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Zimra set new rules for cross border travellers

By Lovemore Chikova

HARARE- Cross border travellers are, with immediate effect, now required to declare their goods to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at least three hours before arrival at the port of entry.

Zimra set new rules for cross border travellers
Zimra set new rules for cross border travellers

The goods will be declared through bus and airline operators who will relay the information to Zimra, including the profile of the passengers on board. Zimra director for legal and corporate affairs Ms Florence Jambwa yesterday said the new rules also affect haulage truck operators who are required to inform Zimra of the goods they carry before arrival.

Owners of private vehicles pulling trailers with a combined carrying capacity of more than five tonnes will be required to do the same. This also applies to omnibuses with a carrying capacity of eight passengers or more. Omnibus operators were, in the past, not obliged to submit passenger manifests.

Ms Jambwa said the regulations will give Zimra time to risk profile goods and passengers. “The new system is in line with international best practices in trade facilitation and risk management as it allows identification of low and high risk cargo and passengers to facilitate expeditious clearance process,” said Ms Jambwa.

“It is expected, therefore, to improve Zimra’s operations by ensuring efficient use of scarce resources.” Ms Jambwa said the passengers will still be required to physically declare their goods to Zimra on arrival at the port of entry. “The advance passenger and cargo manifest system does not take away the obligation by passengers to properly declare their goods,” she said.

“The main focus of the system is to risk profile and allow Zimra to speedily validate declarations made because of the advance information.  Therefore, passengers on a bus will continue to make individual declarations by completing the declaration form (Form 47) where they will itemise the goods they will be carrying and the value of such goods.”

Ms Jambwa said the new system will enable Zimra to target risky cargo and avoid low risk ones. She said the rules were part of ongoing efforts to improve convenience to crossborder travellers. “The new system will enhance facilitation of trade and travel by expediting the clearing process,” Ms Jambwa said.

“In the past, this information was submitted on arrival at the port of entry and at the time of clearance of goods.” Zimra on Sunday published e-mails at all ports of entry that the transport operators will use to convey the information. It said the e-mails will be used temporarily, while the e-cargo manifest is being rolled out.

The operators would send information specifically to the port of entry that they will be using. “All local transporters will have to be registered with Zimra for them to submit the manifest through the ASYCUDA system,” said Ms Jambwa.

Asycuda (Automated System for Customs Data) is a computerised system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to administer customs clearance. Zimra recently rolled out the latest Asycuda version, an Internet-based system that allows importers and clearing agents to electronically submit bills of entry declarations and supporting documents.

The system can be accessed anywhere in the world provided that one is registered with Zimra. In the 2012 National Budget statement, Finance Minister Tendai Biti proposed the amendment of the legislation to allow operators to declare the goods and passengers they carry three hours before arrival.

In the past, a pilot of an aircraft arriving in Zimbabwe was obliged to make a report to the officer on duty within three hours after landing or “with such further time as the Commissioner may allow”. The legislation stipulated that the pilot would provide information pertaining to saleable goods on board, the list of passengers and crew manifests of the goods on board only if required to do so.

“The three hour notification period after landing does not allow the Commissioner enough time to risk profile passengers and goods and also at the same time allow for speedy clearance of low risk passengers,” Minister Biti said while presenting the budget in Parliament.

“Furthermore, crossborder bus and commercial haulage operators will also be required submit to the Commissioner passenger, crew and cargo manifests in advance, before arrival at ports of entry.”

But the new rules are likely to irk passengers who will be searched on arrival at the port of entry despite pre-declaring goods.

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