ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be an attempt to modernise the currency declaration regime for travellers, the Customs Depart­ment has notified draft rules along with voluntary declaration forms on the pattern of developed and developing countries.

The new SRO1751 of Customs stipulates the requirement that only amounts exceeding $10,000 for incoming passengers and $5,000 for outgoing passengers be declared. These requirements for declaration are in line with international standards and the best practices adopted by most countries.

Member Customs Mukarram Jah Ansari told Dawn that this new SRO would modernise Pakistan’s currency declaration regime. Previous regulations, he said, required a declaration even if a small amount was being brought in or taken out.

Passengers can make the declaration either manually at the customs counter or electronically in the customs system. Apart from manual forms, passengers can also file their declarations from their homes through an online system operated by WeBOC.

For declaration, India has an incoming limit of $5,000 per person, while the limit for the United Kingdom is 10,000 pounds for taking in and taking out cash. If you’re leaving the UK, you must declare cash before you leave the country. If you’re coming to the UK, you can declare cash before you travel or as soon as you arrive in the UK.

In the case of Pakistan, the declaration forms are available online. No one will be checked while passing through the green channels at airports.

In Pakistan, the parliament has empowered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to monitor and regulate the currency regime in the country. The parliament also empowered Pakistan customs to check on the movement of cash currency at all international airports and border stations.

As part of this, the SBP on June 16, 2012, already notified the mandatory requirement for passengers coming into Pakistan and bringing currency and/or negotiable instruments. These regulations came into force on July 1, 2012.

On the customs side, the department introduced a declaration form for passengers through SRO689 of 2019 to widen the scope of declaration to include gold jewelry, precious stones, and other prohibited or restricted goods. These rules cover both incoming and outgoing passengers.

Under this SRO, there was no floor for the declaration of currency for incoming and outgoing passengers. “Now, we have introduced the floor for declaration,” Mr Ansari said, adding that this was not a restriction.

As per the rules, customs officials will not allow the movement of currency beyond the prescribed limits by the SBP until they have valid permission or permit from the central bank. The customs declaration is just meant for monitoring.

In order to increase awareness amongst international passengers, Pakistan Customs has been collaborating with the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines, and immigration authorities to improve its outreach to both departing and arriving passengers. As a result, compliance has been steadily increasing, he added.

As per the draft notification, in the case of accompanied baggage, the outbound passenger carrying foreign currency exceeding $5,000 or equivalent, any other prohibited or restricted item, or any other item requiring declaration before Customs shall file a declaration in the prescribed form before or on departure, electronically in the WeBOC or manually at the airport.

Similarly, any incoming passenger having foreign currency above $10,000 or equivalent, any other prohibited or restricted item, or any other item requiring declaration before Customs must complete the form.

According to a Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) notification, “Notice is hereby given that objections or suggestions thereon, if any, may for consideration of the FBR be sent within seven days of the publication of the draft amendments in the official Gazette.”

Objections or suggestions received from any person before the expiry of the aforesaid period shall be taken into consideration by the FBR, it added.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022

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