How to Import into Jamaica



• Fulfillment of regulatory requirements for imported food, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and consumer goods etc

• Application for duty waivers where applicable

• Goods purchased according to stipulated regulatory terms and conditions

• Goods shipped


• Document preparation for vessel arrival and cargo by shipping agent/ freight forwarder

• Document preparation for clearing goods by Customs broker


• Ship arrival

• Completion of documentation

• Ship clearance – Port Authority of Jamaica, Customs, Ministry of Health and other agencies

• Stevedoring

• Cargo handling

• Cargo storage/warehousing

• Arrival Notice


• Completion of customs documentation

• Lodgment of Customs Entries with supporting documentation at Customs

• Customs processing and payment of duties • Shipment/Container Location

• Inspection/Physical examination of cargo at port or on importer’s premises

• Regulatory Inspections at port or on importer’s premises

• Customs Release

• Port Physical and Administrative Checks 

• Importer receives container

• Finalization of payment



1. Pre-importation - This includes obtaining regulatory permissions – permits, licenses and approvals – to import specified goods as well as obtaining approvals for duty waivers etc.

2. Pre-arrival - Brokerage services are contracted. At this stage, the preparation of necessary documentation by the shipping agent and the broker begins for the ship’s arrival and cargo clearance process.

3. Arrival - This process commences upon arrival of the vessel and cargo. Shipping documents are submitted to Customs and PAJ and preparations are made for a marine pilot to pilot the ship to the port berths (in accordance with the Pilotage Act), and for stevedoring services for offloading of the cargo.

4. Clearance & Delivery - The cargo arrival report is submitted and customs entry and supporting documents are submitted electronically using the C87 Broker system, and are also physically lodged with Customs. The customs declaration is processed using the CASE system; assessment and payment of duties is completed and the examination and release of cargo from Container Examination Station or port or warehouse is also completed.



Regulatory Permissions

Regulatory Agencies – Import Permits

Ship Processing

Brokerage Services

Customs Clearance

Haulier Services

Regulatory Permissions

The pre-importation process involves obtaining the relevant permits, approvals and licenses from government regulatory agencies, while the importation process begins with the arrival of the vessel carrying the cargo and the release of the imported cargo. The import process includes the ship processing, customs clearance and port clearance procedures.

Regulatory Agencies – Import Permits

The process for approval of import permits is still predominantly manual with a few agencies available online. For example, an application for an import permit to the Trade Board can be made online. The importer receives electronic notification of the approval and s/he can pay the fees electronically. The importer is able to print the receipt and import permit and does not have to visit the Trade Board Office during the process.

Trade Board

An import license is required for thirty-four (34) items in accordance with the Trade Board List.

Fresh Produce, Rice and Cornmeal

An importer of fresh produce, rice and cornmeal must obtain a Phyto-sanitary certificate from the Ministry of Agriculture. The required documents include a letter stating the items, quantity, country of origin, Phyto-sanitary certificate from country of origin, and import permit. On arrival, the shipment is inspected by the Bureau of Standards and the Prevention of Infestation Unit along with Customs during the customs clearance process.

Meats, Fish, Poultry, etc.

An importer requires an import certificate from the Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture to import meats, poultry, fish, etc. The required documents include a letter which includes the details of country of origin, a completed application form and the payment of a fee of $J800.2


An importer must apply to the Pesticide Control Authority to import pesticides and similar products. The product to be imported must be registered under general safety provisions. An application for an import permit for pesticides must be approved prior to the date of ordering the goods. An Import permit will be issued stipulating terms and conditions that must be met. The importer must present the invoice, bill of lading and import permit during the clearance process. A fee of 2% of the C.I.F value of the import is paid. An import permit is required from the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs Division of Ministry of Health to import fertilizer. An application is submitted to the division along with a product information package for review.


An application for a permit to import pharmaceuticals into Jamaica is submitted to the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs Division along with an application for the registration of the product, product information and sample.

Tax Compliance Certificate

A tax compliance certificate is required to clear goods in Jamaica. This is obtained from the Inland Revenue Department. The importer may update or apply for a tax compliance certificate.

Ship Processing

This process involves the arrival and receival of vessels and cargo entering Jamaica. Shipping agents for cargo and cruise ships provide the following services to shipping lines:

  • Prepare the necessary documentation for acceptance by the relevant authorities such as, cargo manifests, bills of lading, etc. Ship husbandry services – garbage disposal, obtaining D-rat certificate, tonnage

  • Make payments on behalf of shipping lines

  • Ship processing services for arrival and departure of ships including ensuring pilot is on board the ship, advising on documentation

  • Contracting stevedoring services

  • Liaising with cargo handlers, port, Customs, Immigration, Ministry of Health, etc.


Under the Pilotage Act, all vessels entering Jamaican waters must use pilotage service. The process is as follows:

  1. Shipping agent informs the Pilotage Department of PAJ of the date of ship’s arrival.

  2. Booking is made in the Berthing System.

  3. Services are inputted into the system.

  4. Pilotage Dispatching System (PDS) is used to process requests for pilotage service as received from vessel Agents.

  5. Pilotage invoice for services is generated by the Post Authority of Jamaica’s (PAJ’s) Accounts Department,

  6. Invoice is sent to the pilot.

  7. Pilotage invoices are sent by the PAJ to the vessels agent.

  8. Shipping agents pays harbor fees to Customs.

  9. Customs sends revenue to PAJ at later date.

Brokerage Services

In Jamaica, an importer is required to hire a broker to clear cargo valued over US$5,000. Importers, particularly large importers, usually engage the services of a broker on a long- term basis either as an employee or as a contractor, the latter being the more popular option. When goods are shipped the importer will call or email the broker providing information on the shipment and will make the necessary shipping documents available to the broker. It is the broker who interfaces with Customs and the port. However, the importer will contact customs or the port directly when necessary, particularly if there are discrepancies or difficulties. The broker is primarily responsible for preparing the customs entry declaration form, submission of the forms electronically and physically (depending on the importer), and obtaining the customs release form. The broker normally pays the customs duties, port fees, etc., unless the importer pays electronically. However, even if paid electronically the broker is still required to physically take the receipt to the cashier for verification and certification of the entry (stamp and signature).

Cargo Clearance Process

The cargo clearance process includes:

  1. Carrier’s release process by their agents

    • Satisfy release conditions

    • Surrender original bills of lading or express release guidelines

    • Proper identification of release to the party

    • Settlement of all applicable carrier’s and agent’s charges

  2. Customs clearance

  3. Port Clearance

Carrier’s Release Process

  1. Satisfy release conditions

  2. Surrender original bills of lading or express release guidelines

  3. Proper identification of release to party

  4. Settlement of all applicable carrier’s and agent’s charges

Customs Clearance Process

This process begins when the shipment arrives in Jamaica and can be broken down as follows:

  1. Cargo Arrival Report

  2. Customs Entry Declaration Processing

  3. Revenue Collection

  4. Inspections (if required)

  5. Customs Release

Port Clearance process:

This involves:

  1. Document administrative checks

  2. Revenue collection

  3. Cargo handling – cargo location

  4. Physical security checks

At this stage, port charges and customs duties are paid unless the shipment is entitled to duty waivers. Customs duties include:

  1. Import duty

  2. Consumption Tax

  3. Customs Service Charge

  4. Environmental Levy

Customs Release Process

Containers are either inspected at the port, on the importer’s premises, at a public or private warehouse or at the port. If the importer is an approved Authorized Economic Operator, the container is not usually inspected. However, the Risk Management Unit may at any time earmark a container for inspection at the port or on site. For low risk importers and containers containing perishable goods, site inspections are usually authorized by the Site Inspection Unit at KCT. Reefer containers are inspected at the warehouse. Containers flagged for port inspection are taken to the Container Examination Station at KCT for inspection. During physical inspections, some containers are processed through non-intrusive scanning equipment. Inspections by regulatory agencies are conducted in conjunction with Customs Officers.

Haulier Services 

The haulier or trucker is usually contracted by the importer to receive and deliver the container to the warehouse. The haulier is the last one in the supply chain. Upon receipt of the customs release form and other documents from the broker, s/he takes the documents to the security gate at the port entrance where they are vetted and a gate pass issued. The haulier then takes the truck to the entrance gate where the documents including the gate pass is vetted and physical security checks are conducted. When cleared, the haulier will proceed to the container loading area. If there is a container on the chassis, it is offloaded and the other container is loaded. This is called a ‘double move’. The haulier then proceeds to the scanning machine where the container is scanned. If the container was not physically examined before the customs release was issued, the relevant agencies will be contacted to oversee a physical check of the container. These agencies include Canine Unit, Customs Enforcement Team, etc. If the container is cleared, further physical and administrative security checks are conducted at the gate by the port security personnel as well as Customs. When cleared, the haulier exits the gates and transports the container to the importer’s premises where the container is handed over along with the documents, and an integrity form is completed by the port and the trucker. When the container is offloaded and the container is fully released, the importer will contact the haulier to pick up the empty container to return it to the port. Containers may be kept by the importer for seven (7) to thirty (30) days depending on the shipping line/agent and the importer, without paying additional fees. The haulier collects the container and the integrity form which is completed by the importer, and takes the container to the port where the truck and container undergo further security checks at the gate entrance. If cleared, the container is then scanned and the haulier takes the container to the designated storage area where it is offloaded and stored for further use by an exporter or returned to the shipping line. At this stage the import process has ended.

Have you found this information useful ?
Please share your feedback below and help us improve our content.