Middleport Freight Customs Clearing Procedure
1. Receipt of Pre alert
This is the first stage of the customs clearing process. By pre alert we mean any information, documentation such as shipments bill of lading for shipment coming by sea, road manifest and consignment note for shipment coming by road or rail advice note for shipments coming by rail ,commercial invoices, packing list, permits, licenses and all other documents that may be required. Upon receipt of the prealert we precalculate duties due on the shipment and advise customers to arrange for payment before the shipment arrives to avoid delay.
2. Cargo Tracking
The moment we receive the pre alert we then start to track cargo using Track-Trace system, a web or internet based function which involves the process of establishing the exact whereabouts of a particular consignment. The consignment could either be coming in by air which is known as an airfreight shipment or by sea freight shipment or alternatively by road and rail.
Under the air freight cargo tracking facility we have the CHAMP Cargo tracking system. The Web page has a collection of all registered airlines indexes whose prefix represent airline code. Upon opening the page on internet you encode the eleven digit master air way bill number minus the air line prefix code. Once the master airwaybill (MAWB) number is entered it will automatically display the cargo status, its expected date of departure and arrival etc.
The same procedure applies to sea and road freight consignment but the only disparity is that bill of lading numbers and or container numbers are encoded in the track and trace systems of the shipping lines like SAF Marine or Mediterranean Shipping.
After obtaining information on the exact status of the shipment that would have been tracked, the track and search results obtained are then relayed to either the consignee (importer) or authorized customer broker by email, Skype over the phone or on Whatsapp.
3. Arrival of shipment & document collection
The moment we get information about the expected arrival of the shipment we contact the airline, shipping line or transporters representative in order to get confirmation that the shipment has arrived or not. For Airfreight shipments the moment the airline arrives Zimbabwe Revenue Authority staff officers collect documents for manifesting, a control measure ZIMRA has put in place to mitigate smuggling. After completion of this process ZIMRA return back the documents to the airline and they would be ready for collection. Please note that only original documents are used to clear shipments. Zimbabwe Customs Authority does not allow submission of copies.
4. Document Processing
Upon Receipt of original documents we start processing of bills of entries. This involves tariffing (putting imported goods in their commodity codes), data capturing using the Asycuda World a system which that ZIMRA is currently using as opposed to the previous ASYCUDA ++ . This ZIMRA ASYCUDA WORLD system is not only electronic but also internet based. It allows clearing agents who are registered in the system to register entries and check their status online without going to queue at ZIMRA offices.
Upon receipt of original consignment import papers or documents we start bill of entries processing soon after entering all the consignment details into our incomings record books. The next stage is tariff classification of all invoiced items, If there are any vaguely described or coded items we usually seek the importers specification for correct tariff classification purposes. This crucial stage is followed by data capturing into the ZIMRA ASYCUDA World System, scanning of consignment documents for attachments on the framed bill of entry which has to undergo thorough checking to verify its correctives and completeness. Verification is followed by bill of entry online registration in ZIMRA ASYCUDA World.
Once the import bill of entry is successful registered into ZIMRA ASYCUDA WORLD, Officer at the DPC (Declaration Processing Centre) will then take over to examine the registered bill of entry for assessment, if all the declared information on the bill of entry is correct as entered then they will go ahead to assess and issue the assessments and receipt number. If the registered bill of entry is not satisfactory, a query will be raised by the Officer by issuing a F45 notification form or email via ASYCUDA WORLD to the declarant. The F45 can also be issued in order to notify declarant of the need to carry out a physical examination of the goods being cleared.
Only after the declaration would have fully complied with all the ZIMRA directives would the entry then be assessed pending issuance of a customs release order and document stamping. The customs clearing agent or declarant then collects the stamped documents and goes to the airline, the bonded warehouse or customs yard where the clients` goods are temporarily stored pending finalization of the customs clearing formalities or processes.
5. Acquittal of the Documents
At each airline warehouse, bonded warehouse, container depot or customs yard there is also customs authorities who would then acquit your documents before collection or release of goods. These are responsible for vetting of documents to ascertain that the declaration order is true and correct. These also can issue a query notification in the event that they discovered an anomaly which may have been overlooked by officer at the DPC Section. In the event that the declaration is true and correct they just put in a second stamp which marks the finalization of all the customs formalities.
6. Collection of goods from the bonded warehouse, airline or customs yard
Now that the declarant or customs clearing Agent has completed all the formalities he then approaches the airline, bonded warehouse staff and hands over the document to them so that he pays storage and handling charges and after that they withdraw cargo from the warehouse. The cargo is loaded to Middleport Trucks for onward transportation to our warehouse or direct to client premises.
7. Delivery of Consignment to the Customer
Depending on the urgency of the shipment, some shipments are just taken to client premises directly from the airline, bonded warehouse or customs yard. It is important however, to note that there are some shipments that require the involvement of transport managers or transport department who would plan the routing of the transportation no matter how urgent these shipments are because they end up incurring high transportation costs. These include less than container load shipments or small parcels from airlines. This department has a stand-alone system that helps them calculate distances, load size and routing of shipments. The idea is to reduce the cost of delivery as this accumulates to the landed cost of goods and also subsequently affect the total price of goods and as a result affecting our customers’ competitive edge.
However, many people are of the assumption that the bonded warehouse operators and/or airline warehouse operators’ fall under ZIMRA and henceforth payment of duty completes all payments.
A prudent customs clearing agent has to advise his/her customers about these additional costs which can be reduced by payment of duties in time and properly declaring the goods. The moment queries are raised to try solving them is a bit cumbersome and takes a bit of time. It comes with additional costs of storage charges or demurrage in road transportation.