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Is a delay in implementing customs procedures due to the Covid-19 pandemic cause for administrative violations?

14:00 | 22/08/2021

VCN - Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many shipments could not implement customs procedures within 30 days of the date of arrival because the firm is locked down. To facilitate firms and customs officials in law enforcement, it is necessary to have a document regulating permission to exempt administrative penalties in this case.

Professional activities at the Export Processing Zones and Industrial Parks Customs Branch (Hai Phong Customs Department).
Professional activities at the Export Processing Zones and Industrial Parks Customs Branch (Hai Phong Customs Department).

This is an issue raised by readers at the virtual seminar: "Customs accompanies businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic" held by Customs News.

Readers asked if due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many shipments could not implement customs procedures within 30 days of the date of arrival because the business was being blocked. Heard at the seminar, in this case, the customs authority would not impose administrative penalties if the firm did not carry out customs procedures in accordance with regulations. However, to facilitate customs officials and businesses in implementation, readers requested the General Department of Vietnam Customs to issue a document on temporary exemption during this pandemic period.

Responding to readers' questions, Deputy Director of the Customs Supervision and Administration Department Dao Duy Tam said in Decree 128/2020/ND-CP of the Government stipulating penalties for administrative violations in customs field, it regulates the cases of force majeure that firms cannot comply with regulations. So it shall be included in cases of exemption from administrative penalties.

The General Department of Vietnam Customs also issued an official document instructing provincial and municipal customs units to consider an exemption from administrative penalties for acts of untimely carrying out customs procedures.

On June 3, 2020, the General Department of Vietnam Customs issued Official Letter 3569/TCHQ-PC guiding exempting from sanctioning administrative violations in customs due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recently, the General Department of Vietnam Customs also issued a document 3461/TCHQ-PC answering a firm on this issue.

Regarding the customs declaration, at Point b, Clause 1, Article 25 of the Customs Law 2014 stipulates the deadline for submitting customs declarations: “For imported goods, submitting before the date of arrival of goods at the border gate or within 30 days since the date the goods arrive at the border gate.”

Point b, Clause 2, Article 18 of the 2014 Customs Law stipulates customs declarants are obliged to “made customs declaration and carry out customs procedures as prescribed in this law”.

Therefore, in case a customs declarant fails to strictly comply with the regulations on the time limit for customs declaration, they would be considered and sanctioned for administrative violations according to the provisions of Article 7 of Decree No. 128/2020/ND-CP dated October 19, 2020.

Regarding the exemption from sanctioning administrative violations due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in Article 11 of the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations, Article 6 of Decree No. 128/2020/ND-CP dated October 19, 2020 of the Government regulating sanctioning of administrative violations in the field of customs prescribe cases where administrative violations are not sanctioned; Article 2 of the Law on Handling of Administrative Violations explains "force majeure events" in the case of not sanctioning administrative violations.

Therefore, the consideration for not sanctioning administrative violations due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic must be based on provisions of the above law and specific case profile, whereby individuals and organisations must prove that they have applied all necessary measures and their capability but they can not stop the violation from happening.

By N.Linh/Thanh Thuy