Update: We’ve received reports that negotiations between the Bahamian Gov’t and the shippers are going well and it’s indicated that the Gov’t is willing to work together to draft updated regulations.
While couriers and freight forwarding businesses are the focus of a number of new regulations and amendments in the Customs Management Regulations Act (2016) there is already growing concerns coming from US air cargo companies which may lead to the suspension of services to the islands of The Bahamas.
Several of the new regulations only come into effect when corrections must be made with C3 and C10 forms. The regulations also, according to reports, are subject to Customs Officer’s discretion whether to be applied or not.
According to Bahamas Customs Department Assistant Comptroller Sherrick Martin the new regulations, which will take effect on Friday, July 1, 2016, “will have an effect on business but will however remain relevant and improve Best Business Practices enjoyed by our counterparts throughout the jurisdiction and indeed the world.”
However, concerns are already being raised by US cargo companies who indicate that things are not looking good for cargo operators to continue flights into the Bahamas after July 1 due to the economic liability attached to the New Customs Processing Fees.
Bill Clutter of GB Airlink said that “the word stateside amongst our fellow air cargo providers, is that it is impossible to operate under these regulations and that they too will not be serving the islands unless Bahamas Customs makes some drastic changes.”
It was also said that there would be a letter sent to the government from the airlines stating that they will suspend all flights to and from the Bahamas until this is resolved.
At the center of the issue are the changes to Regulations 147, which has been amended to include some interesting and critical changes.
These changes are in paragraph (1) of the Customs Management Regulations (2016), by the deletion and substitution of subparagraphs (a) and (b) are as follows:
- “Form C2 (Reports Inwards of Vessels) $75.00 where the Inwards of Vessels report is submitted at least 12 hours prior to arrival of the ship and $2,500.00 where the report is submitted less than 12 hours prior to arrival of the ship.
- “Form C7 (Aircraft General Declaration Inwards and Outwards) $75.00 where the Aircraft General Declaration Inwards and Outwards report is submitted at least one hour prior to arrival of the aircraft and $2,500.00 where the report is submitted less than one hour prior to the arrival of the aircraft and;
By the insertion immediately after paragraph of the following new paragraph:
(4). “A processing fee of 25 percent of the value of the good is payable by the carrier in respect of each good declared on Form C3 (Parcels List)
(5). “A processing fee of 25 percent of the value of the good is payable by the shipping company in respect of Form C10 (Application to Amend Inward Report-Outward Manifest) in respect of the goods declared thereon.
(6). “Where prohibited or restricted goods are found aboard a vessel, there shall be levied against the carrier, a processing fee of $5,000.00 in relation to each prohibited or restricted good.”
It was explained that as far as ship reports are concerned beginning July 1, 2016, they have to submit their ship reports at least 12 hours in advance electronically in Customs, however if they submit those reports in less than 12 hours they are subject to a processing fee of $2,500.00 whereas the ordinary fee is $75.00 if they stay within the time constraint.
As far as the aircraft general declarations are concerned, if they submit those reports in less than one hour they are subject to a processing fee of $2,500.00 whereas the ordinary fee is $75.00 if they stay within the time.
Questioned as to why these amendments have come into play at this time, Customs Superintendent Larry Bodie explained that the Ministry of Finances periodically review a number of factors that relate to fiscal measures and, following the Budgetary Debate there is usually some changes to the Bahamas Customs Management or Bahamas Customs Tariff Act.
“In this case there are a number of amendments and once they have been legislated, then the onus is now placed on the Bahamas Customs Department to enforce them.”
The 25 percent processing fee appears to only apply to items on the C3 and C10 forms, which deal with corrections to original manifests and declared items.