Customs brokers can still use their prepaid or prepayment accounts and deposit funds until June 15, according to Office of the Commissioner Memo No. 85-2021 dated May 26
The order allows for seamless implementation of changes introduced by Customs Memorandum Order 18-2021, which prohibits brokers from opening or maintaining prepayment accounts for importer-clients
Any remaining balance after June 15 may no longer be used and subject to refund
Customs brokers may use their prepaid or prepayment accounts and deposit funds only until June 15, according to a new order by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
In Office of the Commissioner Memo No. 85-2021 dated May 26, Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the ruling enables seamless implementation of changes introduced by Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) 18-2021.
CMO 18-2021, which took effect on May 24, no longer allows customs brokers from opening and maintaining prepayment accounts and making advance payments on behalf of their client-importers.
Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. president Adones Carmona welcomed the period extension. He earlier said that since CMO 18-2021 already took effect on May 24, or only a few days after publication, some customs brokers have not had a chance to fully use up their prepaid accounts’ funds.
In his latest memo, Guerrero directed chiefs of the collection division or its equivalent units and offices concerned to inform customs brokers availing of the period extension “that it is incumbent upon them to deposit only the funds necessary to cover their transactions until 15 June 2021.”
Otherwise, the remaining balance after June 15 may no longer be used and may be subject to refund in accordance with existing provisions under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and other related rules and regulations.
All chiefs of the collection division or its equivalent units were likewise enjoined to expedite approval of the prepayment registration form (PRF) and the creation of prepayment accounts to prevent delays in the customs clearance of shipments.
Alternative modes of payment
CMO 18-2021 revised rules on the opening and utilization of prepayment accounts, and aims to provide an alternative mode of payment of duties, taxes, and other charges for all goods declarations lodged in BOC’s Electronic-to-Mobile (e2m) System.
The order covers goods declarations for consumption (formal), transit, warehousing, export, informal entry, and transshipment.
Under CMO 18-2021, any accredited importer or exporter is given an option to open prepayment accounts as an alternative to the Payment Application Secure System Version 5.0 (PASS5) system required to be used by all E2M users.
For consumption, transit (including shipments from local ports to free zones), and warehousing declarations, the accredited importer can open the prepayment account.
For export declarations, the accredited exporter can open the prepayment account while small-value importers and air express cargo operators can do so for informal entries.
Previously under CMO 27-2014, importers and customs brokers may open prepaid accounts but are not obliged to do so. Customs brokers may also use their prepaid accounts to make payments to BOC on behalf of their client importers, but subject to Republic Act No. 9280, or the Customs Brokers Act of 2004. (CMO 18-2021 repealed CMO 27-2014.)
It must be noted that Section 30 of RA 9280 states no customs broker shall advance and finance on behalf of their client-importers the payment of duties and taxes, arrastre charges, wharfage dues, storage fees, and other port charges.
Carmona earlier told PortCalls he sees no problem with CMO 18-2021, opining that prepayment is a form of advance payment that is prohibited under RA 9280.
Under CMO 18-2021, the importer or exporter may open and maintain one or more prepayment accounts in any collection district from which he or she will specify where payment should be made on a per-transaction basis.
The prepayment account can be used to make payments in any collection district regardless of where the account was opened.
Funds in any prepayment account cannot be withdrawn but can be transferred from one prepayment account to another prepayment account that is also under the same holder’s name.
The accredited importer or exporter should download and fill out a PRF and submit it to BOC online through the Customer Care Portal System (CCPS) or in a flash drive. BOC will then create a prepayment account for the importer or exporter and upload their signed PRF to the CCPS. The importer or exporter can then download the PRF and present it to the in-house bank, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), where they can make a deposit of any amount to their prepayment account.
Checking of balance can be made by inquiring with BOC’s Management Information System and Technology Group-Site Team through the CCPS or any other secured BOC prepayment online query by providing the prepayment account number and transaction dates or period covered. Previously under CMO 27-2014, checking of balance is with LBP. – Roumina Pablo