Importing into the DR, FAQ
Every once in a while we have somebody with questions about importing into the DR/exporting to the DR. The questions are overall the same, and although they have been responded in many other threads I thought it would be good to put them in just one post, bookmark it and then just sent people to it when they have one of these questions.
If anyone is interested in my qualifications, I am a licensed Custom Broker, almost 10 years of experience in the Import/Export business, maritime and air transport and logistics of international transport. Nothing impressive but I think I can answer at least some of the typical questions. I must state that this DOES NOT constitute formal advice of any kind. You MUST consult a Custom Broker to obtain/confirm information regarding this matter.
The information does not apply to goods brought into the DR as a traveler’s luggage. I am assuming that you have at least basic knowledge of international commerce and INCOTERMS.
Q: Can anyone import goods into the DR?
A: Yes. A private person may import goods if they are for personal use. If the quantity and nature of these goods indicate that they may not be for personal use customs will (in most cases) require that a legally established company be the consignee. You MUST be at least legal resident to have a shipment cleared on your behalf; Customs will require your ID number (cédula). For businesses the Tax Contributor Number (RNC) is required.
Q: What documents do I need to import goods into the DR?
A: It depends on the type of goods you will be importing. In general ALL shipments will require the following:
*Bill of lading or Air Way Bill
Some shipments may require special permits and documentation. For example, to import cosmetics, medicine and food you will need permits from the Health Department (Secretaría de Salud Pública), these means that there is additional procedure outside the Customs clearance that have to be followed PRIOR to the arrival of the shipment. You must know that not everything can be imported into the DR. Please consult a customs broker if you are not sure about the goods you are importing prior to the actual shipment taking place.
Please be aware that ALL documents MUST be original and printed on original stationery (not photocopies, no faxes). Customs frowns upon the use of handwritten documents, the more official-looking the documents are the least problems you may have. If you have lost the documents or they haven’t arrived on time you will only be able to clear your shipment if you present at customs a bond for the value of the merchandise. Customs may still decline to let you take your goods.
Q: What is a Consular Invoice?
A: By law the shipper must summit an original commercial invoice to the Dominican consulate closest to the point of shipping.The consulate will issue a Consular invoice this document is needed to clear the shipment in the DR. The fee that the consulate charges varies depending on the location. In absence of a Dominican Consulate in a radius of 100 miles to the shipping port the shipper must require the local chamber of commerce to issue a letter stating that there isn’t a Dominican consulate within the required distance. Although the law states that a Consular invoice is needed for any shipment worth US$100.00 or more, in the practice it is only needed for shipments worth US$1000.00 or more. If the consignee cannot produce the Consular invoice at the time of clearance customs will fine the consignee. At the moment the fine is about RD$6500.00
Q: What is a C1?
A: If the importer buys the dollars to pay for their shipments from a bank the bank will issue a document stating that you bought your dollars there, this document is a C1. The bank will charge 4.75% of the amount of US$ bought, this accounts for the Currency Exchange Tax (Comisión Cambiaria). This money goes to the central government. If you bought your dollars from any other source then (since you cannot produce the C1) Customs will charge the 4.75% along with the rest of the duties and taxes.
Q: What is the typical procedure to clear a shipment at Customs?
A: You, or your broker on your behalf, must fill out a form (Form. 3480) declaring the details of the shipment (Shipper, consignee, commodity, total FOB, freight, insurance, etc). This document along with the documents listed above will be presented at the Customs office of the port/airport of arrival. A Customs officer (Verificador) will be assigned to inspect the shipment and confirm the veracity of the information declared in the Form. 3480. ALL shipments are inspected. Once the shipment is inspected the form goes to the Assessment Department (Valores), this department will check the prices that you declared (your prices may or may not be accepted as true and will be readjusted by customs) and calculate the amount of duties and taxes to be paid. After paying these you can withdraw your goods from Customs.
You must make your presentation no later than 10 days counting from (and including) the arrival date. Failure to do so will result in heavy fines.
Although this is a basic review of the procedure in reality is DOES NOT work so simply. Consult your customs broker for details.
Q: What should I expect to pay?
A: Ahhh, that’s a trick question. There isn’t a “flat” tax in the DR, so duties can go from 0% to 30%, it depends on the commodity that you are importing. Duties and taxes are calculated on a CIF basis. Only insurance bought from Dominican companies are accepted at customs for the purpose of calculating taxes. If you cannot produce your insurance policy at the time of clearance Customs will assume 2% of the FOB value as cost of insurance. Taxes and duties are paid in RD$, the current exchange rate used at customs 21.50 RD$/1 US$
Besides duties certain taxes and fees are also paid at the time of clearance:
*Comisión cambiara (see C1 above): 4.75%
*Selectivo al consumo: 20 - 40% (luxury goods and alcohol)
*Warehousing (Portuaria): calculated on the basis of weight and days at port.
If you are importing full container loads (FCL) you will have to leave a deposit of RD$6500.00 per container to guarantee that they will be returned clean and in good condition within 14 days of arrival to port. For each day after that US$15.00 per container will be deducted from the deposit. This is not paid to the government but rather to an association of shipping lines.
Q: Are there exception to the rules?
A: Yes, certain businesses and commodities are treated in a different manner. Manufacturing Free Zones companies for example are exempted from paying duties and taxes (some fees apply). There are many other exception to the rules, please consult your custom broker for details.
Q: What are the major ports and airports in the DR?
A: The largest airport in the DR is AILA (SDQ), near Santo Domingo followed by La Unión (POP) near Puerto Plata. Aeropuerto Internacional del Cibao (STI) near Santiago has recently started their operations.
The most important port in the DR is Rio Haina. Rio Haina Oriental is operated by the government, Rio Haina Occidental is operated by Maersk/Sealand. Puerto Plata is the second largest. Other ports are Boca Chica (west of Santo Domingo), San Pedro de Macorís, and Manzanillo. There are a few other ports that don’t have regularly-scheduled lines going in or out.
Last edited by Pib; 01-23-2003 at 02:29 PM.
I will continue with more as time permits. I would like to see if there are any other questions that you suggest I include.
Thanks for this Pib! I have a few questions.
What would you consider to be fair brokerage fees from a customs broker?
Could you suggest how to deal with insurance in order to minimise theft in customs?
Could one hold one's customs broker responsible for theft?
What 'sane' advice could you offer in terms of minimising 'ad-hoc' type payments to all and sundry?
Importing into the DR, FAQ
Q:What would you consider to be fair brokerage fees from a customs broker?
A: That is a question that is not easy to answer. Clearance rates depend on how good your broker is and how good a customer you are. That meaning that a well-known, reputable broker will certainly be more expensive that a guy with a briefcase. If you are a frequent customers and have a large volume of business you'll be able to push for a lower rate. I have seen anything from RD$1000.00/shipment (the extreme of either case) to RD$50000.00/shipment for shipments that are more valuable or complicated cases. As I always say go for a reputable broker.
Q: Could you suggest how to deal with insurance in order to minimize theft in customs?
A: Insurance only covers any eventualities that may occur during transport. Once the commodities have been received at the port it is no longer covered by insurance. I do not know of any company that covers theft at customs.
Q:Could one hold one's customs broker responsible for theft?
A: Only if you can prove that he/she/they stole it. In the years I've been doing this I've never heard of such case, hence the importance of choosing a qualified, well known customs broker.
Q: What 'sane' advice could you offer in terms of minimizing 'ad-hoc' type payments to all and sundry?
A: Get involved in the process, at least in the initial shipments. I would advise you to go to the port with your broker, ask as many questions as you need to understand what is going on. Based on these experiences try to get your broker to quote a flat rate that includes such "expenses".
Keep the questions coming cause I am running out of ideas.
Last edited by Pib; 01-23-2003 at 08:56 AM.
The questions and answers benefit all. That's why Pib called it a "Importing to DR, FAQ". Continue...
An excellent post for sure. A lot of valuable information
Thanks Robert! I'll re-phrase my last question.
This is a question of a somewhat nebulous nature. Maybe you could suggest to us the qualities of a 'reputable' custom's broker. It is sometimes hard to figure out what you are dealing with in a new country.
yes, a listing of reputable customs brokers will be very helpful.. I am in the processing of sending some things for my husbands new business. I want to make sure we are doing everything correct and get a good croker to clear Customs.. especially, since I am not from that Country.
Has anyone tried to import a large streetbike. I'll be moving to DR soon and am wondering about shipping my bike. I'm wondering about declaring worth. What I've got into it and what it is worth are two different #s. What about possibly shipping it down in pieces. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
You can declair a value of 1$ or 25,000$s, customs here will set the value they determine regardless of what you declair.. Cris