Courier services are distinguished from other ordinary shipping services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of express services, and swift delivery times. Couriers are usually more expensive than standard shipping services, and their use is normally limited to packages where one or more of these features are considered important enough to warrant the cost.
In August, 2014, a “de minimis” regime was implemented as a valuation ceiling for goods imported via courier, below which no duty or tax will be charged. The system allowed goods with a total cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value not exceeding EC$150 and which are not alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or commercial goods to be exempt from the payment of all customs duties and other taxes.
This resulted in the reduction of clearance procedures including data requirements, thus saving much needed time and costs to the importers.
Customs will verify the eligibility requirements and release the cargo to the Courier Agents under the DIMINIMIS System, ensuring that they qualify and are not over the CIF $150.00 umbrella.
During the verification process, Suppliers Invoices and freight amounts are required to be submitted by the Courier Agents, and that all packages listed on the Manifests are accounted for at the end of exercise.
The following are updated guidelines to be adhered to by the Courier Agents for the processing of the courier packages:
- Courier Agents shall post a bond with the Comptroller of Customs through an approved Financial Institution in order to operate as a Courier Agent
- Courier Agents will be required to maintain a high degree of control over their shipments from the time they are picked up for export to the time they are physically delivered to the facilities, particularly in regard to the reliability of the information and corroborating documentation that they must submit to Customs, and are strictly liable for any non-compliance detected
- Courier Agents to have an acceptable method, approved by the Comptroller, to receive and sort consignments, and should include, among others, being adequately equipped with necessary software and hardware
- Courier Agents to carry out an initial sorting (determination of which packages to be released under the DIMINIMIS System, and those to be retained in the facilities) of their consignments. Subsequently to this initial sorting, a List (Declaration) to be made up for Customs verification purposes, prior to the eligible goods being released to them
- Courier Agents to assist with the verification of the eligible packages released to them under the DIMINIMIS System in such form and manner as the Comptroller may require, and shall present in addition to the List Declaration, requisite additional documentation to Customs which would include, but not limited to, Suppliers Invoices and Bills of Lading. (NB – it is mandatory that shipper/supplier identification be stated on the waybills, and any shipment not accompanied with the proper documentation such as a suppliers invoice will be retained at the ACS/private courier facilities)
- Courier Agents to instruct their clients that they should possess and present their suppliers invoices to Customs while picking up their packages, to avoid unnecessary delays.
- Courier Agents authorized to operate at their private facilities are required to:
- Provide security at the premises during normal working hours (i.e. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday)
- Provide the necessary amenities for customs officers stationed at their facilities to include, but not limited to - adequate office space, computer with ASYCUDA, adequate furniture, telephone, washroom, and access to microwave and refrigerator
- Run an efficient control system at their private facilities in order that Customs Officials deal independently with customers on a one on one basis rather than operating overtly within the midst of other customers
- Provide Stock Balances at any time upon request. The Stock Balances are to be retrieved in ASUCUDA in a user friendly format approved by the Comptroller
NB - In order to maintain the integrity at the facilities, both enablers i.e. Customs and Courier Agents should have physical locks to all entrances where the imported consignments are stored for better management and control.