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Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs Bolsters Its Stakeholder Awareness Thrust - Meets with Used Car Dealers

 

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), in keeping with its thrust to enhance its service delivery and meet the needs of its various stakeholders, hosted a Stakeholders’ Awareness Forum with the Used Car Dealers Association of Jamaica, on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, under the theme: “Let’s Talk Valuation.”

This forum facilitated discussion between the Agency and members of the Used Car Dealers Association, and sought to address their varying concerns, covering several areas, such as application of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Valuation Methods, processing time for transactions, and improvements in some areas of customer service.

On the matter of Valuation Methods, the JCA is reminding importers that they have a right to request a review of any assessment done at any of our ports by requesting that a referral note be prepared (for the imported goods) and sent to the Valuation Verification Unit, at the Agency’s head office – Myers’ Wharf, Newport East, Kingston.

Customers, who request a review, must submit the relevant documentation to the Valuation Unit to include:

  • Store receipts
  • Bank receipts
  • Wire transfers 
  • Credit/debit card receipts
  • Email correspondences (where applicable) and,
  • Any other documentation relevant to the case

If an importer is still not satisfied with the review done by the Valuation Verification Unit, that individual or entity can make a further appeal to the Agency’s Internal Review Committee.

Valuation Principles

The Valuation Principles outlined in the Valuation Schedule (Section 19) of the Customs Act, specifies the rules of valuation for imported goods, the methods to be used and the manner in which they may be applied. Rights and Obligations in keeping with the Customs Act:

  1. Section 19 (2) – Customs has the right to doubt the truth or accuracy of the information submitted.
  2. Section 19 (3) – Customs is obligated to notify the importer of how the value was determined.
  3. Section 19 (4) & 19 (5) – Customs is obligated to inform the importer of the right to an appeal without penalty.
  4. Section 19 (8) – Customs has two years within which to change a previously accepted value due to new information gathered or any other reason garnered.

The Customs Valuation methods are based on the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Valuation Agreement, of which there are six methods:

  1. Transaction Value  – Article 1
  2. Transaction Value of Identical Goods – Article 2
  3. Transaction Value of Similar Goods – Article 3
  4. Deductive Method – Article 5
  5. Computed Method – Article 6
  6. Fall-back Method – Article 7

The JCA will continue in its thrust, to serve all its customers efficiently and effectively.

 

 

 

Jamaica Customs Heads to St. Mary – for Parish Engagement – June 27, 2019

 

 

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) recognises that strong partnerships with its stakeholders, through public education, and other awareness building initiatives can have a transformational impact on compliance. It is against this background that the JCA embarked on one of its most innovative stakeholder engagements, “Customs Meets the Community” (CMC), under the theme: ‘Reaching Our Customers Where They Are.’

The “Customs Meets the Community” parish engagement series are being held in order that the Agency can communicate more effectively with its customers, in keeping with its thrust to inform and educate stakeholders about Customs policies and procedures, and other Customs-related matters.

For its eighth stop in this series, the JCA will be placing the spotlight on the parish of St. Mary, where it will be hosting a Mini-expo and a Town Hall Meeting, at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church Hall, Port Maria, on Thursday, June 27, from 1:00p.m – 6:00p.m.

The Town Hall Session, slated to begin at 3:00p.m., will be streamed online (live) by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), thus allowing persons locally and internationally to actively participate in the session.

CMC helps the JCA to connect with a diverse range of Jamaicans including political representatives, housewives, farmers, entrepreneurs, as well as with schools, churches, charity groups, and community-based organisations, within the visited parish.

This initiative allows the JCA to more effectively inform, educate and increase the awareness of its customers with regard to Customs policies and procedures, and other Customs-related matters. This is augmented by our collaborative approach, which includes the engagement of other Border Regulatory Agencies to participate in these sessions. Importantly, the forum provides the opportunity for participants to ask questions, state their concerns and give their feedback. The initiative is done in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs Reminds Importers of the Procedures for Clearing Charitable Items as the Summer Approaches

 

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) takes this opportunity to remind importers, including schools, churches, charities and foundations of the following requirements and procedures for clearing charitable items at the nation’s ports:

  • All shipments must be in the name and address of the charitable organisation only, before it arrives in Jamaica.
  • A Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) is required for clearing all shipments.
  • Where an individual other than officers of the charitable organisation is being asked to undertake clearance, a notarised letter of authorisation on the organisation’s letter head must be presented to Customs. 
  • The name and signatory on the authorisation letter must be compatible with the information uploaded to the JCA’s database in respect of the charitable entity.
  • A Special Declaration must be completed and signed by the responsible officer on the organisation’s letter head. This is to be given to the authorised person conducting business on behalf of the Charity or the licensed Customs Broker.
  • A licensed Customs Broker is required to clear shipments valued at and above US$5,000.00, and a C73 Form (Authorisation for a Person to act on behalf of another) must be completed. However, the Charity organisation also reserves the right to contract a licensed Customs Broker for shipments under $5000.00.

As it pertains to shipments of US$5,000.00 or more, a licensed Customs Broker, who, upon receiving a completed C73 form, must prepare an entry into the ASYCUDA system (Automated System for Customs Data), and upload all relevant documentation. 

Additionally, officers of charitable organisations or persons authorised to clear shipments of US$5,000.00 or less, should proceed directly to the Port of Clearance with the documents pertaining to the shipment consigned to the name and address of the charitable organisation to include:

  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration of Approved Charity
  • A letter of authorisation where applicable
  • The signed Special Declaration
  • Bill of lading or Airway Bill
  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Tax Compliance Certificate
  • Permits/licences where applicable
  • Any other document(s) pertaining to the shipment

 

Educational Institutions

Schools wishing to import items of charity (such as canteen equipment--stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, etc.) outside of their entitlements covered under the Second Schedule of the Customs Act must receive approval from the National Education Trust (NET), before the items are shipped to Jamaica, in order to receive duty exemption and other prescribed benefits.  

Approval for the importation of school supplies and educational/instructional materials/items covered under the second schedule of the Customs Act must be sought through the Ministry of Education’s Procurement Unit, before the items are imported into Jamaica, in order for duty exemption and other benefits to be given.  

Entities wishing to import items of charity (such as back-to-school fairs), must register with the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies before getting the items shipped into Jamaica, in order to receive the relevant duty exemption and other benefits.  

 

 

 

Customs House Weekly

Post Clearance Audit: Why is My Company Being Audited by Jamaica Customs?

 

Have you ever heard of a scenario where an importer/trader or anyone involved in the importation of goods is subject to a ‘post clearance audit’ which is conducted by auditors of the Jamaica Customs Agency? Maybe your answer is ‘yes’ or possibly, ‘no’.

The practice of conducting audits has been in existence for many years. In today’s article, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), will examine the Post Clearance Audit (PCA) process and will provide information geared at improving the knowledge of “Customs audit” and its potential benefits to the trading community. 

In today’s international trade environment, Customs administrations worldwide, are expected to operate efficiently and effectively. With the ever increasing demand for expedited clearance processes, Post Clearance Audits have been a proven risk management strategy that offers a balance of public protection with the fostering of Customs compliance amongst the private sector.

 

What is a Post Clearance Audit?

Post Clearance Audits are measures by which Customs satisfies itself as to the accuracy and authenticity of declarations, through the examination of the relevant books, records, business systems and commercial data held by persons and companies conducting international trade. This exercise is usually conducted at the premises of the trader or where necessary, at the desk of the Auditor based on the nature and scope of the audit being undertaken.

This authority to conduct PCA is contained within:

  1. Section 223 of the Customs Act, which provides the right to examine business records, business systems and commercial data relevant to Customs declarations.
  2. Section 17(I) of the Revenue Administration Act, confers the right of Customs and Revenue Officers to conduct audits, investigations and inspections on books, records and properties of taxpayers, whether they are importing or exporting entities, or otherwise.

 

Checks and Balances

Post Clearance Audit is a means to measure and encourage compliance by traders as the results are used as part of the risk management cycle and will assist the JCA to determine what levels of control or checks are required at the borders for future declarations. This exercise will enhance how trade is facilitated at the borders, as Customs can focus its attention on declarations that pose the greatest risk to border, society and revenue, while allowing low risk declarations to move seamlessly through the ports.

 

What are the common check areas involved in PCA?

  • Compliance with tariff requirements
  • Compliance with valuation provisions
  • Compliance with ‘rules of origin’ requirements
  • Compliance with other Customs programmes e.g. private bonded warehouse requirements or duty free regimes

As an importer/trader it is crucial that you keep the necessary accounting books and records that will facilitate a Customs review to include the following:  

  • Purchase/sales contracts
  • Shipping/Transport documents
  • Purchase orders
  • Invoices
  • Receiving reports
  • Debit/credit notes
  • General Journal
  • General Ledger
  • Subsidiary Journal
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Financial statements

The benefits to be derived from confirmation of compliance include:

  1. Receiving benefits under the Authorised Economic Operator status.
  2. Facilitating compliant traders at the point of Customs clearance (that is, utilising more risk-based analysis).
  3. Enabling Jamaica Customs to gain a better understanding of clients’ business operations.

 

How will I know that I am being audited?

The JCA through its Post Clearance Audit Unit will notify companies of their selection for audit, and will provide written request for meetings and the production of the required books and records. The Post Clearance Audit Unit operates from both Kingston and Montego Bay and provides islandwide coverage for all audit based exercises.

 

 

Jamaica Customs to Visit the ‘Sunshine City’ of Portmore - March 27

On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) team will disembark in the ‘Sunshine City’ of Portmore, St. Catherine for its seventh “Customs Meets the Community” Parish Engagement, to be held at the Portmore HEART/NTA Academy, in Waterford.

This is the second stop for the Customs Team in the parish of St. Catherine. The team first visited the parish (Spanish Town) in August 2017.

The “Customs Meets the Community” series are being held in order that the JCA can communicate more effectively with its customers, in keeping with its thrust to inform and educate stakeholders about Customs policies and clearance procedures, and other Customs related matters. The Portmore leg of the Engagement will focus on clearing items by courier, and provide other general information that may be relevant to participants/attendees.  

The event will be streamed live from the Portmore HEART Academy and persons are encouraged to tune in (online platforms) for the presentations. The Agency is also encouraging persons with disabilities to participate in the event by attending, as well as logging on to the Social Media Platforms of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), which will be streaming the event. A Sign Language Interpreter will be on hand to facilitate effective dialogue with persons who are hearing impaired or deaf. The Agency recently hosted its first ‘Community Meets the Communit - The Diaspora Edition Online’ Series, which targeted the Jamaican Diaspora.

Since the introduction of its Parish Engagements, the Agency has taken a collaborative approach in educating its stakeholders, and has partnered with its border and regulatory agencies including the Plant Quarantine Unit, the Pesticides Control Authority, the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, the Agriculture Incentives Unit, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office – JIPO, and the Post and Telecommunications Department (Parcels Post/Central Sorting Office). The Agency has also partnered with the Social Development Commission (SDC), which has assisted with mobilisation efforts.

Since May 2017, the Customs team has visited the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine, Portland, St. Ann, Westmoreland and Clarendon, where the sessions were received with great appreciation by participants. 

 

 

 

Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs Advances Strides to Repeal and Replace Customs Act


 

  • Did you know that the Government of Jamaica is in the process of repealing and replacing the Customs Act?
  • What does it mean to repeal and replace the Customs Act?
  • How will it benefit you?

One of the key strategic priorities of the Government of Jamaica is to create an environment that facilitates trade and promotes greater ease of doing business. As part of this process, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has taken steps to repeal and replace the Customs Act, which will serve to further promote future business opportunities for Jamaica, especially in the areas of shipping, logistics and international trade.

The proposed new Customs legislation will retain some of the substantive provisions of the current Act and will incorporate several new provisions geared towards trade facilitation and international best practices. Additionally, the area of risk-based compliance and selectivity in Customs processing or treatment will be part of the new Act.

 

The new Act will allow for the following:

  1. Improved transparency – use of modern terms, increases the ease with which the legislation is read and understood
  2. Improved dispute resolution – provision of administrative appeal processes for Customs decisions.
  3. Increased predictability – introduction of advance rulings.
  4. Increased facilitation for compliance with customs processes – persons will benefit from added facilitation re: processes and clearance times.

 

Benefits of the New Legislation:

The legislative proposals are intended to achieve the following:

  • Promote socio-economic development and assist with the creation of the conditions for economic growth.
  • Facilitate the efficient processing of Customs-related transactions.
  • Aid in protecting local businesses and the international supply chain from unfair international trading practices, smuggling of goods, under-invoicing, fraud and intellectual property rights infringement.
  • Encourage voluntary compliance with Customs laws and procedures.
  • Further support the implementation of ASYCUDA World.
  • Strengthen the enforcement powers of the Commissioner of Customs.
  • Strengthen the ability of the JCA to effectively protect Jamaica’s borders.
  • Assist the JCA in facilitating the processing of increased volumes of trade in an increasingly complex international trading environment; and
  • Encourage new business models and requirements, including e-commerce.

 

Modern Terminology and Ease of Use

The new terms and definitions in the proposed Customs Bill are consistent with the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) which has been adopted by several Customs administrations worldwide. The use of internationally accepted terms and definitions will facilitate Jamaica's interaction with the international trading community and will assist carriers, agents and all the industry professionals who operate in the global context.

 

Wide Range of Security

There is an overarching provision in the proposed Bill which deals with security. It is proposed that the JCA will facilitate a broader range of types of security. Further, security may be specific, that is, relating to a specific consignment of goods; or general, that is, relating to any class/kind/category of goods during a specified or indefinite period. 

 

Fluidity of Procedures

Express provisions are made for different Customs procedures in keeping with a logistics focused economy. For example, the legislative framework will be established to facilitate the introduction of Customs processing procedures, such as inward and outward processing. Such processing procedures will enable goods to be imported for the specific purpose of under-going processing in Jamaica on condition that the products that result from the processing will be exported. In addition, goods may be seamlessly moved from one Customs procedure to another, once all Customs requirements are satisfied.

 

Clarification of the Transit and Transhipment Procedures

The proposed Bill seeks to clarify the regimes relating to transit and transshipment to promote improved alignment with Asycuda World and international best practice.

 

Advance Arrival Reports

The Agency has sought to revise the provisions concerning advance reports to be provided by carriers engaged in short haul flights and voyages as opposed to long haul flights and voyages. The time frames in the proposed draft Bill will conform to the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards. These time frames will facilitate further compliance by shipping agents.

 

Creation of a Legal Framework for Simplified Clearance and Release Processes

Simplified clearance and release processes are relevant to advancing logistics in Jamaica. Express provisions to this effect are contained in the draft Bill, which is expected to be tabled in the Houses of Parliament by March 31, 2019. 

 

 

Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs Heads to Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland  
For Public Engagement


The Customs team, engaging and informing stakeholders in various ways, at its public education sessions

 

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) will make its fifth stop in the parish of Westmoreland, for the continuation of its public education series “Customs Meets the Community,” being held under the theme:  ‘Reaching Our Customers Where They Are.’

The event will be held on Thursday, July 12 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Manning’s School Auditorium, Savanna-La-Mar, and will bring together stakeholders from across the ‘nook and cranny’ of the parish, including school administrators, church leaders, political representatives, entrepreneurs, returning residents, Charity groups, members of civil society and ‘the ordinary  man and woman on the street.’

Importantly, as part of its communication strategy for this Engagement, and with the assistance of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency has sought to engage the “special needs” community, and has introduced the use of Sign Language Interpreters for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired, to assist in this regard.  

Since the start of the series in May 2017, the Agency has taken a holistic approach in educating its stakeholders, by collaborating with its border and regulatory agencies. So far the JCA has partnered with the Plant Quarantine Unit, the Pesticides Control Authority, the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, the Agriculture Incentives Unit, and for Westmoreland, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office – JIPO.  

These sessions are being done in order for the Agency to better connect with customers and to create more awareness about Customs policies and procedures, among other Customs related matters. To date the Agency has held Engagements in the parishes of St. Elizabeth, St. Catherine, Portland and St. Ann, in tandem with the Social Development Commission, which assists in mobilising the various target groups within the parishes.     

 

 

Customs House Weekly

Avoid 'knock-offs'


The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is committed to securing Jamaica's ports of entry, and keeping our people, society and economy safe from illegal imports and trading activities.

The Agency continues to be proactive in seeking to reduce and eliminate illegal activities that threaten the economic stability and safety of our people, including detecting and seizing counterfeit goods.

Negative Impact of Counterfeit Goods

In this regard, the JCA implores trade mark owners and licensees to be even more vigilant as it pertains to the importation of counterfeit products. We are also encouraging them to make a formal request to the commissioner of customs to undertake the seizure of these goods at our ports of entry or on the local market.

Counterfeit goods are “knock-offs” or fake items, which an illegitimate trader seeks to pass off as genuine. They may include pharmaceutical products, backpacks, eyeglasses, lotions, handbags, perfumes, clothes, watches, footwear, cosmetics, electrical items, alcohol, and pirated DVDs/CDs, among others.

The agency recognises as well that people who are involved in the sale of counterfeit products also engage in the sale of restricted and potentially life-threatening items such as black mosquito coils, skin bleaching products and fireworks, etc.

Many Jamaicans do not recognise the harmful effects of using counterfeit products and as such, continue to support this illegimate trade. Of note is that many of these products are made in unsafe environments and under unhealthy conditions.

Many of these products also contain poor or sub-standard ingredients (e.g. pharmaceuticals) that are harmful, and therefore, the agency is warning consumers to desist from buying “knock-off” items.

 Collaboration Key

A key strategy in protecting our borders is collaborating with our local and international partners. The agency's partnerships have served to stem human trafficking and minimise the 'Gun for Drugs Trade', the 'Food for Gun Trade' ,as well as illegal imports.

The agency therefore takes this opportunity to warn people involved in smuggling activities to cease this practice, as our officers are fully committed to protecting our country and uphold the tenants of our motto: “Country Above Self.”

 

 

WCO and UNCTAD work hand in hand to support the implementation of ASYPM in Jamaica

The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) conducted a joint mission in Jamaica from 24 to 30 May 2018. The mission aimed at developing Jamaica’s expertise in data analytics capacities in the ASYCUDA Performance Measurement (ASYPM) module. ASYPM utilizes the customs data (operational and transactional) present in the ASYCUDA World (AW) system to study operational trends and assist in the decision-making process.   The indicators are intelligence-based and used to produce quantitative data to illustrate reforms and processes.

In highly interactive sessions, the WCO and UNCTAD presented the current work on Performance Measurement, a topic of critical importance in both organizations’ strategic agendas.  In relation to the data validation, the facilitators alongside the Project Performance Team members reduced the priority indicators to a more workable number and were able to identify trends and specific procedures that after embedded in the AW, will facilitate the calculation of clearance time for all declarations.

An Action Plan was defined to keep the track of future activities and follow-up on specific requirements, such as data extraction and uploading into ASYPM.  The CEO/Commissioner of Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and incoming CBC10 Chair, Mrs. Velma Ricketts Walker, stressed her continued support in ensuring that staff continue to acquire performance measurement expertise to facilitate informed decisions.

The mission was a valuable opportunity for a cooperative approach between international organizations in the reform and modernization efforts of the JCA.

Click here to view the original article on WCO's website..

 

 

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Jamaica Customs Agency

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Phone: 876 922 5140-8 | 922 8770-3

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