How to Clear Gifts and Charitable Items Through Jamaica Customs

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If your business is a charitable organisation or does work for charity, there are certain guidelines that you must follow for importing charitable items and gifts.   The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) reminds importers who operate on behalf of schools, churches, foundations, and charities of these requirements and procedures.  You can, also find these guidelines on the JCA website.

Guidelines for Importing Charitable Items

  • Firstly, all shipments must be in the name and address of the charitable organisation only. This is required before the goods arrive in Jamaica.
  • To clear all shipments, a Tax Compliance Certificate (TCC) is required.
  • A notarised letter of authorisation, on the organisation’s letterhead, must be presented to Customs where an individual other than an officer of the charitable organisation is being asked to undertake the clearance.
  • Importantly, the name and signatory on the authorisation letter must be compatible with the information uploaded to the JCA’s database, in respect of the charitable entity.
  • Furthermore, a special declaration must be completed and signed by the responsible officer on the organisation’s letterhead. This declaration is to be given to the authorised person conducting business on behalf of the charity. Alternatively, it may be given to the licensed customs broker.
  • A licensed customs broker is required to clear shipments valued at and above US$5,000. A C73 Form (Authorisation for a Person to Act On Behalf of Another) must be completed. However, the charity organisation also has the right to hire a licensed customs broker for shipments under US$5,000.
  • As it pertains to shipments of US$5,000 or more, a licensed customs broker, upon receiving a completed C73 Form, must prepare an entry into the ASYCUDA System (Automated System for Customs Data), and upload all relevant documentation.
  • Additionally, officers of charitable organisations, or people authorised to clear shipments of US$5,000 or less, should proceed directly to the port of clearance with the documents pertaining to the shipment consigned to the name and address of the charitable organisation.

Documents Required to Clear Shipments

According to the Jamaica Customs Agency’s guidelines for clearing charitable items, the required documents must include:

  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration of Approved Charity
  • A letter of authorisation where applicable
  • The signed special declaration
  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Tax Compliance Certificates
  • Permits/ Licences where applicable
  • Any other document(s) pertaining to the shipment.

Guidelines for Educational Institutions

 In addition to the general guidelines for importing charitable items, the requirements for schools are also outlined.

Schools wishing to import charitable goods (such as canteen equipment – stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, etc) outside of their entitlements covered under the Second Schedule of the Customs Act, must receive approval from the National Education Trust (NET) before the items are shipped to Jamaica. This requirement is in order to receive a duty exemption and other prescribed benefits.

Furthermore, the school must seek approval from the Ministry of Education’s Procurement Unit, for the importation of school supplies and educational/instructional materials/items covered under the Second Schedule of the Customs Act, before the items are imported into Jamaica. Again, this is in order for duty exemption and other benefits to be given.

Also, entities wishing to import charitable items (such as for back-to-school fairs) must register with the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies before getting the items shipped into Jamaica. This requirement is in order to receive the relevant duty exemption and other benefits.

The Jamaica Customs Agency has published these guidelines to avoid any confusion during the importation and clearance of charitable goods. These guidelines are useful, particularly as the busy summer period approaches. Hopefully, charitable organisations will pay attention so that they will experience a smooth and stress-free customs clearance process.

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