Exporting to ALGERIA



“Algeria has the human and economic potential to be a giant; one of the main markets in Africa. UK/Algeria trade is growing and there is increasing awareness in UK of the opportunities Algeria


Martyn Roper, HM Ambassador to Algeria

Algeria has real potential as a market for UK companies. The economic fundamentals are strong and there are plans for significant government spending over the next 5 years, in particular on infrastructure projects. Some UK companies perceive Algeria as being too difficult, too dangerous or too French. These perceptions, if they were ever true, are considerably out of date.

As with any emerging market bureaucracy is an issue but the business environment is improving and there is a drive to increase transparency and fight corruption. Algeria is keen to diversify its trading partners and the UK has a good reputation for quality and service.

Strengths of the market

  • There is a strong and growing commercial relationship between the UK & Algeria. Trade in goods between the UK and Algeria was worth over £3 billion in 2012.This is a mutually beneficial relationship. Among EU nations the UK is one of the largest foreign investors in Algeria. The UK has a strong reputation for quality, innovation, customer service and know-how meaning that Algerians are keen to see more UK companies doing business here.
  • Strong economic fundamentals. Algeria has one of the highest GDP per capita income rates in Africa. Growth in 2012 was 2.5%. Labour costs are low. Foreign currency reserves are around $200 billion (thanks to hydrocarbon wealth). And the rate of inflation is one of the lowest in the region.
  • Algeria is the 4th largest crude oil producer in Africa and the 6th largest gas producer in the world. It is an increasingly important energy supplier for the EU – currently the 4th largest – and will increase its share as new distribution networks come on line.
  • Algeria also has many other natural resources such as gold, iron, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphate, tungsten and kaolin. And it has enormous potential for renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and tidal energy.
  • Algeria is a hub for Europe, the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Algiers is only 2.5 hours away from the UK with at least one flight every day from London Heathrow (Air Algerie) or Gatwick (British Airways). An East – West highway was completed in 2011, spanning the country from Algeria’s Tunisian to Moroccan borders.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Opportunities in Algeria

There are many opportunities in Algeria, across most sectors but especially in infrastructure where there are a large number of government funded projects planned. Priority sectors identified by UK Trade & Investment are:

  • Advanced Engineering
  • Defence
  • Education & Skills
  • Energy
  • Financial & Professional Services
  • Food & Drink
  • Infrastructure (Construction, Environment & Water, Ports, Rail)
  • Life Sciences
  • Security

    Trade between the UK and Algeria

    The UK has been traditionally strong in the oil & gas sector, with BP among the largest foreign investors in Algeria. Some of the major UK companies who are currently active in Algeria include:

    • Unilever
    • British Airways
    • HSBC
    • British American Tobacco
    • Glaxo Smith Kline
    • AstraZeneca
    • Biwater
    • United Insurance Brokers

      UK companies like Unilever, HSBC and BP have made significant investments in Algeria, creating jobs and generating tax revenue. The Algerian government are keen to encourage activities which lead to technology transfer, job creation and support their economic diversification (away from hydrocarbons) objectives.

      Economic Overview

      Since 2001 Algeria has experienced a significant economic upturn, in part aided by strong oil and natural gas export revenues. The growth rate in 2012 was 2.5%. The increase in oil export revenues has caused the country’s foreign resources to rebound to over $200 billion. External debt continues to decrease and is extremely low at about 2% of GDP easing pressure on government finances.

      Algeria’s economy is dominated by its export trade in petroleum and natural gas, which accounts for around 98% of the country’s export revenues. Algeria is the 4th largest crude oil producer in Africa (1.42m barrels per day) and the 6th largest gas producer in the world (3.03 trillion cubic feet of natural gas). Sonatrach has announced a $1 billion refurbishment programme of the existing production and distribution networks and there are a number of new projects planned such as the trans-Saharan, Medgaz and Galsi pipelines.

      The country is in the process of moving to a more diversified economy and the government has taken a number of measures to encourage this, for example by cutting corporation tax to 19% for certain sectors. The government has agreed a $286 billion 5-year spending programme, largely focused on infrastructure projects including housing, water supply, road & rail links and developing new port facilities. An initiative has been launched to promote technology start-ups linking Algerian companies with foreign entrepreneurs. And the government is keen to develop the tourism industry, introducing tax cuts and low-interest bank loans, reduced customs tariffs, subsidised land purchases and a streamlined bureaucracy.

      UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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There is a growing private sector in Algeria – the Forum des Chefs d’Entreprise (www.fce-dz.org) and the World Trade Centre Algeria (www.wtcalgeria.com) involve the main players – but most business is still done in the public sector.

Political Overview

Algeria won its independence in 1962 after a bitter and often bloody conflict with France who had colonised Algeria in 1830. After independence Algeria became a one-party state with the government pursuing a programme of industrialisation within a state-controlled socialist economy. Some liberal economic reforms were introduced during the 1980s but the collapse in the oil price led to recession and social unrest, forcing the government to introduce a multi-party system.

From the 1970s the government pursued an Arabisation policy. Arabic teachers brought in from other Muslim countries spread radical Islamic thought in schools, sowing the seeds of political Islamism. The Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) was formed from a broad coalition of Islamist groups and dominated the first round of legislative elections held in December 1991. Fearing the election of an Islamist government the authorities intervened to cancel the elections, banning the FIS and replacing the Presidency with a High Council of State. A vicious civil insurgency followed, in which over 200,000 people are thought to have died. The armed wing of the FIS declared a ceasefire in October 1997.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected President in April 1999 on a platform of restoring stability to the country. He announced a Civil Concord initiative, approved by popular referendum, under which many political prisoners were pardoned and several thousand members of armed groups were granted exemption from prosecution under an amnesty. The levels of insurgent violence fell rapidly but one group, the Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC) continued their terrorist campaign.

President Bouteflika was re-elected in April 2004 on a programme of national reconciliation which included economic, institutional, political and social reforms to modernise the country with the aim of raising living standards and tackling the causes of alienation. It also included a second amnesty initiative, the Charter for Peace & National Reconciliation, which was approved in a referendum in September 2005. The GSPC rejected the amnesty and in 2007 reformed themselves as the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb.

In November 2008 the Algerian constitution was amended to remove the two-term limit for presidents and President Bouteflika was re-elected for a third term in April 2009. During his election campaign he promised to extend the national reconciliation programme to include a $150 billion spending programme which would create 3 million new jobs, construct one million new housing units as well as continuing public sector and infrastructure modernisation programmes.


The population of Algeria is estimated to be around 37 million. Around 90% of people live in the northern coastal area.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Practical Advice

Travelling to Algeria

  • British Airways (www.ba.com) flies to Algiers from London Gatwick.
  • Air Algerie flies to Algiers (and connections to other Algerian cities) from London Heathrow


  • JetAir (www.jetair.co.uk) flies from London Gatwick to Hassi Messaoud.

    There are good air connections between Algiers and major European cities – notably Paris, Rome, Madrid and Frankfurt. Ferry services also link Europe to Algeria e.g. Barcelona and Marseilles to Algiers and Oran (http://www.algerieferries.com/).

    Visas and travel insurance

    British nationals must obtain a visa prior to travelling to Algeria. Any foreigners working in Algeria must hold a work permit or a temporary work authorisation.

    To obtain a visa UK travellers are required to provide a formal invitation letter from their Algerian hosts (e.g. business partner/contacts) and complete the necessary application forms. The British Embassy can provide the necessary invitation letter if required.

    The visa application should be made to the Algerian Consulate in London. For further information contact the Consulate directly: www.algerianconsulate.org.uk or +44 (0) 20 7589 6885. If you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you are likely to be denied entry at the airport, even if you have been issued with a visa. Iit takes around three weeks to obtain an Algerian entry visa. We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before arriving in Algeria.


    The vast majority of Algeria (80%) is comprised of the Sahara desert. However the coastal region in the north enjoys a very pleasant Mediterranean climate which in comparison to the rest of the country is relatively temperate. Algeria is prone to a hot sandy wind during the summer known as the Sirocco. Winters in Algeria are quite mild, although they can be very wet. Algiers receives a higher level of rainfall each year than London, usually in short, sharp bursts. Winter in the mountains can be severe with heavy snow.


    You can easily find taxis at the airport and at hotels. We recommend that you use official taxis booked through your hotel. Traffic can be heavy in Algiers and we suggest you leave plenty of time to get to and from meetings. Some street names have changed, meaning that not everyone (including taxi-drivers) uses them. The drivers are not always familiar with companies and most work on prominent land-marks or well-known shops. Make sure the driver knows exactly where he is going before you set off and have a contact number for someone at your destination who have provide directions over the phone if needed.

    Other methods of travel

    It is possible to hire a private car with or without a driver. Internal air travel can offer good value for money and significant sums are being spent to renew the rail infrastructure. Metro and tram systems are being built in Algiers.

    UK Trade & Investment
    Doing business in Algeria

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There are several international hotels in Algiers (the UKTI team in Algeria can supply you with a list) which accept major credit cards as well as travellers cheques. You can also find bureaux de change in these hotels. Hotel space is at a premium and it can be very difficult to find good quality accommodation during busy periods.


The unit of currency is the Algerian Dinar (DZD). Bank notes come in denominations of 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200 and 100 dinars with coins for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 dinars.

Credit cards are not widely used in Algeria therefore it is essential to have cash for day to day expenses. Cash is the only acceptable form of payment for taxis, restaurants and shops. You will find ATMs at the major hotels (except the Hilton, though there is a bureau de change) and at the airport.

The dinar is non-convertible i.e. the Government sets the official exchange rate (currently around 120 DZD = £1) and you can’t purchase Algerian currency before you arrive in-country. You are required to record all your currency transactions during your stay in Algeria. You may be approached by people offering to exchange money for you, especially at the airport. While they may offer a more favourable exchange rate, this is illegal.


The dialling code from the UK is +213. Fixed telephones are not always reliable and voicemail may not always be an option. Mobile phones are therefore used far more for core business than in Europe and it would not be considered unusual if you were to contact someone for the first time on a mobile phone. Most UK mobile phone networks can function in Algeria. Just check that the roaming option is available on your mobile.

The postal service is unreliable and sending documents by courier is recommended but can be expensive. Faxes are still the preferred method of communication. Although there has been an increase in the use of e-mail it is not as widely used as you might expect, not least in the public sector where there is still a strong preference for paper correspondence. Telephones, faxes and emails may not be suitable for commercial or personally sensitive material.


Although the security situation in Algeria has improved considerably, there is still a risk from terrorism. Check the FCO’s Travel Advice pages (www.fco.gov.uk) for up-to-date information.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Preparing to Export to Algeria

British companies wishing to enter the Algerian market are advised to undertake as much market research and planning as possible in the UK.

In most cases doing business successfully in Algeria requires local representation but the appointment of a local partner/representative will only be the first step. Algeria is a market in which personal contacts predominate in the business environment and where personal relationships are very important. This requires an investment primarily of time and personal presence. Likewise product training for your local representative is essential, as are regular updates on developments, modifications, competitor activity etc. Regular visits to Algeria, especially during the early phase, are an important part of a successful market entry strategy, as is continuity. It’s important for people to build up a relationship with the same person, not just the company.

Careful selection is required when appointing a local representative. There are a number of risks, not least that you may lose control over the pricing and presentation of your goods once they are in the hands of agents and that these middleman can have differing business goals, which may lead to a less than satisfactory marketing of your product in country.

UKTI’s team in Algeria can provide a range of services to British-based companies wishing to grow their business in the Algerian market. Our services include the provision of market information, validated lists of agents/potential partners, key market players or potential customers; establishing the interest of such contacts in working with your company; and arranging appointments for you as part of a visit programme. In addition, we can also organise events for you to meet contacts or to promote your company and your products/services.

You can commission our Overseas Market Introduction Services to assist your company to enter or expand your business in Algeria. Under this service, the Embassy’s Trade & Investment Advisers, who have wide local experience and knowledge, can identify business partners and provide the support and advice most relevant to your company’s specific needs in the market.

To find out more about commissioning work, please contact your local UKTI office. See also: www.ukti.gov.uk

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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How to do business in Algeria

What companies should consider when doing business

Algeria has a reputation as a difficult place to do business because of the bureaucracy and the need for companies and personnel to be fluent in French. Traditionally UK companies have used French subsidiaries or operate through contractors who are already on the ground. It does take time to get established in the market but once in Algeria UK companies tend to do well not least because of their reputation for supplying quality products and offering a good after sale service. This means they get repeat business as well as being able to source new clients.

There is a strong desire to develop relationships with new countries with a move away from France and a definite shift to non-traditional partners including the Gulf States and China.

The UKTI team in Algiers can provide lists of business consultants, lawyers, accountants, interpreters and recruitment agencies.

Gateways/Locations – Key areas for business

Algiers and Oran are the 2 largest commercial centres with populations of 3.3 million and 1.5 million respectively. For the oil & gas industry most production is centred in the south of the country around Hassi Messaoud. The main firms working in the oil & gas sector have large operations and bases in the south and small or representative offices in Algiers. If you plan to deal in this sector it is important to ascertain exactly which office will best suit your needs.

Market entry and start up considerations

Making decisions on setting up a business in Algeria can be a complicated process. It requires a detailed knowledge of the local rules & regulations along with an acceptance that things can change from day-to-day. UK companies planning to enter the Algerian market are strongly advised to get up-to-date information and advice from local professionals.

The Reglementation des Marches Publiques (Public Procurement Code) is an essential guide for anyone bidding for work in the public sector. You can find a copy on our website.

In most cases doing business in Algeria requires local representation in the form of an agent or distributor as business with end users is done face-to-face and not by e-mail or phone. Building long-lasting personal relationships is the key to doing business successfully in Algeria. Generally Algerians like to see British nationals representing UK companies. If you are really serious about Algeria, consider sending someone here permanently.

There are currently four main ways of supplying goods and services into Algeria:


The work takes place entirely outside Algeria. You provide the goods/services to contractors or companies who then forward them on. There could be tax implications of working in this way. This type of work normally only applies to niche areas or high tech work which is not readily available in country. It also applies to products and services needed in a hurry.

Direct to End User

This is most common method. UK companies respond to an international tender and upon award provide the services or products directly into the market. The tendering process is detailed in the public procurement code. Again, there are tax considerations and there is a price preference for local companies (currently 25% – increased in 2009 from 15%).

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Through an Agent/Representative

Goods are supplied through an agent or facilitator who will usually then provide the contractual link to the end user in the supply chain.

Affiliate/Joint Venture

The UK company establishes an Algerian subsidiary or branch office. The subsidiary has a local presence in country and supplies direct into market via subcontractors/joint venture or direct to the end user. Local investment rules require any JVs to raise their capital locally and foreign partners are limited to owning 49% of the JV company.

Customs and Regulations

Customs procedures can be bureaucratic and slow. We recommend that a good shipping agent be used as delays in clearance are common.

Legislation and Local Regulations

The legal and taxation systems in Algeria are well established and based on French and Islamic Law. The systems are opaque and difficult to understand. Professional advice should be sought.

Responding to Tenders

Government tenders are published on www.baosem.com (energy and mining) and www.anep.com.dz/bomop (all other tenders). Non-government tenders are published in the local press.

Projects which are considered an opportunity for UK companies will be published on UKTI’s website.

Recruiting and Retaining Staff

The official unemployment rate is around 10%. Retaining good staff can be a problem given the small number of trained and experienced English speakers.


Required customs documents include the original bill of lading, copies of invoices, phyto-sanitary health certificate (if applicable), packing list and certificate of origin. It is important to make sure these are filled in correctly as missing, incomplete or inaccurate documentation can cause significant delays at customs.

Labelling and Packaging Regulations

There are differing packaging requirements for products exported to Algeria, especially for food and pharmaceutical products. The importer should be able to clarify these. It is highly recommended that all printed contents are in Arabic and/or French. Containers should show the consignee’s name and port.

Getting your Goods to the Market

The main options for Algeria are airfreight, sea-freight or courier service. It is often easier to use a freight forwarder. Forwarding agents should be approached in the early stages of market research rather than waiting until you are ready to deliver your goods.

Standards and Technical Regulation

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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For standards and technical regulations contact the Institut Algerien de Normalisation (www.ianor.org)

Intellectual Property Rights

As in many developing economies, the scale of intellectual property rights abuses across Algeria’s industrial sectors continues to outgrow the government’s enforcement efforts. This is a particular problem for the film & software industries, with counterfeit DVDs and CD-ROMs widely available.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Business Etiquette, Language and Culture

Doing business in Algeria is about establishing strong personal relationships. Long term commitments are valued and are necessary to be successful. Your relationship will become more of a friendship with many Algerians choosing to do business with the same company for many years.

Basic hints and tips include:

  • Doing business by e-mail or over the internet isn’t yet common (especially in the public sector) and there is a strong preference for paper. It’s better to send a fax and then to make a follow up call (for the public sector).
  • Make your presentation in French or Arabic. The same for your business cards and trade literature. Make sure you have enough for everyone! And don’t refer people to your company’s website for information; have the information available for them.
  • Algerians are very status conscious. If you want to see the CEO, send your CEO to meet with them. And be aware you may need to work on building a relationship with the company first before you are able to get a meeting with the CEO or senior officials, particularly in public sector organisations.
  • Don’t leave your follow-up visit too late; otherwise the trail will go cold.
  • Beware of middlemen. While there are good agents, some will claim much more than they

    can deliver.

  • Use local knowledge.


    Arabic is the official language in Algeria with French the main business language. English is beginning to become more common but few business people currently speak it fluently, although there is a higher percentage of English speaking Algerians in the oil & gas sector. If you do not speak French or Arabic fluently, you should consider engaging an interpreter.

    Meetings and Presentations

    It’s important that you try to arrange appointments before arriving in Algeria. You should also ask for some form of confirmation. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for meetings to be postponed or changed at the last moment. This does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest; just that priorities can change suddenly. And even when you have a confirmed meeting, you may not be seen promptly so be prepared for this. By the same token it is not unusual for meetings to be arranged with relatively little notice.

    Algerians expect to get to know potential contacts over several meetings before business transactions take place. You should set aside time for relationship building. The first part of the meeting will usually consist of introductions and personal conversation – where do you live, what did you study, are you enjoying Algeria etc. It is important not to cut this short as it would be considered very impolite. This is in many ways the most important part of the meeting, as a large part of business is done on the basis of forming strong personal relationships. Your host will normally offer you coffee, tea or water, which is impolite to refuse.

    Once this part of the meeting comes to a natural conclusion you will then typically be asked what they can do for you. It is important to be able to give a clear and concise reason for your visit. Interlocutors may not always be prepared for your meeting and you may find it necessary to start by explaining again who you are, why you are visiting and something about your company’s product or service.

    Smart business dress is appreciated although because of the climate men often dispense with jackets and do not always wear ties. Businesswomen typically dress modestly with longer jackets and tops teamed with longer skirts or trousers.

    UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Working Hours

The public sector usually works from 0800 – 1600 hrs, with the private sector working until 1700 hrs. Most retail outlets remain open until late evening. Reduced working hours operate during Ramadan. Since Autumn 2009 Algeria has operated a Friday/Saturday weekend. Friday is the Muslim holy day and many retailers will be closed until mid-afternoon or evening.


Algerians are generally easy going, open in communication and courteous but they will rarely put their cards on the table until they have built up a relationship of trust. This will take place over several meetings and you may find you have to work your way up the chain of command during this process. It will take time to get a final decision but should it be in your favour, you will find that further business will follow.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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What are the challenges?

The principal problems that UK companies face are:

  • The absence of a level playing field for all companies, foreign and domestic;
  • Increased commercial competition from China (but not in every sector);
  • The lack of transparency in bureaucratic and judicial processes;
  • An unwieldy bureaucracy; and
  • The lack of reliable information whether statistics, data about institutions or contact information.

    Algeria is perceived as difficult for newcomers because of the bureaucracy and the Francophile nature of the market. If you have no export experience then Algeria may not be the ideal first market for you but with a little preparation and advice then you should be able to develop a successful market entry strategy. If you are an experienced exporter with a good product to offer then you should be able to access the Algerian market relatively easily, provided the opportunities are right for you and your price is competitive.

    The most important things to remember when doing business in Algeria are to:

  • Have a physical presence in the market;
  • Be patient, it will take time to build the working relationships necessary to do business

    here; and

  • Persevere. There is good business to be won here but you will need to work to get it.

    Getting Paid – Terms of Payment

    Payment for imports must be completed by letters of credit.

    Algeria has a variable reputation with regards to payments – delays are more common than non- payment – and in particular the payment process at Sonatrach can be very bureaucratic. The majority of the payment is usually only made on delivery of the goods required or completion of the contract. You may want to consider including payment terms when drawing up any contract.

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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How to Invest in Algeria

The Loi de Finances Complementaire (2009) revised the conditions for foreign investment. It created a $20 billion fund to support investment projects. Algerian shareholders (which can include several partners) must represent 51% of the capital. Foreign investments must result in a positive foreign exchange balance in favour of the Algerian economy during the project’s lifetime. Any proposed foreign investments need to be reviewed by the Centre Nationale d’Investissement (CNI). The CNI are able to grant exemptions or reductions against duties, taxes or charges. More information can be obtained from the Agence Nationale de Developpment de l’Investissement (www.andi.dz).

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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If you have a specific export enquiry about the Algerian market which is not answered by the information on this report, you may contact:

UK Trade & Investment Enquiry Service

Tel: +44 (0)20 7215 500
Email: enquiries@ukti.gsi.gov.uk

You will be signposted to the appropriate section on our website, or transferred directly to the British Embassy in Algiers.

British Embassy Algiers

British Embassy Algiers
3 Chemin Capitaine Hocine Slimane, Algiers Tel: +213 (0)770 085 000
Fax: +213 (0)770 085 099
Email: trade.algeria@fco.gov.uk
Website: www.ukinalgeria.fco.gov.uk

In the UK

Dele Muji

Country Manager, Algeria UK Trade & Investment
1 Victoria Street

Tel: 020 7215 4947
Email: dele.muji@ukti.gsi.gov.uk

UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria
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Resources/Useful Links

Business Link: International Trade

Business Link’s International Trade pages provide an overview of export basics including licensing, customs procedures, classifying and movement of goods, other regulatory information and export paperwork issues. It also introduces exporters to the UK Trade Tariff.

Essential reading for exporters!

Find out more at:


Country Information:

BBC Website:


FCO Country Profile:


Customs & Regulations:

HM Revenue & Customs: www.hmrc.gov.uk
Import Controls and documentation (SITPRO): http://www.sitpro.org.uk

Culture and communications

CILT – National Centre for Languages – Regional Language Network in your area: http://www.cilt.org.uk/workplace/employer_support/in_your_area.aspx

Kwintessential culture guides: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/

Economic Information:



Export Control

Export Control Organization:


EU Points of Single contact


Export Finance and Insurance:

ECGD: http://www.ecgd.gov.uk/ Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Office: www.ipo.gov.uk
UK Trade & Investment Doing business in Algeria

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Market Access

Market Access Database for Tariffs (for non-EU markets only):


SOLVIT – Overcoming Trade Barriers (EU Markets only)


Standard and Technical Regulations:

British Standards Institution (BSI):

http://www.bsigroup.com/en/sectorsandservices/Disciplines/ImportExport/ National Physical Laboratory: http://www.npl.co.uk/

Intellectual Property: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ Trade Statistics:

National Statistics Information: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/index.html UK Trade Info: https://www.uktradeinfo.co.uk/

Travel Advice:

FCO Travel: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/ NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/
Travel health: http://www.travelhealth.co.uk/