One of the major functions of Customs is the facilitation of cargo clearance and collection of revenue on import duties, VAT and Excise tax at our borders and port of entries such as the International airports, wharfs and post offices.
Customs have stationed its officers in offices in Vanuatu’s major port of entries of Port Vila wharf, Port Vila international airport, Santo wharf and Santo international airport. The office in the Port Vila post office is manned by customs border officers who also perform the task of revenue collection. The duties performed at these office locations are;
- Cargo clearance processing.
- Documentary checks on import and export documents, value and tariff classification of imports and exports.
- Physical examination on imports and exports.
- Receipting of customs duties & taxes on imported goods.
- Reporting to the manager Customs Revenue on monthly performances, achievements and issues.
All goods either imported into or exported from Vanuatu are cleared at the approved port of entries.
Approved Ports of Entries
The approved ports of entries are; Port Vila, Lenakel on Tanna, Luganville on Santo and Sola on Vanualava.
Cargo clearance system
Cargo clearances in Vila and Luganville are done electronically through ASYCUDA but are manually done in Lenakel and Sola due to no electronic system and government network coverage.
Customs Cargo Clearance offices
Sea freights and Airfreights are cleared at the following offices;
- Lenakel Custom’s office
- Port Vila customs wharf office
- Port Vila customs airport office
- Port Vila Vanuatu post customs office
- Luganville customs wharf office
- Sola customs office
Documents required by customs for clearance of goods
- Commercial invoices
- Freight statements
- Other charges statements
- Packing lists
- Bill of Ladings
- Airway Bills
How are Customs Duties and Taxes are calculated?
The Vanuatu Customs administration’s tax base is CIF. CIF stands for Cost of goods, Insurance cost covering the goods and Freight cost of transporting the goods.
The total CIF value in foreign currency must be converted into Vatu currency and multiplied by the duty rate applicable on the goods to find the amount of customs duty payable. The duty amount is then added to the value of goods in vatu to arrive at the Vat tax base. The total amount of the duty and value of the goods is then multiplied by 15% Vat rate to find the amount of Vat payable. The duty and Vat amounts are then added together to find the total duty plus Vat payable on the goods.
Official Customs Exchange rates are updated on the first Monday of each month. The exchange rate applies only to the clearance of goods from Customs control.
Who to clear goods from Customs control?
The role of raising and lodging customs declarations for the clearance of goods is vested on the Customs Agents who are licensed by Customs. However, regular importers who are licensed with the Brokers license do their own clearances.
Customs Duty Rates
The Customs Duty rates on imports ranges from zero to 50%. The high duty rates are mostly on luxury goods while the rates on basic necessity items such as food and clothing ranges from 5% to 15%. More information on the Customs duty rates can be found in the Customs Import and Export Duty Tariff.
When to clear goods from Customs?
Goods must be cleared from customs control within a 2 months period from the date of arrival of the goods. After 2 months, the goods may be seized by Customs and forfeited to the government of Vanuatu.
How long does it take to clear goods from Customs control?
Customs have established a standard cargo clearance processing time as follows;
- Maximum of 3 days for declaration of goods selected for physical examination-Red lane;
- Maximum of 2 days for declaration of goods selected for documentary examination-Yellow lane;
- 5 to 10 minutes for declarations directly assessed-Green lane.
How and when Customs conduct checks?
Physical and Documentary examinations are conducted by customs officials when circumstances of imports and exports pose certain level of risks to the government revenue and border security.
Physical and Documentary examinations are done at the point of cargo clearance on Red and Yellow lane selected customs declarations while compliance auditing is done at post clearance. That is after goods are cleared and released from customs control.