Are NPOs eligible for waivers on import duty?

| 05/04/2019

I am a member of one of the local service clubs and we are registered as a non-profit organisation. We sometimes import shirts for our members to wear or other articles to sell as a fundraiser. My question is: What are the rules for paying import duty on those articles which we import? Are they free from import duty or do we have to pay the same as anyone else importing those articles?

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer: NPOs are definitely not guaranteed to be given a pass on paying duty, but they can get one. An official with the General Registry, which maintains the list of NPOs, confirmed there are no automatic reductions on import duties on items related to NPOs.

If an NPO is looking to cut duty on what it is trying to import, it is necessary to apply to the Ministry of Finance, the official explained. The application needs to comprise an official letter from the organisation that sets out the details of the purchase and the use of the items, plus copies of the invoice and the NPO certificate on file at the registry to confirm its status.

You cannot assume that the exemption will be granted, however. A Ministry of Finance and Economic Development official said it is strongly recommended that any NPO that wants to ask for a waiver should apply ahead of the item being imported. “By doing so, the NPO will have a decision in hand and be able to plan accordingly, avoiding any delay with the clearance of items through Customs,” the official explained.

However, he added, “Waivers of import duty are discretionary and are done in accordance” with Section 52 of the Customs and Border Control Law, 2018, which says, “The Cabinet may, in any particular case, waive or order refund of any duty, package tax or part of any duty or package tax which would otherwise be payable or would not be liable to refund under this Law, subject to such conditions as the Cabinet may think fit to impose.”

The law mentioned above can be found on the CNS Library

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