Home » Customs & Trade » VASP registration for corporations must be allowed

BROKERAGE houses and freight forwarding firms must be allowed to register with any of the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-accredited value-added service providers (VASPs), contrary to an earlier proposal that only licensed individual customs brokers should be allowed to do so.

Atty. Romeo Sto. Tomas, spokesperson of the Port Users Confederation (PUC), the umbrella organization of the transport industry, said the PUC is not opposed per se to the proposal of a customs brokers’ group to limit VASP registration to licensed individual customs brokers.

He said this is appropriate but only for transactions that require the personal knowledge of brokers. Once other aspects of the BOC automation program such as transshipment and submission of manifests are introduced, the BOC should allow corporations to also secure VASP accreditation, Sto Tomas said.

Not all entries processed by VASPs, he added, are normally handled by individual customs brokers for their importer clients.

“We are amenable if the BOC limits its VASP registration to licensed brokers if this only involves the lodgment of consumption and warehouse entries which are being implemented as of the moment… but once other aspects come in, we are going to seek full accreditation from the BOC and VASP,” Sto. Tomas, who is also executive director of the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association (PISFA) and legal counsel of the Aircargo Forwarders of the Philippines, Inc. (AFPI), told PortCalls.

He said Republic Act 9280 or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004 also has no relation to the registration of corporations with any of the VASPs.

Two weeks ago, Customs commissioner Napoleon Morales said the BOC will soon disallow the registration of corporations and brokerage houses using their in-house customs brokers with the VASPs until amendments to RA 9280 are approved.

The decision, he said, is in compliance with provisions of RA 9280 which allow only individual customs brokers to clear shipments with the BOC.

The commissioner’s statement follows a Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) request to limit VASP registration to licensed individual customs brokers not affiliated with any corporation in the lodgment of consumption and warehouse entries.

CCBI has since clarified it is not asking that the VASP registration be limited to licensed customs brokers for all aspects of VASP operations, but only to those that require the individual knowledge of brokers.

The BOC has stopped accepting entries filed by brokers not registered with any of its three VASPs at the Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Cebu, Mactan, Davao and Clark.

Soon, the bureau will roll out more transactions that will be handled by VASPs. These include formal entry, transshipment, selectivity/hold and alert, electronic payment system and online release.

A full migration to electronic processes is expected by the second half of 2008.

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