How Uganda Revenue Authority works with clearing agents
Susan Muyiyi, of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Public and Corporate Affairs division, talked to John Musinguzi on how URA works with clearing agencies.
Why does URA work with clearing agents and not directly with importers?
Because, it is a requirement by law under sections 146 and 147 of the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA). Clearing agents are mandated to provide professional services of tax declaration to importers and exporters.
The Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] deals with accredited clearing firms represented by agents. However, even though you must have a clearing agent assist in this function; do not be ignorant of your tax affairs.
The URA web portal is a useful resource with free tax material. When you log on, look out for the section ‘Information library’ and select the appropriate tax information required. You can also find updated circulars and notifications and the exchange rates for tax purposes.
What is the role of a clearing agent?
It is to process clearance of goods, whether imports or exports, through customs stations on behalf of the importer/exporter, that is the owners of goods.
Does URA license clearing firms?
URA licenses clearing firms where clearing agents are employed. The licenses are renewed every year. Simply log onto ura.go.ug. Check out the ‘Information library’, then click on ‘Customs Tax Guides’ and the licensed agents 2012 for a full list of authentic people.
But what is expected of a clearing agent?
Many expectations, indeed, including:
• Acquire an authorization letter from the owner of goods.
• Obtain import/export documents (e.g. original import documents – bill of lading, invoice or parking list or any other documents that relate to the importation or exportation of goods).
• Go to the bonded warehouse or the border stations where the goods are and process transit or import documents for final clearance.
• Provide, whenever required by customs administration, an authorization form from the firms or persons by whom he is employed to act as their customs agent;
• Represent a client in any matter related to customs;
• Advise a client against non-compliance to customs laws.
• Exercise due diligence to ascertain the correctness of any information which he imparts to a client with reference to any customs operations.
• Not withhold information relating to customs operations from a client who is entitled to such information.
• Together with the importer, promptly pay government any duties, taxes or other debts and promptly account to his clients for any money received for them from government.
Please note carefully, that importers should never hand over the payment obligation for taxes exclusively to the clearing agents. Payments should either be made by cheque to URA or cash deposits to the bank.
Clearing agents are also expected to:
• Not attempt to influence the conduct of any officer of customs in any matter pending before customs by the use of threat, false accusation, duress or the offer of any special inducement or promise of advantage, or of any gift.
• Not procure or attempt to procure, directly or indirectly, information from customs records or other government sources of any kind to which access is not granted.
• Inform the customs administration of any change of address before such a change is effected.
How can an importer tell a fake clearing agent from a real one?
The importer or client should insist on identification and also visit the office of the firm where the agent works or visit any URA office and inquire before appointing the agent. Additionally, the importer should check out the licensed agents list on the URA web portal to ascertain authenticity of any agent seeking business.
If it is my first time to import, where can I find an agent?
Visit any URA office for guidance if in doubt of any that offer their services.
As extracted from;
At DaksCouriers Limited, we always deliver to your satisfaction. We have a clearance and forwarding wing ready to assist should you ever have to encounter customs.