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23 Jan

Contactless Clearance Process Will Be Compulsory Soon

JCA Moving to Make Contactless Clearance Process Compulsory

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The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) is moving to make the use of contactless clearance by clients compulsory over the coming months.

Contactless clearance is the process by which Customs conducts inspections of non-commercial cargo with a Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value of under US$5,000, without the importer or agent needing to be present for the exercise.

Project Manager, Kingsley Henry, tells JIS News that an official notification will be sent to key stakeholders and the public by the JCA’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We expect, in the coming months, that it will become the only process that is available to importers of non-commercial cargo valued under US$5,000 CIF to clear their cargo at Customs,” he states.

While the customs officers are undertaking the inspection of goods without the agent and/or importer being present, there are other attendant processes necessary for clearing cargo.

“The importer will still have to contact the agent or the agent will have to contact the importer to say that ‘your cargo is here’. The importer will still have to provide the information to the agent to submit the Customs declaration, and then the agent would have to communicate to the importer how much fees [are] to be paid or they can go on the system and check how much is to be paid,” Mr. Henry informs.

“They have to fulfil those payment obligations, both to Customs, but also to the agents, and then they will also have the responsibilities that they’ll have to meet to the warehouse operators, who have fees that must also be paid. But contactless clearance eliminates, for us, that long waiting period that customers usually endure for Customs to come and do the inspection,” he adds.

The JCA rolled out its contactless clearance process option for non-commercial cargo, following a pilot undertaken from October 2022 to January 2023.

The process has, so far, remained optional, as the JCA gave a commitment to customers to provide additional payment methods before making the initiative compulsory.

This facilitation is now available through the Agency’s mobile application – ‘JaCustoms Connect’.

“We are pleased that the mobile application has now been launched. One of the functionalities of the mobile application, the payment function… allows any of four parties whose name may appear on the customs declaration, to make payments. So, the person shipping the cargo to Jamaica…, whether they are shipping from the [United Kingdom] UK, the United States [or] Canada, they may now pay the customs duties using the mobile application,” Mr. Henry tells JIS News.

“If they are sending it to an elderly relative who cannot navigate the payment application, they can pay for it. The person who is receiving it in Jamaica, the importer, can also pay,” he adds.

The Project Manager points out that while the app’s take-up has been impressive, the JCA wants persons to know that the software is not only for payments but can also assist stakeholders in tracking their cargo.

“You’re also able to check tariff, and by tariffs we are talking about how goods are classified according to the Harmonised System in Customs to determine duty… so you are able to check that. You are also able to use the duty estimator to estimate how much you will have to pay Customs in duties, etcetera. So, the app… really is a big deal for the JCA… . It is a game changer for us,” he states.

Meanwhile, Mr. Henry tells JIS News that the JCA will be focusing on providing stakeholder training in the contactless clearance process.

“We realise that one of the things that [will] make the system more efficient is to ensure that the agents who are submitting the declarations, especially when they take onboard new staff members, are fully aware of how the declarations ought to be done and the nuances,” he informs.

Mr. Henry further advises that the JCA will continue to work with warehouse operators to ensure that they know all the requirements, as it is a significant adjustment for them as well.

“They have to reconfigure the flow in their warehouses, and space is limited and we appreciate that. But we continue to work with them to ensure that by the time we are mandatory, all our major stakeholders are ready to go,” he says.

Benefits of the contactless clearance process include increased security and integrity of the clearance process; improved efficiency of cargo flow through the warehouses; and a reduction in congestion in the waiting, clearance and delivery areas.

ARTICLE LINK: jca-moving-to-make-contactless-clearance-process-compulsory/