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TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Cesar Tordesillas, Hong Kong
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Road Cargo System mandatory implementation to start on November 17

The Road Cargo System, an electronic advance cargo information system for customs clearance of road cargo, will start on November 17 at all land boundary control points (LBCPs).

     "ROCARS was officially rolled out on May 17, 2010. There has been an 18-month transition period in order to help industry players to adjust their mode of operation, train up their staff and get their information systems well prepared for the full implementation. On November 17, the transition period will expire and the submission of electronic cargo information in advance will then be made mandatory," a spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department said.

     Starting from November 17, under the Import and Export (Electronic Cargo Information) Regulation, a shipper or freight forwarder will be required to provide a pre-defined set of cargo information to the C&ED electronically through ROCARS before the cargo consignment enters or leaves Hong Kong in a truck.

     As an acknowledgement, the shipper or freight forwarder will be given the Customs Cargo Reference Number for passing on to the relevant truck driver together with the cargo description. The truck driver will then do the "bundling" work by providing to the C&ED through ROCARS the Customs Cargo Reference Number together with his vehicle's registration number. A truck driver will be required to "bundle" in not less than 30 minutes before the truck is due to pass through an LBCP.

     The truck driver will be informed of whether his cargo has to be inspected through a visual display unit at the LBCP. A truck not selected for inspection may leave immediately after the truck driver has completed immigration clearance.

     "With the imminent implementation of ROCARS, cross-boundary trucks using the system, except those selected for inspection, will enjoy seamless customs clearance at the LBCPs. ROCARS will also enable Hong Kong to align with international and regional developments in electronic customs clearance," the spokesman said.

     For the migration to ROCARS, the C&ED has been launching numerous publicity measures over the past 18 months, including the broadcast of TV and radio announcements, distribution of promotional leaflets, the setting up of an enquiry hotline and organising seminars in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The department has also set up outreach teams to help individual companies to migrate to ROCARS early.

     "There are only three days left before the mandatory implementation of ROCARS. Shippers, freight forwarders and cross-boundary truck drivers who have not registered with us are urged to take action without delay to register now and start using the system," the spokesman added.

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