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05 August 2020
On 18 March 2020, in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, Customs issued Resolution 1179/20, which implemented 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 is the authorisation of electronic exchanges of and amendments to bills of lading. The main implications of Resolution 1179/20 for ocean carriers are as follows:
On receipt, an original bill of lading must be kept in the customs agent's file (for further details please see "COVID-19 crisis and changes to cargo delivery procedures").
Customs subsequently issued three complementary resolutions, which can be summarised as follows:
The above measures seek to facilitate foreign trade operations, prevent the displacement of related people and personnel involved in these operations and establish procedures that can be carried out electronically.
However, grey areas remain regarding their interpretation and practical implementation, particularly in connection with the potential delivery of cargo without surrender of the original bill of lading. In this respect, ocean carriers should proceed carefully and liaise with their Chilean port agents to define interim protocols. They should also consider requesting letters of indemnity or similar guarantees from their shippers or consignees, as the case may be.
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