1) Any person in Dominica may import goods for personal/commercial use by courier services, subject to the following conditions:
- The goods are not prohibited or restricted for import into Dominica.
- In case an import permit/license is required – an application must be submitted to the competent authority for approval, prior to importation of the goods. On receipt of the license/permit, a detailed declaration must be submitted to customs.
- Goods are subject to customs control and all applicable duties and taxes must be paid prior to delivery of the goods.
- Only the Courier agent/Small Package Consolidator, is authorized to transact courier cargo clearance functions at customs, except if the consignment is of a commercial nature (see 8 below)
2) Imported goods may qualify for De minimis treatment if the following conditions are met:
- Must have a declared or assessed C.I,F value up to $150.00 XCD;
- Are not alcoholic beverages
- Are not cigars, cigarettes, or tobacco products,
- Are not imported for commercial (resale), industrial (manufacturing), occupational (job or work related), institutional (churches schools, hospitals, etc.), or other similar purposes
3.The Importer is responsible for declaring the contents of the consignment.
- The importer must verify with the supplier that the shipping documents (invoice, freight bill etc.), matches the goods being imported and that the details provided regarding the purchase transaction, including the price of the goods, are accurate.
- In accordance with Sections 45,186,187 and 189 of the Customs Act #20 of 2010, which deals with importation of goods, submission of documents and payment of duty, discrepancies between the actual goods and their description, classification, and value on the import declaration/parcel label, constitutes sufficient grounds for seizing the goods, even if the false declaration was made without the importers’ knowledge.
- In case of a false declaration, customs may institute legal proceedings or impose hefty penalties against the importer (the person who the goods are consigned to), in addition to payment of the applicable duties and taxes, and the goods are liable to forfeiture.
- If the goods do not qualify for de minimis treatment, the Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators will pay the duties and taxes on pre-alerted cargo (i.e. consignments with accompanying supplier’s invoices) on the importer’s behalf. This arrangement covers non-commercial shipments only.
- If the goods are of a commercial nature, the importer may authorize a registered customs broker/Tariff Clerk to act on his/her behalf.
- All importations are subject to physical examination by customs. During the sorting process, packages may be opened in order to verify the contents and/or the value.
- Consignments which are not pre-alerted will not be cleared during the sorting process, but instead be secured at the courier facilities/shed #5, to be subsequently dealt with by customs.
- Importers can request from their Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators a receipt containing the classification of the goods, the transaction number, and a breakdown of the duties and taxes paid.
- Customs will utilize available data, knowledge and competence to the extent possible, to determine consignments on which no customs duties and taxes will be collected, aside from certain prescribed goods. The importers history, (Type, frequency and quantity of imports) may be taken into account when determining the qualification of his/her consignment for De minimis treatment.
- Importers may experience delays in receiving packages, if the information provided to the Courier Agent/Small Package Consolidator is unreliable, incomplete or non-verifiable on examination by customs.
 C.I.F – Cost, Insurance and Freight. This is a combination of all the costs incurred by the importer, to get the goods to Dominica.
 “Importer”, in relation to the importation of goods, means the person, including the owner or consignee, or other person beneficially interested in the goods, or an agent acting on behalf of that person.
All consignments must be pre-alerted, and supplier’s invoices sent to Courier Agents/ Small Package Consolidators. Any consignment without supplier’s invoices will not be processed (at the time of sorting), by Customs. These consignments will be secured at the courier facilities/shed #5. These consignments will be subsequently dealt with by customs on submission of relevant shipping documents.
- Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators MUST indicate on the Bill of Lading/Airway Bill (BL, AWB), the exporter name and address. NOTE: Exporter/Shipper field must contain the actual name of the Exporter/Supplier and not the name of the shipping agent or shipping line. This requirement is mandatory, and failure to adhere to this requirement may result in delays in sorting/ processing consignments.
- Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators, and Customs to sort shipments to identify and release the packages which qualify under the De Minimis System.
- Officers shall sort packages, utilizing the Sorting List generated in ASYCUDA. To print the list, the Manifest must be registered.
- Before or after the sorting process is complete, Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators shall pay duties and taxes on pre-alerted cargo (i.e. consignments with accompanying supplier’s invoices) on behalf of their clients. This should be done, using the “SD4” Declaration Regime. This arrangement covers non-commercial shipments only.
- Courier Agents/Small Package Consolidators are required to provide the importer with a receipt (Sec 263 of the Customs Act) containing the classification of the goods, the transaction number, and a breakdown of the duties and taxes paid.
- Importers of commercial consignments can designate any registered broker or tariff clerk to act on his/her behalf.
- Duty is payable on all items in a consignment if the consignment does not qualify for De minimis treatment, i.e. if the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) total is over $150.00 XCD. The applicable duty will be charged on items on importation.
- Sorting of cargo will be conducted by officers stationed at the shed in conjunction with a rotating team of officers to aid in making the sorting and delivery faster and more effective.
- The Customs Act # 20 of 2010, provides for severe penalties for offences of:
- Improper Importation of Goods (section 45),
- Submitting False Declarations (Section186),
- Counterfeiting Documents (section 187)
- Fraudulent Evasion of Duty (section 189).
Where such violations are detected, offenders are liable to be prosecuted or fined and the goods are liable to forfeiture.
The following documents are needed to clear a vehicle from Customs:
• Original Bill of Lading from Shipping Agent
• Asycuda Bill of Lading from Shipping Agent
• Proof of Payment (Bank Wire Transfer, Paypal etc)
• Insurance Certificate
• Certificate of title
• Bill of Sale
• Cancelation certificate (Japan)
Procedure to clear a vehicle from Customs
A Broker/Tariff Clerk will assess an IM 4 Customs Declaration utilizing ASYCUDA accompanied by the invoice, bill of Lading and other supporting documents. Once the declaration has been assessed, proceed to a Customs Cashier with a copy of the Assessment Notice to pay the duties and taxes and obtain a receipt. After payment the declaration will be electronically assigned to Valuation and an examining officer. The declaration and supporting documents will then be verified as well as a physical examination of the vehicle. After examination the officer will clear the declaration and print a release order. The system will notify the Broker/Tariff Clerk that the declaration has been released by customs. Proceed to location where the vehicle is located to pick up release order from examiner then present to daspa for delivery.
If Concession Applicable The Fiscal Incentives Department oversees all duty free importations. Please provide them with a letter and/or FTI 101 from appropriate authority authorizing approval of concession (Ministry of Finance, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet etc)
Procedure: A Broker/Tariff Clerk will assess declaration in Asycuda as above and pay any applicable taxes. After payment the importer should obtain Registration# for the vehicle from the Inland Revenue Department and present it to the Fiscal Incentives Officer. At this point the declaration should be released from Fiscal Incentives and the importer should proceed to Valuation to complete the clearance process. Placing a Vehicle into a Bond/Warehouse How to duties and taxes are calculated on a vehicle. Duties and taxes are based on the Customs Value of the vehicle. Customs Value includes the cost (based on open market), insurance and shipping cost. The duties and taxes paid are determined by the applicable Tariff Code and the Customs Procedure Code (CPC). Used vehicles aged over 5 years incur an Environmental Surcharge of XCD 3,000.00 whereas vehicles aged under 5 years incur an Environmental Surcharge of 1% of the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) Value.
Temporary Importation means the customs procedures under which certain goods can be brought into the Commonwealth of Dominica, conditionally relieved in total or in part from payment of duties and taxes.
Those goods are to be imported for a specified purpose, and are to be re-exported within a specified period without having undergone any change except normal depreciation due to the use of them (Section 93 of Customs Act).
Goods which are listed in the Common External Tariff as commodities ineligible for conditional duty exemptions are not allowed to be imported under Temporary importation procedures.
Importation of goods under the temporary import procedure may be authorized by the Comptroller of Customs where the comptroller is satisfied that the goods are temporarily imported for specific purposes
To import goods under temporary import procedure, the following conditions shall be fulfilled:
- The Importer must submit an Application for Temporary Importation of Goods to the Comptroller of Customs prior to the importation. The application must clearly state the type of goods, quantity, value, purpose, goods owner, duration of the temporary importation and date of re-exportation.
- Upon approval of the request, a customs declaration with the applicable CPC code must be submitted with relevant shipping documents attached (Bill of lading/ Airway Bill, invoice, packing note, etc.)
- All temporary importations are subject to the payment of Customs Service Charge except for those in accordance with S.R.O # 31 of 2014
- Security of a sum equal to the amount of the duty payable on the goods, had they been entered for home use.
- Submit All permits and licenses where applicable
- Imported goods under temporary import procedure shall be re-exported within 12 months from the date of importation (Section 93.2). This period may be extended by the Comptroller of customs if a written request, stating the reason(s) / purpose, is submitted before the expiry date.
- In order to re-export goods imported on a temporary basis, a completed goods declaration as per the Customs Act and General Regulations must be submitted to Customs.
- The goods imported on temporary basis, shall be well-maintained until they are re-exported or until the import duties and taxes are paid in accordance with the Customs Act and General Regulation.
- The applicable duties and taxes for the goods imported on a temporary basis, will be determined on the declared value of the goods at the time of their importation into Dominica, as stated in the Customs Act.
- If the goods imported on temporary basis are sold or used for a purpose other than the stated purpose in the declaration, the applicable duties and taxes for the goods shall be paid to Customs, on the declared value of the goods at the time of their importation.
- If the goods imported on temporary basis are damaged beyond use, or if they are stolen, lost / missing, in full or in part thereof, Customs must be notified within 10 days of discovery of such incident and the duties and taxes shall be paid to the comptroller of Customs.
Reference Laws and Regulations:
- Section 93 of Customs Act #20 of 2010
- Customs General Regulations
Trade facilitation (TF) aims to reduce the costs and time of import and export operations, and transit of goods. Moreover, it is the traditional object of many international standards, adopted by the United Nations and specialized agencies, such as the World Customs Organization. TF has gained more importance with the reduction of tariffs and the proliferation of global production chains. Since 2004, World Trade Organization (WTO) Members have been negotiating the text of a multilateral agreement on TF, setting out specific obligations with respect to the facilitation of trade and establishing special and differential treatment for developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs).
Developing countries are expected to see the biggest gains with the passage of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) since they currently face some of the largest procedural obstacles. Studies suggest that their trade costs will fall by 13% to 15% while households will gain access to a greater variety of goods. Developing country exports are also expected to grow by 14% to 22% while becoming more diversified. For companies, it means inputs at lower costs and better entry into foreign markets, thus making them more likely to become more profitable which should encourage domestic investment. In addition, foreign direct investment is likely to be attracted to countries that fully implement the TFA.
The TFA finally entered into force on the 22nd February, 2017, when the WTO obtained acceptance of the TFA from two-thirds of its 164 Members
The entry into force of the TFA launches a new phase for trade facilitation reforms in the Commonwealth of Dominica. TF has become the baseline for emerging regional and global initiatives on paperless trade and e-trade, has a positive impact on Dominica’s ranking in the World Bank’s Annual Ease of Doing Business Report, and will deliver perceived benefits resulting from the implementation of the various measures. (Dominica ranked 103 out of a total of 190 countries surveyed in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report. This represents the third highest ranked Country among CARICOM Member States).
The result of a WTO Needs Assessment Exercise conducted in the OECS in 2013 revealed that Dominica was already in compliance with in excess of 75% of the TF Measures. This was due to the following;
- Recent upgrade of the Customs Legislation and the Dominica Air and Seaports Authority (DASPA) Legislation reflecting international best practice
- Upgrade of Customs and DASPA’s Automated Systems (the Customs Division upgraded to ASYCUDAWORLD Version 4.2.2 on June 11th, 2019)
- Various reforms undertaken at Customs and other Government Border Agencies)
The signed TF Agreement contains approximately 40 measures set out in 12 Articles. Although many of the measures apply only to the Customs Division, the majority of provisions apply to all Border Agencies that deal with trade in goods.
In the fourth quarter of 2018 Dominica made the following notifications in accordance with Articles 15 and 16 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (WT/L/931)
- CATEGORY A Measures (Articles 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 4, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.3, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.8, 8, 9, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.9, and 11)
- CATEGORY B Measure Article 7.7 (Trade Facilitation Measures for Authorized Operators)
An Importers Enhanced Facilitation Program was implemented on Jan 1st, 2019, for deserving companies assessed as significantly compliant by both the Inland Revenue Department and the Risk Management Unit of Customs through analysis of their performance in the ASYCUDAWorld System. The program is designed to expedite the release of bona fide consignments through customs controls.
The identified companies enrolled in the program will benefit from the following
- Increase in the number of declarations receiving Green and Blue Lane treatment
- Designated relationship managers to help solve any cargo clearance problems that may arise
- Priority treatment at Customs clearance if selected for Customs control
- Access to Customs container officers during normal working hours
- Use of non-intrusive inspection equipment, where possible, whenever physical examination is required
- Priority Customs processing during periods of elevated threat conditions
- Priority treatment in post-incident resumptions and trade recovery programs
- Self-assessment when Customs Automated Systems are not functioning
- Priority demonstration of Asycuda updates at their work place
* The processing of declarations by other interested agencies including the Bureau of Standards, Divisions of Agriculture and Health, among others, where statutory inspection or documentary scrutiny is required such as in the case of licenses & permits will not be affected by the program, with Customs not being able to release the goods until having been cleared by them.
The Enhanced Facilitation Program is designed to evolve into an established Authorized Economic Operator Program in keeping with Article 7, Paragraph 7, of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
The following highlights the eligibility criteria which must exist and maintained by the importers in order to be approved and benefit as Authorised Economic Operators:
- Importers/Exporters must be compliant with Customs and other Govt. agencies laws, rules and procedures
- Importers/Exporters must have internal systems for reporting back to Customs
- Importers/Exporters must have and maintain appropriate Record Keeping
- Importers/Exporters must have Financial Solvency
- Importers/Exporters must have proven practical standards of competence or professional qualifications
- Importers/Exporters must have appropriate security and safety standards (insurance)
- Importers/Exporters must have a licensed Customs Broker/Tariff Clerk who is in good standing with the CED
Should you have any questions with regards to the program feel free to contact the Customs and Excise Division
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 1.3 (Enquiry Points)
The ICT Unit of the Government of Dominica launched a web application dubbed “Connect2Government” in 2012. The application can be described as a web based help desk system developed by the ICTU which will allow an Operator to query clients’ questions/inquiries using a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Database. The system offers two special features: a database of over one hundred questions on government services and an administrator search engine.
It is believed that this new application will offer quick and easy access to essential information on government services. This initiative forms part of the Unit’s ongoing effort to enhance the quality and availability of information to members of the general public.
The Information and Communications Technology Unit (ICTU) is the central coordinating and executing agency established by the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (GOCD) to coordinate the planning, implementation and monitoring of e-Government and the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) within the public sector.
Recent upgrades include the accessing of Connect2Government through the internet, and plans are ongoing to make it available through a Mobile Application.
Relevant Legislation required to set up the legal platform to respond to enquiries within an established timeframe
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 3 (Advanced Rulings)
The CED in an effort to facilitate Importers, Exporters, interested parties and/or their representatives, introduces a new procedure for the issuance of advance rulings prior to the importation of goods.
The advance ruling sets forth the treatment that Customs will provide to goods at the time of importation, with regards to;
- The Goods Tariff Classification
- The eligibility of the origin of goods for exemption of customs duties limited to CARICOM preferential agreements
Requests for advance rulings shall be presented to the Comptroller of Customs prior to the importation of the goods through a written application on the prescribed form containing all the necessary information
Customs will issue the advance rulings within a reasonable time period from receipt of the application depending on the nature and complexity of the requests.
The advance rulings issued by the Comptroller shall be binding and shall be valid for a period of six months unless the law, facts or circumstances supporting the ruling has changed.
NB – Customs reserves the right to revoke, modify or invalidate a ruling in circumstances where the ruling was based on incomplete, incorrect, false, or misleading information
There is the need however to lay the legal platform for the establishment of a National Ruling Processing Unit in the Commonwealth of Dominica
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 5.3 (Test Procedures)
Efforts are ongoing by the Dominica Bureau of Standards to procure the required laboratory equipment for accreditation of the laboratory to successfully carry out confirmatory tests for goods imported into Dominica
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 6.2 (Specific Disciplines on Fees and Charges for Customs Processing imposed on or in connection with Importation and Exportation
Efforts are ongoing for mapping and costing the services rendered by Customs including the development of a fair and transparent fee structure
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 7.6 (Establishment and Publication of Average Release Times)
The ASYCUDAWorld System is a reliable tool utilized by the Customs Division to calculate the average Customs Release Times. However, there is a need to prepare a guide to measure the National Average Times for release of cargo consignments from importation to exit from port of entry
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 7.9 (Perishable Goods)
Legal guidelines for the processing of perishable goods are already developed and contained in Section 79 of the CARICOM Harmonized Regulations
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 10.4 (Single Window)
The operation of a Single Window is part of the Strategy of the Customs Division to facilitate trade in the most efficient and effective manner. A single window operation will create potential to reinforce the local economy and attract more international trade.
The Division has developed a Project Proposal for the implementation of a Single Window in the Commonwealth of Dominica and is currently seeking the much needed support from potential donors for its operation. It is the intention to begin the commencement of the project by the fourth quarter of 2019 with the much needed assistance of the revamped National Trade Facilitation Committee which was recently restructured in an effort to advance the implementation of the TFA. The Committee is made up of a wide range of individuals from both the public and private sector with Customs having a very strong presence on the make-up
A summary of the top outcomes and positive impacts of the Single Window;
- Reduced customs clearance times
- Reduce other border agency clearance times
- Reduce costs of clearance of goods
- Increased foreign investment
- Export market diversification
- Increased domestic investment
- Increase in consumer welfare
- Increase in employment
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 10.8 (Rejected Goods)
The Divisions of Agriculture, the Environmental Health Unit, and the Dominica Bureau of Standards has already developed draft legislation reflecting international standards which gives specific guidelines for the procedure and disposal of rejected goods
- CATEGORY C Measure Article 12 (Customs Cooperation)
Efforts are ongoing to develop guidelines at regional and international levels for information sharing utilizing the ASYCUDAWorld System. The Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) and the Advanced Cargo Information System (ACIS) are examples of the above.