Customs Gearing Up for Christmas Rush

The Jamaica Customs Department is gearing up for the anticipated influx of barrels, parcels, and commercial imports into the island for the 2009 Christmas season.

The department has introduced a flat rate for the clearance of barrels, which took effect on December 1. Persons clearing barrels containing personal effects will pay a standard Customs fee of $5,000 per barrel.

Speaking with JIS News this week, Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Danville Walker, stated that the flat rate will help to speed up the process to clear barrels.

“That really helps to expedite the clearance of barrels through Customs because people now know exactly what they are going to pay. Customs will use its procedures to determine whether it is commercial or personal effects. The only concern we have is the locate the barrels in the warehouses. That is sometimes a challenge,” he explained.

Mr. Walker noted however, that activity at the ports has been slow, which has allowed for the proper warehousing systems to be put in place, which should result in smooth processing.

He is advising persons importing personal items to get as much information as possible on Customs and non-Customs charges before going to the wharf.

“Whatever the port charges you and whatever your shipping charges are, make sure that you know those, so that you’re not short of money when you come to the port. Bring all the paperwork that you need,” he advised.

As it relates to commercial importers, the Commissioner said that procedures at the ports are now more streamlined, so that persons bringing in commercial goods can take advantage of pre-clearance procedures that have been implemented.

“You can submit clearance documents up to 10 days before the cargo even arrives,” he informed, noting that most persons are reluctant to do this, because it allows for more intense scrutiny of the documents by Customs. “Its like handing in your homework too early and you would rather hand it in near the end.that is not going to work with Customs.put in the documents early so that we can evaluate it,” he urged.

He said that taking advantage of the pre clearance facility will also reduce pile-up and the need to pay additional warehouse costs.

In the meantime, the Commissioner of Customs is encouraging the public to submit its suggestions on how the department can continue to improve its operations.

“We are open for ideas, any criticism, short of telling us to reduce the duty. That is not our remit…we have to collect revenue, and that’s a job we are not going to be ashamed of, or shy away from,” Mr. Walker stated.