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We are committed to supporting the national economy by encouraging and facilitating legitimate trade. As the government agency charged with the movement of goods across our borders, we play a pivotal role in protecting the country from the import and export of illegal and restricted goods and ensuring that all appropriate duties and taxes are collected on behalf of the government.

Customs Controls

Under the provisions contained within the Customs Code (Decree Law 14/2017), we are legally entitled to search any goods, person, vehicle, or other conveyance that enters or exits the territory of Timor-Leste.

This is a power that we take very seriously, and our aim is to only stop and search those persons or consignments (goods) that we consider could pose some level of risk. When making this assessment, we take into account a number of factors, including:

  • Your previous compliance history with us and other relevant government agencies
  • The type of goods, and where they are arriving from or going to
  • Information received from other partner agencies

On some occasions, we may stop and search your consignment to confirm that you are still following the rules.

Types of Controls

After you have lodged your declaration within ASYCUDA World, your consignment will be routed one of four ways:

Red Lane

Your consignment will be physically inspected by a customs officer. In some cases, and depending upon the type of goods, this examination may include a representative from another government agency. For example, if your consignment includes live animals, it is likely that an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will also be present.

Yellow Lane

Your declaration, and the documents that you submitted with, it will be examined by a customs officer. In the event that irregularities are identified, then your consignment may be routed to the red lane for physical examination. As with the red lane, these checks may be undertaken on behalf of other government agencies.

Blue Lane

Your consignment will be immediately released upon payment of the relevant duties and taxes, however, we will examine the documents at a later date to confirm that everything was in order.

Green Lane

Any consignment not selected by one of the three lanes above, is sent to the Green Lane. This means that once you have paid the relevant duties and taxes, your goods are immediately released without the need for any type of inspection.

In some cases, we may still want to inspect goods that have been sent green lane, however; this should not happen on a regular basis, and if it does, you should ask to speak with a customs manager or supervisor.

When commercial goods enter Timor-Leste, they do so by air, by sea, or via a land border. Following arrival, there is a legal requirement for those goods to be placed under a “customs treatment” within a specified time frame. This simply means that the goods must be declared to us as an import, reexported, or placed in an approved bonded warehouse facility.

Importantly, this must be completed within a strict timeframe, as failure to do so will result in us automatically applying a financial penalty:

  • Arrival by sea: 30 business days
  • Arrival by air or land: 20 business days

Voluntarily Report Errors

If you notice that you have made an error on a declaration, please tell us so we can make the appropriate amendment. By telling us, it shows that you are committed to being voluntarily compliant. Even if your consignment has already been cleared by us, we can still make a post-release amendment.

Maintain Accurate Records

Under the law, you are required to maintain and preserve any records relating to your trading activities for a period of five years. Please ensure you maintain accurate documentation, and keep these documents properly filed so they can be easily accessed by you. In some cases, we may want to view these documents to confirm your level of compliance.

Submit Accurate Declarations and Supporting Documents

It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit true and accurate import or export declarations, and include the correct documents:

  • Invoice (pro-forma invoice will not be accepted).
  • Packing list.
  • Bill of Lading/ Airway Bill.
  • License/ Permit from another Agency (where relevant).

Invest in Your Own Compliance

Ensuring that you are following the correct rules and regulations is your legal responsibility, and failure to do so will result in action being taken against you. In some cases, this may mean that you have to invest time and money in training your staff, upgrading your facilities or keeping better accounts or records. Wherever possible, we will try and assist you in becoming voluntarily compliant as this means lower operating costs for you as a business, and for us as a government agency. Being voluntarily compliant requires you to proactively check that your own internal systems or processes are working correctly. This should include:

  • Keeping up-to-date with any new or revised regulations, policies or procedures. You can find these by visiting our website
  • Developing you own internal processes or procedures which help you or your staff to ensure they are following the rules and regulations
  • Ensuring your staff are properly trained and apply these types of procedures
  • Adopting and applying internal controls to ensure any mistakes are quickly identified and reported to us.

You can find out more about trade compliance, by downloading our Complying with Regulations information booklet here.

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