament in 2007. Value-added tax (VAT) in Iran is levied on the sale of all goods and services and their imports, except 17 items listed in Article 12 of VATA as the exempted ones. VATA, however, does not include the export of goods and services through official customs gates. Therefore, the taxes paid for the export of goods and services will be refundable by submitting the customs clearance sheets (for goods) and valid documents (Article 13).

Currently, the VAT rate stands at 9% as of 2015 (VAT rate for two special goods of cigarettes and jet fuel is relatively high). to reduce the country’s dependency on oil incomes. The Fifth Five-Year Development Plan has anticipated an annual one-percent increase in the VAT rate to put it at 9% in year of 2015.

Agreements to Avoid Double Taxation

To facilitate cooperation between Iranian nationals and foreign nationals and to boost trade and economic exchanges with foreign countries, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has signed mutual agreements to avoid double taxation.

Legal system of Iran

The Iranian legal system is a civil law system which is founded on Islamic jurisprudence. The Iranian Civil Code, which comprises of three volumes and 1,335 articles, was enacted between 1928 and 1935 and only minor amendments have since been made to its provisions.

The Iranian courts refer to the Civil Code as the main source of law for determining the legal and commercial rights of natural and legal persons. The awards issued by the Iranian courts are not binding as precedent on other courts residing over cases with similar facts. However, in exceptional cases the decisions of the General Board of the Supreme Court concerning similar cases constitute case precedent to be followed by other courts.

The Civil Procedure Code of the Public and Revolutionary Courts, which was approved in 2000, set forth the rules and procedures governing adjudication of disputes by the courts of law. The Civil Procedure Code envisages the rules and procedures concerning proceedings which must be observed by the courts, including the Public, Revolutionary, Appeal and Supreme Court.

The Iranian legal profession distinguishes between legal advisers and attorneys at law. Generally, legal advisers provide clients with legal advice, but do not have rights of audience before the Iranian courts. However, legal advisers to government entities are the only exception. Legal advisers must possess a law degree, but do not need to hold any professional qualifications or be licensed by the Iranian Bar Association.
Attorneys are licensed by the Bar Association are able to appear before all courts in Iran, regardless of their experience. There are exams and training periods to complete before an attorney is licensed by the Bar Association. There is a separate qualification route for attorneys to be licensed by the judiciary, rather than the Bar Association. Judiciary attorneys are limited in the types of dispute on which they may act and the courts before which they can appear.

 

Court System & Dispute Resolution

The courts of Iran are mostly classified according to their area of jurisdiction, civil or criminal, and according to the seriousness of the crime or the litigation. In an Iranian court the judge acts as prosecutor, jury, and arbiter; the system is a form of the inquisitorial system. However, according to Article 168 of Iran’s constitution, in certain cases involving the media a jury is allowed to be the arbiter. The judge holds absolute power and all judges are certified under Islamic law and most, but not all are members of the ruling clergy.

Courts of Iran

– Courts of First Instance (public courts with jurisdiction over civil and the majority of criminal cases);
– Appellate Courts;
– The Supreme Court;
The growth in volume of trade and invest Laws in Iran over the recent years, in particular the energy sector, has laid the foundation for the creation of TRAC, which is the first Iranian arbitration institution to provide assistance and support to domestic and international arbitration tribunals. A growing number of Iranian businesses when concluding contracts with foreign companies refer their commercial disputes to arbitral tribunals constituted in accordance with the arbitration rules of TRAC or other ad hoc arbitration rules as agreed between the parties.
Iran is party to more than 50 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), with capital- exporting countries which provide institutional rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris or ad hoc arbitration rules of UNCITRAL for settlement of disputes arising out of investment between foreign investors and the Iranian government or state entities.

 

 

Major Dispute Resolution Institutions of Iran

– The Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines established the Arbitration Tribunal pursuant to a law adopted by the parliament in 2000.
– The Tehran Regional Arbitration Centre (TRAC), which was established in 2004.

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Islamic Republic of IRAN,
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