Since the GST de minimis dropped in October, the requirement for Islanders to access the GST declaration site www.customs.gst.gov.je has increased.
Although the system itself does not provide a modern or user-friendly experience, when everything goes smoothly it’s a relatively quick process. However, many of you have experienced difficulty and are disappointed that you are unable to easily get help. You are particularly frustrated that the phone options on 01534 448000 lead to either an email or website, rather than a person.
We raised this with Customs, highlighting that there are still many Islanders who do not own a computer or smartphone, yet are still able to order off-island goods by phone.
As expected, the number of parcels requiring GST declarations, approval and release has increased substantially. Customs are dealing with 14,000 consignments per day including both private and business parcels, which is understandably putting strain on the teams. Our worry is that if the Treasury Department continue with their proposal to remove the de minims completely this will only get worse.
We suggested the possibility of setting up a helpdesk where Islanders can speak directly to a Customs officer, rather than having to go through the ream of telephone options. Whilst the current system is in place, an easily available online ‘How To’ guide or flowchart for the most common problems people encounter may also be of some help to Islanders.
Customs have provided the following response: “We are indeed experiencing very high call and email enquiry volumes because of the reduced de-minimis, modified consumer buying behaviour due to the pandemic and of course BREXIT. We are actively working on ways to improve how we communicate with citizens by:
- Re-designing our phone tree allowing easier access to a call advisor
- Providing more detail to the importer so they are able to identify what they have bought when it arrives”.
They politely remind importers of the importance of knowing the exact details of the items they have purchased i.e. who from and how much its cost. The spokesperson said, “The importer is obliged to complete the customs declaration, we simply cannot do that for them. If they are unable to do the declaration, then they should consider using a Customs Agent to do so on their behalf”.
It is important to note that Jersey Customs and Immigration Services cannot act as an agent.