Customs agents are persons or companies licensed by the Commissioner of Customs to Act on behalf of the importers and exporters. In some Partner States, it is compulsory to use a Customs agent when clearing goods through Customs. This article provides an overview of the Clearing Agent.
Q: Who is a Customs Agent?
A Customs agent is a person who has been appointed by the Commissioner of Customs to transact business relating to Customs on behalf of other people.
Q: Do you need a license to be a Customs agent? (Section 145-148)
Yes, Customs agents must be licensed by the Commissioner before they can be involved in the clearance of goods through Customs. An application on Form C24 must be made and presented to the Commissioner for consideration.
Q: What are the requirements for registration?
The requirements for registration are as follows:
- Have an established office, the physical location of which shall be indicated in the license application form for customs verification purposes;
- Indicate the bankers in the application;
- Memorandum and articles of association of the company;
- Certificate of registration of the company;
- Tax Identification Numbers of the company and the directors;
- Copies of identity cards, passports or other forms of identification of the directors and staff proposed to directly handle or sign customs documents; and
- Recent passport size photographs of directors and staff duly certified by a Notary Public or a Commissioner for Oaths
Q: Can anyone be given the license?
No, the Commissioner can only license people/companies who are registered, knowledgeable about Customs clearance and have an office with equipment like computers. Licenses will not be issued or renewed if the licensee or applicant has a criminal record, is involved in dishonest activities or any other wrong doing.
Q: What is the validity period of a license?
The validity period of a Customs Agent license is 1 calendar year. Licenses obtained in the course of the year all expire on the 31st December of every year.
Q: Is the License renewal process automatic?
No, the renewal is subject to the Commissioners approval based on considerations like: all queries have been answered and no major offenses have been committed.
Q: Is there a fee payable for the license?
Yes there is an application fee of US$ 10 and an annual license fee of US$ 400.00
Q: How will an agent assist the owner of the goods?
An agent, authorized by the owner to act on their behalf in writing, will be responsible for preparing and presenting the declarations to Customs. The agent may also sign any other documents on behalf of his client on request if authorized by the Customs Act. The agent will ensure that all taxes due are paid as required on the consignments he/she handles on behalf of the owner.
Q: What will happen if an agent is involved in illicit activities?
The owner of goods being cleared through Customs is responsible for what the authorized agent does during the period he/she is acting on his/her behalf. Both the owner and the agent will be prosecuted for any unlawful acts done by the agent acting on his/her behalf.
Q: What are the obligations of an agent to the Commissioner?
An agent should notify the Commissioner that he intends to act on behalf of the various clients who have authorized him to do so.
Q: What are the obligations of the client to the agent?
The client must provide the agent the relevant documents in unaltered state and equip the agent with a true and correct position to avoid misrepresentation.