Customs takes first step on road to eliminating paper

| 26/09/2017 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

Customs Department headquarters

(CNS): Customs will roll out phase one of its transition to an online process that will eventually eliminate paper documents. Step one in a five-phase roll-out that is likely to take years to complete will begin on 1 November and officials say this first phase will make clearing goods easier for importers. “This will be the first phase of the business modernisation and refining process that customs will embark on over the next three years,” said Collector of Customs Charles Clifford, adding that the initiative was “aimed at delivering excellent customer service and more efficient trade facilitation for importers”.

He explained that the department had already “engaged stakeholders” and received support for the initiative “designed to expedite the clearance of imported goods while maintaining effective strategies to identify high risk imports”.

According to Deputy Collector of Customs Kevin Walton, the department is currently undergoing modernisation and reform of its business processes, laws, policies and IT systems. This first phase includes an online trader portal, which will act as a platform for the electronic submission of customs declaration.

“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 technology will eliminate the need for importers to submit paperwork or attend in person at our counters, saving them time, money and paper as well.”

The process has been undergoing testing for several months while staff members have been receiving training, and they are ready for the roll-out of phase one. Using technology will comprehensively expand and streamline the business the department conducts, officials stated in a release, adding that government intends to amend the Customs Law and Customs Tariff Law during the modernisation process.

For customers of the department, the first step onto an online process will enable them to submit entry declarations and other requirements remotely. This should reduce the time it takes for authorities to process documents “dramatically”, Walton claimed. The new process will be available to traders who have registered with customs and they are also being offered training until the end of this month in the new process.

“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,” Walton added.

Clifford warned that there could be some hitches but he was confident of the long-term improvements.

“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,” he added.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    5 phase plan! hahaha! Love the speedy time frame. Oz got rid of guns in 3 months but CI can’t implement a computer program in 1 phase across the board? Are we in the year 1999? Because then this would be impressive.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this is good as at it gets for Customs? You all are so far behind all of this inter agency discussion could have been done years ago. Didn’t we go online the other day and able to clear goods online? I remember doing it for some furniture I brought in 2015. Plus my boss went to the training sessions for the process, so I am confused?

    Would love to see allowance amounts raised to $500 per person.

  3. Anonymous says:

    But we have been there before 2 years ago they introduced Traces and trained us and it was going well, its like old ideas re-surfing again. Seriously why doesn’t Customs just start something and finish it! Big importers have been doing their imports online for a while now why the heck is this like new news?

  4. Anonymous says:

    They need proper management. They are lacking all around!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I bet a year from now customs will use more paper than they do now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good job, Chuckie! Always leading the way.

  7. A Point of View says:

    Here we go again.

    This should be a six month roll out, I have been on to Customs for the past 10 years to computerize their records. I would have preferred the delaying the news until they had formulated a plan.

    A step in the right direction id to be celebrated.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously, you haven’t taken the time to listen to plan. This will be done in 5 phases and will run over 3 years. The first phase is happening now and it will be according to plans Customs has explained. Such changes does not happen over night, so your suggestion of 6 months makes no sense and it is not proper planning.

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