BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei will not reopen its borders to non-essential travellers on August 1 when the new entry and exit fee regulations kick in, the acting controller of Royal Customs and Excise said.
The enforcement of the Exit and Entry Charges Order 2020 is not a sign that the country will lift travel restrictions next month, Hj Muhsin Hj Ahmad told The Scoop on Saturday.
“We understand that this may give the impression that somehow the borders may reopen in August, but the borders will still be closed for non-essential travel.
“The [travel ban] on Brunei citizens and residents is maintained as advised by the Ministry of Health,” he added on the sidelines of a roadshow on the entry and exit fees at the Ministry of Finance and Economy.
The new regulations came at a time when the country’s borders remain closed since mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Brunei has not reported any coronavirus infections for over two months.
Hj Muhsin said Bruneians who intend to leave the country for urgent matters must apply for a travel permit from the Prime Minister’s Office, while foreigners are required to obtain clearance from the Immigration and National Registration Department.
On July 9, the Ministry of Finance and Economy announced that the $3 entry and exit fees will apply to land border travellers of all nationalities.
The charges are exempted for certain categories, including civil servants who are on official duty and diplomats.
With the enforcement of this Order, the $3 toll charge for private vehicles at Rasau Bridge in Belait will be eliminated on the same date.
The levy will be imposed at four land checkpoints – Sungai Tujuh Immigration Post; Kuala Lurah Immigration Post; Ujung Jalan Control and Inspection Complex and Temburong Labu Control Post.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy has conducted roadshows nationwide since July 9, which aimed to promote awareness and clarify misconceptions related to the Order.
Hj Muhsin said the fees, known by its Malay term ‘Caj Perkhidmatan’ (CaP), is nothing new.
The implementation of the CaP on land border travellers will standardise payments or charges upon entering or leaving the country via air and sea, he said.
Air passengers who travel to ASEAN countries pay a passenger service charges of $12 and $20 for international destinations. These charges are included in the price of the ticket, he added.
Members of the public who wish to leave or enter Brunei via land checkpoints may register and submit their applications to the Royal Customs and Excise Department through the Exit and Entry System prior to their cross-border travel.
Application procedures are similar to the Royal Customs and Excise Department’s Vehicle Entry-Exit System, but additional information such as driver and passenger details along with payment can be made through the online system.
Hj Muhsin said the system will automatically calculate the amount of fees that must be paid based on the number of passengers and checkpoints they will cross.
“For those using bus rental services, the bus driver or operator is required to input the additional information of the passengers. For tourist buses, the travel agents are required to handle the information for them,” he added.
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