Customs Implements Contactless Clearance Process After Successful Piloting
Starting today May 1, 2023, importers of Non-Commercial Less than Container Load (LCL) Cargo have the option of using Contactless Clearance when clearing their cargo at all sea ports and marine public bonded warehouses.
The Contactless Clearance pilot phase, which ran from October 2022 to January 2023, afforded non-commercial customers a more efficient, more hassle-free and less time-consuming avenue to clear their cargo while the JCA continues to fulfill its mandates of trade facilitation, border protection and revenue collection.
Having garnered feedback from freight forwarding agents and importers, Kingsley Henry, Project Manager for the Contactless Clearance Process, highlighted some plans to be executed as the process is implemented. “The JCA continues to work to improve the confidence that our customers have in the integrity of the clearance process by introducing body-worn cameras to officers who will be inspecting cargo under the Contactless Clearance Process,” he said. He further stated that payment options will be increased in the near future to facilitate the full implementation of the process for all non-commercial importers.
The benefits of the Contactless Clearance Process does not only impact the Agency and its end customers but also the freight forwarding agents. Carlos Ibar of Dennis Shipping highlighted that during the pilot phase of the process he experienced “faster processing times” and appreciated the “less hands-on work for freight forwarders.” He continued by adding that “the overall experience was pretty positive. With minor tweaks, it should be beneficial to all freight forwarders and customers alike.”
The JCA encourages all non-commercial customers to take advantage of the Contactless Clearance Process and enjoy significantly less waiting, less hassle and less stress.
As a reminder, a packing list with adequate details of the shipment should be shared with the respective agent for increased efficiency in completing an accurate customs declaration.
For additional information, email Jamaica Customs Agency at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 876 922 5140-8.
Contactless Clearance Process TV/Radio Interview
Incentives and Productive Inputs Relief Programme: Paving the way for local investments
The Jamaica Customs Agency prides itself in continuous research and advancement of its processes as it fulfills its mandates of border protection, revenue collection and trade facilitation.
In 2013, with effect in 2014, the Customs Act was amended under the Omnibus Incentives Legislation (OIL) to allow productive sectors to receive concessionary benefits, such as exempted duties and charges and reduced fees, on imports through Productive Inputs Relief (PIR) for:
- The Production of Primary Products
- The Manufacture of Goods
- The Tourism Industry
- The Creative Industries and
- The Healthcare Sector
Senior Incentives Auditor at the Jamaica Customs Agency, Donna Stephens-Edwards, further highlighted another advantage of being a part of the Agency’s incentives programme. “Once you are a bona fide (compliant) manufacturer, you can access the deferred GCT payment, where you do not pay your GCT upfront.” These benefits, she said, can allow manufacturers to redirect their funds to more business-related matters.
The JCA not only provides incentives for importers but under various Trade Agreements, exports are also facilitated.
As a member of CARICOM and CARIFORUM, Jamaica benefits from eight (8) Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with originating goods imported into or exported from Jamaica under an FTA, benefitting from tariff reduction or elimination on negotiated products.
Under Preferential Trade Agreements, Jamaica is a beneficiary country under non-reciprocal preferential market access to USA, Canada and Generalised System of Preferences Donor Countries for eligible commodities originating in CARICOM and Jamaica.
These reliefs position Jamaica as a preferred location for investors and international manufacturers.
Having been in the international lubricant market for some years, co-owners Sydney Thwaites and Neil Crooks decided, based on their research, that Jamaica was most ideal to start their company, Lubricating Specialties Company Jamaica Limited (LSC Jamaica), mainly due to the incentives provided to importers and exporters through the JCA.
“The incentives have allowed products manufactured in Jamaica to compete with other markets, leading to export opportunities needed to move the needle on Jamaica’s trade imbalance,” shared Mr. Thwaites, highlighting that the company’s customer base and markets served, have been able to grow as a result of the incentives. As an advice, Mr. Thwaites shared with investors to capitalise on incentives offered as they “are key to competing on a regional level.”
The Jamaica Customs Agency continues to urge compliance with all requirements of the Agency. “As a beneficiary of the Incentives Programme, the onus is on the company to be compliant, to ensure that, other qualified individuals or companies can also benefit. Compliance is the key,” said Mrs. Stephens-Edwards. She concluded with a reminder that with the incentives, “Your company benefits, the nation benefits and the citizens of Jamaica benefit.”
For more information on JCA’s Incentives and Productive Inputs Reliefs, you can send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamaica Customs using technology to effectively enhance the Returning Residents’ Process
Committed to ensuring that its various stakeholders, including Returning Residents, were able to readily access the agency’s services during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) introduced several new measures, including the automation of the Returning Residents process, allowing for greater efficiency in service delivery.
In 2020, the JCA embarked on automating the application process for Returning Residents and Returning Students to facilitate more ease and efficiency, allowing passengers to access their benefits before travelling.
Using the Online Portal, residents are able to upload the necessary documentation, view their progress regarding their requested Returning Resident Status, as well as receive provisional approval.
Manager of the Returning Residents Unit, Alicia Allen, shared that before the automation of the Returning Residents process, applicants had to be in Jamaica, attend a face-to-face interview, confirm their approval and then proceed to ship. “By automating the Returning Residents’ application, the applicant is no longer required to physically report to the JCA’s office to attend interviews, saving them both time and money. Now, the customer is able to know prior to their arrival in Jamaica, if they qualify for the benefits of a
Returning Resident/Student so they are able to make arrangements concerning the shipment of their items,” she further stated.
Having automated this process, those benefitting from this status have given the JCA ‘the thumbs up’. Marcel Anderson, a Returning Resident, who returned home after residing abroad for over 10 years and benefitted from the Returning Residents’ status, shared his experience of the process. “The online application was very straightforward and the response from the Jamaica Customs Agency was prompt,” he said, further noting that the automation of most processes and receiving a certain standard of service in the first-world country he had resided was the practise.
This he said “tells me that the JCA is continuously improving its online processes to meet first world expectations and best practices.” His expectation is “for the agency to maintain this innovative momentum and acceleration in its use of modern technologies, which they have deployed to facilitate these online processes.”
Customers are reminded to be guided by the following steps in applying for Returning Resident/Student status:
- Visit the JCA’s website: www.jacustoms.gov.jm; complete the Registration Form.
- A username and password will be generated and shared via the email provided, allowing for the applicant(s) to access the application form.
- Once accessed, complete the application form, upload the relevant documents and click ‘submit’.
- The Returning Residents’ Unit will review the application and grant the approval once all requirements or criteria are met.
- The Returning Residents’ Unit will generate and issue an Exemption Notice for the applicant(s) to submit to their relevant Shipping Agent(s), which must be used on the Declaration, in order to access the relevant benefits provided (exempted items are gazetted).
For any additional informational on the JCA’s Returning Residents’ process, you may email email@example.com or call 876 922 5140-8.
Jamaica Customs continues to improve business relations with stakeholders: visits Walkerswood Jerk Facility
CEO/Commissioner of Customs, Velma Ricketts Walker (center), is surrounded by (from left), Barrington Souden, Orane Thompson, and Janneice Baker, JCA; Jason Garbutt, Walkerswood; Ian Garbutt, Walkerswood; Samantha Reid, JCA; Christopher Brown, JCA; and Sonia Thompson, Walkerswood.
The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) values the input of its various stakeholders, and has therefore introduced and implemented several ways to engage with them, with the most recent initiative being the Customs Business Interaction (CBI) stakeholder engagement.
Lead by the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, the CBI, seeks to strengthen the relationship between the Jamaica Customs Agency and its commercial/industrial stakeholders through face-to-face interactions with executive members of both entities.
On February 16, 2023, members of the JCA, led by the CEO/Commissioner of Customs Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, executed another successful CBI initiative with the executive team of the Walkerswood Jerk Facility in Walkerswood, St. Ann.
Managing Director of Walkerswood, Mr. Ian Garbutt and his team, were able share the ‘highs and lows’ of their business interactions with Customs and also indicated what they believe the JCA could do to enhance the business operations of entities such as Walkerswood, the sector/market and the economy in general. The CEO and members of the JCA team also used the opportunity to provide further information and clarity on Customs-related processes and procedures relevant to Walkerswood and the sector.
The discussion involved the various incentives provided by the JCA, such as the Productive Inputs Relief (PIR) programme, which allows manufacturers to receive exemption from Import Duty, Additional Stamp Duty and Standard Compliance Fee; deferment of the General Consumption Tax (GCT); and 50% discount of Customs Administrative Fee (CAF). Incentives offered to entities, under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act were also discussed.
Emanating from the discussion was a proposal from the Walkerswood head, for SEZ operators to receive the benefits that fall under the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme. Special Economic Zone operators are able to benefit from a relief of Customs Duty. The AEO programme allows compliant traders who have met the requisite criteria under that programme, to experience faster clearance and processing.
Beneficiaries of these incentive programmes are reminded that adhering to the relevant guidelines is paramount for being afforded the continued privilege.
As the JCA seeks to “Keep Our Customers in Focus”, the Agency will continue to utilise several channels to engage with its stakeholders, as it provides information and importantly, solicit their feedback.
For more information on the JCA’s Incentives Programme you may email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 876 922-5140-8.
Jamaica Customs to deploy one hundred body-worn cameras
Kimmilee Fender, customs officer, oversees the barrel inspection process at a Kingston warehouse. Under the new project, JCA officers in selected areas will be equipped with body-worn cameras.
— Photo credit: Horane Gardener
Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has signalled its intent to equip and deploy 100 body-worn cameras (BWCs) in Customs-controlled areas in the new fiscal year.
The first-of-its-kind initiative is expected to provide a more accurate record of encounters, foster improved relations, increase transparency, and improve the quality of evidence collected for decision-making.
CEO Velma Ricketts Walker, who made the disclosure at a project meeting recently, highlighted the importance of the initiative to delivering the Agency’s core values.
Ricketts Walker also reiterated her commitment to the team and thanked members for their transformation of the Agency.
Meanwhile, Marlon Lowe, Deputy CEO (Border Protection), noted that, “The project will involve the identification of camera technology, data management system, development of policies to govern the programme and training to facilitate the initiative roll-out.”
The initial staff sensitization sessions are expected to commence on February 27.
Recently, there has been a call for increased digital recording during interactions between law enforcement officers and the public. In response, other local law enforcement organisations have already adopted this technology to improve the quality of policing in their communities.
An international study has shown that placing body-worn cameras (BWCs) on officers improves civility and enhances citizens’ perceptions of law enforcement officers.
The six-month project is being led by Marlon Lowe, Andre Williams and Michelle Bryan.
More information to come.
Adherence to all Requirements is Necessary for Efficient Processing and Clearance of Goods
The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is aware of public comments regarding delays in the clearance of goods by couriers and shipping companies and would like to reassure the public that our processes are operating optimally at all ports. The Agency is committed to its Core Values: Customer-Focused, Accountability, Professionalism, Integrity and Transparency (CAPIT) and to achieve same, it relies on members of the importing and exporting public to adhere to its requirements and provide accurate information to aid with efficient processing of cargo. Agents who ship goods to Jamaica are reminded that they MUST follow the steps below for ultimate clearance:
Step 1: Submit cargo manifest, to include breakdown manifests, via the Port Community System (PCS) to the JCA prior to arrival of vessel.
Step 2: Determine whether a request will be made to move goods from the Port to a Public Bonded Warehouse or have goods examined on the Port.
Step 3: Ensure container is offloaded, and cargo scanned at the Warehouse.
Step 4: Create and submit the simplified IMS4 declaration and upload all supporting documents, to include invoices provided by the importer.
Step 5: Pay the applicable Customs duties and fees for each declaration.
Step 6: Arrange with the Warehouse for goods to be presented to Customs for inspection.
Step 7: Customs Officer inspects the cargo.
Step 8: Cargo is released to the Agent/importer if all requirements are met.
The Jamaica Customs Agency continues to exercise vigilance in executing its Border Protection Mandate
The Jamaica Customs Agency(JCA) wishes to assure the public that it remains committed to facilitating trade, collecting revenue on behalf of the Government and protecting Jamaica’s borders and citizens.In this respect, the Agency has increased its vigilance and process controls at the various ports of entry which may impact the turnaround time for clearances. The JCA therefore beckons the understanding of the importing public, as the entity operates in accordance with all governing laws.
As a reminder, the Agency implores all importers to provide accurate invoices regarding their shipments, to their agents for a prompt clearance process and reminds importers, couriers, shippers and customs brokers that all imports are subject to applicable customs procedures, including interventions consistent with its risk management, valuation and other processes.
The Jamaica Customs Agency is cognizant of the recent queries regarding a particular entity; however, in keeping with our tenets of integrity and confidentiality, the agency will not comment on the specifics regarding any of our clients. We reassure the public that we are driven by our Core Values, CAPIT- Customer-focused, Accountability, Professionalism, Integrity and Transparency in all our operations.
For more information: La Donna Manning
Director, Public Relations & Customer Services
Customer Service Manager
Public Relations and Customer Service Unit