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Lending Your Name for Customs Declaration May Lead to Breaking the Law and Being Punished

In order to prevent fraudulent companies and smugglers from artfully using the licenses of others to import goods by false declarations to avoid punishment, depending on whether the goods concealed in the declared import cargoes are contraband or permitted items, unwitting importers who fail to meet the obligation of honest declarations will be punished pursuant to Paragraph 3, Article 37 along with Paragraph 1, Article 36 of the Customs Anti-smuggling Act or Paragraph 1, Article 37 of the same Act respectively. As for the actual owner of the goods who mastermind the smuggling, a penalty shall be imposed pursuant to Paragraphs 1 and 3, Article 36 of the above-mentioned Act.

In recent years, customs authorities have discovered numerous false declarations or smuggling cases subject to severe penalties involving individuals importing goods on behalf of others using their names. In such cases, the importers argue that they are not the actual wrongdoers and are dissatisfied with customs dispositions by seeking administrative remedies. Taichung Customs emphasizes that the import of goods follows a declaration and inspection system, imposing an obligation on importers to submit correct declarations. When an importer (referred to as the “tax payer” on the declaration form) declares the import of goods on behalf of others, any false declaration that violates the Customs Anti-smuggling Act constitutes a breach of the duty to provide correct declarations. Importers cannot absolve themselves of responsibility merely because they are not the actual owners of the goods. According to Article 7 of the Administrative Penalty Act and considering the Supreme Administrative Court Judgment No. 39 in 2013, if taxpayers intentionally submit false information to escape from Customs controls or knowingly provide inaccurate contents in their declarations, they are subject to penalties. Even if the taxpayer has no illegal intention and does not foresee that the declared content differs from the actual goods received, the incorrect declaration due to failure in exercising due diligence still constitutes a false declaration of negligence, which is subject to punishment.

Taichung Customs further states that when importers lend their import licenses to others or import goods for others using their names, if drugs, firearms, or other contraband are found to be concealed in the goods, not only will the actual owners of the goods face criminal and administrative liability for smuggling, but the importers will be also transferred to judicial authorities for prosecution. Even if importers plead ignorance of the smuggling or exoneration from criminal liabilities after the investigation by judicial authorities, they are still responsible for false declaration due to negligence and are subject to penalties under Paragraph 1, Article 36 of the Customs Anti-smuggling Act, which will be fined up to three times the value of the goods.

Taichung Customs again reminds importers and exporters not to covet small gains and underestimate the trade risks associated with lending licenses so as to prevent being punished due to implication in false declaration or smuggling unwittingly, which leads to  a loss outweighing the gain and damages company reputation. 

Issued:Customs Administration Release date:2024-06-18 Last updated:2024-06-18 Click times:90