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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will supervise and regulate third-party service providers transacting on behalf of importers and consignees by requiring them to register.

Under Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 06-2019, only registered third parties may transact with the agency. These parties will also be treated equally as true importers or consignees and liable for violations committed against the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and related laws.

Third parties include private carriers, common carriers for transit cargoes, airline representatives or airline ground handling agents, shipping lines or their agents, pipeline operators, freight forwarders, consolidators, de-consolidators, non-vessel operating common carriers, logistics providers, arrastre operators, and such other persons dealing with BOC in relation to importation, exportation, movement, storage, and clearance of goods for and in behalf of another person.

All de-consolidators handling balikbayan (personal effects) boxes, importers and exporters, customs brokers, customs bonded warehouses, customs facility warehouses, courier service operators, air express cargo operators, and service providers that act as third parties shall be governed by their respective rules and regulations, and are not covered by CAO 06-2019.

CAO 06-2019 was published on July 10 although it was signed much earlier by Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on February 20 and May 2, respectively. CAO 06-2019 takes effect 30 days after July 10.

Registration and supervision of third parties is pursuant to Section 1226 (Supervision and Regulation of Third Parties) of the CMTA. The provision states that third parties transacting with BOC on behalf of importers and consignees shall be treated equally as true importers or consignees.

Under CAO 06-2019, only registered third parties shall be allowed to transact with BOC for and on behalf of another person, and shall also be liable for violations committed against CMTA and related laws.

Third parties shall apply for registration with BOC’s Account Management Office (AMO), or its equivalent office, individually or through their organization, subject to documentary requirements under CAO 06-2019.

Third parties with existing permits or duly authorized to engage in such business by other regulatory agencies shall still register with BOC, provided they submit a permit to operate or equivalent document, and shall comply with the requirements under CAO 06-2019.

Registration of third parties is valid for one year from the date of approval, subject, however, to suspension, revocation, or cancellation. An annual registration fee of P1,000 shall be imposed, subject to periodic review.

All registration applications shall be approved or disapproved by BOC within five working days from receipt of complete documentary requirements. An approved application for registration shall be evidenced by a Certificate of Registration issued by BOC.

Renewal of registration must be filed within 30 calendar days before the registration expires.

Third parties with a high level of compliance record under the Authorized Economic Operator and other trade facilitation programs may be allow a one-time registration privilege under a customs memorandum order that BOC will issue.

Registration of third parties may be cancelled or revoked on several grounds, including deliberate failure or refusal without justifiable reasons to comply with the duties and responsibilities of third parties under CAO 06-2019.

Justifiable reasons under CAO 06-2019 means “any and all acts the commission of which shall not render the person liable either administratively or criminally under existing laws, rules, or regulations.”

Other grounds for cancellation or revocation of registration are submission of false, spurious, and forged documents to support the approval of the registration; and violation of existing customs laws, rules, and regulations.

CAO 06-2019 states that BOC shall accord due notice and hearing to the third party before cancelling or revoking its registration.

For valid reasons under CAO 06-2019, however, BOC may temporarily bar third parties from transacting with BOC pending a hearing.

Cancellation or revocation of registration of third parties shall be without prejudice to the filing of any criminal charges and/or administrative sanctions which may be imposed under CMTA or by the concerned primary regulating agency, as the case may be, pursuant to their own rules and regulations.

Under CAO 06-2019, third parties registered with BOC have the responsibility to submit true and authentic documents, including certified true copies of permits, authority and other papers duly issued by other regulatory agencies.

During any investigation conducted by BOC, third parties shall make available pertinent papers and documents, as well as issue statements, affidavits, and attestations, and allow the processing of any information or documents already submitted to BOC.

Third parties shall also maintain and make available to BOC the complete books and/or records of transaction performed on behalf of the importer or consignee and exporter in relation to importation, exportation, movement, storage and clearance of goods. A third party who knows that the customs law has been violated shall also report all relative information to BOC.

BOC, under CAO 06-2019, shall periodically consult with concerned regulatory agencies on the effective implementation of rules and regulations governing the conduct of third parties dealing directly with BOC in relation to importation, exportation, movement, storage, and clearance of goods for and on behalf of another person.

BOC may also enter into necessary agreements with the concerned regulatory agencies to help implement CAO 06-2019.

All previously issued rulings by BOC shall remain in effect one year from the effectivity of CAO 06-2019. — Roumina Pablo

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