The Art of Packing a Barrel Part Two… If you want to ship to Jamaica, there are eight easy steps to clearing the articles at the wharf.
Jamaica Wharf Process
After much anticipation my barrels have arrived at Kingston Wharf and I cannot wait to see them again. I decided to get the barrels shipped to Kingston rather than Montego Bay and collect them myself, as not only was it cheaper, more critically it was faster, shaving off at least an extra 10 days waiting time for the ship to offload at Kingston and then make its way to Montego Bay for its last unloading. As I was desperate to get my things as soon as possible and I was staying half way between the two ports I decided it made sense and was just as easy to go to Kingston as Mo’ Bay to retrieve my much wanted belongings that I had bid farewell to in London on 17th August 2012.
There are 8 (eight) easy steps to follow for clearing a barrel in Jamaica…
1 – Arrange Transportation to the Wharf – ensure the vehicle is large enough to hold the items you intend to pick up. Remember your I.D., TRN Card and shipping paperwork.
2 – Make your way to your Shipping Agent Office which will be located near to the appropriate Wharf, pay your Landing Fees and get your Bill of Lading. Make sure you know which Wharf to go to.
3 – Head to the Wharf, go to the Main Building hand in your paperwork and pay your handling charge.
4 – Go to the Manifest Building hand in your paperwork and wait for more paperwork and directions of which berth to attend to clear your goods.
5 – Once at the berth number, hand in your paperwork and wait for your name to be called. On entering the berth you will be asked to unpack your barrels for customs to look inside and value the contents.
6 – Proceed to the Customs Cashiers Desk where they will finalise the value of the items and give you a Customs Import Entry Form (C78X).
7 – Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office, pay the required fee and keep your receipt safe.
8 – Show the receipt to the Gate Pass Office and wait to receive a Gate Pass. Go back outside and find your driver, approach the gate and show the paperwork and the driver will also need to show their Driving Licence. Approach the loading bay near to the berth, show your paperwork and load your items into your vehicle. Drive back to the main exit, show paperwork and finally leave the wahrf.
How to Clear a Barrel – Step One
The paperwork that I carried with me to Jamaica from Kingsley’s Shipping in the UK had an expected date of arrival printed on it as 24th September 2012, and it instructed you to telephone the office if you had not heard from them by that date. I was surprised to get a telephone call from Kingsley’s Shipping, Kingston Offices on the 21st September advising me that the barrels were ready for collection, before I had the chance to call them. The staff were very friendly and polite and gave me the address to come to in Kingston to collect the ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork for clearing the barrels at the wharf.
I chartered a lovely, experienced driver Fenton and his mini bus for $9,000 (including Gas) through a recommendation from a friend, to drive me to Kingston Wharf and return with the 3 barrels. Fenton arrived as requested at 5.00am before ‘the Cock(erel) had taken off his draws’ as my good friend would have said and we set out in the early morning darkness for Kingston clutching my personal identification, TRN Card, the paperwork from Kingsley’s Shipping, my C15 form from the airport and receipts for the majority of the items I had shipped in the barrels, as proof of the cost I had paid for them in the UK.
We headed through Ocho Rios and travelled east towards St.Mary, which was a more scenic and traffic free route instead of the more familiar journey through Fern Gully and Flat Bridge. Swiftly driving along the deserted A3 Highway we quickly reached Ian Fleming International Airport (formerly Boscobel Aerodrome) and continued eastward towards to Orcabessa.
Turning off the Highway and heading through the interior of the country as the sun was coming up the beauty of Jamaica was revealed in the lush green canopies of trees and the numerous hills, gulleys and riversides we passed on the journey. Our route passed Stoney Hill on the outskirts of Kingston which had a lushly covered hillside which looked serene and magnificent against the dense forest trees that covered most of the other peaks.
We reached Kingston and made our way to Kingsley’s Shipping Offices at Shop 13B, 14-16 First Street, Newport West, just before 8.00am where I found they were open and welcoming despite it being before the listed opening hours of 8.30am. The staff were very friendly and professional and unusually for Jamaica they worked quickly and efficiently in getting your paperwork ready for you. I handed over my paperwork from their UK offices, ID, TRN Card and my C15 Form and they gave me the ‘Bill of Lading’ which is an essential piece of paperwork to carry to the wharf. The office was clean and had a free iced water dispenser and chairs for you to rest in whilst they dealt with the paperwork. There was a $5,400.00 fee to pay Kingsley’s Shipping for landing fees for the 3 barrels. Within about 15 minutes I was handed a small piece of card with instructions of what to do next and was directed to the Wharf.
Back in the mini-bus Fenton drove us round to the Wharf’s main gate and paid a fee to one of the unofficial car park attendants to park up outside the compound where vendors sold drinks and patties. Only 1 person (whose name is on the paperwork) was allowed to enter the compound in order to process the shipment. After showing my ‘Bill of Lading’ paperwork and ID to the friendly but officious guard I was directed to Kingsport Building which was clean and air-conditioned to the point of wanting to wear a sweater. Waiting in the line of people to reach one of the cashiers I noticed that I was the only white person in the building and was drawing some attention. I waited no more than 10 minutes before reaching the front desk and had a $2,060.00 bill to pay to the wharf for Handling Charges for the 3 barrels. I noticed the receipt had recorded that the ship had arrived at the wharf on the 18th September and that I would have been liable for paying Storage Fees had the barrels not been collected by the 29th September.
After leaving the Kingsport Building you are directed to the Manifest Building which is a short walk away; anyone who has managed to accompany you thus far is instructed to wait on long wooden benches as you have to show your paperwork and receipt for the Wharf’s Handling Charges and are guided through a guarded carousel gateway. Before you reach the Manifest Building entrance you pass some public toilets on your right-hand side which are cavernous and a little foreboding to enter on your own, but they were clean.
Once in the building you join the commercial or personal shipping line to show your paperwork to the courteous Customs Officers where they check your paperwork against their records and tell you the Berth where your goods are being stored. There is a small shop in the Manifest Building right by the entrance that sells hot and cold drinks, bagged snacks, delicious patties, bun and cheese and so on, you may find the sustenance welcoming (or at the very least a cold drink) as you may have a long wait to clear your goods.
Once out of the Manifest Building you show your paperwork and go through another guarded carousel gateway, where they direct you deeper into the belly of the wharf to the Berth Number that holds your goods (which is printed on the document). The woman guard here was especially friendly and was the first many at the wharf to ask if I could carry her back to London with me! Crossing the busy wharf road and turning right I was amazed at the size of the vehicles that were traversing the roadways and that were capable of carrying and driving with a huge container in its pincer like arms. The walkway on the other side is at a raised level from the roadway, which not only means persons can safely walk away from the formidable road traffic but it also makes it easier for loading of goods into vehicles.
Once you reach the Berth Number you hand your documents to the guard sitting behind a locked gate and wait on long wooden benches for your name to be called once the porters have located your barrels. This is where the goodies bought in the little shop in the Manifest Building come in handy…. By the time I reached this point it was coming up to 9.00am and there were only about 5 other people waiting before me.
A woman who was waiting was commenting that she was returning back the States tomorrow and had been in Jamaica for 6 weeks. She had sent 2 barrels and when she came to collect them only 1 could be found which contained clothes and gifts, the other one containing foodstuffs could not be found. After much confusion at the wharf she was instructed to go home and wait to be contacted when the other 1 was located. Needless to say the wharf called her two days before she was leaving the island to come and collect the other barrel as it had now been found, but she was annoyed that she had to buy foodstuffs whilst on the island despite spending the time and effort to ship them.
It took about 15 minutes for my name to be called where I was ushered through the gate and directed to a table where my 3 barrels were all lined up. I have to admit I was relieved to see all three barrels and was encouraged to see that they had managed to get all the way from London intact. The friendly and charming Customs Officials called over a wisely (but strong and fit) porter and he unfastened the lock that Kingsley’s Shipping had put on back in London with a huge pair of pliers. The same porter ‘helped’ to unpack the barrels by taking out about half the items in two of the barrels and just the ‘top layer’ of the last barrel setting them out on the long stainless steel table.
The Customs Officers quickly looked over the items already laid out and asked me to continue to empty the barrels; once I had nearly emptied the first two barrels they came back over. I was asked to open a large plastic container that I had stored dishes and glasses in and had to pull out a large box containing a paddling pool for closer inspection. Generally anything in a box or carton was of interest to them and when they spied a saucepan handle (pot handle) they verbally noted that I had a pot set. They also asked about the bottle of Hennessey and Champagne that I had listed on the C15 form, but when I pulled out the bubble wrapped bottles they didn’t seem overly interested as I assured them there was only one of each. I showed them the receipt for the paddling pool and they noted the cost.
None of the barrels were completely emptied although they did look inside all 3 vessels. Unfortunately I had a few casualties as one cup handle broke off and the two champagne glasses I had sent had both broken despite packing them in bubble wrap, but at least they went together!
Once the Customs officials were satisfied I was instructed to re-pack my barrels and a very good-looking strapping porter came over and helped me to re-pack them which ended up with me standing on top of the barrels in order to fit the lids back on, much to the pleasure of the staff! Once repacked you go to the Berth Office, hand in your paperwork to the Customs Cashiers with the Customs Officers notes scribbled on it and they look up the items on the internet to check the value of the goods. As my TRN number was not on the system I had to go upstairs to the Supervisors Office where I was again dealt with by friendly and efficient staff.
Back downstairs, it took about 20 minutes to be handed back my paperwork which held the magic number on it… the amount of tax payable to clear my barrels. I searched the document with bated breath and was super relieved to see that I only had to pay $6,014.45 for all 3 barrels which was much less than the advised $18,000 ($6,000 per barrel) I was told in the UK. Please be aware the C15 Form was effective in lowering the amount of tax payable; therefore if you ship and do not have the Form or ship to someone else, you may be liable for higher tax.
Take the Customs Import Entry Form (C78X) to the Payments Office which is at the end of the walkway near to where you cross the wharf road, make your payment and get a receipt for your Tax Payment. Keep this safe!
Take the Receipt to the Gate Pass Office which is back up near where the barrels are located and hand in your paperwork to get a Gate Pass, so your driver and vehicle can enter the wharf and load your goods. Walk back outside the way you came in through the Main Entrance showing your paperwork at all the guarded gateways and find your driver. You are now free to approach the main vehicle entrance to the wharf, where again your ever-growing amount of documents are checked along with the driving licence of the driver. Drive Slowly (there is a 5mph speed restriction) to the berth where the barrels were checked and park up near to the loading bays. Show your paperwork to the guards, who stamp it and instruct a porter to bring the barrels to your vehicle. The wisely porter came back and loaded the barrels into the mini-bus and as I anticipated asked if I had anything for him and I slipped him a note.
Once the barrels were loaded we approached the main entrance and the Customs officials checked how many items we had in the vehicle against the documents, checked the driving licence and then took away all the paperwork except the receipts. We were finally clear to leave the compound and head back home to unpack the barrels. By just after 10.00am we had left the wharf and eagerly stopped at a patty shop before driving back home. Once we got out of the hustle and bustle of Kingston we stopped and got a cold beer and one of the bars and vendors near to Stony Hill before reaching back home near Ochi (Ocho Rios) by lunch time.
What I Thought About Kingston Wharf and Shipping Barrels
Following numerous horror stories about collecting goods from the wharf I was filled with anticipation about how long it was going to take and what the experience was going to be like collecting the barrels myself. In reflection, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and it was nowhere near as tiresome as everyone had told me. When I mentioned this to friends they retorted that Christmas and Easter were a different matter…
Arriving at the wharf early was key to my success in this operation as it meant I beat the queues, try it yourself and you will be glad you did. Everyone at the wharf was professional but polite, friendly and (mostly) happy and were intrigued by my presence there. Bring proof of purchase in the form of receipts to show to the customs officers so that they can value your goods correctly. The best tactic in these circumstances is to be friendly and co-operative and that also means being patient when necessary… if you get ignorant with the Customs Officers you may find they get ignorant with you!
I highly recommend Kingsley’s Shipping service from London to Kingston and would not hesitate to use their services again as they were not only super professional and friendly, they were also careful with my goods.