Apr 1, 2016

2016 Customs Revision Bill passed for office liberalization in 2017

A partial revision bill necessary to realize the liberalization of export/import declaration offices (liberalization of offices) was passed by the plenary session of the Upper House on March 29. As the revision for the liberalization of offices is stipulated in the bill to be enforced on the day no longer than two years of the promulgation as designated by the ordinance, the government aims to put it into force in October 2017 when the liberalization is planned to be implemented. The customs and tariff bureau and custom-houses will work on the preparation for the implementation. In accordance with this liberalization, part of the Customs Brokerage Act will also be revised, and it is planned to be enacted around the same time as the liberalization-related laws. In addition to the liberalization, the passed bill encompasses the customs revision related to six law items such as the extension of application deadlines of interim tariff rates and the readjustment of duty rates, although these measures are to take effect on April 1.

A major feature in the liberalization of offices is the abolition of sales area restriction stipulated in the Customs Brokerage Act. Under the restriction, it is necessary to obtain the permission for each area managed by nine respective custom-houses all over Japan to become a customs broker. As a permission granted by a custom-house is valid only within the jurisdictional area of its responsibility, major customs brokers and other companies have permissions from multiple custom-houses. Those companies, if the restriction is abolished, will be able to conduct customs clearance nationwide with only one permission.

Accordingly, the permit holder of customs brokerage will change from Director-General (of each jurisdictional area) to Minister of Finance. As the authority of permission of customs brokerage actually is planned to be commissioned from the minister to each local director-general, only one permission from the director-general of an area makes it possible to run customs clearance business nationwide. The guidance for how to deal with multiple permissions already granted and other matters will be provided in due course.

At present, customs brokers are allowed to declare only from their customs sales offices located in the same jurisdictional area of the bonded warehouse. After the revised law coming into force, brokers still have to declare at the offices of storing and placing in principle, but, as a preferential measure, it will be possible for AEO exporters, importers, customs brokers and other special companies to declare export/import at custom-houses other than the storing and placing offices.

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