System upgrade causes long delay in duty changes

| 01/04/2014

(CNS): Two years after legislators passed changes to the legislation governing how much tax people pay on goods imported into the country, officials have finally implemented the Customs Tariff Law (2012 Revision). The law came into force on 1 March, officials said in a release on Monday, a month after the implementation. The changes in the law introduce an internationally recognised tariff classification system comprising around 5,000 codes relating to different types of goods and commodities. The two year delay to its implementation has been attributed to the need for a new computer system at customs to facilitate the new harmonised commodity description and coding system.

The new transaction recording mechanism, the Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (TRIPS), is now in place and government authorities said it provides extensive reporting and risk assessment capabilities.

“This customized system has been in the making for the past two years and we are extremely excited about going live with it, knowing the operational capabilities it can provide to streamline, record, and assess our import process,” explained Collector of Customs, Samantha Bennett. 

Along with the more detailed tariff codes, there have also been some significant changes to the schedule of duty free items, with churches and schools now being required to pay their way. Import duty will now be levied under the 2012 law on building materials and goods for the construction of churches and school buildings, which were previously duty free in the Second Schedule of the Customs Tariff Law 2011.

Also equipment and requisites for a school which has been certified by the chief education officer and imported duty free will now attract the various duties depending on the duty rates within the law. Although notebook paper, composition books, specific school supplies and uniforms are now duty free under Schedule 2, a 22% duty will now apply on professional reference books.

Unsolicited gifts not exceeding $50 in value picked up duty-free at the Customs Parcel Post Section will also now attract import duties.  This will see people paying tax on their Christmas, birthday or other gifts sent by friends or family from overseas.

There is a reduction of 10% import duty on fully electric powered vehicles and electric motorcycles, including Segways, and a 15% import duty on hybrid vehicles and hybrid motorcycles.

Officials also revealed that fish, crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates, such as lobster, shrimps and crab, will now attract a duty of 17% up from 12%.  Saddlery and harness for any animal, including traces, leads, knee pads, muzzles, saddles, cloths, saddle bags, dog coats and the like of any material, will also now attract 17% duty.

Overseas shoppers will also have to pay a blanket fee for any imported goods that attract custom inspection fees.  All loose cargo being imported through the ports and cargo in packages being imported by air will be charged an inspection fee of "15 cents per cubic foot or part thereof”. This change was brought about by repealing Part 2 of the Schedule 6 of the 2012 law and replacing with this blanket fee.  

The law has also allowed for several new tariffs to be effected for items such as nicotine, human organs and body parts, electronic cigarettes, and electric generating sets (wind powered).

The customs boss encouraged the public in general, large importers and brokers to familiarize themselves with the duty changes.

“Being familiar with the tariff codes when filling out the documentation for import clearances can transition the process more effectively and efficiently,” Bennett stated.

Full details about the new Customs Tariff Law changes can be found on the Customs website or by calling 949-4579.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I work in the post office and see how many people come in there lying to the Customs Officers about the value of the goods. It's a scam especially for expats who have family members send them gifts in June and their birthday is not until October. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    The products shipped in are taxed enough.  Why is a there a tax on the shipping charges?  It is not a tanglble item!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The parcel came for the lady with the same surname but a different first name. An incredibly common thing to happen in the Caribbean – half of all Jamaican’s I have met have a first name entirely different from what it says in their passports! It felt to me and to those standing with me that the customs lady was being difficult (dare I say cruel) for the simple pleasure of it. I have learnt to just be incredibly nice to front-line civil servants, a tad deferential maybe and avoid, at all cost, any confrontation; If you don't then vindictiveness will lash out back at you, usually out of all proportion. What Customs need, and actually any department in Government that deals directly with the public needs, are staff that are diplomatic, good at listening and flexible. Not with their honesty, obviously, but with how they talk to people. A little sympathy to varying situations would be useful too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, 2 years "caymanian time" is not that long…about normal.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Up there is just as bad a going to the CINICO office where that woman out front has no manners & no people skills what so ever. Surely GOV can get rid of these miserable,  unhappy extremely rude uneducated people & put people in there who have a good work ethic & want a job.  

  6. Knot S Smart says:

    Just a few days ago I bought three small items on Amazon that cost US$6.99. They were in 3 small envelopes that the total weight was about 12 ounces.

    The US$6.99 cost covers the cost to manufacture the items in China, ship them to Amazon in the United States, for Amazon to make a profit, and then ship them free to the Freight Forwarder in Miami. I paid the freight and duties in Cayman and then Port Authority charged me CI$7.20  per envelope.

    The kindest description that I can give to this overcharge is that it is 'blatant criminal theft by a government that we elected'…

    May I please suggest that our Leaders make it legal and give guns to government entities with orders to hold up and rob citizens rather than to overcharge like this?

    That is much better than hiding behind the cloak of being a 'Christian Country' while robbing the citizens to get money to squander…

    • Anonymous says:

      Your example clearly demonstrates lack of common sense and economic feasibility.  Outrageous!

  7. Cheese Face says:

    I tell everyone I know not to send me gifts as its more trouble than its worth. The whole system is a joke. I was once sent a paper map, the kind you would pick up in a gas station for free. Ended up costing me 2 hours of my time and $5.

    Are solar panels and LEDs duty free yet? 

  8. Anonymous says:

    Having to now pay duty on Chrsitmas/Birthday presents, and watch while they are opened by the customs agent is pretty tough. Who in Customs/Govt thought that gem up? I have just collected three packages from Customs at the Airport Post Office and it was a scrum. Actually that is being too nice about how awful it was. The Customs man was wonderful but the Customs lady behind the counter spoke to one lady like she was a cockroach! In the end the lady asked why she was being so rude to her! Her package had arrived in her nickname and of course it did not match what was on her passport. The Customs woman gave her such a hard time about it she left crying! If you have a problem at the Customs counter please email and complain. In the meantime remind your family and friends to send items in your official/birth name, and include an invoice!

    • Anonymous says:

      The lady at customs is famous for her rude attitude.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you employ stupid people to deal with the public, what else are you going to expect.  Stupidity.


    • Anonymous says:

      It is crazy up there. You can queue forever – sometimes days, then leave one window – and go queue at the next and then back to the first one. I collected a parcel this week, 4th attempt I may add and it was just a small token gift from my mother, nothing expensive, The price tag was actually on it but customs decided it could not have been as cheap as that and charged me more than the actual item cost! If this is supposed to be a money earner for Government then its gonna fail as I have already told my family to stop sending gifts, if they wish to get me a gift they will be going down the gift voucher route. Its honestly not worth the time and srtress.

      • Anonymous says:

        I dont know if you all realise it? but the government is the biggest thief on the face of this earth.

        • Anonymous says:

          YOu forgot to add, that this is the highest paid government in the world for employing those who can't do anything or have nothing to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps the lady was crying in frusration because she was unable to collect a package not addressed to her;or because someone was silly enough to send a package bearing a nickname.Certainly it would be wrong to deliver a package to someone not given as the addressee.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah, your mentality is why everything is do #$%^ up.

        • Anonymous says:

               – 13:54. Your mentality is the true problem.Obviously ,if you were the officer concerned ,you would deliver the parcel to the person claiming it ,without them having to prove it is rightfully theirs.Why let something as simple as someone not having ID matching the name on the parcel get in way of expediency ,right? Glad I am not paying for your type of efficiency.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your comment made my day. Someone is silly enough to interpret it as not addressed to her.

        If it was not addressed to the lady, how did she receive a notification? 

        • Anonymous says:

          14;06 Please read the original post again;it says clearly that the parcel was sent in her nickname,not her given name.I do not know how shewas notified,but can think of a number of possibilities, eg. By phone (a phone number may have been included on the label;a written notice may have been sent to a PO Box  and the individual was known by her nickname at that address.What the Customs employee has to try to find out also is whether fraud or theft is involved.I would like to ask ,If my name is John Doe and I present you with a cheque made payable to Big John ,or Doe Doe,would you exchange this for goods or cash without absolute proof that it was intended for John Doe? Or let's look at this another way.Suppose someone other than the lady for whom the parcel was intended was falsely claiming to be her,I am sure she would be glad  if  Customs was able to avoid the parcel falling into the wrong hands ,by asking for proof of identity.Having to prove ones identity can be frustrating at times ,but sometimes it just cannot be avoided.

        • Anonymous says:

           – 14:06 Firstly you obviously did not read the whole comment ,it says that she was trying to collect a parcel that was sent ,not in her legal name but her nickname.So guess who is looking silly for not reading the entire comment,or reading it but not understanding.Secondly she could have received notification by a slip placed in her mailbox,or she could have even found it lying on a desk at her work place.Just because she was the person presenting at the Post Office does not mean that the package was intended for her.That is where Customs has to come in and ask the tough questions.How this is done however,is key to whether or not the officer is seen as nice ,or not so nice.

      • Anonymous says:

        You were born to work in the Cayman postal service.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't it be easier to have one flat import fee of say 17% on all items imported ?

    Simplify  . . . . . .


    • Anonymous says:

      Simplicity is not in the Government's DNA. It aint gonna happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Simpler but not equitable for luxury items to have the same duty as basic food stuffs and wouldn't allow them to implement social policy e.g.  sin taxes on alcohol, cigarettes.

      • Anonymous says:

        You trust this government to implement "social policy".


        The government is inept at almost everything it does. It should be kept as small as possible.