HCM City Customs Supporting Businesses to Ensure 24/7 Customs Clearance

10:51:11 AM | 20/7/2021

As Ho Chi Minh City is currently applying the Prime Minister's Directive 16 on social distancing, one major difficulty is still carrying out customs clearance procedures. Therefore, the HCM City Customs Department prepared scenarios for many specific situations, including the worst-case scenario of the pandemic. Customs officers residing at the working offices to ensure enough human resources for customs clearance procedures for goods.

Well-prepared scenarios

Right after Ho Chi Minh City announced social distancing measures as per the Prime Minister's Directive 16/CT-TTg, to facilitate businesses to clear goods, the HCM City Customs Department chaired an online meeting with leaders of customs offices to strictly apply distancing requirements as guided by the City People's Committee and, at the same time, carry out plans to arrange public officials to work directly and indirectly from home.

Accordingly, to apply social distancing measures and arrange enough employees at service, the HCM City Customs Department has organized its workforce in two different office blocks. For back-office personnel, customs offices actively arrange employees on their own but the headcount cannot exceed a third of full-time employees at the same time. The rest will work online from home.

Front-office personnel on duty and control teams will be arranged by their leaders based on work requirements, making sure that all customs procedures for exports and imports are processed quickly, with particular attention to means, equipment, chemicals, supplies, biological products, medicines, medicinal ingredients and vaccines used for prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerted efforts

To overcome this difficulty, customs offices have changed the way they are working, more quickly handled documents and procedures filed by enterprises via electronic means or telephone, and minimized physical contacts with enterprises. In order to carry out customs clearance procedures for a large number of foreign-invested enterprises, customs offices used information technology applications, such as Zalo and Viber mobile applications and electronic mailboxes, especially the newly launched website.

Mr. Bui Le Hung, Director of Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Office, said, in the current context, the office has firmly followed directions on COVID-19 pandemic prevention and processed customs clearance for commodities. However, as airborne imports and exports depend on flights, especially exports, to protect the health and safety of customs officers performing professional duties and facilitate businesses to deal with customs procedures, the office will flexibly arrange personnel to work at the office and work from home so as to ensure the best service of customs clearance for businesses. If they need overtime clearance, they need to notify the office in advance to receive the best support.

At Cat Lai Port where the volume of import-export goods is huge, every day the Saigon Port Area Customs Branch No. 1 carries out 1,000-2,000 customs declaration forms. To clear goods in time, the office adopted specific scenarios to perform its tasks. At procedure divisions, socially distanced seats are installed in inspection houses for applicants. Direct contact is restricted during the course of settling all procedures to adhere to pandemic prevention measures. Working contents are exchanged by phone or email. On the first day of applying social distancing as per Directive 16, the office processed customs clearance procedures for nearly 900 export shipments.

In addition, subordinate agencies under the HCM City Customs Department have coordinated with port operators and warehouses to help importers and exporters quickly settle payment and clearance procedures. At the same time, they have actively worked with specialized inspection agencies at border gates to help enterprises deal with specialized procedures such as animal quarantine, plant quarantine, food safety and hygiene inspection to complete customs clearance procedures at the earliest.

By Hien Phuc, Vietnam Business Forum