Outline of Import Clearance

When a shipment of goods is imported into Papua New Guinea whether it is by sea, air or land, the owner of those goods must declare them to Customs. The owner or his agent (known as a Customs Agent or Customs Broker) is required to prepare and lodge with Customs an import declaration (known as an entry) describing the nature, quantity, value, supplier and country of origin of the goods imported or to be imported.

This entry, containing the name, address and Tax File Number of the owner, is a legal document and any errors may attract the imposition of administrative penalties. Deliberately making a false declaration to Customs may cause the goods to be seized and the owner or agent prosecuted.

The owner of imported goods should be aware that the import of some goods is restricted in that they may only be imported under the authority of a permit or licence without which the goods are prohibited. The import of some other goods is prohibited absolutely.

Restrictions and prohibitions generally apply to goods such as dangerous weapons including firearms, illicit drugs, pornographic materials and copyright infringing goods. For further information please contact any Customs office. Customs is currently modernising its business processes and migrating to the electronic reporting system called Asycuda++, which provides Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) clearance process. This system is replacing the need to physically lodge paper-based reports and supporting documents for each shipment although at present only Port Moresby is fully electronic. Other ports are slowly being upgraded to accept the system in a graduated roll out across the country.

When fully functional up to 80% of entries will be cleared without Customs intervention at the time of import, the remaining 20% either being subject to documentary or physical checks at the time of import to ensure compliance with the Customs Act.

In addition to targeted cargo inspections, Post Clearance Audit (PCA) teams will conduct audits at importers premises at any time within 5 years after the goods have been imported as part of a strategy to ensure importers are honest with Customs.

Customs' compliance strategy commences with education of importers and customs agents and progresses through administrative penalties to seizure and prosecution action. Customs aim is to achieve voluntary compliance within the importing industry, which in turn will be reflected in a lesser need for Customs intervention at the time of import.

The following procedures are current as of now but will be changing in the near future. This website will be updated accordingly:

Import Clearance Procedures

The owner of the goods and anyone who causes the goods to be imported must retain all relevant records in relation to those goods for a period of 5 years from the date of import. If the owner or other person is selected for an audit these records will be examined to ensure compliance with the Customs Act. Failure to retain these records carries severe penalties including a term of imprisonment.

(Refer Section 131A onwards of the Customs Act, Chapter 101)

1.1 Lodging an import declaration: The first stage of the import clearance procedure is to lodge an entry (Customs Form 15) through the DTI system. The entry can only be lodged by a licensed customs agent ( More Infor ) authorised in writing by the owner of the goods to act on his/her behalf. The customs agent will deal with all the requirements needed to clear the goods through Customs and Quarantine formalities.

1.2 Documents to Be Submitted: The second stage is for the customs agent to print a hard copy of the entry and produce it to Customs at a designated Customs office with the following documents. (This process is only interim while awaiting all Agents to go on line. At a future date only nominated entries will require printing and producing with supporting documents)

(1) Invoice showing the correct value, quantity, description, etc.
(2) Bill of Lading or Air Waybill;
(3) Packing List;
(4) Customs Valuation Declaration
(5) Certificate of origin and value (if applicable)
(6) Import Permits/ Licences/ Applications, etc (if prohibited/restricted)
(7) Any other documents as may be required by Customs.

1.3 Check the Declaration and Supporting Documents: The third stage is the checking and verification of the declaration and the attached documents submitted to ensure the goods have been correctly classified using the Customs tariff, the correct value of the goods has been calculated and declared and the correct rate of duty has been applied. (At a future date this check will only be required on nominated entries, all other will be electronically cleared)

1.4 Payment of Duties and Taxes: The fourth stage is payment of applicable duties and taxes as detailed on the notice of assessment. There are currently two means for payment of import duties and taxes; these are by cash or by approved company or Bank cheques, payable at a Customs office. (At a future date Electronic funds transfer will be a third payment option)

Once payment has been made to Customs the owner of the goods may only take possession of the imported goods once all transport, wharfage and other fees have been paid. Goods remain under the control of Customs until they are lawfully removed from a Customs Controlled Area.

1.5 Inspect and Release Cargo: At any time up to the release of cargo from a Customs Controlled Area, Customs has the right to examine the imported goods to determine the nature, origin, condition, quantity and value of the goods declared to Customs. Customs may also examine consignments where intelligence and risk assessment indicates they may contain prohibited or restricted imports.