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01 April 2020
Implications of Resolution 1179/20
In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, Customs recently issued Resolution 1179/20, which implements transitory modes for the treatment of various customs procedures and the ways of presenting documents associated therewith to facilitate foreign trade transactions.
Among these transitory measures, Customs has authorised electronic exchanges and amendments to bills of lading. However, customs agents must now obtain the original bill of lading from its issuer and keep it in its importation file.
The main regulations applicable to cargo delivery procedures are the Hamburg Rules, which are incorporated without major changes into Article 974 and following of the Commercial Code. In addition, the Customs Ordinance, the Compendium of Customs Regulations and the Coastal Shipping Regulations apply.
Article 977 of the Commerce Code defines a 'bill of lading' as a document by which the carrier undertakes to deliver the goods against surrender of the document to the order of a named person, or to order, or to bearer.
With this in mind, the Compendium of Customs Regulations expressly includes the original bill of lading as one of the documents used to prepare import declarations.
In this respect, from an ocean carrier's perspective, the most important aspects of the customs procedures set out in the Compendium of Customs Regulations are as follows:
The main implications of Resolution 1179/20 for ocean carriers are as follows:
Given that Resolution 1179/20 has not expressly modified the Chilean Customs Compendium, there are several greys areas regarding its interpretation and practical implementation, including with regard to potential delivery of cargo without surrender of the original bill of lading.
Until clarifications are obtained from Customs, ocean carriers should proceed carefully and liaise with their Chilean port agents to define interim protocols. Ocean carriers should also consider requesting letters of indemnity or similar guarantees from their shippers or consignees, as the case may be.
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