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DR Revokes De Minimis Exemption for Low-Value Imports by Express Delivery Companies

Friday, August 08, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Dominican Customs recently issued a resolution revoking the current de minimis exemption for low-value goods imported by express delivery (courier) companies. As a result, the following categories of goods imported by express delivery companies that are currently exempt from import duty, value-added tax (ITBIS) and other taxes will be subject to those duties and taxes effective Aug. 15.

- goods exempt from duties and taxes with a FOB value equal to or lower than US$200

- materials for mass distribution in commercial quantities such as certain types of literature, printed documentation, newspapers and magazines packaged or labeled at the source

- low-value shipments exempt from duties and taxes (as well as shipments with an insignificant value) such as commercial samples, personal effects and unsolicited gifts with a value equal to or lower than US$200

Free zones in the DR operate under their own separate legal framework and are therefore not affected by this resolution.

This action mainly targets low-value (under US$200) purchases made over the Internet, especially on U.S.-based Web sites. U.S. retailers may not even be aware that these goods are being purchased by consumers in the Dominican Republic because they are typically shipped to a Florida address provided by one of several Dominican express delivery companies, which subsequently arrange for the exportation of the goods from the U.S. to the DR.

The elimination of the de minimis exemption is problematic because it appears to contravene CAFTA-DR as well as Dominican legislation. For example, Article 11.13(c) of CAFTA-DR provides that “The Parties express their desire to maintain at least the level of market openness they provided for express delivery services existing on the date this Agreement is signed.”

For additional information on this matter, please contact Alvaro Ferreira.

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