Making a Customs Declaration
A Customs Declaration/Bill of Entry has to be submitted for every importation. Some importers have their own customs clerk but most of them utilise the services of a Customs House broker, or freight forwarding agent. Customs agents/brokers must be registered at Customs to be able to clear goods.
Lodging a Declaration
Import entries and other clearances are a legal declaration to Customs under the Customs Act 1988, providing details of import shipments. Among other offences under the Act, it is an offence to make an erroneous entry or declaration. A penalty may be applied, or prosecution action taken if an erroneous entry or declaration is made.
If you import non-consumable goods that will be re-exported within 12 months of importation, you may qualify to enter the goods using a Temporary Import Entry. In this case you may be required to provide some form of security (such as a cash deposit or other approved security) to cover any Customs Duty and/or VAT pending re-export. The deposit will be fully refunded if the goods are re-exported within 12 months from the date of importation.
Mauritius accepts the ATA carnet in lieu of security as a means of facilitating the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment and goods for use or display at an exhibition, and certain other materials and equipment.
This is an international Customs document designed to facilitate the temporary importation of goods into other countries where you intend to return all the goods to the country of original export. The same document set is used at arriving and departing ports as it contains a set of detachable import/export vouchers that are completed by Customs at each port. The ATA carnet has a validity of 12 months commencing from the date of issue.
The following items require clearances from the relevant authorities:
Foodstuffs – Food Import Unit , Ministry of Health & Quality of Life Wellness
Meat and Meat Products – Division of Veterinary Services, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security
Fish and Fish Products – Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping
Agricultural Items (fruits, vegetables, flowers, seeds) – Ministry of Agro Industries - Industry and Food Security
Pharmaceutical products – Government Pharmacist
Live Animals – Veterinary Division of Veterinary Services/Quarantine Services - Ministry of Agro- Industriy and Food Security
Tobacco Products – National Agricultural Products Regulatory Office (NAPRO)
Tea – NAPRO
Toys and other consumer products (iron bars, electric cables etc)- Mauritius Standards Bureau (MSB)
Chemicals – Dangerous Chemical Control Board (DCCB)
Import permit is required for goods listed in the First Schedule of the Consumer Protection (Control of Import) Regulation 1999.
The usual method for establishing the Customs value is by using the transaction value (the price paid or payable for the imported goods). Overseas freight and insurance charges are deducted if these charges are already included in the transaction value.
Customs will accept the transaction value on these conditions:
- there must be a sale for export to Mauritius. Goods which have not been sold for export cannot be valued by this method (such as goods on consignment, or goods supplied free of charge)
- it must be shown that the transaction value has not been affected by any relationship between the importer and supplier.
Where the transaction value cannot be used, there are alternatives for determining the Customs value:
- value of identical goods
- value of similar goods
- the deductive method of valuation
- the computed method of valuation
- the fall back method of valuation
When applying the fall back method of valuation (as a last resort), the other valuation methods may be used in a more flexible and tolerant manner. However, the value of the goods being valued shall not be determined on the basis of :
- the selling price in Mauritius of those goods produced in Mauritius
- a system which provides for the acceptance for duty purposes of the higher of two alternative values
- the price of those goods on the domestic market of the country of export
- the costs of production other than the computed method of valuation
- the price of the goods for export to a country other than Mauritius: or
- arbitrary or fictitious values.
Where Customs Officers find that goods have been declared at a value different from their true value they may, on the basis of the information provided by the importer and on other information available, determine the value of those goods and the importer shall pay duty, excise duty and taxes, if any, on the value so determined.
The Customs value is required in Mauritian Rupee, so it may be necessary to convert the invoiced amount into the Mauritian Rupee equivalent, using the exchange rate in force on the date the import entry or clearance document is lodged at Customs.
Exchange rates used by the Mauritius Customs Department are set for one week period. They are made available on the MRA website and 3-4 days in advance at the Registry.
The rate of Customs duty applicable on imported goods shall be that as per the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act.
Tariff classification – The classification of any goods for the purposes of the Act shall be determined in accordance with the Convention and any relevant publications of the Council relating to it. Convention means the International Convention on the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System.
The structure of the tariff is based on the World Customs Organisation International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding system (commonly referred to as the Harmonized System).
- Preferential Trade Agreements
The rate of customs duty applicable to goods imported under the COMESA Treaty, SADC Trade Protocol, Indian Ocean Commission and Bilateral Agreements such as Pakistan Mauritius Preferential Trade Agreement (PMPTA), European Commission (EC) and Mauritius –Turkey Free Trade Agreement (MTFTA) is also indicated in the Tariff Schedule
Mauritius has signed Preferential Trade Agreements with various countries, and as a result Mauritian goods have a preferential market in those countries. Agreement can be of three types:
- Unilateral - where Mauritius can benefit from preferential treatments without giving the same to the other party/parties
- Bilateral - (between two parties) where Mauritius as well as the other party benefit from preferential treatment.
- Multilateral - where Mauritius benefits from and offers preferential treatments from/to regional trade communities (SADC and EU).
For example, if Mauritius had a bilateral agreement with a particular country, we would have reduced rates or complete exemption of customs duty on imports from that country (depending on the clauses of the agreement) the same would apply for Mauritian exports to that country.
Some of the trade agreements signed by Mauritius are listed below:
- PMPTA - Pakistan Mauritius Preferential Trade Agreement
- Mauritius – Turkey Free Trade Agreement (MTFTA)
- IOC – India Ocean Commission
- SADC – Southern Africa Development Community
- COMESA – Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
- EU-ESA – European Union- Eastern and Southern Africa (interim agreement)
Concession and exemption – Part II A of the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act provides for concessionary rate of customs duty on imported goods applicable to bodies, organization and persons under specific circumstances.
Excisable goods means goods specified in the First Schedule of the Excise Act 1994 and the chargeable rate shall be as per Part I of the First Schedule of the Excise Act 1994.( hyperlink – The Excise Act 1994 )
- Concession on Excisable Goods
A concessionary rate of excise duty is applicable to imported or manufactured goods as per Part 1 A of the First Schedule to the Excise Act.
- MID Levy
A MID levy shall be chargeable on the excisable goods specified in Part II of the First Schedule, whether the goods are for home consumption or not.
- CO2 Levy
A CO2 levy shall be chargeable, or a CO2 rebate shall be granted, as the case may be, on the motor cars specified in Sub-Part A of Part III of the First Schedule when removed for home consumption.
Origin of goods
The origin of goods you are importing may have a bearing on the tariff rate of duty to which your goods may be liable.Goods can be classified into two types of Origin which are:
- the general rate of duty which applies to goods imported from all foreign countries
- the preferential rate which applies to goods imported from countries having trade agreements with Mauritius. The rate of duty imposed will depend on the particularities of the agreement (the rate of duty may be of reduced rates or even nil).
For more information on the Tariff Classification and Origin of a particular item you can contact the Customs Tariff and Origin Information Unit.
Value Added Tax
Goods imported into Mauritius are liable for Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15 percent. VAT is payable on the sum of following amounts:
- the Customs value of the goods,
- any import duty and excise duty,(see above) and
- the freight and insurance costs incurred in transporting the goods to Mauritius.
Payment of Charges
There are three modes of payment for the Customs charges. These are:
- e-payment – through bank transfer.
Among these three modes of payment, e-payment proves to be the easiest, safest, fastest and most reliable. In fact, this mode of payment eliminates the shortcomings of the other two (long queues at cashier, bounced cheques and time consuming procedures) and customs is encouraging more and more stakeholders to make use of this particular payment mode.
E-payment is a mode of payment in addition to the conventional methods of payment offered by the banks under specific security norms. This scheme facilitates anytime, anywhere payment and an instant cyber receipt is generated once the transaction is completed. The e-payment facility is a part of the e-Customs initiatives.
Customs administration is an important player in business processes, able to determine the speed and effectivity of business transactions. It also generates a significant share of state revenues, therefore its processes effectiveness is vital for the state and the business.The implementation of electronic customs processes (e-Customs) creates basic preconditions for:
- Speeding up the customs processes and consequently speeding up business transactions,
- ore transparent and up-to-time income flows into the state budget.
The ultimate goal in the e-customs project is to allow all customs/trader transactions and data exchange to be performed electronically in a secure and reliable manner.
The main idea is to speed up the payment process and consequently speed up the whole customs declaration procedure. After the trader sends the payment order to his bank, the bank immediately sends an electronic payment guarantee message to the corresponding customs office. Money transfer is done in a standard way through the bank clearing system and is independent from the payment guarantee message sent to the customs office.
Advantages for Stakeholders
- Ease of operation and convenience (elimination of shortcomings like bounced/dishonored cheques).
- Improved security of transactions.
- Reduce costs for stakeholders dealing with Customs(time and transportation cost reduction)
- Instant Cyber receipt with banks transaction number becomes available.
- Facility is available on a 24x7 basis.
- One can pay on behalf of the firm, company and others.
- On-line payment of customs duties (no more queues and waiting).
- Declaration validated as soon as payment is effected.
- Filling of a single form for registration and approval.
- Is a pre-requisite to join the Fast Track Cargo Initiative.
- Improved commercial relationships between customs and stakeholders.
- Confidentiality and transparency of the transfer of funds.
- Increased competitiveness compared to other stakeholders using traditional methods.
Refunds of Customs duty and VAT may be made when:
- duty is paid in error
- a concession is later approved for the goods
- the goods are of faulty manufacture (return to exporter)
- the goods were in a damaged or deteriorated condition prior to leaving Customs control (return to exporter)
Evidence to support any refund application will be required.
Goods on which import duty is paid and subsequently exported may also be eligible for a drawback of the duty and VAT (examination by Customs at time of export to ascertain if the goods have not been altered/substituted).
Short-payment of Customs charges may be identified in various ways, for example, voluntary disclosures by clients, Customs audit or other Customs investigations.
Most of short payments cases arise due to under valuation of goods by stakeholders to reduce their customs charges. When this malpractice is detected, an "upliftment" procedure is done and the true value is assessed by customs.
Consequently an uplifted customs charge will be paid by the importer. The "uplifted" customs charge may include a penalty depending on the gravity of the undervaluation and on whether there are other customs offences associated with the importation.
Where the short-payment of Customs charges arises as the result of audit activity or from a Customs enquiry (post clearance control), Customs provides notice in writing including information of any appeal provisions.
Customs has to be informed when changes (Post-entry/Amendments) need to be done in the information provided in a Customs Declaration/Bill of entry. The declarant/customs broker informs Customs electronically (EDI) about the information (quantity, marks and numbers, weight, name of importer, etc...) to be amended. Customs revert back the message after approval and only then the declarant issue a new version of the declaration be issued and continue with the clearance procedures.
No post-entry can be made in the customs regime and the routing code. If changes are to made for this particular heading, the bill of entry should be cancelled and a fresh bill of entry has to be issued.
To help prevent the importation of unauthorised copies of goods, the owner of a trade mark or copyright can give a notice to the Customs requesting the detention of the goods. The current list of trade marks and copyright notices is shown below. The owner of a registered trade mark has the exclusive right to the use the trade mark in Mauritius. The owner may take Legal action against anyone who imports, sells, manufactures, or distributes goods bearing an unauthorised copy of the trade mark, or a mark similar to the trade mark, if it is likely to deceive or cause confusion among consumers.
List of Right Owners registered at Customs
Customs detains a wide range of imitation goods at the border. The most common counterfeit and pirated goods are:
- Optical discs (CDs/DVDs)
- Cell phone accessories
- Spare parts and accessories for motor vehicle
- Pharmaceutical products
- Perfumes, cosmetics and other accessories
Some counterfeit goods intercepted at the border pose a risk to consumers, such as imitation foodstuffs, medicines, toys, car oil filters and cell phone charging units.
Importers and consumers should consider the following if they suspect goods are counterfeit:
- Counterfeit goods are often sold very cheaply at markets or on the Internet.
- Most counterfeits are imitation of expensive, high quality luxurious products.
- Counterfeit goods often have low quality packaging, badly printed labels.
- Counterfeit goods might be dangerous for consumption and use. (e.g. toys for children with parts not properly fixed, medicine not containing the appropriate composition).
- Counterfeit goods are not worth the original product in terms of quality, life time and performance.
- Importation of counterfeit goods is punishable by law. (intellectual property rights act)
AEO status is primarily a trade facilitation measure focused on an accreditation regime to prove supply chain compliance. The aim of the AEO programme is to enhance security through granting recognition to reliable traders and encouraging best practice at all levels in the international supply chain. Operators accredited with the AEO status will benefit of the following advantages:
- Expedited release of goods
- Reduced number of inspections
- Eligibility to account-based processing
- Movement of low-risk shipments out of inspection lines
- Development of simplified post-entry requirements
- Worldwide recognition as a low-risk trader
- Streamlined Customs procedures
- Priority treatment in case of physical control
- Fewer delayed shipments
- Improved planning
- Improved customer loyalty
- Adoption of a paperless Customs environment
An operator who wants to acquire the AEO status will have to satisfy certain conditions to the satisfaction of Customs. In addition to that, the applicant will have to undergo a physical evaluation (audit) carried out by a pool officers from the MRA Customs Department. The four main criteria to be analysed are:
- Financial solvency
- Safety and Security
- Proper system of records
Once the evaluation is over, Customs will decide whether or not to grant the operator the AEO status.