The Customs Department is expected to roll out the first phase in its business modernisation and refining process come November 1, 2017.
The first phase of the modernization process is expected to make it easier for importers to clear goods electronically.
As part of the new initiative, importers will be able to submit entry declarations and other requirements remotely; which is expected dramatically shorten the time it takes for authorities to process documents.
“This will be the first phase of the business modernisation and refining process that Customs will embark on over the next three years. This initiative is aimed at delivering excellent customer service and more efficient trade facilitation for importers in the Cayman Islands,” said Collector of Customs,Charles Clifford.
The new process is to be made available to traders who have registered with Customs.
According to the department, training will be made available to these registered traders from September 19 toSeptember 29.
“After that, training in the use of our online portal will continue in-house for medium to small-scale traders, and especially individuals who import goods via sea or air. Also, using a selected group of traders, we will be conducting testing of the new system before it is launched,” said Deputy Collector of Customs, Kevin Walton.
The new process has undergone testing for several months, with the Customs noting that its staff have not only been fully trainedbut are anxious and "ready for the roll-out of phase one".
“Very early in this process we engaged stakeholders, public and private, and I am pleased to report that there is very good support for this initiative which has been designed to expedite the clearance of imported goods while maintaining effective strategies to identify high risk imports,” added Clifford.
However, the Collector of Customs did caution that,"As with any change process, there will be some initial teething problems as our staff and our Customers get used to the changed environment. We ask our customers for their patience as we seek to modernise our processes to serve you better."
As for the other aspects modernization process, the Deputy Collector of Customs, Walton explained thatthe change is tobe implemented in five phases.
“The final aim is for Customs to transition to a paperless environment that will allow users to submit their importation declarations and do business via electronic means,”Walton said.
“Using technologywill comprehensivelyexpand and streamline the business the department conducts. To complement this process, it is intended to amend the Customs Law and Customs Tariff Law during the modernisation process,” he added.