Clearing At Customs Deep Water Quay, Freetown
The National Revenue Authority was mandated by the Government of Sierra Leone not only to administer its
customs regulations, but also to facilitate legitimate trade. The response of the Authority has been very
innovative and forward-looking, creating a ‘ONE STOP SHOP’ facility at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay
(commonly called the Deep Water Quay). This leaflet seeks to explain and complement this process.
Clearing at the Quay could be divided into three parts:
1. The Pre-clearing Process
2. The Clearing Process
3. The Post Clearing Process
Nevertheless, all importers are to note that all good declared for consumption must be landed and entered
within 3 days after the arrival of the importing ship. Failure to do so will result in them being conveyed
to a customs warehouse. If the goods are not properly entered and all duties and charges paid within 1 month
after the goods have been placed in a customs warehouse, they may be sold at a public auction.
It is a prerequisite for every importer to have the following five documents to clear all imports at the Quay:
The Bill of Lading. This is the contract of carriage, and has three functions. Firstly it defines in detail
the terms of the contract between the shipper and the shipping line for the carriage of goods from one port to another. Secondly it is a formal signed receipt for a specified number of packages e.g. crates, drums etc. Thirdly it is a document of title to the goods (i.e. certificate of ownership).
The Commercial Invoice. This is an invoice that contains all the final relevant details relating to a particular order.
Bill of Entry. This is a declaration made by the importer with regards to the clearing of the imported goods.
Delivery Order. This is an instruction to the custodian of the goods to release the goods to the party mentioned thereon.
Packing List. States the contents of the package/order.
THE PRE-CLEARING PROCESS
• Step I - The importer takes the Bill of Lading to the shipping agency and it is replaced by a Delivery Order.
• Step 2 - The Importer contracts the services of a registered and licensed Clearing and Forwarding Agent to process his/her document and do the clearing.
• Step 3 - The Clearing and Forwarding Agent completes a Bill of Entry Form which must be signed by the importer.
• Step 4 - The Importer should apply to the Commissioner of Customs for a Customs Identification Number (CIN) at the Correspondence Office where it is issued.
These four steps complete the Pre-Clearing process.
THE CLEARING PROCESS
• Step 1 - THE INGATE OFFICE - The clearing and forwarding Agent takes the Bill of Entry Form and supporting documents (i.e. Commercial Invoices, IDR, Certificate of Origin, Packaging List, etc) to the In-gate Officer, who ensures that the documentation is correct and complete. After which he assigns the document a number, the Progress Number.
• Step 2 - The Collector Long Room (CLR) - The documents are then sent to the CLR who rechecks that documentation is correct and sends them to the Valuation Section.
• Step 3 - The Valuation Officer - This Officer values the goods using the highest of three bases, namely:
1. The Import Duty Report (IDR)
2. The Invoice
3. The System’s Value
• Step 4 - The Bill of Entry Examiner (Checker) - This officer ensures that details in all supporting documents that need to be transferred to the Bill of Entry are indeed transferred: and on the basis of the value checks the correctness of the following calculations:
1. The Duty
2. The Sales Tax
3. 0.5% ECOWAS Levy on goods manufactured outside ECOWAS,
4. The 3% Withholding Income Tax on goods for resale and
5. 30% penalty for non pre-shipment inspection where applicable: And then prepares an
• Step 5 - Back to the CLR - The documents go back to the CLR who accepts and signs the assessment slip.
• Step 6 - BANK - The importer then goes to his/her commercial bank and makes three separate banker’s draft for the duty levied, the ECOWAS levy and 3% withholding income tax.
• Step 7 - Cashier - He then returns to Customs where he pays his duty, ECOWAS levy and withholding income tax at the Cash Office and collects his /her receipt.
• Step 8 - Manifest Striking Section - The Importer then goes to the Manifest Striking Section where the Customs Officer strikes the importer’s consignment off the ship’s manifest
• Step 9 - Principal Collector Out-door - The Principal Collector Out-door scrutinizes the Bill of Entry and then sends it to the Collector Container Section who ensures that post shipment inspection is done and any understated duty paid, before the goods are released.
The importer is free to leave Customs with his/her goods.
THE POST CLEARING PROCESS
The Importer’s Documents are then sent to three Offices at Customs to be processed after he has left.
1. OFFICE 1 POST CLEARINNG - All the data of the importer’s transaction are inputted into a computer.
2. OFFICE 2 STATISTICAL ANALYSIS - Here the data is analysed for statistical purposes.
3. OFFICE 3 JERQUING - This Office reviews the whole process to ensure compliance with laid down rules and regulations. The Officer here ensures that duty is neither underpaid nor overpaid. When he is satisfied that the duty is paid in full, he then closes the ship’s file.
IDF (Import Declaration Form) – Form which the importer uses to apply to the pre-shipment company to contract
IDR (Import Duty Report) – Form which the pre-shipment company issues the importer upon completion of pre-shipment inspection.
Clearing At Customs Deep Water Quay, Freetown