After identifying the goods, quantity, shipping method, payment method and any other liabilities, the importer makes arrangements with the exporter, while the exporter sends the importer the following documents directly or through the transporting company, or the customs agent receives the following required documents from the exporter or transporter (customs agent) to release goods from the customs:
- Bill of Lading (B/L) or Airway Bill of Lading (AWB) / Truck Waybill of Lading;
- Letter of Credit –LC in the event that both the exporter and the importer agreed on payment via the bank;
- Commercial invoice;
- Packing list (packages including two or more products) whereby the shipment is identified in terms of the quantity, weight and packing;
- Certificate of origin.
Depending on the nature of the goods, further documents to certify the legitimacy of import and compliance with standards may be required. These are considered essential documents for the completion of customs clearance. The customs agent, following receipt of the above documents and the goods based on (delivery order) from the carrier company, prepares the customs statement to proceed with customs clearance.
Clearance process of imported goods from the ports
In general, and for the purpose of releasing a consignment from the port, the owner of the consignment or the owner's representative (customs agents) is required to show the following three documents:
- Delivery order – a certificate issued by the ship agent based on the original documents of the shipment, declaring that the recipient is the owner of the shipment and he is entitled to receive it from the port;
- Customs clearance – customs certificate from the customs authority, certifying that all due fees and taxes are fully paid (import statement);
- Port charges – certificate from the port's Accounting and Payment Department showing that port fees (infrastructure tax, storage and transportation as well as loading and unloading costs) have been paid in full.
The process includes the following steps:
- Ship agent processing
- As the shipment is being unloaded at one of Israel’s ports, the ship agent informs the customs agent or the carrier company in the country about the arrival of the shipment. The importer pays the ship agent the shipping charges and receives a delivery order. This document is necessary for the release of goods from the country’s port and it is an essential document for the customs clearance since it confirms transferring goods from the carrier company to the port of arrival and that the goods are the liability of the customs agent awaiting the customs clearance process.
- The shipment remains in the port until being released (only in cases of indirect delivery).
- The importer authorizes a customs agent to follow up on customs clearance procedures.
- The port sends an email to the customs office to notify it of the possibility of a shipment delivery and the name of the customs agent who will follow up on the customs clearance process.
- The customs agent assumes the duty of meeting all the following procedures:
- Opening an import file;
- Shipment classification. The shipment classifier may ask for more documents (such as catalogues, production documents issued by the producer) to determine the customs classification (HS code);
- Monitoring – An inspector from the customs agency verifies that all necessary documents and certificates are available, as well as the authenticity of classification;
- The customs agent issues a customs statement which includes a goods statement, the importer’s data and the financial value of the goods (customs value and value added tax). It also identifies the area of import (West Bank – Gaza – Israel);
- The importer transfers the required payment in advance to the customs agent (usually via wire transfer or by cheque);
- Based on the customs valuation statement, the customs agent pays taxes to the customs authority via wire transfer. There are several types of customs statements: a customs statement is normal or of the direct clearance type if the goods are in the port or a shipment storeroom, and if the goods are stored in a customs storeroom, the statement will be marked as customs clearance from stores.
- The customs agent sends the entire file to the customs with the following enclosed documents: the invoice, certificate of origin, packing list and the Bill of Lading (B/L) or Airway Bill of Lading (AWB) / Truck Waybill of Lading, as well as the customs statement that was prepared by the customs agent. To release goods the same day, documents must be handed over to the customs office by 15:00, otherwise, the documents will be processed the following working day.
- The customs clearance process for Palestinian clients from the Palestinian territories shall be carried out following the receipt of documents at the customs office only (Israeli clients can send documents up to 3 days following the receipt/release of goods).
- Documents required to release goods from customs:
- Import statement (which includes shipment quantity, packaging, value and taxes to be paid);
- Bill of lading;
- Commercial invoice;
- Delivery permit;
- Customs clearance form – authorizing a customs agent (in Hebrew);
- Form 138b issued by customs – importer’s declaration of import and destination to the Palestinian territories;
- Additional certificates as may be necessary, such as the requirements of the Standards Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture concerning food items.
- Customs clearance is carried in accordance with the import statement which carries the name of the importer, or the import statement which has the name of the owner of the goods who is not the importer of the goods, and this can be done after transferring ownership in accordance with the regulation. The statement “Import to the Palestinian territories” must be written in box No. 1 at the top of the customs statement instead of the receiving storeroom, in addition to the code of the crossing from which goods are expected to pass through to the Palestinian territories.
- The importer/goods owner must declare that the Palestinian territories is the final destination of the goods. Accordingly, the importer/goods owner must fill out and sign customs form No. 138 related to the goods entering the Palestinian territories and the form must be worded in both Hebrew and Arabic; the importer sends this copy with a special authorization to the customs agent.
- The customs agent assumes paying the value of the customs statement and sends a copy of it with the shipment documents to the customs authority. The customs authority decides whether to issue an import permit based on the customs agent profile (the liability file of the customs agent in the customs authority), the importer, the shipment, the country of origin, the carrier company and the exporter (a package called profiling). The customs authority then verifies the customs statement and the import documents, and the customs agent receives the required customs approval, by email, to release the goods.
- Sometimes, during the process, the goods must receive further certificates from various ministries, such as the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Based on the importer’s data and the data included in the customs statement, the port issues an invoice for due fees in the name of the customs agent. Once taxes are paid and inspection procedures are completed, as required by the customs authority, including a physical / X-ray inspection, approval is sent electronically to the port to authorize the release of goods.
Releasing goods form the port
- The customs agent or the importer requests a means of transportation to move goods from the port. Currently, this can be done via email.
- The carrier company sends the transporter’s data (truck and driver) to the port. Upon the arrival of the customs clearance approval, the carrier company’s driver arrives to receive the goods and deliver them to the importer. The truck is weighed before entering the port and again when leaving the port in order to calculate the weight of the shipment. If the shipment is stored in containers, every container will be examined when leaving the port gate.
- The port notifies the customs authority by email when the container leaves, and also notifies (by email) the ship agent, the customs agent and the carrier company of the container's departure.
Imported shipment transfer to another destination under the direction of customs
The importer may delay the shipment clearance and transport the container to another station, customs store or port. In such cases, customs fees are paid at the clearance phase only.
Process of container transfer to another location:
- The customs agent sends a written request to customs to transport the container to another destination, in order to receive special approval to transfer the goods.
- Customs send a transfer approval (gate pass) to the ship agent, port and the recipient station, as well as to the client or carrier.
- The port informs customs about the details of the container details and its location in the port.
- The port reviews the process of granting a permit to release the shipment from the port (following payment of fees) and the transfer approval. An updated certificate is sent to the external station or to another destination which is expected to receive the container as requested by the owner. Then the mentioned destination sends a request to the port for the release of the container.
- The port sends its opinion to the back station and the carrier company. The carrier company emails the port with information about the truck and the driver, and the information is registered in the driver inspection system and the truck inspection system.
- Once approval is issued by the port, the truck driver is allowed to take the container.
- The port notifies the customs authority, customs agent, transporter, ship agent, the carrier company and the back station about the container's departure.
The current clearance process at the location where the container is being sent includes inspection procedures similar to the approved procedures of container clearance in the port, in addition to checking payment of fees at the port of discharge.
Process of goods clearance at Allenby / King Hussein Bridge
- The importer is required to give the port at least 24 hours' notice, via the agent, about the arrival of imported goods, and the port then sets a date, in advance, for the transfer of the goods.
- If the goods are required to be checked by the Standards Institute of Israel, the port shall be notified at least 72 hours in advance, as the institute’s representatives are not permanently present at the crossing.
- The customs agent must have authorization allowing him to communicate with the Israeli customs at the bridge about the clearance of goods.
- The agent provides customs with the import statement and the relevant documents required to release the goods (authorization, original documents – commercial invoice, package list, certificate of origin, import permit and/or a certificate of compliance with standards – according to the imported goods) 24 hours prior to the arrival of the goods (this may be done by fax).
- The statement “Import to the Palestinian territories” must be written in the “recipient store number” box on each imported goods statement to the Palestinian territories, in addition to the code of the crossing from which goods are expected to pass through to the Palestinian territories.
- The importer/goods owner must declare that the final destination of the goods is the Palestinian territories. This declaration must appear on the original import statement (registered by the customs agent) as well as on customs form 138b in detail. The customs form must be completed if customs fees or purchase taxes are imposed on goods, but the same will not be needed if only VAT is imposed on goods.
- Goods are transferred successively (in special cases, the transfer of goods may be carried out “door to door” upon prior approval, or from “door to destination”, while a security check is conducted with a scanner. If any suspects arise, the goods will be checked manually.
- The pallets used to transfer goods at Allenby Bridge must have standard measurements that can allow them to be scanned. The goods placed on pallets with non-standard measurements that do not allow them to be scanned must be sent to Ashdod Port for checking, on the account of the importer.
- The customs agent or the importer must communicate in advance with the Palestinian or Israeli carrier. Following the checking procedure, goods are loaded to a Palestinian (or Israeli) truck and given a gate pass for goods clearance.
Process of goods clearance from the airport (airway station)
- The airline company, shipping agent or customs agent should notify about the arrival of a shipment. Goods are delivered at the Ben Gurion Airport handling station.
- The agent, customs agent or airline company issues the delivery order form.
- A customs statement is released by the customs agent (a customs document which includes customs charges due for shipping an import. The customs stamp on the form and enclosed documents authorizing goods clearance serve as a document allowing the handling station to release the shipment) from the commerce office at the handling station.
- Goods are released from customs in accordance with the import statement which holds the importer’s name, or in accordance with the owner of the goods who is not the importer of the goods. This can be done after transferring ownership in accordance with the regulation. The statement “Import to the Palestinian territories” must be written in the “recipient store number” box on each imported goods statement to the Palestinian territories, in addition to the code of the crossing from which goods are expected to pass through to the Palestinian territories.
- The importer/goods owner must declare that the final destination of the goods is the Palestinian territories. The declaration must appear on the original import statement (registered by the customs agent) as well as on customs form 138b in detail The customs form must be completed if customs fees or purchase taxes are imposed on goods, but the same will not be needed if only VAT is imposed on goods.
- An assessor, assigned by customs, determines whether the shipment needs to be physically checked. If so, inspection will be carried out at the inspection hall. After inspection, the assessor determines the customs fees.
- Customs fees and due charges to the handling station are paid in the bank.
- The relevant person hands over the documents to a staff member to check customs approvals and the payment of fees, then to the clearance area. Upon arrival at the clearance area, a delivery order should be handed over to get a queue number and a permit to enter with the truck assigned to transport the goods. Now the goods can be received.
- The import handling station works daily around the clock.