Customs Licensing – e-Filing Relationship Management

Did you know… SARS Customs intends to manage the Customs supply chain (in part) through e-Filing? Correct, they intend to do so via the “Relationship Management” portal on e-Filing.

  • What does this mean?
  • Why are they doing this?
  • How will it impact you?
  • When will it become enforced?

e-Filing “Relationship Management”

Firstly, lets understand the concept. “Relationship Management” on the SARS Customs e-Filing portal requires that all clients who belong to a Customs Clearing Agent must become linked to the Clearing Agent.

Similarly, ‘clients’ of other Customs license types too will become linked on the e-Filing system, i.e. ‘clients’ of Bonded Warehouses, Removers of Goods in Bond, Customs Licensed Depots, and so forth.

In other words, as an importer or exporter of goods, you will need to be linked to all of your Logistics Service Providers on e-Filing. Examples include:

  • Customs Clearing Agents
  • Bonded Warehouses
  • Removers of Goods in Bond
  • Customs Licensed Depots
  • And so forth.

In time to come, you will not be allowed to trade through Customs without being linked to your Logistics Service Provider.

Similarly, Logistics Service Providers will not be allowed to trade through Customs if they are not linked to their clients.

The onus will be on the Logistics Service Provider to link or invite their clients to their business profiles on the e-Filing portal.

‘Clients’ of Logistics Service Providers will need to accept the “linkage” invitation from the Logistics Service Provider. This is a pre-requisite for the link to become active.

Rational of Customs “Relationship Management”?

“A rotten apple in the Customs supply chain is likely to lead to another rotten apple in the same chain.”

In other words, a company linked to a dishonest entity in the supply chain may in the same vein be suspected of being a dishonest role player. Therefore, Relationship management is a a risk management tool.

The concept of Customs supply chain Risk Management stems from Global Customs Supply Chain policy. Global policy instruments such as the SAFE Framework of Standards and the Revised Kyoto Convention were developed as a result of the September 2011 attacks on the US. They contain a strong element of Customs supply chain security.

Global Customs policy is created by the World Customs Organisation and the World Trade Organisation, to mention a few.

Linked to this are the various Customs Accreditation models adopted around the world. Examples include:

  • PTA (Preferred Trader Accreditation) (South Africa)
  • AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) (Europe, Africa and now South Africa)
  • CTPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) (United States).

When will it become Enforced?

The first 100 Customs Clearing Agents were requested the start the process in 2022. Initially, the requirement to link will be a ‘soft’ approach requested by SARS. In time to come, one will become legally obligated to do so.

Currently, Migration and Linking is taking place in a staggered approach:

  • Firstly, Clearing Agents are being requested to migrate to the e-Filing platform
  • Secondly, Clearing Agents must “link” to their clients. Off-course, client acceptance on e-Filing is required
  • Thirdly, Importers, Exporters and Other Client Types will be requested to migrate to e-Filing
  • Fourthly, linking will at some point in the future become a legal obligation.

Please Contact us for advice or a quotation for Customs Licensing.

More information can be found at Licensing and Registrations.

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