Customs preps for Christmas chaos

| 08/12/2020 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Service (CBC) is expecting the usual steep rise in imports during the Christmas holidays. But given the challenges throughout this year, with many new and smaller importers expected to be bringing in goods, opening hours at the collections office will be extended by two hours every day starting next week.

With over 23,000 individual imports recorded for the month of November alone, the expected trend for the season is that imports will continue to rise as the airport remains under limited departures and people are not able to leave the island to complete their usual holiday shopping.

“CBC is offering the increased hours to give importers the opportunity to clear their goods before the holidays begin,” said CBC Deputy Director Kevin Walton, who heads the Trade and Revenue Collection Portfolio. “We want our customers’ holiday experience to be a very happy one, so we have decided to extend the hours to help facilitate trade.”

From 14 December, the collections office will be open until 6pm instead of the usual closing time of 4pm, with the exception of Friday, 18 December, when it will close at noon.

Meanwhile, anyone importing goods Christmas is urged to ensure all supplier invoices or sales invoices are provided to the courier agent before the goods arrive. This will help ensure a timely clearing and release of the goods.

CBC officials advised that as soon as you know you are receiving goods, gather the necessary documents and share them with your agent before the shipment arrives. The necessary documents are your supplier invoice or sale invoices, as well as any other relevant documentation, such as approval from the Department of Agriculture. If you are not sure if additional information is required, ask your agent or call the customer support centre.

Officials urged people not to omit or misrepresent the value of goods or assume everyone will know the value of a given item. Hand written invoices are not normally accepted and customers are responsible for providing all necessary and proper documentation, not the courier agent.

First time importers using a courier or broker agent will need to complete and submit an Agent Authorisation form. The form is available here or at your courier or broker agent and should be submitted at least 48 hours before your goods arrive.  A legible and valid government identification document will need to be submitted and the form must be dated and signed. To view the documents needed to clear goods visit the CBC website.

Last month CBC launched a new automated call flow system with a Customer Support Centre to enhance improve customer experiences, given the increase in individuals shopping online who were not registered as regular importers because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The centre is manned by employees who are experienced in dealing with queries relating to imports/exports and vessel info/extension queries as well as visitor/extension and travel/visa questions.

Read more about the support centre here

Meanwhile, over the holidays the customs collections courier offices will be closed on Saturday, 26 December, and will reopen on Tuesday, 29 December, when they will revert to regular hours for the rest of the week (8.30am to 4:00pm for the Collections Office and 8:30am to 5:00pm for the Courier Office). 

Both offices will be closed again on Friday, 1 January, and resume regular operations on Monday, 4 January. The Collections Office, however, will be open on Saturday, 2 January, 8:30am – 12:00pm.

The Collections Office is located at CBC Headquarters on Owen Roberts Drive, while the Courier Office is located on the same road between the Airport Post Office and the CBC warehouse. CBC’s seaport and airport operations will remain open throughout Christmas and New Year.

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Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cayman customs is comically bad. The ridiculous thing is everyone I know has simply stopped trying. Their incompetence must cost CIG millions in duty. I’d rather go without than have to deal with customs.

  2. Santa's Elf says:

    Why not bring in Government tourism staff to help out Customs during the run up to Christmas or out of work dive staff etc to help with the backlog of orders. I am sure they would jump at the chance for an opportunity to work. It’s been a tough year for everyone, especially children and they would be heartbroken if Santa doesn’t come this year due to his sleigh being held up at Customs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Governments tourism staff is on a year paid vacation and much like customs staff they are not trained.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey CIG- it’s a f’d up year. We can’t travel,, we should get $500 duty free one time!!!!!!!

  4. Caymanian donkey says:

    Prepping for Christmas, WTF, I’ve been waiting 4 months for a package from DHL which is stuck in customs waiting for my paperwork to be completed by customs, which I have had to submit 3 times now because customs has misplaced the paperwork.

    • MIKE WEST says:

      All packages are held at dhl and it would only be dhl that would hold it up as once they provide the proof of payment invoice or as a last option pull it for inspection by the officer that’s there every day 930-1230 and 330-530pm week days
      Please call manager Alan Blake
      Our CBC Senior 6394987 or AD 6394944 with your tracking number for further assistance

  5. Anonymous says:

    Someone should probably have given them more advance notice once the official date for Christmas 2020 had been confirmed.

  6. Anonymous says:

    CBC individuals.. mainly the “guys” are ALL slow as hell because all they ever do is look every damn woman they encounter! You would swear that is all they go to “work” to do is harass women who have no interest in them and they use their position to try to intimidate people as well. This especially happens at the Port location in Industrial Park. Disgusting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pay the fools to stay home and get some expats to do the job. Or nothing will ever change. Your welcome.

  8. Anonymous says:

    They cannot wait to hit that ‘suspend’ button for declarations. I have had declarations suspended because I need to make an adjustment, made the adjustment and submitted again, then suspended again for an adjustment which was the exact reverse of what I was just told to do. When I complained, I was told that it was because the customs officers were not properly trained! There is no winning with customs, they freely move the goal posts around at their leisure. Having said that, I did make contact with a very helpful and professional lady who helped sort it out, but unfortunately they are a rarity in customs. I won’t even attempt to import for Christmas.

  9. Anonymous says:

    world class chaos from our ever expanding civil service.

  10. Anon says:

    I have a shipment that has been in COLS hell for 5 weeks. All of the paperwork is there, everything is correct, no issues regarding product cost, nor shipping fees. Nothing wrong with this shipment, other than an error at Customs. CBC admitted that it their error , but there is no way for me to clear it, as they have an error in the COLS system that will not allow my shipment to be released. What can I do? Do I have any recourse? I really think government is actively targeting small businesses in favour of big businesses.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Might save some time if they go back to the old paper system while people with real and current IT skills replace the clunky, half baked COL System with something that actually saves time and waste effort for traders and CBC alike.
    Many people who don’t or can’t check CBCs duty & fees calculations are getting fleeced. Many harmonised goods codes are not referenced in their decrepit system and some reference to incorrect duty rates.
    They have a Tariff schedule but it doesn’t seem to translate to COLS. CBC need to further summarise duty rate calculations, as 80% of imported goods attract a 22%.

    A school leaver might produce a more efficient system, but if CBC spent countless $millions on COLS then need it be perceived that it works? I and many other importers think not.

    • Anonymous says:

      COLS is a joke. Any try getting help from an agent, no one answers phones and then they talk down to you if you ask a question.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s always chaos at customs. And I don’t think they prep for anything cause it’s always slow there.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Replace the entire office and staff with a pay now button on the portal. It’s not difficult. I could have it done in a day.

    Cayman government IT is a joke and failure. They can’t even get a waiting ticket system working

  14. Say it like it is says:

    I don’t know about Christmas, Customs has been chaotic for months.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Or, more accurately, ‘Custom preps for Christmas chaos as opposed to ordinary chaos’

    “Our experience in delivering chaos on a year round basis should stand us in good stead for ensuring enhanced chaos over the Christmas period”

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Sadly, that seems perfectly apt.

      I have told all my relatives in the U.S. “Don’t send anything. Give to some local charity instead, and I will do the same.”

      This is our collective way of making this SNAFU a positive.

    • Anonymous says:

      The staff will be wearing Santa hats

    • Elvis says:

      Chaos lol,
      Employ people who can a tually function correctly and get the job done instead of what you have down there now. We are an island of 70,000 people approx and we cant sort mail all now?

      I gave up asking anyone to postcards etc a ling time ago, ever since my cds went missing on a regular basis ,
      Just another day in paradis

  16. Anonymous says:

    As normal flights have not been happening for months and now there is only the occasional flight, shouldn’t there be a large number of underutilised man-hours? You would think with the huge number of CBC staff, of which many don’t have much to do atm, that they would be able to process goods 24 hours a day for a few weeks?

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not the quantity, It’s the lack of quality. You have ten guys and gals and one of them understands the job. The rest are just pretending to work.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “Customs continues existing chaos” would be an equally accurate headline.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Good on them for opening longer rather than simply saying ‘it will take as long as it takes’.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Above and beyond 😂

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