Beginning Nov. 14, the Customs Department will no longer accept personal checks for duty payments and other fees. Businesses will still be able to pay customs fees by check.
Collector of Customs Charles Clifford said in a press release that the department is doing away with check payments because of too many bad checks.
The department will still take cash, bank drafts and credit and debit cards in both Cayman and U.S. dollars.
“Persons who knowingly tender ‘bad’ cheques should note that they are, in effect, committing a criminal offence and are therefore liable to prosecution,” Kevin Walton, head of the Customs Revenue Collection Portfolio, said in the press release.
In a follow-up interview, Mr. Walton said the Customs Collector follows government policies to collect fees when someone bounces a check. “This has always been a task for us,” he said.
He said government maintains a list of people who try to pay with bad checks, “but that doesn’t mean that individuals don’t pass bad checks from time to time.” The new policy means the Customs Collector will not have to worry about whether a check will clear.
“We are looking forward to smoother collection of revenue as a result of the policy change, notably during the upcoming busy season,” he said.
Customs duty is Cayman’s second-largest source of government revenue, expected to bring in $223 million in the current 18-month budget cycle. Duties on alcohol alone are forecast to bring in $27 million in the 2016-2017 budget.
Companies will still be able to use checks for imports, but individuals will need to use cash or a card.
People normally encounter customs duties when bringing in lots of goods through the airport or having items shipped from overseas.