Appointment of Clearing Agents

For one to clear goods with Customs, Clearing agents have to be appointed online, a process meant to facilitate legitimate trade and reduce frauds like unauthorized usage of other individuals / firms’ Tax Payer Identification Numbers (TPINs). The list of licensed clearing agents is available on the ZRA website.

There is an appointment module linked to ASYCUDAWorld that gives access to importers and exporters an option to appoint up to five (5) clearing companies depending on their business needs. It also has an option to remove or replace the appointed clearing companies. This is giving power to the importer/ exporter to manage their transactions in a more secure and better environment as they interact with the tax authority.

For clients/importers/exporters that require more than 5 clearing agents, they can apply to The Commissioner – Customs Service for additional agents.

To appoint a clearing agent, the owners of goods, namely importers and exporters, have to log onto the portal and choose from a pool of licensed clearing agents. Once the appointment is done on the web- based module, ASYCUDAWorld system will recognize them as the approved and lawfully authorized agents to clear on behalf of that particular importer or exporter. This means that if the agent is not authorized, the system will reject the transaction.

The requirement by importers/exporters to appoint a Customs clearing agent is provided for under Section 184 of the Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 322 of the Laws of Zambia. Please note that this is not a new inclusion in the Act, it has always been there. It has just been made electronic from the manual system that was not business friendly with the current trends of having all services online.

Importers/exporters will no longer be required to write formal authorization letters to the Zambia Revenue Authority authorising clearing firms to handle their consignments. Additionally, unlike in the past, illegal and unauthorised use of other firms’ TPINs will be reduced or perhaps be eliminated completely.

Electronic appointments of clearing agents have many benefits to all stakeholders. Among them is the security the system will provide that would ensure that transactions regarding their consignments are handled by bona fide clearing agents. Other advantages are avoiding duplication of transactions, preventing unprofessional practices and double assessments of taxes on the same TPINs. Previously, the same consignment would have duplicated entries, this is a situation where a client requests two different agents to clear the same goods hoping to see which agent which produce the lowest assessment of taxes while creating unnecessary penalties for non-completed transactions on the system for both the clearing agent and the importer or exporter.

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