By Pedro Maycock
The Bahamas government is gradually moving to paperless by implementing a new system; Bahamas Electronic Single Window (BESW) is an expedited procedure compared to the current paper system. This will allow the public and brokers to clear imported goods, within minutes to a few hours.
The BESW system is set to be fully functional by July 22, 2019. However, a separate Exemption system will be released early September; where Bahamian Residents arriving by commercial air could declare their goods.
Customs IT specialist, Ms. Simone Daley visited from New Providence to lead several classes and was enthusiastically assisted by Abaco’s Customs superintendent, Mr. Cleveland Dawkins. Their goal is to thoroughly educate brokers and the general public on how to utilize the new BESW system.
Ms. Daley stated, “All government agencies by the end of the year will be incorporated in this [BESW]. Which means you will not have to go to agriculture, fisheries, road-traffic; everybody will be in one spot. You put everything through here and the system [BESW] will shoot everything where it needs to go. And do one process in all applications that you make.”
“You can access your product quicker; the system allows you to submit a declaration prior to the vessel entering the country. Once you have your manifest number and bill of lading, you can go ahead and do a declaration online.”
There will be kiosks installed in the airports, for travelers to scan their invoices and complete their exemption forms for any goods they brought into the country. Vessels arriving via the ocean can submit their manifest and bill of ladings 14 days prior to arriving into the country, once they are approved to enter the Bahamas.
The BESW system contains an algorithm to identify that the goods purchased, were bought at market prices. Therefore, travelers will be required to present their original invoices to ensure the process is completed smoothly.
Both brokers and the public will need to ensure that the correct information is inputted on the online forms.
“The system is based on a quota basis. So, when finance gives you a head of agreement seeing that you got ten fridges, ten stoves, when they put that in there, that declaration should only contain ten fridges, ten stoves. Anything other than that the system will reject it.”
Mr. Dawkins shared “Why they brought in this system is because [Customs is following the standards of] the World Trade Organization. The goods are held up for too long and not being processed in a timely matter.”
The BESW is a step forward for the Bahamas, as we grow to meet the standards of trade around the world. In addition, goods will be declared by Customs effortlessly; the public will be able to avoid the dreaded long lines to pay their bill.
Bahamas Customs will be training brokers and the general public how to use the system. In addition, they have provided How-to videos on their YouTube page. If you want to make additional inquiries, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.