Jamaica Customs advances to repeal and replace Customs Act

Customs House Weekly

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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• Did you know that the Government of Jamaica is in the process of repealing and replacing the Customs Act?

• What does it mean to repeal and replace the Customs Act?

• How will it benefit you?

One of the key strategic priorities of the Government of Jamaica is to create an environment that facilitates trade and promotes greater ease of doing business. As part of this process, the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) has taken steps to repeal and replace the Customs Act, which will serve to further promote future business opportunities for Jamaica, especially in the areas of shipping, logistics and international trade.

The proposed new Customs legislation will retain some of the substantive provisions of the current Act and will incorporate several new provisions geared towards trade facilitation and international best practices. Additionally, the area of risk-based compliance and selectivity in Customs processing or treatment will be part of the new Act.

The new Act will allow for the following:

a) Improved transparency — use of modern terms, increasing the ease with which the legislation is read and understood;

b) Improved dispute resolution — provision of administrative appeal processes for Customs decisions.

c) Increased predictability — introduction of advance rulings;

d) Increased facilitation for compliance with customs processes — people will benefit from added facilitation re processes and clearance times.


The legislative proposals are intended to achieve the following:

• Promote socio-economic development and assist with the creation of the conditions for economic growth;

• Facilitate the efficient processing of Customs-related transactions;

• Aid in protecting local businesses and the international supply chain from unfair international trading practices, smuggling of goods, under-invoicing, fraud, and intellectual; property rights infringement

• Encourage voluntary compliance with Customs laws and procedures;

• Further support the implementation of ASYCUDA World;

• Strengthen the enforcement powers of the commissioner of Customs;

• Strengthen the ability of the JCA to effectively protect Jamaica's borders

• Assist the JCA in facilitating the processing of increased volumes of trade in an increasingly complex international trading environment; and

• Encourage new business models and requirements, including e-commerce.

The new terms and definitions in the proposed Customs Bill are consistent with the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), which has been adopted by several customs administrations worldwide. The use of internationally accepted terms and definitions will facilitate Jamaica's interaction with the international trading community and will assist carriers, agents, and all the industry professionals who operate in the global context.


It is proposed that the JCA will facilitate a broader range of types of security. Further, security may be specific — that is, relating to a specific consignment of goods, or general — that is, relating to any class/kind/category of goods during a specified or indefinite period.


Express provisions are made for different Customs procedures in keeping with a logistics-focused economy. For example, the legislative framework will be established to facilitate the introduction of customs processing procedures, such as inward and outward processing. Such processing procedures will enable goods to be imported for the specific purpose of undergoing processing in Jamaica, on condition that the products that result from the processing will be exported. In addition, goods may be seamlessly moved from one Customs procedure to another, once all requirements are satisfied.

The proposed Bill seeks to clarify the regimes relating to transit and trans-shipment, to promote improved alignment with Asycuda World and international best practice.


The agency has sought to revise the provisions concerning advance reports to be provided by carriers engaged in short-haul flights and voyages, as opposed to long-haul flights and voyages. The time frames in the proposed draft Bill will conform to the World Customs Organization's SAFE Framework of Standards. These time frames will facilitate further compliance by shipping agents.


Simplified clearance and release processes are relevant to advancing logistics in Jamaica. Express provisions to this effect are contained in the draft Bill, which is expected to be tabled in the Houses of Parliament by March 31, 2019.

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