Customs claims changes will improve experience

| 06/08/2021 | 22 Comments
Customs and Border Control officer

(CNS): Customs and Border Control (CBC) has implemented a new system for appointing agents who handle the importation of goods, which they say is part of improving the customer experience, and making things more efficient and secure. Despite criticism by some that the latest change to the system will be more bureaucratic, technically challenging for some people and could even eliminate the need for an agent, putting them out of business, Customs stated that all the changes being rolled out are about modernizing the system. Officials said the manual process allowed for possible duplication and the risk of personal information being shared with a third party.

“Some agents also expressed a challenge in keeping up with the amount of manual forms they received, which took time to be processed and sometimes caused a delay in clearing goods,” the officials stated in a press release. They said most agents requested that CBC automate the process to allow the importer to assign them electronically instead of completing a manual form and waiting for it to be approved and then processed.

“It is important to note that CBC’s technology systems are being implemented in phases, so from time to time there will be enhancements and changes to systems in order to improve customer experience,” officials stated in a release following questions submitted by CNS about the changes based on concerns of some readers.

The old process had required importers to download a copy of the AOA form from the CBC website or collect a manual copy, which they then completed. This plus a copy of a government issued ID would be sent to their agent of choice, who would then submit the documents to customs for approval.

These steps were required for each agent the importer used. The new automated process for people registering with the Customs Online System (COLS) is all technology based. It gives the importer the control to appoint as many agents as they intend to use, to remove agents they no longer use or update these when necessary.

Importers now have the freedom to complete the process online from anywhere in the world at their convenience. The process also manages the risk of personal information being shared with third parties and allows for the process to be more expedient and less likely for a delay in the process.

The need to assign an agent is in accordance with section 41 (1) of the Customs and Border Control Act (2021 Revision). This legal requirement is the basis upon which CBC requires importers to appoint an Agent who is doing business on their behalf.

For importers who need help in using COLS, CBC offers a Customer Support Centre.
Call 649-4579 or email

See CBC document on assigning agents in the CNS Library.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would have thought that being able to pay online via Credit Card or Debit Card would be more of an upgrade than anything else so far. #sooncome?

  2. Anonymous says:

    The online system is a joke. I struggled with it for a day to import a single item before someone helpfully suggested it doesn’t work in MS Edge but to use Chrome. From then on it was relatively easy but far from intuitive. That said the multiple times I called and visited customs to my huge surprise they were really efficient and helpful. I know right? It’s a pity they have been so badly let down by whoever oversaw the procurement of that computer system. Honestly it’s like a child coded it; and not a very bright one.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Customs and improve don’t go in the same sentence!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Customs has become a joke. there rudeness and incompetence goes beyond. this started going down hill when Chuckie retired. customs has never been the same. new employees lazy and rude. go to cdc to clear a vehicle more times than not “out to lunch” they are getting paid for a job but you would think they are doing you a favor

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does everyone understand that we have an unduly complicated and expensive customs system that literally costs the public and business sector tens of millions of dollars to administer, so that the ESO can collect and maintain irrelevant statistics? The complications are nothing to do with duty collection or stopping drugs and guns.

  6. Kadafe says:

    Correction, under the old system the agent had the importer sign a form, then the agent would upload it with a copy of their ID and would instantly receive a automated TIN number for the importer that could be used immediately to clear items. Now the importer has to go through the hassle of setting up their own account prior to being able to appoint an agent, this almost defeats the purpose of having an agent in the first place. This will do nothing but create delays. If you do not believe me put it to the test, go to COLS website, pre register for your account, try to get one of Customs Headquarters 6 parking spots to verify your documents then wait a couple days for the account to be created and then appoint your agent. If that doesn’t take a week prove me wrong. This is the most inefficient and backwards step that could have possibly been done. 1 week versus instant authorization. A simple form or affidavit or similar by all agents to make sure any importer information was shredded and deleted would have worked fine. As for the agents that complained about having to do the forms they probably should consider another line of work. I personally have had no issues submitting those forms or even had any complaints from Clients about having to fill out the form. However the complaints are rolling in now when I inform them that they need to go to the crystal palace of Customs to verify their documents and create an account first. Do they even understand that some people are not the best on computers? Some don’t have time to go through this or wish to go through the hassle of dealing with Customs. This is why they have an agent! Absolutely ridiculous, seems like an attack against agents if you ask me to make their work as difficult as possible. No matter the cause of the delay it’s the agent that gets the blame and the bad reputation. Wait for the next headline guys. CBC urges the public to pick up their items. That’s the only thing that will come out of this. Backups in the port because everyone on island is waiting for their COLS account to be created to appoint their agents. At least they can earn money on storage fees while the stuff sits around while the end user suffers. Thanks Customs!

    • Anonymous says:

      I may be misinterpreting the article, but if this whole process is online, can’t you just upload a scan of your ID? Otherwise, how would someone living abroad complete the process, as the article claims can be done?

      • Kadafe says:

        Try to sign up, once you upload your ID you’ll be instructed to visit the customs headquarters to verify your ID. Please don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. That’s a great question for Customs though I’d like to see them answer it. There are many reasons why someone overseas would like to order something as a surprise, send it to an agent and have it delivered as a surprise to someone on island. Or whatever reason they would wish to send stuff here. Would love for Customs to answer this, clearly not thought through very thoroughly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Its 2021. Why does any one need an “ agent”?

    Automate the process to a stage that anyone and everyone should be able to import their own purchases.

    Obviously the current middle men who provide these services will whine about losing that free money but again it’s 2021. Probably one of the only first world countries that has such a painful and opaque system in place.

    With caymans world outstanding civil service importing goods should be a painless hassle free task.

    • Anonymous says:

      I clear my own stuff myself. It is not rocket science, although I might need a little help, particularity as sometimes I am confounded by the slow computers at Customs. But it beats waiting eternally to get the agent to clear and deliver. Besides, I don’t have the money to give away.

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Dan says:

    You have staff members who are visibly sleeping on the job at the customs office (I should have taken a picture) and a complete waste of government resources and employee time elsewhere.

    Yet, if you go to the Airport post office to collect items they turn back half the people because there’s no custom agents outside of the hours of 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

    Whoever is in charge of this needs to be fired and replaced. Just because someone is Caymanian sholud not prevent them from being replaced if they are not doing their job.

    The government needs to quit wasting resources. Have some entrepreneurs come in and completely revamp the system with productivity and efficiency in mind, instead of creating make work projects.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fired? They gave him an award.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is a mystery how it is decided who should get an Award. Who decided to give this one? This “Awards” process should be more transparent . Where are the awards for all the people who selflessly DONATE days, weeks, months and years of their lives for the betterment of our communities? Civil servants getting awards for doing their jobs for which they are well paid!
        Go figure.

  10. So easy a high school computer science grad could do it! says:

    Might be a good idea for CBC listen to trader’s beefs and take action where sorely needed instead of complicating things further. There also seems to be a complete disconnect between IT and front line staff and visa versus. How do they expect to get the system running smoothly when front line staff know nothing whatsoever about any IT issues with the system. When front line staff have to find crude workarounds for system issues no one benefits and data required for ESO is either corrupted or essentially garbage.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t CBC say exactly the SAME thing when they introduced the present system just a few years ago?


  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s just gonna cause slower times because now everyone has to sign up and then all the calls to customer service to figure out how to do that so it’s a dumb idea. customs has no idea how to run their own department.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Sack everyone in customs, that will speed up the process

  14. Anonymous says:

    I can see this dividing the brokers into those who can help you physically manage the form submission, and those who cannot.

    The later, the ‘little guys’ will have to target their marketing at the niche of importers able to handle COLS registration themselves but for whom it is not worht the hassle of filing their own entry forms.

    The former, the ‘big guys’ or at least those with enough office space and staff to provide the service will be able to market this extra service to their prospective clients. (Perhaps at a small added fee, thats s bussiness decision.)

    It is also a time for the CIG to begin to step up their ‘social computer provision’ at the district libraries, i.e., these buildings are not just for books any more, so that people who are online on their phones only can use the Government’s e-services like COLS better. Because no Government should be making processes that are unaccessible to the public, i.e., you should not have to use a broker to clear customs just because yoru only computer is a cell-phone. (Not saying COLS doesn’t work on a cell phone, I don’t know, but I would hate to try to use it on a screen that small.) Thats not a reason to abandon COLS, or even stick with paper importer forms. I can see how having this on COLS makes it easier to manage and more secure. But it does make ensuring online access for the public a more significant issue for the CIG.

    • Kadafe says:

      Agents can still pre register you for an account, any agent can do so, the sticking point is when you need to take time out of your busy schedule to go down to the Lords of the crystal palace to show them your ID to verify it. That’s the most ridiculous part of all of this. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

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