Mailboxes: 900 packages stuck at Customs as it fights new procedures

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  • Lawyer Alan Dunch, representing Mailboxes Unlimited

    Lawyer Alan Dunch, representing Mailboxes Unlimited

  • Mailboxes Unlimited

    Mailboxes Unlimited


Mailboxes Unlimited says hundreds of packages are stuck at Customs because of new procedures that are delaying clearance of its express deliveries for up to two weeks.

Supreme Court heard yesterday that as of June 29, the new procedures, among other things, require the filling out of one Customs form for every item shipped to Bermuda in a consignment. Previously, only one form needed to be filled out prior to the arrival of a shipment of goods, duty was determined, paid and goods were promptly delivered.

Mailboxes is also fighting the Collector of Customs taking the view that the company was a shipper not an importer thus does not qualify for “business end-use relief”, and must pay a much higher tariff than a local retailer would for shipping in the same items.

Mailboxes lawyer Alan Dunch said company's customers are “fed up” and it could lose many of them if the new procedures were allowed to continue.

Owner Steve Thomson filed a writ this week against the Collector of Customs over amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1970 and the Customs Procedure Code 4000.

Mr Dunch argued at a brief hearing yesterday for interim relief and a return to the procedures in place prior to June 29.

Crown counsel argued to strike out the action.

But Justice Norma Wade-Miller set the case down before the Chief Justice in two weeks for a full hearing, with the Collector of Customs and Mr Thomson required to appear for questioning.

“The consequence of the procedures employed by the Collector of Customs is that traffic, the goods, being imported by Mailboxes are being delayed for considerable periods of time in terms of clearance,” Mr Dunch said. “There are some 900 consignments that are yet to be cleared, some going back 14 days.”

Before the new procedures were in effect June 29, Mr Dunch told the court that it took a matter of hours to clear Mailboxes' goods.

Residents use Mailboxes US address service to ship in goods bought online.

Effective April 1, Customs put in place a new standard 25 percent import duty rate for non-business goods.

Special rates of duty, including zero-rates; higher rates (33.5 percent, 75 percent, 150 percent); and specific rates (e.g., litres of alcohol), remained unchanged.

However, Customs stated that the new standard 25 percent duty rate and the special rates will be paid for goods imported by personal taxpayers; while the duty rates specified in the First Schedule to the 2012 Customs Tariff will be paid for business goods.

Businesses will be able to apply to benefit from the generally lower duty rates in the Customs Tariff by specifying customs procedure code “CPC 4000” (Goods eligible for business end-use relief) on their Bermuda Customs Declaration.

Goods not eligible for business end-use relief include: goods that are imported by an individual for their own personal use; goods imported by a business for a non-business use; and goods imported by a not-for-profit organisation that is not a registered charity, including, chambers of commerce; labour organisations; business leagues; certain religious, educational, charitable, social and recreational organisations etc.

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Published Jul 12, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 12, 2012 at 8:04 am)

Mailboxes: 900 packages stuck at Customs as it fights new procedures

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