Risk-based approach

Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs – Striking the balance between Trade Facilitation and Border Protection


The use of Risk Management by Custom Administrations is on the rise globally. Traditionally, managing risks affecting administrations was ad hoc, largely based on perception and required one hundred (100%) physical intervention. However, the increase in international trade and the movement of people across borders, coupled with the need for administrations to be more effective and efficient have contributed to the use of Risk Management Techniques and practices by Customs administrations.  


Risk Management - The Modern Approach

The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has strategically incorporated Risk Management as the primary basis for its operations. This approach has aided in maintaining relevance, and has significantly improved the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Agency.


What is a ‘risk’ in the JCA context?

The possibility of an event occurring that leads to a breach of the Customs Act/Regulations or any of the related legislation, and as a consequence, exposes the Agency to possible revenue loss or, threatens national security and public safety.


How does the JCA manage risks?

Through the application of Risk Management Techniques and modern practices supported by improved Information Communication Technology (ICT), the JCA is equipped and better able to manage its risks. The implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA World) in 2016 has centralised the Agency’s operations and created a coordinated approach to risk management which includes the interest of other Border Regulatory Agencies (BRA).

In realising the vision of a modern Customs Administration, the JCA recognises the importance of striking the delicate balance between border security and trade facilitation. In creating this balance, the Agency is able to identify and mitigate potential threats, while facilitating legitimate trade and passenger travel. In addition to the Agency’s use of Risk Management, there is also a thrust to create an environment that is agile, innovative and integrated, which will assist in furthering the modernisation initiatives of the JCA.  The Agency continues to work on ‘getting it right’ through business process re-engineering and utilisation of more sophisticated ICT to tackle the increasingly complex challenges associated with global trade and passenger travel.


JCA’s Testimony: Benefits of Using Risk Management

  • Improved trader compliance with laws and regulations;
  • Speedy clearance/processing for legitimate traders and passengers. Approximately eighty (80%) of commercial cargo is released from JCA controls within 24hrs;
  • Establishment of  recognition programs for compliant traders e.g. Authorised Economic Operators (AEO);
  • Greater transparency in the Agency’s decision making process;
  • Improved cooperation between traders and the JCA;
  • Improved Agency efficiency;
  • Increased stakeholder satisfaction;
  • Better coordinated activities with other Border Regulatory Agencies (BRA) and;
  • Improved risk identification, targeting and selectivity.



Customs House Weekly

Jamaica Customs promotes risk-based approach in protecting country’s borders & fostering compliance


As the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) continues its thrust to improve its overall efficiency, the entity continues to boost its capacity to identify and combat risks that can   serve to undermine its border protection capabilities and the country’s overall security.  

  • What is Risk Management?
  • What are the benefits of using a risk-based approach?
  • How does it impact border protection?
  • How does it foster compliance?

The success of Customs administrations worldwide, depends on an effective Risk Management System. The Risk Management Unit of the JCA is responsible for implementing risk management plans and processes which involves gathering and collating information; identifying, analysing and reporting areas of risk; developing targets and profiles; establishing and maintaining a risk management database; and monitoring the application of risk management remedies across the Agency.    


Risk-based Approach

The risk-based approach adopted by the JCA emphasises that border protection has to remain a priority, while facilitating the legitimate movement of cargo and passengers. The risk-based approach is primarily data-driven, as data analysis, is critical to the risk management process. The purpose of risk analysis is to separate low risks from high risks and to provide data to assist in the assessment and treatment of the risks identified.


Risk Management, Border Protection and Fostering Compliance

The JCA places Risk Management as a focal point of its operations and has formulated an Agency Risk Management Policy (2014) in order to ensure that practices are aligned with the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and other international benchmark guidelines, such as the World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards and the Revised Arusha Declaration.


The JCA’s Risk Management Policy (2014) involves the following:

  • Application of risk management techniques which will strengthen the resilience of the organisation and ensure integrity and ethics standards are upheld. It allows the Agency to use risk-based information to make strategic and proactive decisions.
  • Implementation of a structure that supports risk management and which ensures that  employees have a clear understanding of the nature of the risks in their areas, and are able to systematically identify, analyse, prioritise and develop treatment programmes to mitigate those risks.
  • Provision of suitable and timely training for staff.
  • Adoption of the latest Customs technologies, automation of key Customs processes and increased reliance on effective post clearance audit techniques.
  • Use of non-intrusive examination techniques, such as cargo imaging (screening) and the use of profiling of high-risk cargo and passengers. Another mechanism is the application of a uniformed approach to risk management, such as the Risk Register Template.
  • Fostering compliance, through simplification and automation of processes, through the revamped Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme and the implementation of the Customs Automated System, allowing for greater predictability and faster processing of cargo.

Additionally, 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.  

The JCA wishes to reassure our stakeholders that the Agency remains committed to securing Jamaica’s ports and keeping our people, society and economy safe from illegal imports and trading activities.




About us

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
Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Friday: 8:00am - 4:00pm

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