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Customs St. Maarten launches Anti-Counterfeit Campaign

The Department of Customs St. Maarten is currently launching its first ‘Anti-Counterfeiting’ Campaign on Monday, December 5, 2022, two months following the success of Sint Maarten’s first Anti-Counterfeiting and Intellectual Property Conference hosted by the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson. The Anti-Counterfeit campaign will be ongoing during the month of December in a bid to raise awareness and educate the general public on how the manufacturing and trade of counterfeit products seriously threaten profits, places, countries, corporate reputations, and pose significant health and safety risks to consumers. The campaign will take place via various mediums including the Government of Sint Maarten social media platforms, SXM GOV Radio 107.9 FM and the local newspaper.

Customs St. Maarten is an executive law enforcement agency within the Ministry of Justice tasked with the supervision and control of the import, export, and transit of all goods along the borders of Sint Maarten; and controlling and investigating the import, export, and transit of prohibited goods and co-supervision of compliance with relevant legislation in the field of economics, health, environment, safety, and finance.

A primary focus of Customs St. Maarten for the past 6 months has been the halt of trading of counterfeit products in Sint Maarten, specifically products of which the labels have been tampered with. In September 2022, the Ministry of Justice together with the Customs St. Maarten not only held Sint Maarten’s first Anti-Counterfeiting conference but also conducted advanced training for the customs officers on the detection of illicit trade and counterfeiting facilitated by SGS France.

The selling and buying of counterfeit products and tampering with the labels on the packaging of products are both punishable offenses. These products include but are not limited to clothing, leather goods, electronics, shoes, bags, accessories, watches, toys, and even medicines, cigarettes, food and drinks. Counterfeit products can also have dangerous consequences on your health and might even be linked to other severe crimes such as human smuggling, money laundering, and child abuse. This is why customs is taking a more direct approach to cease such items from coming into Sint Maarten.

Article 2 of the National Ordinance on the Import, Export, and Transit, indicates that the provisions regarding the import, export, and transit are applicable to all goods located within the territory of Sint Maarten. Pursuant to article 2 of the Commodity National Decree, it is prohibited to trade

food or drink other than with due observance of the regulations laid down in this national decree regarding their designation and to the use of notifications or representations (labels).

Customs St. Maarten is intensifying the enforcement of the laws on counterfeiting and tampering with product labels at the border. The department will progressively intensify the controls and eventually will take a zero-tolerance stance on the trade in counterfeit products and products of which the labels have been tampered with.

Pursuant to article 2:324 of the Criminal Code, he who intentionally imports, transits, exports, sells, offers for sale, delivers, distributes, or has counterfeit goods in stock, shall be punished with a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine of the third category (up to Nafl 25000.00).

The Customs department hereby informs the public that as of February 1, 2023, the department, in collaboration with other law enforcement organizations will visit stores/businesses to assess their compliance regarding counterfeit and product labels. Any goods found that are not in compliance with the laws and regulations will be confiscated and destroyed. Punishment will be imposed pursuant to the relevant laws.

The Ministry of Justice will continue to implement measures that contribute to realizing a safe and attractive St. Maarten for residents, business owners, brands, and tourists. For more information, questions and to report any tips on the trade in counterfeit products and/or products of which the labels have been tampered with, you can contact the Customs department at +1 721 542 1000 or via email customs@sintmaartengov.org.

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