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Customs House Series #7

Jamaica Observer  - Customs House Weekly #7

Jamaica Customs and the Fight against Intellectual Property Right (IPR) Infringement:
How Legitimate Businesses Can Combat the Counterfeit Trade

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is committed to protecting Jamaica’s borders and the organisation places high emphasis on protecting consumers from counterfeit products.

As the holiday season approaches, and with high volumes of goods expected to be imported, the JCA is imploring Trade Mark Owners and Licensees to be vigilant as it pertains to the importation and subsequent sale of counterfeit products, by making a formal request to the Commissioner of Customs, to undertake the seizure of these goods at the port of entry or on the local market.

This week’s series will look on the following:

  • What are Counterfeit Goods
  • The negative impacts of counterfeit goods to consumers and on the economy
  • The regulatory framework that governs the trading of goods or their seizure
  • Steps Trade Mark Owners and Licensees can take to protect their businesses


Counterfeit Goods
Simply put, counterfeit goods are fake items, which an illegitimate trader seeks to pass off as a genuine product. They may range from pharmaceutical products, backpacks, eyeglasses, lotions, handbags, perfumes, clothes, watches, footwear, cosmetics, electrical items, alcohol, and pirated DVDs/CDs, among others. The sale and use of counterfeit goods are of grave concern to the JCA as a result of:

  • The poor conditions under which some of these goods are manufactured.
  • The ingredients that are used in some of these products, such as pharmaceutical products (e.g. tablets coated with common house hold paint in an effort to match the colour of the original product).
  • The negative impact counterfeit trade has on a legitimate trader and ultimately the Jamaican economy – legitimate traders, who manufacture according to established standards are forced to compete with illegitimate traders, who often sell their products at significantly reduced prices.

Negative Effects of Copyright Infringement
Counterfeit Trading does the following:

  • Deceives consumers who believe they are buying authentic products.
  • Robs legitimate manufacturers that invest in safety and quality manufacturing processes
  • Destroys brand name and reputation
  • Deters investors especially those in the manufacturing space.
  • Consumers are exposed to serious health and safety risks associated with counterfeit products

Regulatory Framework Used to Assist in the Effort

  • Customs Act
  • Merchandise Marks Act
  • Trade Marks Act
  • Copy Right Act
  • Consumer Protection Act
  • Standards Act
  • Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)


Steps Trade Mark Owners, Licensees Can Take to Protect their Businesses 

A legitimate proprietor, who desires the Customs Agency to act on its behalf must make a formal request to the Commissioner of Customs, and provide the following documentation, in keeping with the Trade Marks Act (Section 66) and the Customs Act (Sections 40, 44):

  1. Written notice to the Commissioner of Customs that he is the proprietor or licensee of the relevant trade mark.
  2. Written information that indicates the time of arrival of the infringing goods in Jamaica, and a request to the Commissioner of Customs that such goods are treated as prohibited, under the Customs Act.
  3. Certified copies of the relevant certificates of registration, issued by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) in respect to the trade mark.
  4. Letter of Indemnity which states that the rights holder shall indemnify the Commissioner of Customs in respect of all claims, proceedings, demands, liabilities, costs and losses of any kind whatsoever, arising from or in connection with the enforcement action taken by the Commissioner of Customs. The Letter of Indemnity shall be executed before a Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public.
  5. A list of authorised importers and distributors in Jamaica, with the relevant contact information.
  6. All expenses incurred by the JCA in the relation to the enforcement action, are to be undertaken by the rights holder.
  7. The ‘Notice to Act’, the ‘Letter of Indemnity’ and all other documents, are to be addressed to the Commissioner of Customs, Jamaica Customs Agency, Head Office, Newport East, Myers’ Wharf, Kingston.

Customs House Series #6

JAMAICA OBSERVER - Customs House - Series #6

Applying for a Customs Broker Licence

Do you know which entity is responsible for issuing a Customs Broker Licence? Are you aware of the application requirements, whether you are applying as an individual or as an entity?

The Commissioner of Customs upon the recommendation of the Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Board (CBLAB) of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is responsible for issuing licences to individual Customs Brokers and Body Corporates.


Are You Applying for an Individual Customs Broker Licence? 

Individuals applying for a Customs Broker Licence must submit the following documents along with their prescribed application form (form to be submitted in duplicate) to the Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Board, through the office of the Director of Customs House Operations, Kingston. The application must be witnessed by the Collector of Customs or a representative.

Individual Broker

  1. Cover letter in your own handwriting stating the basis of the application
  2. If certification is the basis of application, certificate must be attached
  3. Two (2) passport size photographs
  4. Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC)
  5. Police Record
  6. Two (2) Character References from any of the following persons (1 must be from a Justice of the Peace):
    • Member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force of the rank of Inspector and above
    • Justice of the Peace (J P)
    • Minister of Religion
    • Resident Magistrate (RM)
    • Previous Employer


Are You Applying for a Body Corporate Licence?

All entities i.e., Body Corporates must submit the following along with their prescribed application form for licence (to be submitted in duplicate) to the Customs Brokers Licensing Advisory Board.

  1. A certified copy of each of the following:
    • Articles of Association
    • Memorandum of Association (If applicable)
    • Certificate of Incorporation
    • Particulars of Directors (one must be a Licensed Customs Broker) from the Registrar of Companies, provided this information is not included in (I) or (II)
  2. Two (2) character references for each Director from any two (2) of the following persons (one must be from a JP):
    • Member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force of the rank of Inspector and above
    • Justice of the Peace (JP)
    • Minister of Religion
    • Resident Magistrate(RM)
  3. A resume’ for Directors who are not licensed Customs Brokers
  4. One (1) passport sized photograph of each Director certified by any of the persons named above (item #2)
  5. A listing of registered officers of the company (Directors, Company Secretary) with specimen signatures of those authorised to sign on Customs documents
  6. A valid Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) in the company’s name


Customs House Series #5

JAMAICA OBSERVER  -  Customs House Series #5

 Importing Restricted Items into Jamaica

As Christmas approaches, Jamaicans and visitors travelling from overseas may wish to import items in celebration of the season, such as uncooked ham/turkey, fire crackers, fireworks, pyrotechnics, toy guns, or alcohol (in excess of the stipulated allowance), all of which are categorised as restricted items.

So what are restricted items?
Restricted items are those goods which require a permit or licence in order to be imported into Jamaica. Failure to comply with this stipulation will result in the passenger or importer being breached, for contravening the Customs Act. It is therefore important that the requisite permits or licences must be sought before the items are imported into Jamaica.

Here are some frequenlty asked questions (FAQs):

  1. I wish to import ham for Christmas, may I do so? 
    Response: The importations of meats require a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture.
  2. Can Red Kidney Beans be imported without a permit?
    No. Red Kidney Beans require a permit from our Ministry of Agriculture.
  3. My children wish to travel with their toy guns, are these allowed?
    Toy guns are restricted, as they are deemed as a threat and can be used for illicit purposes. The requisite permit is needed for importing these items.
  4. Can camouflage (military) clothing be imported?
    This gear is for military purpose or use only. It will be deemed as an impersonation or a threat, if civilians are caught wearing this type of clothing.
  5. Do I need a permit to import the remains of my deceased relative?
    A permit is required for the importation of all human remains (corpse or ashes).
  6. Are fruits and vegetables restricted?
    These items are restricted, in order to prevent the importation of pests or plant diseases. The requisite permit is needed from the Ministry of Health, before they can be imported.

List of Restricted Items:
Some passengers and importers are unaware of the various permits that are required for importing certain items. The following list stipulates the items that are restricted. This list is subject to change, as items are added and removed as the Government of Jamaica dictates.

MOA – Ministry of Agriculture 
MOH – Ministry of Health 
MNS – Ministry of National Security 
PRAD – Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs Division 
KSHA – Kingston & St. Andrew Health Department 


Restricted Items


Issuing Agency






Red Peas


Phyto Sanitary




Fruits, Vegetables, Plants & Plant

Products, Honey, Seeds, Cut Flowers, Onions

Phyto Sanitary

Certificate / Permit




Ground Provision

Phyto Sanitary

Certificate /Permit



Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Herbal Teas

PSD Certificate



Firearms, and

Accessories Explosives, Fireworks, Sword

Permit/License to Import  

MNS/Trade Board





Trade Board




Derivatives – Oil Producing Seeds, Edible Oils, Soaps


Coconut Industry Board


Motor Vehicles


Trade Board




Alcohol in Bulk

Spirit Pool Permit

Spirit Pool

Association Ltd.





Human Remains

KSAH Permit


Kingston & St.

Andrew Health Dept.




Pesticides Control Authority


Milk Powder

Milk Based





Radios (Two-Way)








Customs House Series #4

Customs House Series #4


Wednesday, October 25, 2016

It is a common practice for Jamaicans living in the Diaspora to donate charitable items to their communities, to health centres, hospitals, infirmaries, children’s homes, schools, churches and other institutions. So, what should donors and their beneficiaries know, when importing and clearing charitable items through the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA)?

  • Which Act governs the importation of charitable items?
  • Who can import charitable items?
  • What are the guidelines for clearing items of charity?
  • What benefits do registered charities enjoy?

The Charities Act

The guidelines for importing charitable items fall under the Charities Act (2013). The Act serves to maintain, protect and enhance public trust in charitable organisations, seeks to ensure accountability and that board members comply with their legal obligations. Any person or entity, incorporated or not incorporated, seeking to function as a charitable organisation must be registered with the Department of Cooperatives & Friendly Societies (DCFS), in order to obtain the prescribed benefits.

Donations to Charities

  • The beneficiary must be registered in order to obtain the stipulated benefits.
  • The donor must provide the name and address of the beneficiary or consignee.
  • Shipments to multiple beneficiaries – each beneficiary must be named on the shipping documents.

Note to Schools

  • Schools wishing to import charitable items, outside of their entitlements covered under the Second Schedule of the Customs Act (e.g. canteen equipment – stoves, refrigerators, etc.) must receive approval from National Education Trust (NET), before the items are shipped to Jamaica, in order to receive duty exemption and other prescribed benefits.  
  • Other persons or entities wishing to import charitable items for back-to-school fairs, for instance, must register with the DCFS before getting the items shipped into Jamaica, in order to receive the 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.  

Clearing Charitable Items

  • The charitable organisation must submit the original Approved Charitable Organisation Certificate (ACO), along with the shipping documents to the Collector of Customs.
  • The Collector of Customs will verify the documents and return the original copies.
  • Verified copies of the documents will be sent to the Customs Manager at the relevant warehouse.
  • The consignee or authorised representative must proceed to the warehouse and follow the clearance procedures.
  • Goods with a Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of more than US$5,000.00 must be cleared by a licensed Customs Broker.

If items are being cleared on behalf of a consignee, the representative must present a letter of authorisation, signed and stamped by a Justice of the Peace (JP). The consignee’s Tax Payer Registration Number (TRN) card and valid identification must be presented to the Customs Official (photocopied documents must be signed/stamped by a JP).

 Benefits to a Registered Charity

  • No import duty charged, in most cases.
  • No General Consumption Tax (GCT) charged, in most cases.
  • Only fifty per cent (50%) of applicable Customs Administration Fee (CAF) applied.
  • All other applicable fees will be applied.

Importation of a Motor Vehicle by an Approved Charity

  • Motor vehicle – Full Import Duty, Environmental Levy and GCT are applied.
  • Fifty per cent (50%) of applicable CAF applied.
  • No Special Consumption Tax (SCT), no Stamp Duty (SD), no additional Stamp Duty (ASD) charged.   

Auditing of an Approved Charity

The Customs Act gives the JCA the authority to audit any person or entity, including charitable organisations, in order to ensure that the items imported by the approved charity are used, or are being used for the intended purpose.

Customs House Weekly Series #3

 Customs House Weekly Series #3

Importing and clearing personal imports
Via air, sea ports, post office

Clearing your goods can be relatively simple if you know the rules

Traditionally, Jamaicans travelling from overseas bring back personal items or gifts for families and friends. Some passengers pack these items in their luggage, while others pack and send them in barrels, boxes or other packages through the air, sea ports, or post office.

What is required for clearing personal items via the air, sea ports, and post office?

All passengers 18 years and older, are entitled to US$500 duty-free allowance on personal and household effects not for resale or commercial use. This means that no Customs duties, taxes or fees will be charged on items that are at or below this amount.

Passengers with unaccompanied baggage (that is baggage/goods sent via air or sea to the passenger two months before or after travel) must indicate same to the Customs officer prior to the examination of the baggage. The Customs officer will conduct the examination and complete the Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration (Form C27)/Yellow Form.
If the passenger uses only a portion or all of the US$500 allowance, then the Customs officer will indicate on the form that full allowance was given or the amount of the duty free allowance utilised. Once there is an allowance remaining, the passenger will utilise the balance to clear any unaccompanied baggage.

NOTE: The ‘Yellow Form’ is valid for the clearance of goods that arrive in the island two months before, or after the passenger.

Goods with a Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of more than US$5,000 must be cleared by a licensed customs broker.

Documents required for clearing shipments include:

  • Tax Registration Number (TRN)
  • Valid Identification (driver’s licence, passport or voter’s/national ID).
  • The passenger must present the passport/receipt from the kiosk in the immigration hall at the airport if the yellow form is used.
  • Invoice
  • Bill of lading or air way bill
  • C27 (unaccompanied declaration form)
  • C86 (goods declaration form)

Steps for clearing shipments are:

  1. Collect shipping documents from the shipping agent and pay the relevant handling and/or freight charges.
  2. Proceed to the warehouse where the shipment is stored and pay the relevant handling and storage fees.
  3. If the importer or passenger has an unaccompanied declaration form (C27/yellow form) this must be presented to the Customs supervisor for verification.
  4. Once the shipment is located, the Customs officer will request that the consignee (or the individual acting on the authority of the consignee) opens the shipment for examination.
  5. Following examination, the Customs officer will value the goods and advise of the applicable customs duties and fees to be paid.
  6. 6. Duties and fees must be paid to the customs cashier at the location.
  7. After duties and fees are paid, the importer is issued with a release order. This is to be presented to the warehouse Operator who will issue a gate pass.
  8. Proceed to the delivery area with the gate pass (and vehicle if necessary), to collect the shipment.

Packages may be sent via the post office. It is important that persons sending packages ensure that they include the invoice(s) along with the items to assist with the assessment of the items.

Was your package detained by Jamaica Customs?
First, you will receive an advisory from Jamaica Post stating the reason for the detention and the documents you are required to submit to allow for clearance.

NOTE: If the postal address on the package is outside of Kingston (Central Sorting Office), it will be sent to the local post office address provided.

Required documents:

  • Government-issued identification (passport, national ID, driver’s licence)
  • Permit/licence, where applicable
  • Invoice
  • TCC (Tax Compliance Certificate)
  • Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN)
  • Charity certificate (where applicable)


  • Submit the required documents to the Central Sorting Office (Kingston) either:
  • Personally
  • Fax: 967-1666
  • Email:
  • Pay the import duty to the cashier at the post office where the package is stored.
  • Collect the package.


Minister Shaw Leads GOJ Delegation to IMF Annual Meeting

The Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Honourable Audley Shaw, CD, MP is leading a Government of Jamaica delegation to Washington DC today to attend the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WB).

The three day IMF/WB Annual Meetings runs from Thursday October 6 through to Sunday October 9, 2016 and will include seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world's financial markets.

During his 4-day travel overseas, the Minister will also attend the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, and the Joint Meeting of the Committees of the Boards of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC).

Minister Shaw is expected to make an address and participate in a panel discussion on ‘Correspondent Banking Relationships, De-risking and remittances in the Caribbean’ at the Small States Forum at the World Bank on Thursday, October 6, 2016. Mr. Shaw will also participate in a breakfast meeting for Caribbean Governors of the IMF, with Madame Christine Madeleine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

The Finance Minister is also scheduled to engage in a series of discussions with Luis Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) Mr. Kyle Peters, Vice President of the World Bank and Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF.

The team will also be engaged in meetings with senior officials from the U.S. Treasury. Discussions during the high level meetings are expected to focus on Jamaica’s economic progress, economic corporation as well as the economic strategy and polices going into a new successor economic programme.

The Minister is accompanied by the Hon. Fayval Williams, MP, Minister of State; Mr. Everton McFarlane, Financial Secretary (Assigned); Mr Michael Thakur, Senior Technical Advisor to the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Ms. Darlene Morrison, Deputy Financial Secretary, Economic Management Division and Mrs Hilary Robertson, Senior Technical Assistant/ BOJ Liaison to the Minister of Finance and the Public Service.

Jamaica Successfully Completes 13th EFF Review

The Government of Jamaica remains committed to fully meeting its targets for the remaining two reviews under the existing fund facility with the International Monetary Fund; having successfully completed the 13th review of Jamaica’s economic performance under the programme, authorizing the immediate disbursement of SDR 28.32 million (US$39.6 million) .

The IMF Board in its press release issued on 19th September 2016 commended the government on its continued commitment to the reform programme. Jamaica met all its quantitative performance targets through to end- June and structural reforms are progressing well. Preliminary economic indicators so far suggest that Jamaica will surpass the quantitative benchmarks for end September.

The IMF staff reported that domestic confidence indicators are at an all-time high, and there are signs of improvement in economic activity, including agriculture sector recovery, strong performance in tourism and manufacturing, increased FDI inflows, and stronger private sector credit growth. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 1.7 percent in FY16/17, and could make the 2 percent mark.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Honourable Audley Shaw, in his presentation to parliament yesterday stated that “Jamaica’s economic growth outlook continues to improve and tax performance is ahead of the projected target. Our expenditures are broadly in line with the budget although capital spending is slower-than-desirable. Inflation remains low and interest rates are falling. Credit to the private sector is picking up strongly; the financial sector is stable, and the external position of the economy continues to improve.”

While Jamaica continues to perform well under an IMF programme, there are still outstanding reforms to be completed in the coming months. Of note, is an action plan outlining the government’s plan for public sector transformation.

Minister Shaw informed the parliament that the draft action plan has already been prepared and will be submitted to Cabinet by the 26th of September. The action plan for public sector transformation will specify time-bound actions to improve efficiency in the public sector through a combination of shared corporate services, and the closure, merger and privatization of some entities.

“By end September, we have also committed to approve a new organizational structure for the Accountant General’s Department as part of our effort to strengthen public financial management,” the Minister said.

The IMF country team is currently on the island to continue discussions with the Government on a successor arrangement that could be supported by the Fund.


Jamaica Customs Agency Urged To Be Vigilant Against Smuggling

Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese, says he is satisfied with the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA).

“We have already implemented the export module and the import module for Sufferance Wharves [in Kingston]. We have also implemented the import module for personal shipments in Kingston and Montego Bay,” he told JIS News.

Meanwhile, Mr. Montague, who was accompanied by State Minister, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., commended the work undertaken by the JCA’s staff over the years in safeguarding Jamaica’s borders.

He cited the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) World System as exemplary.

GOJ Signs US$30 million Dollar Loan Agreement

The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and the World Bank signed a Loan Agreement in the sum of Thirty Million United States Dollars (US$30,000,000) today at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. The Loan Agreement will be used for the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP) and was signed on behalf of the Government of Jamaica by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Hon. Audley Shaw, and Galina Sotirva, Country Manager on behalf of the World Bank.

"Jamaica is at particular risk to natural hazards due to its geophysical location. GOJ has long identified as a national priority, hazard risk reduction and adaptation to climate. This investment project will aid the government in addressing matters, such as disaster risk financing and insurance, disaster response and recovery, risk reduction and safer environments. The Loan Agreement will also provide GOJ with continued support for projects that explore solutions in mitigating against environmental, and from hydro-meteorological disasters" Minister Shaw said.

Jamaica is one of the most at risk countries in the world with high percentages of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population at risk to two or more hazards. Data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Jamaica’s damages and losses were estimated at US$3.04 Billion between 1988 and 2013. Jamaica’s economic assets including its commercial, tourism, agricultural, health and fisheries sectors, water and natural resources and other industrial assets are particularly vulnerable, and are constantly exposed to such high risk eventualities.

Hydro-metrological disasters could potentially displace many Jamaicans whose livelihood is dependent upon the agriculture, tourism and fisheries industries. The Jamaican populace, especially those who work in and reside in densely populated areas could also be physically displaced due to the risk of flooding.

The purpose of the DVRP is to support the enhancement of Jamaica’s resilience in the areas of disaster and climate risk management. The Project consists of the following four (4) components: Technical Assistance for Improved Disaster and Climate Resilience, Risk Reduction, Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC), and Project Administration. DVRP will be implemented through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

Hydrometeorology is a phenomenon of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature which may result in loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage. Jamaica is prone to these risks; thunderstorms, floods including flash floods, hurricanes, coastal storm surges, droughts and heat waves.

Communication & Public Relations Branch 
Ministry of Finance and Planning 
30 National Heroes Circle 
Kingston 4 
Tel: (876) 932-4656/4660/4655 
Contact: Elaine Oxamendi Vicet/Kadisha Sharp 


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Mission Statement
To facilitate trade, protect our borders, optimise revenue collection, through collaborative border management and delivery of high quality customer services and to develop and maintain a team of motivated professional and competent staff.


Jamaica Customs Agency

Customs House
Myers Wharf,
Newport East, Kingston 15
Phone: 876 922 5140-8 | 922 8770-3

Corporate Office
2-4 King Street, Kingston
Phone: 876 948 5151

Opening Hours
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