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The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has revamped the arrangements for persons importing personal shipments valued up to US$5,000 to involve the mandatory use of the entity’s Express Clearance Process facility.

The JCA’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), André Williams, says the arrangements now see cargo consolidators, e-commerce couriers, and freight forwarders, administering the declarations and other associated procedures for this category of imports, on behalf of their clients.

He tells JIS News that the procedure covers items packaged or containerised in barrels, boxes and skids, which are either ordered traditionally, for example over the telephone or using paper-based forms, or online.

They, however, exclude motor vehicles, which, the CIO points out, are categorised as commercial items requiring licensed Customs Brokers to undertake the clearance processes.

Mr. Williams says the new dispensation represents a modification of the previous arrangements, which saw Customs Officers doing declarations after inspecting such packages, and verification of other supporting documents.

He tells JIS News that the Officers’ administration of declarations was deemed inconsistent with international best practices and standards governing the activities of Customs authorities, thus resulting in the modification.

The CIO explains that the Express Clearance Process, which became mandatory on May 11, 2020, requires Customs Brokers, Cargo Consolidators, Couriers and Freight Forwarders to complete and submit the declaration on behalf of importers and, thereafter, furnish the client with the requisite documents to facilitate inspection of cargo at the varying public bonded warehouses situated at the ports and off-dock facilities.

He adds that on completing the inspection and other attendant activities, the goods are handed over to the client.

Mr. Williams further states that importers also have the option of having the agent complete the overall process on their behalf, including delivery of the goods.

“Either arrangement can be made… based on the level of preference by the importer,” he indicates.

Mr. Williams points out that the new arrangements are intended to simplify and expedite the process, noting that “what we are seeing, since the implementation, is an average of one to two hours being saved, in terms of the overall execution of duties, and completing the clearance process”.

He tells JIS News that the process has been pivoted on a partnership that the JCA forged with e-commerce couriers, freight forwarders and consolidators “who really have come on board.”

“It was something that we discussed extensively and we all saw the benefits and wins… in terms of a reduction of time. So, rather than importers coming to the warehouse and waiting through the clearance process being completed, they now have a more…predictable service… from declaration all the way through to effecting final clearance of the goods,” the CIO adds.

Mr. Williams says the precursory engagements included training for the stakeholders.

“We thank the members of both the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ), the e-Commerce Couriers Association and other Consolidators and Freight Forwarders who have partnered with us in making progress to this stage… of full implementation of the Express Clearance Processing facility,” he adds.

“Certainly, there are more benefits to be had, as we progress with additional changes. There are also some logistics improvements which we will also be pursuing to ensure that there is speedier processing for all parties involved,” Mr. Williams pointed out.

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