HAITIAN CUSTOMS PROCEDURES: How does it work?
What does it take to import into Haiti?
You have to be a legal entity registered to the IRS and have a valid “Quitus Fiscal”.
A “Quitus Fiscal” is a certificate confirming that you fulfilled your fiscal obligations. It is renewed every three months for most of the small NGOs and every six months to a year for the international NGOs and International Organizations (CARE, CRS, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, UNDP, USAID, etc)
What options do you have when you import relief goods?
Paying Duties: Anybody can decide to pay duties for a shipment. It only takes the Original Bill of Lading, the original invoice or the certificate of donation, the Quitus Fiscal and the packing list.
Duty Free/ Tax Exemption: Humanitarian aids are exempted from duties and taxes because the consignee is eligible to the tax exemption but not because of the nature of the import. To be entitled to the tax exemption, the NGO must be registered and recognized at the Ministry of “Planification” and must submit the following documents:
A copy of a valid Quitus Fiscal
A copy of the NGO status listed in the Government National Publication “Le Moniteur”
A copy of the “Communiqué Conjoint” issued by the Ministry of Planification
A letter to the Ministry of Planification requesting the tax exemption for each shipment addressed
A detailed distribution list
A deed of donation with value/ Letter of donation
What are the procedures? “The Traditional Procedure”
A letter is addressed to the Ministry of Planification with a copy of each document listed earlier
The Ministry of Planification agrees with the request by means of correspondence addressed to the Ministry of Finance
If the request is approved, The Ministry of Finance sends a correspondence to Customs Head Quarter with the instructions to release the shipment duty and customs free.
Customs Head Quarter passes on this instruction to the customs office that is handling the shipment. It can be the airport or the port in PAP or any other customs offices in the country
+ “The Emergency Cell”: A new procedure put in place on July 28 where in one room, the Ministry of Planification, the Ministry of Finance and Customs HQ have their representatives.
A customs entry is submitted to the emergency cell with all original documents required for clearance along with a letter addressed to the Ministry of Planification with 4 sets of copies of all documents required for the tax exemption. Each entity works on the request The Customs entry is signed by all 3 entities and shipment can proceed with the customs clearance.
What does the shipper need to know when making a shipment? Knowing the consignee:
Is the NGO entitled to the tax exemption? If so, ask for a copy of the documents by email
Can NGO handle the traffic? Does it understand to whom the cargo belongs to? Is it going to react promptly to the freight forwarder’s requests? Does it care about the cargo?
Does the NGO have the man power and the administrative structure? Is there someone to take charge of the logistic?
What is the scope of his operation? Don’t send containers of food when the NGO is involved in medical work.
Does the company have a warehouse facility? Does he need to keep the container as storage facility or does he have to distribute the relieve aids upon arrival?
+ What is needed at destination?
Don’t make a shipment because the goods are in your warehouse in the US. Make a shipment because there is a need at destination for the products and there are people willing and able to use them.
Be in contact with your local beneficiaries about what is needed in their regions. Be selective. There might be great needs all over the country but each region has its own particular problem
Don’t be afraid to send money instead of unnecessary aids
+ Conclusion “Humanity is our Business” (Rotary International). The industry of the humanitarian aids should be like any other commercial business. It should be efficient. There is a supply on one side and there is a “need/demand” on the other side that must be satisfied. The work and effort put in a shipment must meet a purpose at the end of the day. There must be an ultimate end that is self sustaining.