Minister says Customs ID number will cut risk of Christmas delays
People expecting packages from overseas were today asked to complete the required paperwork to avoid delays in the run-up to the festive season.
Renée Ming, the Minister of National Security, added that people should be patient while goods were processed.
She said: “A high volume of items will be imported into Bermuda over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas.
“The customs department would like customers to exercise patience as their items are processed.
“Please ensure that all correct documentation is ready for inspection.
“The customs department stresses that it must adhere to appropriate protocols by following all duty and clearance guidelines and reminds customers to check ahead of time that they have all the required forms filled out.”
Ms Ming said that commercial importers and people claiming duty relief must apply for a Customs Automated Processing System identification – or Caps ID – number when declaring goods to customs.
The online application process for a Caps ID is free, but a valid form of identification and other documents may be needed.
Approval usually takes about 48 hours.
Ms Ming said: “The customs department also notes that recently there has been an increase in the number of undeclared items such as unapproved Covid test kits, negotiable instruments and unauthorised motorcycle upgrade kits."
She said that a list of approved Covid-19 antigen test kits was on the Bermuda Health Council’s website.
Ms Ming said that currency and negotiable instruments – documents that guarantee the payment of money – valued at more than $10,000 must be declared.
She added: “Motorcycle upgrade kits require an import licence from the Transport Control Department.
“A copy of all import permits, approvals and licences should be submitted to Customs at the declaration of the relevant goods.
“All properly declared goods are automatically released by Caps at the end of the eight hours, unless given early release or queried by a reviewing officer.”
Ms Ming said: “I would like to reinforce the reality of the ongoing pandemic and the effect that it has had and continues to have on shipping and delivery to the island.
“While we are all understandably dealing with elevated levels of stress, I would encourage the public to share the joy of the Christmas season and to avoid taking out their frustrations on our hard-working customs officers, who are working tirelessly to deliver a high level of service to the public.”
Richard Amos, the Assistant Collector of Customs, said there was no backlog of packages at present.
He added: “We are fully up to date with customs releases.
“However, that does not mean that the customs clearing agents responsible for importing the goods have presented all the goods to customs, so I really can’t speak to that in any great detail."
Mr Amos said that some customs officers’ roles had changed since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He explained: “Customs has redeployed staff to the frontline … in order to cope with the increasing demands over the next two weeks, the peak being in two weeks time on average.
“Because of the pandemic itself, we’ve experienced slowdowns in others areas of customs, so there are fewer people travelling, even though there’s a slight uptick in December expected.
“So we’re able to creatively, or flexibly, redeploy staff from slow areas into the high demand areas such as the couriers and the ocean freight.”
For more information about Caps ID numbers, visit the government website at www.gov.bm/online-services/apply-caps-id-number.
Anyone who has experienced an “undue” delay in the release of a shipment should e-mail email@example.com.