Customs: Lack of Information or No Invoice

          Occasionally things go wrong. An invoice was issued by the supplier but the invoice is illegible. The supplier is not available to explain or has closed down.

          How do you figure out what is in the consignment? What do you Customs clear?

          In another example the consignment was shipped with the wrong goods in the container. An invoice was not issued. A month later neither the supplier nor the importer knows what was packed.

          And in yet another example the goods were supplied to the wrong destination. The would-be importer has undertaken to clear the goods for import and re-exportation but does not know what is in the consignment. What do you do?

          The answer is a Sight Inspection. A Sight Inspection is a Customs inspection held under “non-prejudice”, i.e. no bias or prejudgment is held by Customs.

          The process involves making an application to SARS Customs on a DA 22 Sight Bill of Entry. A DA 22 Sight Entry is a simplified version of an import declaration. It is a manual process. The Customs Clearing Agent would complete the form and submit it to Customs. Customs will in turn “Stop” the Sight Entry.

          A booking for a Customs examination is made and the goods are inspected. Both parties (Customs and the importer or agent) must be present during the Sight Inspection. The Customs Officer will make-out an inventory of the goods on the reverse side of the Sight Entry.

          The importer or Clearing Agent will in turn make-out an independent inventory of the goods Sighted.

          With the knowledge gained of what is in the consignment, either an invoice must be produced or three quotations for the goods must be obtained. In the case of quotations, the highest of the three must be used for clearance purposes.

          Once the goods are cleared using a proper clearance declaration, Customs will assess the declaration and compare it to their own inventory of the goods. If in order, the shipment will finally be released.

          If Customs is not satisfied with the valuation of the goods, they may launch a further investigation into the nature of the goods and value thereof. This may result in a VDN (Valuation Determination) being issued. VDN will be covered in another Blog later on.

          If any of the goods Sighted are subject to anti-dumping duties, then a VDN will almost certainly be considered.

          Sight Entries occur very seldom. Many traders do not know about the opportunity that this process presents to solve such problems. This is the reason for including this topic into a blog.