Explaining the Benefits of the New Customs Law for Streamlined Tourism Projects

The new Customs Law of the Dominican Republic, 168-21, eliminates legal obstacles and reduces the time from 10 to five days for the declaration of goods upon arrival, thereby facilitating the execution of tourism projects.

The information was offered by Osiris Ramírez Ponce de León, advisor to the General Directorate of Customs (DGA) and Regional consultant of the Technology and Logistics Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD-DTL, and Carlos Nouel, manager general manager of Carlos Nouel Logistics.

Ramírez Ponce presented his considerations on the new Customs Law and its relevant aspects in a conference during the XXXV Commercial Exhibition 2023 of the Hotel and Tourism Association of the Dominican Republic, Asonahores, held from September 6 to 8 at Blue Mall, Punta Cana.

Law No. 168-21, promulgated on August 9, 2021, and published in official gazette 11030 on August 12 of the same year, came into force on August 14, but according to Ramírez Ponce, there are aspects that need to be automated in the Customs System, such as deadlines and surcharges.

Therefore, he explained that the commercial community will soon be informed in advance of “the date of entry into force of the aspects not subject to the regulations, granting a prudent period to facilitate compliance with this law. The aspects that require regulatory collaboration will come into force once the corresponding regulations are issued.”

As important aspects, both speakers pointed out the use of the Single Window for Foreign Trade because it “eliminates discretion, promotes transparency, establishing objective criteria for the gradualness and reduction of sanctions, which was previously left to the discretion of the director.”

Among these aspects, they pointed out the incorporation of non-intrusive or invasive controls, coordination of work of the state’s joint merchandise inspection bodies (such as agriculture and DNCD), and new definitions to environmental agreements to implement Green Customs.

Ramírez Ponce explained that the use of information technologies, such as electronic or digital signature, is incorporated into the new law, elements are established to determine the quality of customs taxes, and the customs legal-tax relationship is defined.

The speakers highlighted in the new law the reduction of the deadlines to declare merchandise abandoned and seize it, to decongest ports and airports, for which payment through banking entities was incorporated.

Before, there was a period of six months to consider merchandise abandoned, now the time varies, for example, 30 days for undeclared cargo, 45 for declared cargo, 15 for cargo with an expired deadline, 30 days for undispatched cargo, 30 for free zone cargo and stolen cargo, and 60 days for damaged cargo.

The new Law – they said – creates new criminal types, such as the Crime of Customs Fraud, Theft of Customs Pledge, falsification of documents; It will also allow the administrative confiscation of regulated or restricted merchandise whose illicit origin is proven, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and fuels.

Customs offenses and sanctions

Article 333 of the new law classifies smuggling, customs fraud, theft of customs pledge, document falsification, customs falsification, bribery, usurpation of functions, criminal association, influence peddling, and bribery as a customs crime.

Customs fraud is committed – the speakers indicated – by anyone who, by action or omission and using cunning, deception, simulation of false facts to obtain personal benefit, partially or totally evades the payment of tax.

They pointed out that Law 168-1 establishes a period of 5 days to declare merchandise, after which there will be a 5% surcharge for the first week or fraction and an additional 3% after the first week or fraction applied to the CIF value.

Finally, Ramírez Ponce and Nouel said that the new Law 168-21 respects the proportionality of the sanctions, which were previously confiscatory and expropriatory, and will now harmonize the administrative sanctioning procedure of the DGA with the Constitution and Law 107-13 that regulates the relations between the public administration and the administered.

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