BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Bruneian and Malaysian land border travellers can apply for a frequent commuters pass that allows them to pay discounted entry and exit fees, according to new government guidelines on Wednesday.

Published on the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) website, the guidelines state that frequent commuter pass holders who travel or transit for work across the Brunei-Sarawak border will pay $50 a month.

For students with a frequent commuters pass, they will be charged $30 a month.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah announced that Brunei will proceed with the enforcement of the $3 entry and exit levy per journey on October 1.

The new exit and entry regulations were initially set to take effect on August 1 but were postponed to allow further discussions with the Malaysian government, following concerns from Miri and Limbang residents on the “exorbitant” fees.

Malaysian commuters are required to pass through the sultanate as there is no road that directly connects Miri, Limbang and Lawas. Limbang is located between two parts of Brunei.

Second Minister of Finance and Economy YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew. Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said the government decided to issue frequent commuter passes as the entry and exit fees will have a financial impact on those who make regular cross-border trips.

Applicants of the frequent commuters pass are required to show a travel history of entering and leaving Brunei at least 15 times a month.

Without the frequent commuters pass, Miri travellers who make 15 return trips to Limbang a month would potentially pay $180 (RM540) as they have to go through two border checkpoints.

The frequent commuters pass does not apply to businesses, transport operators and ‘runners’.

Applications can be submitted on the Prime Minister’s Office website.

Once approval has been given, those with frequent commuter passes must register on the Royal Customs and Excise Department’s Entry and Exit System and opt to make monthly, quarterly or half-year payments.

The entry and exit charges will apply to all land border arrivals and departing passengers, except occupants of government-owned vehicles that are used for official purposes, emergency vehicles, hearses or vehicles used for funerals.

Diplomats, consular officers, children aged two and below as well as civil servants who are on official duties will not be required to pay the entry and exit levy.

MoFE previously said the fees, named ‘Caj Perkhidmatan’ (CaP), are introduced to standardise payments that are imposed on anyone leaving or entering Brunei.

The minister further said that Brunei has yet to lift its COVID-19 travel ban despite the enforcement of the entry and exit fees. Travel restrictions have been in place since March 16.

Exceptions are given to those who have received a travel permit from the Prime Minister’s Office for urgent matters.

Customs personnel check incoming vehicles at the Kuala Lurah immigration control post on Feb 1, 2020. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Foreign land border travellers must show negative COVID-19 test results

All foreign nationals passing through land checkpoints will also be required to take a COVID-19 swab test at least seven days from their arrival in Brunei, the PMO said in a press statement.

A copy of their negative test results must be submitted to the Immigration and National Registration Department at border control posts.

However, transit passengers and commercial vehicle drivers will be allowed a 14-day grace period.

Commercial vehicles that are registered with the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism can only enter Brunei three times a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The health ministry is also expected to conduct random coronavirus testing on transport operators entering the sultanate.

Brunei has not reported any local transmissions of the coronavirus for over 100 days, with the overall COVID-19 tally staying at 146 on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications will be issuing two types of vehicle pass stickers for private and commercial foreign-registered vehicles. Photo: Courtesy of MTIC

MTIC to issue vehicle pass stickers for foreign-registered vehicles

Speaking during the press conference, the minister of transport and infocommunications announced that foreign-registered vehicles will need to apply for vehicle pass stickers before entering Brunei from October 1.

The vehicle pass stickers will be used to control the movement of foreign-registered vehicles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said YB Dato Seri Setia Abd Mutalib Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof.

Under the new rules, two types of stickers will be issued to identify private and commercial foreign-registered vehicles.

Visitor vehicle pass stickers will be provided to owners of private foreign-registered vehicles who have sought permission from the Royal Customs and Excise Department to reside in the sultanate.

Commercial vehicle pass stickers will be issued to foreign transport operators that have received the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism’s approval to deliver food supplies.

MTIC will give a two-week grace period for foreign-registered vehicles to apply for the vehicle pass stickers through its TransportBN mobile app and the Land Transport Department’s website.

Applications will take three days to process and cost $30 for each vehicle, the minister added.

The stickers can be collected from the Training and Driving Test Circuit Complex in Sungai Akar.

YB Dato Abd Mutalib said legal action will be taken against foreign-registered vehicle owners who do not possess a vehicle pass sticker.

This story was last updated on October 5, 2020 at 9.41am to reflect an update to the government’s COVID-19 testing policy for inbound travellers.