The usual red/yellow/green channel is established. Unprocessed agricultural products will also be inspected by the quarantine office – even if classified as green channel by customs. Documentation should be prepared in advance and be submitted at the earliest moment possible.
There are substantial delays in the import process at Puerto Cortes due to complicated formalities and lack of co-operation of the parties involved - e.g.: A container with unprocessed food requires a combined inspection of customs and quarantine. OPC has to allocate the container at one of the inspection sites. If one official is not present, the container is trucked back to the yard at the expense of the receiving party and the agent has to apply for a new inspection date.
Not all ports are allowed to handle rice – import is restricted to select border crossings (currently only the customs offices at Toncontin in Tegucigalpa, Puerto Cortés and Guasaule [border with El Salvador close to San Lorenzo] are authorised to handle the customs procedures for unprocessed rice).
Customs processes might be completely omitted, if a national emergency has been declared by the government and the relief cargo is consigned to the national contingency organisation COPECO.
The custom’s authority of Honduras employs an entire department to assess the risk associated with each import shipment. Criteria are:
· Type of commodity
· origin of product
· quality of submitted documentation
· professionalism of agency
· trustworthiness of importer.
Currently only the customs offices at Toncontin in Tegucigalpa, Puerto Cortés and Guasaule (border with El Salvador close to San Lorenzo are authorised to handle the customs procedures for rice.
The phone network at the central customs office at Tegucigalpa was not operating at the time of compiling this report (08/2016). The offices can be contacted by mail, though.