URA Issues New Guidelines on Consolidated Importation of Goods

Containers loaded with cargo at the port of Mombasa.

Tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has introduced new guidelines to traders involved in consolidated importation of goods into Uganda. The move is intended to solve the challenges involved in importation and clearance of such cargo.

Consolidation in shipping is the combining of cargo from more than one shipper and/or to more than one consignee for shipment together, usually in a single shipping container.

On arrival, the container is unloaded, and each individual shipment may be claimed by its appropriate consignee.

Now, in a statement by the Commissioner Customs, Dicksons Kateshumbwa, said some challenges have been borne by several prayers in the supply chain involving consolidated cargo.

“Of particular concern is the suffering and hardships including loss of cargo that particularly small traders have experienced mainly as a result of malpractices by some dishonest players in the supply chain,” Kateshumbwa said.

He also added that the revenue is negatively affected and putting at stake the standards of the cargo imported.

In the new guidelines says, all cargo received by the consolidations in the country of export each consignment will be required to have full address of the owner, telephone, email and home address. The accompanying import or export documents handed to the consolidation must be forwarded in English.

“Formal loading instructions to consolidators, must be given by the clients/importers. However, if there is no loading instructions and the goods are at the warehouse, they may be loaded on the ship within 48 hours of receipt upon notification to the importer,” wrote Kateshumbwa.

On the rampant and exorbitant charges complained about by the importers, Kateshumbwa says “aggregation of the charges to include taxes by consolidators is prohibited. Shipping charges must be distinctly stated and transparent.”

He says shipping charges must be between USD 100 and USD 150 up to home destination (Kampala).

Any charges outside the range should be subject to exceptional circumstances that should be disclosed to importers, the Commissioner says.

“Consolidators must stop billing importers money for taxes. All taxes at Importation are paid and receipted in the bank based on a Customs assessment,” Kateshumbwa added.

On cargo declaration to customs at Mombasa and Dar es salaam ports, he says, it should be pieces not packages and strictly according to packaging lists and invoices.

In other guidelines, container leaders have been blocked from clearing cargo on behalf of other importers and that customs will gazette specific bonds to manage consolidated cargo.

Consolidating cargo in one container up to warehousing in Kampala for importers belonging to two countries has been barred and won’t be permitted.

To avoid exploitation of importers, brokers, middlemen and unlicensed clearing firms and unauthorized declarants has been prohibited in the new guidelines and will lead to blacklisting of parties involved and prosecution.

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