At my age I’ve pretty much settled on my list of curses. I’ve tried many- done a sort of ‘satisfaction test drive’ on them, and based on how they work, have settled on the ones for me. Until now. Now, a new, more powerful curse has entered my vocabulary- SENIAT. Or, Servicio Nacional Integrado de Administración Aduanera y Tributaria, the Venezuelan ministry of everything I encountered in Venezuela. These are the folks into whose tender mercies my bike was delivered when I shipped to Venezuela…
Arriving in Caracas I quickly became hopeful about getting my bike through customs and on the road without many hassles- the immigration officer missed most of my passport as she stamped it because she was too busy texting… After she had ‘inspected’ my Angola visa thinking it was the passport’s photo page… Ah, what a naive young lad I was on that sunny afternoon.
A couple of days later when my bike arrived, I went to the cargo terminal and met the charming ladies of Iberia cargo who only spoke Spanish. Luckily, one was friends with a lady at Air France cargo and so we had our translator and started to get the forms filled out and the necessary docs put together- 2 copies of my passport photo page, Venezuela stamp page, drivers license, bike registration, bill of sale, landing papers, shipping papers… And on until I was ready to go. Except that only accredited agents are allowed to enter the SENIAT customs bulding. Okay, so I hire a customs agent (a lovely woman who didn’t speak a word of english, but really couldn’t do enough for me) and start the process. At first everything is looking good- we sit and wait, then after an hour or so move to another set of chairs to sit and wait. Then we run out of photocopies and get 5 of each. Then we move to another set of chairs to wait. Then customs closes for the day and we have to come back the next day. The next day we sit in the same chairs that we started with on the day before and don’t move. I need a RIF (a commercial tax number that all Venezuelan companies have) and might have to pay duty (10% of the purchases price!!). We leave customs and drive 15 minutes down the road to another SENIAT building and wait in line. And then wait on chairs. Then get something stamped and get moved to another set of chairs. Then I get finger printed, sign a long form, and am given a 4 year commercial tax number. Then we go back to customs and sit in the old, old chairs. Then customs closeses. The next day we arrive and I have to sit in the old chairs while my agent sits in old, old chairs. I’m told I will have to pay about $2,500USD in import duties on the bike. Then I move to another set of chairs and am told I will have to pay no duty because the bike won’t be allowed in the country. Another set of chairs. I need more copies of everything. Another set of chairs. A 23 page stack is given to me and I can leave with the bike.
I know that was a bad paragraph- boring, jerky, endless, but that was 3 days of 8:00am-4:30pm for me.
Don’t push me man or I’ll SENIAT your ass!!
I forgot to mention- the customs compound has all sorts of sayings on the walls. Most of it is the normal efficient/responsive/honest type garbage, but my favorite was one that translates to “A socialist state or death”. Those are some pretty hardcore accountants!