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App launched to submit customs declarations digitally

The Bahamas Customs Department revealed its new digital customs declaration platform yesterday. Exempt App allows returning residents entering through all ports of The Bahamas to fill out their C-17 declaration forms electronically, claim exemption or pay customs duty on the app.

Customs Revenue Officer Nadia Newton-Williams said the app is expected to be mandatory for all Bahamians and residents on June 12, 2023.

“This app requires a one-time registration using an email and private password provided by the user. Once you are logged in to the app you would proceed to the account tab, click update, scan your passport and the app will pick up the embedded information from the passport, such as your NIB information and your date of birth details,” she said during an Office of the Prime Minister press briefing yesterday.

“As soon as this is done, your account is officially active. To complete a declaration in Exempt App, you have to select the C-17 form, fill out all your aircraft information, select your items from a drop down list and their values, upload your invoices, decide if you wish to use an exemption or not, and then you have an option to pay online through the app or you can submit and once you get to your destination, access the cashier in the hall. Once you have arrived at customs, you will then pick up your checked bags and proceed to the next available officer. The officers will pull up your paid declaration via a QR code, verify your items and once everything is correct you are allowed to proceed to the exit.”

Newton-Williams said the purpose of the Bahamian-developed app is to save travelers time.

“Some ask, why now? Why is this necessary, why the change? We are here to say today that the power has now been put in the hands of the users. The app has the following features and benefits. First and foremost, it’s paperless. Forms are filled out and submitted through the app, receipts and all the documentation are scanned before submission of your declaration. All of your past forms are saved in your account. So that means if you change your mobile number, it’s still there. If you choose to pay through the cashier in-house, they also have the ability to email receipts to the account holder,” she said.

“You can now submit your declarations while you are still abroad. No longer will there be a need to look for a pen or paper. We are encouraging all travelers who have items to declare to please try and submit your declarations beforehand, that way the process will be so much smoother when you arrive in the customs hall.”

Travelers are being encouraged to download the app as soon as possible.

Newton-Williams said with the platform, users will now have the ability to pay customs duties before even arriving at any port within The Bahamas, via debit or credit card.

“The app will calculate your duties based on what you input, and if you use an exemption it will automatically take the exemption from the higher-rated items. The whole purpose of this app in the long run is to save you time. Once the declaration is made, the officer verifies your submission, does their checks and you are on your way,” she said.

Other features of the app include the ability to search for customs duty rates and scan barcodes while shopping abroad, to determine the exact rate that will be applied.

The Exempt App is now available in Android and iOS app stores.