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BOC issues rules on supervision of foreign carriers at ports

  • The Bureau of Customs has laid down new rules on the supervision and control of all vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign trade arriving to and departing from the Philippines
  • Customs Administrative Order No. 15-2020 prescribes guidelines for the entrance and clearance of international vessels and aircraft arriving at ports of entry, including those located at Free Zones
  • The rules cover the advance submission in electronic format of the cargo manifest

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has laid down new rules on the supervision and control of all vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign trade arriving to and departing from Philippine territory.

Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 15-2020 prescribes guidelines for the entrance and clearance of international vessels and aircraft arriving at ports of entry, including those located at Free Zones.

The new CAO implements Chapter 2 (Carriers, Vessels, and Aircrafts) and other relevant provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

According to former BOC deputy commissioner Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero’s book Understanding International Trade, Tariff & Customs, substantial changes under CMTA Chapter 2 cover the advance submission in electronic format of cargo manifest and submission of electronic copies of the manifest to the Commission on Audit chairperson.

Under CAO 15-2020, BOC should exercise supervision and control over the entrance and clearance of vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign commerce and over all import and export cargoes, landed or stored in piers, airports, wharves, and customs facilities and warehouses (CFW).

CAO 15-2020 noted this is to protect government revenue and prevent the entry of contraband, taking into consideration the Philippines’ commitment under the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) to simplify and harmonize customs procedures to facilitate the movement of goods in international trade.

To implement CAO 15-2020, customs officers exercising police authority should be provided by port and airport authorities in all ports of entry with unhampered access to all premises within their administrative jurisdiction.

Once any vessel or aircraft engaged in foreign trade arrives at port, no person, except the master of the vessel or pilot-in-command, consul, quarantine officers, customs officers, or other duly authorized persons, may board or leave the vessel or aircraft without the permission of the customs officer concerned.

Vessels and aircraft engaged in foreign trade should visit only the designated ports of entry, except if allowed by law, provided no existing and valid government contract covering the handling of import and export cargo should be diminished or impaired.

Every vessel or aircraft arriving within a customs district of the Philippines from a foreign port should dock at the designated port of entry and be under the authority of the district collector of the port while within its jurisdiction.

All ocean-going vessels or international aircraft from foreign seaports or airports calling at any seaport or airports in the Philippines to disembark passengers or discharge cargo or other purposes must secure a quarantine clearance/compliance with health regulations. This quarantine certificate/clearance, also known as pratique, will be a prerequisite customs clearance.

An outgoing clearance should also be secured as a prerequisite to customs clearance of an outgoing vessel or aircraft.

Freight manifest submission rules

A true and complete copy of the cargo manifest, consolidated cargo manifest (CCM), and stowage plan should be electronically sent in advance by the shipping company, non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), freight forwarder, cargo consolidator, or their authorized agents within the following cut-off period before the carrying vessel arrives at the port of entry:

  • If the transit time is more than 72 hours, the shipping line must submit the cargo manifest electronically to BOC at least 48 hours before arrival of the vessel. In case of the CCM, it must be submitted at least 24 hours before arrival of the vessel.
  • If the transit time is less than 72 hours, the shipping line must submit the cargo manifest electronically to BOC at least 24 hours before arrival of the vessel. In case of CCM, it must be submitted 12 hours before arrival of the vessel.

Cargo description in the cargo manifest should be precise to enable BOC to identify goods for discharge at the port and take pre-emptive action, if needed.

Generic description such as freight all kinds, general cargo and/or similar terminologies stated in the cargo manifest of the carrying vessel will not be allowed and will be penalized under CAO 15-2020.

In addition to the mandatory information required, the electronic cargo manifest (e-cargo manifest) and electronic CCM (e-CCM) submitted to BOC must also include information on freight charges.

Cargoes or containers not listed in the cargo manifest but are recorded in the stowage plan should be covered by a supplemental manifest, which should be submitted not later than 48 hours from date of discharge of the last package of the vessel.

Cargoes or containers not listed in both the cargo manifest and stowage plan will be considered as unmanifested and subject to seizure and forfeiture.

No bulk and breakbulk cargoes will be discharged unless duly covered by a load port survey report in accordance with the procedure for bulk and breakbulk cargo clearance under Administrative Order No. 243-A.

Air cargo manifest submission

For aircraft, a true and complete copy of the cargo manifest should be electronically sent in advance by the airline, air express operator, air freight forwarder, and deconsolidator within the following period prior to the arrival of the aircraft at the port of entry:

  • If the port of loading is in Asia, the electronic cargo manifest must be submitted one hour before arrival of the aircraft
  • If the port of loading is other than Asia, the electronic cargo manifest must be submitted four hours before the aircraft’s arrival

For the e-CCM, cut-off times for submission are as follows:

  • If the airline submits the electronic cargo manifest on time, the cut-off time for e-CCM submission will be one hour after the aircraft’s arrival
  • If the e-cargo manifest is submitted late, the e-CCM will be accepted without penalty provided that the submission in the customs system will not exceed 24 hours after the e-cargo manifest is registered by the Office of the Deputy Collector for Operations. This same privilege will apply in case the e-cargo manifest is not validated in time due to system errors, late encoding of date of last discharge, force majeure, and other similar circumstances that are not the fault of the airline.

Cargoes not listed in the cargo manifest should be duly covered by a supplemental manifest to be submitted six hours upon arrival of the aircraft.

Any vessel, seacraft, or aircraft arriving within the limits of a customs district from a foreign port which departs before undergoing customs formalities, without being compelled to do so by stress of weather, pursuit or duress of enemies, or other necessity, will be liable for the following fines:

  • First offense – P100,000
  • Second offense – P200,000
  • Third offense – P300,000

The same schedule of fines will be imposed for obstructing a boarding officer; unlawfully boarding or disembarking from the vessel or aircraft; unloading cargo at improper time or place after arrival; failing to exhibit or deposit documents; failing to supply advance and requisite manifests; breaking the seal placed by customs officers; disappearance of manifested goods; discrepancy with the master of the vessel’s or pilot-in-command’s report; and false statement of vessel or aircraft’s destination.

Unloading of cargo before arrival at the port of entry will be subjected to fines of:

  • First offense – P500,000
  • Second offense – P1 million
  • Third offense – P2 million

Bringing of unmanifested arms, explosives, or war equipment is penalized with:

  • First offense – P500,000
  • Second offense – P750,000
  • Third offense – P1 million

If the actual weight of the goods or package exceeds the declared weight in the manifest or bill of lading by more than 10% due to the negligence of the master of the vessel or pilot-in-command, then the owner, employee, operator or agent of the importing vessel or aircraft will be liable for a fine of not more than 20% of the value of the package or goods in which the deficiency exists.

Until a comprehensive cargo manifest and vessel and aircraft control system that will admit electronic copies of documents required is fully implemented, BOC will implement the provisions of CAO 15-2020. BOC’s Management Information Systems and Technology Group should devise an information and communications technology system for the distribution, submission, and processing of cargo manifest and CCM, and for reporting and monitoring of vessels and aircraft. – Roumina Pablo

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