Shipping Company know by regulation that every shipment across international borders must be cleared through Customs. There are two-way clearance; at the origin and at the destination. This article is concerned with the clearance at the port of arrival or discharge at the destination country. The clearance process could be a very smooth and enjoyable experience or a nightmare. Smoothness is dependent on the processes adopted and the expertise in documentation. If proper clearance procedures are strictly followed and adhered to, importation becomes sweet. Attempts to cut corners on rules or play smart are not often advantageous. Most often than not however, the aim is not to deliberately to flout rules or do something smart. Thus, the result of ignorance and human errors could increase overall cost.
PURPOSE OF ARTICLE
The purpose of this article and the next one I will write is to point out areas of common mistakes in processes and in documentation, and to help you avoid them. Let me treat the procedural errors first, and deal with documentation error in the next article.
SHIPPING COMPANY: PROCEDURAL ERROR TO AVOID IN SHIPMENT TO NIGERIA
Shipping Company shipping the cargo to Nigeria without or before Form M approval:
It is possible to clear cargo without following the standard Form M and PAAR application. This is called direct assessment or express bases. Direct cargo assessment is recommended only for extremely urgent shipments. The reason is because this method comes with extra cost compared to the standard conventional clearance.
If the goal is to do the conventional clearance procedure, which of course is more legal and cheaper, then you must first of all obtain the Form M before cargo departure. Otherwise, shipping your cargo first, and later obtaining Form M will produce an error. In such instance the bank will say: ‘shipping documents precedes Form M.’ The error will hinder processing of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report PAAR. Without the PAAR, you are forced to take the only available option – Direct Assessment (with more clearing costs). To avoid this from happening, you must check to be sure your Form M is registered with the Nigerian Customs Services.
Shipping company Lifting cargo without inspection by Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) approved agents:
The standard, conventional practice is that you apply for SON PC, use the PC to get Form M. Once done, send copy Form M along with other documents demanded to SON approved inspection agents and ask for the SONCAP certificate. The SON agent will inspect your goods, and also supervise the loading at supply country, before issuance of SONCAP Certificate. Failure to follow this procedure will mean that the SON agent would refuse to issue you with SONCAP. Reason is because they did not oversee loading process. Should SON agent refuse to issue you with SONCAP Certificate, you have no option left than clear the cargo on Direct Assessment method with more cost implication. I shall write on how to handle direct assessment of cargo on a different article.
Failure to submit manifest on time to the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) by the shipping company:
Recently, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) has asked shipping company to transmit electronic manifest of their cargoes to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) seven days before the arrival of any vessel to the country. Once manifest is transmitted, the importer can start the clearance process before cargo arrival. This enables the importer to clear cargoes within 3 days on arrival, and thus avoid extra costs emanating from storage. So, actively engage your transporter to do the needful at the right time.
Following the above steps would help eliminate human errors and enhance clearance process.