Last year, the Department of Finance (DOF) issued the Department Order 012-2014 (1), introducing a two-phase accreditation process for importers. All declared importers (organization or individual brokers) must now secure:
- Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Importer Clearance Certificate (BIR-ICC)
- Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Account Management Office (AMO) accreditation
Clearly this new accreditation has been introduced to carry out a deep background on the country’s importers. The previous application – Interim Customs Accreditation Unit (ICARE) – was not totally effective as it was only under the umbrella of the BOC. The BIR had no direct control over those accounts what facilitated tax evasion.
This BIR-ICC and BOC-AMO are now requiring all applicants to strictly comply with the most various government agencies such as : Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Bureau of Immigration and the above mentioned, BIR and BOC.
All applicants are required to meet very specific requirements such as:
- Existence of a head office or principal place of business in the Philippines (SEC registration)
- Full compliance with BIR registration
- No cases of returns and payments of tax
- No record of any account receivable and delinquent account
- No record of any pending tax or related criminal case
- Regular use of the electronic filing and payment system (eFPS) in filing all requisite tax returns and in the payment of taxes
- Regular submission of all information returns.
As a consequence, importers who have outstanding tax liabilities with any government agency, will never be able to secure this importer accreditation. These liabilities must be settled first and this is valid for any government agencies.
If that all documents required are provided and the application is accepted, the Accounts Receivable Monitoring Division (ARMD) in charge of the application monitoring will issue the ICC within 2-4 months, depending on the amount of pending applications. This will be valid for a period of 3 years.
Once the BIR-ICC accreditation is secured, the second phase of the process can start and the ICC must be submitted along with other supporting documents, to the Account Management Office (AMO) of the BOC. The AMO will then either approve or deny the application. Once the BOC-AMO accreditation is secured the importer can legally import goods, provided that these do not require registration with other governmental authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration.
While the implementation of stricter policies on the importation process was needed ( especially to combat tax fraud and evasion), the whole process remains very slow and must be must be streamlined and simplified.
If you are an existing company or you are looking to set up a business in the Philippines, our business analysts and legal consultants can advise your company on how to secure this or other licenses required to do business in the Philippines.
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