On-the-spot fine option for travellers who err with Customs declarations
Travellers who make incorrect declarations on their Customs forms will no longer have their purchases confiscated until after Christmas.
The Department of Customs announced this evening that such people can now take their items home with them once the import duty and an on-the-spot fine are paid.
The change in policy went into effect yesterday, a Customs spokeswoman said.
This means that those who are found to have false or incomplete Customs declarations during the Christmas season will no longer have to wait until after the holiday to get their purchases back.
Currently, offenders are subjected to a formal and often lengthy investigative process that can take months.
The Collector of Customs has decided to streamline penalties for arriving air travellers, not just to reduce delays, but also to lower the volume of goods under Customs control, and to permit Customs investigators to focus limited resources on more important commercial fraud cases.
In the new system, if a passenger contravenes policy, then the Customs Officer will issue that person with a Civil Penalty Notice right away.
This Notice simply states the amount of the on-the-spot penalty and the amount of any outstanding duty due. Official Government receipts will be issued by Customs whenever any duty or penalties are paid.
No penalty will be imposed where the Customs officer is satisfied a traveller has made an honest mistake, the spokeswoman added.
Travellers without the money to pay the duty and fine immediately, can leave their goods with Customs for 30 days.