Importing a motor vehicle
Many people opt to import a motor vehicle, whether due to preference or cost-effectiveness. However, it’s important to note that there are several steps that must be followed to ensure the process moves smoothly.
The first move for anyone bringing a motor vehicle or motorcycle into Jamaica is to ensure the proper licence is received before beginning the process of shipping a vehicle here.
Director of Licensing, Certification and Enforcement at The Trade Board, Althea Matthews, said, “Currently, importers applying to The Trade Board Limited for import and export permits may do so via the Jamaica Single Window for Trade Platform (JSWiFT). This platform allows a customs broker to apply for an import/export permit on behalf of an individual or a company, if they are approved to do so by the individual or company via JSWiFT. On the other hand, an individual or company, once signed up and is approved for an account on JSWiFT, can go ahead and apply for their own permit to import a motor vehicle.”
The online platform will prompt users to enter the vehicle’s information, attach relevant documentation and make payment. Among the documents to be submitted are an invoice from the supplier or bill of sale; registration certificate, certificate of title or Japanese Export Certificate; tax registration number; pre-shipment inspection certificate; and one type of valid identification and proof of citizenship, which may be a passport, driver’s licence or voter identification card. A returning resident’s letter is also required for returning residents who are importing a motor vehicle.
Matthews also shared that an individual or returning resident is allowed to import one motor car and one light commercial vehicle, or two light commercial vehicles, or one light commercial vehicle and a regular commercial vehicle once every three years.
For returning residents, however, the vehicle being brought in must have been owned by them for at least six months before the application to import is made.
What’s more, restrictions are placed on the age of vehicles which may be brought into the island, with the age of motorcycles being capped at five years, while motor cars must not exceed six years. Age restrictions for light commercial vehicles to heavy-duty commercial equipment vary and may be found on The Trade Board’s website.
The time taken to import a motor vehicle may vary as “it depends on the importer, as importers are expected to fulfil certain requirements before applying for an import permit,” which includes having all the required documentations and whether the vehicle is coming from a jurisdiction where a pre-inspection is done. “However, once the importer has fulfilled all the necessary requirements, they can apply for an import permit via the JSWiFT platform, which is usually approved in 24 hours,” Matthews said.