Import Clearance System
Meaning of import (Article 2-1 of the Customs Act)
Import means shipping foreign goods into the Republic of Korea (referring to any foreign goods shipped from the bonded area in Korea in cases of those passing through the bonded area) or consuming and using them, including the consumption and use of foreign goods within the means of transportation but excluding the consumption and use of foreign goods falling under any of subparagraphs of Article 239, in Korea
Flow chart of the import customs procedure
Concept of import customs clearance
Import customs clearance (import clearance) is a series of processes where a person intending to import foreign goods files a declaration of the goods to be imported into Korea with the head of a customs office, who then checks to ascertain whether the import declaration has legally and justly been filed in accordance with the Customs Act and other laws and ordinances and, after accepting the declaration, issues an import declaration completion certificate to the import declarant to allow the release of the imported goods.
Import clearance procedure
- Licensed customs broker: A person who has been granted a license to file import declarations after being entrusted with customs clearance by others in accordance with the Licensed Customs Broker Act. Licensed customs brokers are classified into following categories according to the types of practice: customs service corporations, customs clearance handling corporations, joint customs brokers and individual customs brokers.
- Owner of import goods: Any owner of imported goods can also file an import declaration in person on the goods he/she has imported if he/she satisfies certain required conditions.
- Basic documents: An invoice, a bill of lading, a packing list, and a certificate of origin
Documents for ascertaining import requirements (submit if applicable): A value declaration form, required documents for import such as inspection, quarantine, permit and recommendation documents issued by relevant institutions*, an application form for exemption from customs duty, an application form for applying the agreed tariff, a confirmation of security for local tax payment, a Kimberley Process Certificate, and a tariff recommendation certificate.
* Required documents for import: There is a confirmation system which requires that the head of every customs office should ascertain whether the obligations prescribed by 34 individual laws and ordinances in relation to importation are fulfilled in order to achieve the national policy goals, such as environmental protection, social security and national health protection, and accordingly this is intended to make it necessary to submit documents issued as import requirements by the relevant institutions, such as documents of inspection, quarantine, recommendation, permission and/or confirmation prescribed for pertinent goods to the relevant customs office.
|Classification||Declaration before Departure from the Port||Declaration before Arrival at the Port||Declaration before Arrival at the Bonded Area||Declaration after Storage in the Bonded Area|
|Time of declaration||Before the vessel (aircraft) loaded with goods departs from the port of lading five days before arrival (one day before arrival in the case of an airplane) in Korea||Before arrival at the port (declaration of unloading or discharging cargo declaration) after the vessel (aircraft) departs from the port of lading five days before arrival (one day before arrival in the case of an aircraft) in Korea||Before arrival at the bonded area in which the goods will be shipped||After storing the goods in the bonded area|
|Goods subject to import declaration||
||Not limited||Not limited||Not limited|
|Customs office for import declaration||Customs office in charge of the place of scheduled arrival||Customs office in charge of the place of scheduled arrival||Customs office having jurisdiction over the bonded area of scheduled arrival||Customs office having jurisdiction over the bonded area for the stored goods|
|Time of notification of whether there are any goods subject to inspection||At the time of submitting data (a declaration of departure and a cargo manifest) which prove that the vessel (aircraft) has departed from the port of lading||Date of import declaration||Date of import declaration||Date of import declaration|
|Time of acceptance of import declaration||Inspection omitted||After submission of the cargo manifest||After submission of the cargo manifest||After reporting the arrival of goods at the bonded area||After import declaration|
|Goods subject to inspection||After the end of goods inspection||After the end of goods inspection||After the end of goods inspection||After the end of goods inspection|
Customs office for import declaration
- Declaration before departure or arrival: To the head of the customs office having jurisdiction over the place of scheduled arrival of the vessel, etc. loaded with imported goods
- Declaration before arrival at the bonded area: To the head of the customs office having jurisdiction over the bonded area where the import goods will arrive
- Declaration after storing the goods in the bonded area: To the head of the customs office having jurisdiction over the bonded area where the import goods are stored
Processing of import declaration
- The import declaration form is examined using such methods as a screen-based audit, a documentary audit, goods inspection, etc. If the import declaration has been filed legally, it will be accepted immediately.
However, the customs office may request the declarant to supplement the import declaration form or withhold the customs clearance in any of the following cases:
Request for supplementation of the declaration form
Withholding of customs clearance
- Where matters entered or to be entered in the declaration form are incomplete or missing
- Where any accompanying documents have been omitted or the proof data need to be supplemented according to the declaration form examination results
- Where the declarant intends to change the import declaration method from declaration in a paperless way to declaration through submission of documents
- Where there are any incomplete or missing things that need to be supplemented, such as matters written or to be written in the declaration form or required documents submitted or to be submitted
- Where obligations provided for by law are violated or the public health, etc. is feared to be harmed
- Where any accusation has been filed or any investigation is being conducted on suspicion of a customs fraud
- Where there are any goods with a false or misleading label on their quality, etc. under Article 230-1 of the Customs Act
- Where it takes a long period of time to fulfill the requirements for the acceptance of the import declaration according to the results of examination for customs clearance
The head of a customs office may reject a filed declaration, or the declarant may cancel the filed declaration after obtaining approval from the head of the customs office in any of the following cases:
Rejection of declaration
Cancellation of declaration
- Where the declaration has been filed in a false way or any other illegal manner
- Where abandonment, discard, public sale, successful auction or definite seizure of the goods, or their reversion to the National Treasury has been determined
- Where the requirements for import declaration before departure or arrival have not been fulfilled
- Where the goods declared before departure or arrival have not arrived
- Where the other formal requirements for import declaration have not been fulfilled
- Where a decision has been made to return goods being different from the content of the import contract, deteriorated or damaged goods, etc. to the foreign supplier, etc.
- Where the imported goods have been destroyed or lost or are intended to be discarded after obtaining approval from the relevant customs office due to a disaster or for any other unavoidable causes
- Where the imported goods are intended to be returned or discarded for such reasons as withholding of customs clearance, failure to satisfy the clearance requirements, prohibited goods for import, etc.
- Where it is recognized that there is any justifiable reason or reasons equivalent to any case mentioned above
- The company’s financial situation due to an economic recession, etc
- Omission of submission of an application for customs duty exemption, a tariff rate quota recommendation, or a specific use tariff rate recommendation
- Cancellation of a declaration in order to achieve the application of a lower tariff rate
- Failure to secure a market in Korea, etc. due to cancellation of a contract for sales in Korea, etc.
Inspection of imported goods
- This means to ascertain through physical inspection whether the goods on which an import declaration has been filed match the declared matters of import exactly, whether they violate the provisions of relevant laws or regulations, etc.
- Differential inspection ratios may be applied by allowing for the legal compliance degree, any actual offense detection record by inspection, the country of origin of goods, etc. in relation to each importer.
- The inspection method to be used may be sampling inspection, whole inspection or inspection for analysis according to the goods subject to inspection.
- The head of the relevant customs office may require the presence of the declarant during goods inspection and request the manager of the place of inspection or the owner of imported goods to make preparations for inspection, such as by securing a place and equipment needed for inspection, placing workers for opening the packaged goods unpackaging and packaging. In case it is impossible to perform an inspection because sufficient preparations have not been made for inspection, the priority of inspection will be adjusted so that an inspection may be performed when sufficient preparations have been made for inspection.
- The required expenses for inspection of imported goods should be paid by the owner of imported goods.
Issuance of an import declaration completion certificate
- Having accepted an import declaration, the head of the relevant customs office issues an import declaration completion certificate electronically stamped with the special agency seal of the customs office for the declarant (customs broker, etc.).
However, in case there is any one of the reasons mentioned below, the head of the customs office may issue an import declaration certificate using the relevant method for such reason:
- In case it is impossible to issue an import declaration certificate electronically due to unavoidable circumstances: It will be issued by physically stamping it with the special agency seal of the customs office.
- In case an import declaration is filed by attaching detailed particulars to the declaration form and the declaration certificate as separate attached documents without entering them therein by computer because of more than 50 specifications for the declared goods: An import declaration certificate electronically stamped with the special agency seal of the customs office is issued after also stamping the boundary between such certificate and the attached documents with the declaration processing official’s seal.
- In order to prevent any forgery or alteration, each import declaration certificate is equipped with various devices such as the special agency seal of the customs office, a watermark (KCS logo), the serial number of issuance, a two-dimensional barcode, and a copy mark.
Simplified import declaration procedure
Simplified declaration with the declaration form : Import customs clearance is possible by submitting only an import declaration form without submission of any attached documents in the case of goods which fall under any of the following categories:
- Duty-free goods recognized as articles for personal use as the goods to be received by a domestic resident with a total dutiable value of not more than 150,000 won
- Duty-free commercial samples as goods with a total dutiable value of not more than US$ 250
- Goods among design drawings which are exempt from import approval
- Means of payment which a financial institution imports in order to engage in a foreign exchange business in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act
Omission of an import declaration : Any article exempt from customs duty or subject to a zero tariff among the goods which fall under any of the following categories requires presentation of only a bill of lading (B/L) in order to be delivered immediately from the storage place:
- Duty-free goods which are carried in through diplomatic pouches
- Duty-free goods which belong to the head of a foreign country visiting Korea, his or her family and entourage
- Human remains (ashes) or corpses for funerals
- Goods used for news reporting by organs of public opinion registered with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, such as newspapers, films or recording tapes containing news stories
- Data and materials sent by diplomatic missions abroad, etc. to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Goods for official business returned from military forces stationed overseas [this applies only in cases where they have arrived in Korea after being loaded in a warship or military aircraft (including a chartered aircraft)]