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Duties and Tax Exemption

For contact information regarding government custom authorities, please follow the link below: 

4.1 Fiji Government Contact List

For further contact information on Customs / Ships Agents please select the following document:

Fiji Islands Customs Information Additional Informatio

For further information on the Fiji Customs Authority, see the following link

http://www.frca.org.fj

 

International freight enters Fiji through two main port areas:

-        Nadi in the NW for all air freight coming into Fiji

-        Suva and Lautoka for all sea freight, both on the main island in Veti Levu. Walu Bay in Suva is the main sea port.

 

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) controls all customs clearance process of imports and exports of all commercial and humanitarian goods into Fiji and sets all procedures and tariff determinations, as well as exemptions. The customs procedure for handling incoming goods during general periods is controlled by the FCRA and is generally undertaken through brokers and through the Fiji Procurement Office (FPO) operating under the Ministry of Economy for Government-consigned and utilised goods.

During an emergency the FPO handles all goods consigned to the NDMO, as well as the GoF and facilitates the customs clearance for these goods. FPO has a warehouse at Walu Bay for sea freight and at Nadi Airport for Airfreight. During an emergency it will second through the GoF additional space to facilitate increased volumes.

The Customs clearance process and documentation follows international standards and Fiji operates under the WCO conventions. Goods are allowed to stay at the wharf prior to customs clearance for 72 hours and this is not extended during disaster times. The Port Authorities will commence demurrage after 72 hours. Assuming the correct documentation is provided for the inspected goods then clearance should be facilitated; otherwise the process can be up to 2 weeks.However, other border agencies, such as Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and Ministry of Health, are also involved in the clearance of the goods and, should their requirements not be met, longer delays up to 2 weeks could be expected.

Duty exemption can be obtained for standard humanitarian goods. However, during state of emergency, specific items vehicles and generators require special approval by the office of the Prime Minister and the office of the Minister of Economy and will attract customs tariffs depending on the registration status of the organisation and whether agreements and MOUs exist between the organisation and a Fiji Govt Agency. During normal times any organisation must be registered. However during times of emergency, organisations not registered in Fiji and will be able to import humanitarian goods for use under without registration during the emergency period. FRCA requires all consignees or importers to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN). Registration and issuance of TIN by FRCA takes only one day. However for relief items consigned to the NDMO, agencies will not require a TIN Number since the NDMO already has its own.

It must be noted that historically the Fiji Govt recognises the need to expedite and recognise international humanitarian assistance and with it the duty free exemption for humanitarian goods used in disaster response. But while this may be so once a ‘State of Emergency’ period is over full taxes will apply on goods even for humanitarian purposes.

The default position in any importation that may not fall directly under a clear customs law is that a ruling must be applied for and approved by the Minister of Economy.

Emergency Response

Duties and tax exemption procedures historically have changed and varied between successive emergencies. During TC Winston, duty and tax exemption for goods was coordinated through mutual agreement between the Ministry of Economy and FRCA and were reported to be timely and effective.

However to aim to formalise this process the Fiji Govt has mandated (Budget Supplement 2016-17 P69 item 16) to

..‘ Create provision for humanitarian aid and natural disaster relief goods.’ In doing so ‘Review of Customs Tariff Act to accommodate and create provision for goods of humanitarian aid and natural disaster relief in nature to allow expedite clearance of such goods….’

The progress of this review is ongoing however at the time of writing (Jan 2017) FRCA have already completed Practical document and SOP to facilitate this. The current status is that it is with FRCA legal department and will then be submitted to the Minister of Economy for Review by the end of Feb 2017.It is expected that any revisions will be made with completed sign off by the minister by April 2017. FRCA outlined that this details will be available on their website


Agreements / Conventions Description

Ratified by Country?

WCO (World Customs Organization) member

Yes

Annex J-5 Revised Kyoto Convention/Arusha Declaration

Yes

OCHA Model Agreement

N/A

WTO Valuation Agreement

Yes

Tampere Convention (on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations)

No

Please refer to link below to see list of treaties and agreement confirmed or ratified by Fiji:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Treaties_of_Fiji


Duty Exemption Regular Regime (Non-Emergency Response)

During time of normal activity registered UN agencies need to apply for exemption on goods through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All imports are on a case by case basis and they will advise FRCA on the outcome. INGOs however need to be registered to obtain duty exemption status.All exemption applications need to be approved through the FRCA and the Minister of Economy.

Organizational Requirements to obtain Duty Free Status

United Nations Agencies

Most international disaster response activities are primarily conducted through Diplomatic Missions, international organisations (IOs) or NGOs, which are the subject of different legal status, privileges, immunities and obligations.

 

Permanent delegations of international organisations are treated in a similar way to those of Governments. Under the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act, organisations which receive a Ministerial declaration stating that it is an “organization of which two or more States or the Governments thereof are members,” are recognised as being an international organisation with corporate legal status. As such they are entitled to benefit from the privileges and immunities outlined in the various schedules of the Act, as described above.

 

UNDP has assisted other UN organisations with submitting a request for duty exemption when importing goods under their umbrella however this is limited and on a case by case basis.

Non-Governmental Organizations

NGOs are considered corporate bodies under Fiji law, and are usually registered in accordance with the Charitable Trusts Act or Religious Bodies RegistrationAct.

NGOs register at the Ministry of Justice at the companies register. After registration the FRCA (tax division) will issue a TIN (tax identification number) is used when importing goods into Fiji as part of the identification process.

To register as a charitable trust, an organization must have a mission consistent with one of four “charitable purposes”, which includes “the relief of distress caused by any disaster affecting the whole or any part of the community”. That certificate registers the trustees of the charity as a corporate body and therefore entitles the board of trustees to various property and contractual rights.

Religious NGOs can also potentially register through the Charitable Trusts Act provided they meet the relevant criteria, but they can also register in accordance with the Religious Bodies Registration Act, which similarly enables them, through their trustees, to have recognized legal status and hold land.Registration must be made by the head of the organisation and at least two ministers or priests resident in Fiji (or if there are no ministers or priests in Fiji, then by two members), and these persons are recognised as the legal trustees of the organisation.

Although the measures outlined above are primarily intended for NGOs seeking to set up permanently in Fiji, it appears that the same requirements would also apply to NGOs only wishing to enter Fiji on a temporary basis for a specific emergency operation but only if they intended to stay after the initial ‘State of Emergency’ period. However, in personal interviews with Fiji officials, there was a general belief that in the event of a large natural disaster Agencies do not require registration to assist in the immediate response period.

 

VAT Exemption

While organisations may be exempt for customs tariffs they may not be exempt from VAT. Unregistered organisations will find that even if they have an MOU with a Govt Agency i.e. NDMO/Prime Minister’s office then VAT will applicable and payable by the Fiji Govt department/ agency. This specifically applies to items such as Vehicles, generators and less so communications equipment.

Exemption Certificate Application Procedure: 

There is no mandated established procedure for the exemption process to be followed during emergencies (see above). Such process have changed after each subsequent emergency. During TC Winston in 2016 coordination between the then Ministry of Finance (now the Ministry of Economy) and the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority implemented the following process.

It was found to be straight forward and effective. Time frame for obtaining the exemption certificate was usually no more than 48Hrs down from 2 weeks in non-emergency

 

Duties and Taxes Exemption Application Procedure

Generalities (include a list of necessary documentation)

 Organisations requiring an exemption need to follow the

Process to be followed (step by step or flowchart)

During TC Winston the Duty Exemption process established was as follows

GOODS CONSIGNED TO NDMO

You MUST consign your cargo to theNDMO Consignee:

National Disaster Management Office

c/o Attorney General and Minister of Economy,

Government ofFiji, Republic ofFiji.

 

STEP BY STEPPROCESS

1-     Email your completed ‘ Relief Import Request Form’ including all relevant information (Items/ Quantities/ weight / Volumes)to mohammed.jabid@finance.gov.fj to seek approval for your cargo BEFOREarrival.

2-     Copy the Logistics Cluster for tracking purposes at the following address: request.fijilogs@wfp.org

3-     Once you receive approval, attach the form and relevant documentation and send to theNDMO FPO_Shipping_Suva@govnet.gov.fj

4-     The NDMO will process your request and send you a confirmation email of approval for Duty andVATexemption. This is the green light for your cargoto depart.

5- From there on your cargo will be handled on arrival by the NDMO (customs clearance/ transport/ storage/ distribution)

*The following is an indicative list of items thathave been identified as a priority for the response:

Shelter -Tarpaulins & tents, Temporary shelters, Construction materials (roofing iron, timber, tools,nails,etc), Blankets(new)

Water and sanitation - Water purification tablets and filters, Mosquito sprays

Health - vaccines & medicines, emergency medical kits

Agriculture - Planting materials andtools

 

2. GOODS CONSIGNED TO ORGANISATIONS

 

Name or Recipient Organisation or Individual

c/o Attorney General and Minister forFinance

Ministry of Economy,

Government ofFiji, Republic ofFiji.

 

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

1-     Email your completed ‘Relief Import Request Form’ including all relevant information (Items/ Quantities/ weight / Volumes)to mohammed.jabid@finance.gov.fj to seek approval for your cargo BEFOREarrival.

2-     Copy the Logistics Cluster for tracking purposesat the following address: request.fijilogs@wfp.org

3-     Once you receive approval, attach the form and relevant documentation and send to the NDMO FPO_Shipping_Suva@govnet.gov.fj

4-     The NDMO will process your request and send you a confirmation email of approval for Duty and VAT exemption, your cargo can then depart.

5-     Print the confirmation email (it is required forthe customs clearance process)

6-     On arrival of your cargo, present Packing list, Waybill, Proforma Invoice and the confirmation email for Duty and VAT exemption fromthe NDMO to customs to get your goods cleared.

7     Once your cargo is released by customs, you arein charge of organizing your own transport, storage and distribution in accordance with government priorities

8-     For Transport and warehousing, theLogistics Cluster can assist with a list of available commercial companies.

9-     Requests for transport by military assets are facilitated by UN-CM Coord through the “Request for Assistance” (RFA) form, contact: CMCOORDFIJI@gmail.com

 

Exemption Certificate Document Requirements

 

Duties and Taxes Exemption Certificate Document Requirements (by commodity)

 

Food

NFI (Shelter, WASH, Education)

Medicines

Vehicle & Spare Parts

Staff & Office Supplies

Telecoms Equipment

Invoice

Yes Original

Yes Original

Yes Original

Yes Original

Yes Original

Yes Original

AWB/BL/Other Transport Documents

Not Essential

Not Essential

Not Essential

Yes Original See below

Not Essential

Not Essential

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Not Essential

Not Essential

Not Essential

Yes Original See below

Not Essential

Not Essential

Packing Lists

Yes Original needs to be detailed

Yes Original needs to be detailed

Yes Original needs to be detailed

Yes Original See below

Yes Original needs to be detailed

Yes Original needs to be detailed

Other Documents

GMO free certificate required

  

See below

 

See below

Additional Notes

Importation of Vehicles

Vehicles are treated separately even to consigned humanitarian programs. UN agencies may import cars under diplomatic status through UNDP however all other organisations registered and unregistered will need to seek prior approval from the Minister of Economy before their arrival.

New vehicles do not need an import licence but second hand vehicles do. They must also be less than 5 years old and Euro 4 Environmental standards.

 

Importation of Communications Equipment

For importation of telecoms goods in Fiji, organisations must request an import permit from TAF, requests for frequencies (VHF, HF radio etc) should also be requested through TAF.

UNDP has assisted UN Agencies with submitting a request for duty exemption but this is only on a case by case basis. This form is called an “FA608” form. Contact point at UNDP for this is Kunal Lal (kunal.lal@undp.org).

Customs Clearance

General Information 

Goods are allowed to stay on the wharf free of charge for 72hrs while awaiting customs clearance and this time frame exists throughout an emergency. Ports and airports will charge demurrage charges after this time

 

Customs Information

Document Requirements

As above

Embargoes

NA

Prohibited Items

GMOs are not accepted in Fiji

General Restrictions

NA

Customs Clearance Document Requirements

Fiji customs processes follow international procedures and standards during normal and disaster times. Standard documentation is required. There need to be a clear distinction between goods being used for an organisations operation and goods being use for donation.

 If there are any additional comments, they can be included at the bottom of the table.

Customs Clearance Document Requirements (by commodity)

 

Food

NFI

 

(Shelter, WASH,

Education)

Medicines

Vehicles&

SpareParts

Staff

 

&Office Supplies

TelecomsEquipment

D&TExemption Certificate

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Invoice

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

AWB/BL/OtherTransport Documents

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Bill oflading,CertificateofOrigin,CargoManifesto

Donation/Non-Commercial Certificates

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

Yes,Original

PackingLists

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

Packing list/containerlist, Yes,Original

PhytosanitaryCertificate

Biosecurity Clearance

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

OtherDocuments

GMO free certificate

-

-

See above section Additional notes

-

Yes

AdditionalNotes

  1. Dangerous Goods Declaration

Items that are considered dangerous i.e communications equipment batteries will require a dangerous good declaration. This should accompany the goods from consignor.

.

  1.  USED items i.e. clothing

Items must be accompanied by fumigated and contain a fumigation certificate. If clothing arrives without a fumigation certificate it will be fumigated and costs passed onto the consignee.. All food items must comply with the Provisions of Pure FoodAct.

 

  1. STAFF OFFICE AND ORGNISATIONAL SUPPLIES

All goods that are used for organisational operational purposes for UN organizations can gain exemptions through applying to UNDP dept of Foreign Affairs. Whether this applies to Un agency implementing INGO partners is unknown.

 

Transit Regime

Transit to other international destination

Humanitarian goods transiting through Fiji are held in a so called ‘Constructive Warehouse’ area which store and holds good until the connection vessel or aircraft is scheduled to depart.

 

Consolidation/breakdown

Humanitarian goods being bought into Fiji for consolidation or breakdown into smaller consignments may attract duties and taxes if being bought to Fiji before being shipped to their final international destination. This has applied to organisations bringing goods to Fiji so they can be organised and re-consigned for transit to smaller international remote islands where the ability and capacity of the organisation to handle containers is limited.

To avoid taxes an exemption letter would be required from the Minister of Economy before the arrival of the goods. It is also uncertain as where physically this consolidation of breakdown can take place as it would need to be in a secure area.