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Understanding Customs Procedures

The customs department plays an essential role in international trade. Hence, it aims at controlling the regularity of international trade and exchange. In order to take advantage of the facilities offered and to develop their presence on the international scene, the companies stand to gain by fully understanding the custom rules and regulations and by knowing the services and procedures followed by the customs departments.

The customs clearance methodes | Customs procedure | Customs declaration | Determining customs duties | Procedures of customs clearance

The customs clearance methods

Customs clearance consists of presenting the goods at a Customs office and allocating them a Customs system.

On reaching Customs, goods are automatically sorted by the SINDA (Automated Customs Information System) according to certain criteria, especially the nature of the product and the importer. The sorting leads to a system of channels : the "green channel" for goods which present no risk (brief inspection of the documents), the "orange channel" for medium level risks (normal inspection), the "red channel" for extreme risks (complete inspection).
The inspection may consist of x-raying the whole container, but also x-raying or opening each package. When they have been inspected, the goods receive a temporary collection permit which allows them to be stocked for further inspection or a permit for clearance inward. The latter can take up to 11 days.
In total, according to the WTO and in June 2005, the time required for Customs clearance, for unbranded products subject to foreign trade formalities, from arrival at the port/airport to clearance inward, varied from 7 to 20 days. Customs duties are about 3%. The principle is to pay duties and taxes in cash.

Customs procedure

Off shore regime (applicable to totally exporting companies)

For import, Customs procedures are as follows :
- Either quick collection by simplified procedure
- Or forwarding to the factory under Customs seal or under escort.
- Or inspection at the factory by the permanent Customs officer
- Or later regularization before export

For export, the process is materialized by the simple presentation of a DAE (Export Permit Request) declaration and an invoice in five copies.
A specialized bureau has been set up in Tunis/la coupole to help totally exporting companies. This bureau has specialized offices in the regional Customs offices.

On shore regime

For import, the process is carried out :
- Either by the introduction of a DAE (Declaration of a Collection Permit) followed by an inspection at the factory for perishable goods, dangerous goods, bulky goods or for particular circumstances.
- Or by temporary entry under ordinary declaration procedures
- Or in the framework of the free warehouse regime with a permanent Customs officer as in the off shore regime if the exports flow of the company concerned is judged to be sufficient.

For export, the declaration is made at a Customs office, in function of the destination of the product, given that clearing operates 24/24.
Customs procedure for the temporary entry regime is as follows :
- Simplified inspection but with precautions for some products.
- DAE (Export Permit Request) declaration to the Customs office the company is attached to
- Inspection at the factory
- Clearing 24/24

Customs declaration

Goods cannot enter or leave Tunisia without being cleared. A company which clears its goods, must draw up a customs declaration using DAU (Unique Administrative Document) which is the obligatory form. It includes information on the importer and the exporter, on the nature of the goods, the origin, the quantity, the currency and the incoterm but also the information on transport and also the place of loading and unloading.

Information necessary to the capture of the customs declaration is available on the Customs web site.

Determining customs duties

Customs duties are different according to the value declared to the Customs. The parts of the declaration that are necessary for charging are value, the type of tariff and origin of the goods.

The value declared to the Customs
Article 26 of the Customs Code by Act n°92-2001 of the 07/08/2001, establishes a new principle for evaluating goods, based on their transactional value as the basic principle for determining the Customs value of these goods, defined as being effectively paid or to be paid for the goods, when they are sold for export for consignment to the importing country. However, and in the absence of such a value, other methods will be applied called methods of substitution which you can consult on the official site of Tunisian Customs.

Type of tariff
The imported or exported merchandise is classified into the types of tariffs attracted by them under the international nomenclature of "harmonised system of description and codification of merchandise" (code of 12 digits + 1 letter).
The latter is going to define the rate of Customs Duty, the rate of VAT, additional charges, application of quotas, sanitary norms and controls.
Determination is at times very complex because one must know the exact composition of the product. In case of doubt, the company consults the Customs Office

It is the country from where the merchandise is considered to have originated, and this should not be confused with the source of supply. Merchandises declared as having its origin in the country of fabrication. If, the fabrication took place in several countries, one has to take into account the country where the last processing of the goods took place.(certificate of origin)

Procedures of customs clearance

Administration of Customs Offices lays down several procedures of Customs Clearance

On-line registration

Since 2001, the Automated Customs Information System (SINDA), used to process commercial imports, is part of the "single bundle " project (declaration, foreign trade certificate, manifest, technical, health and phytosanitary inspection certificate, request for tax privilege) sponsored by TunisieTradeNet (TTN). The totality of the Customs declaration can be done electronically.

SINDA is designed to carry out the following functions :
Taking physical and documentary responsibility for the goods, from their arrival at the Customs office until their collection or export.
Automatic clearance of the goods
Drawing up a data base of the integrated tariff and to date, bringing together, at the level of each Customs classification, all the measures concerning foreign trade and exchange regulations, different particular regulations, and current preferential tariffs.
Automatic management of Customs partners (Customs brokers, carriers, economic operators, etc.)
Automatic management of credit accounts
Automatic management of approvals
Automatic management of Customs revenue
Automatic generation of follow-up and inspection reports

The TunisieComex Team can find the custom's classification number of your product ; once this number is known, The TunisieComex Team can indicate customs duties applied to this product at the point of entry into the country of your choice.

Update june 2007


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