Foreign vehicle entry strictly monitored: PMO

Azlan Othman

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday responded to queries through social media on foreign-registered vehicles entering Brunei Darussalam during the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of Vehicle Pass Stickers, along with compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the entry of foreign nationals in foreign-registered vehicles into the country.

In its statement, the PMO explained that as one of the measures to control foreign-registered vehicles within the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Transport and Infocommunication (MTIC) through the Land Transport Department (JPD) enforced the use of Vehicle Pass Stickers on October 1, 2020, to identify foreign-registered vehicles.

Blue vehicle pass stickers are allotted to foreign-registered vehicles (for private individuals) who have obtained permission from the Royal Customs and Excise Department (RCED) to reside in this country for duties or similar purposes.

Meanwhile, red vehicle pass stickers are allotted to foreign-registered commercial vehicles entering Brunei Darussalam for the purpose of transporting agricultural goods, agri-food and fisheries, with permission from the Ministry Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT).

As of August 14 this year, detailed statistics on Vehicle Pass Sticker applications indicate that there were 2,277 applications received for the blue sticker and 117 for the red sticker, making a total of 2,394 applications.

A total of 2,209 applications were approved for the blue sticker and 101 for the red sticker, making a total of 2,310 applications.

In this respect, JPD has ensured that all privately-owned foreign-registered vehicles will only obtain the stickers upon valid authorisation from the RCED.

The Vehicle Pass Sticker has a validity period of three months, which should be renewed to enable foreign-registered vehicles to travel within the country.

Failure to comply with the rules for the use of Vehicle Pass Stickers is an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act (Chapter 204), which upon conviction, incurs a fine of up to BND5,000. Offenders can also be taken to court and fined of up to BND 10,000, or jailed for a period of six months, or both.

Based on the results of enforcement by JPD, the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), Ministry of Health (MoH), RCED, Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, Department of Fisheries, and the Immigration and National Registration Department (INRD), a total of 39 fines have been issued for offences related to the installation of Vehicle Pass Stickers.

Foreign-registered vehicles authorised by the Brunei government to enter Brunei Darussalam for transit purposes are not required to have a Vehicle Pass Sticker. However, these vehicles are required to display a routing sheet to indicate authorised routes at particular control posts.

Drivers of these vehicles must comply with the transit conditions and regulations currently in force.

In a statement issued by the PMO on September 3, 2020, on the update of application procedures to obtain special permission for the entry of foreigners into the country, all foreigners entering the country for essential purposes – whether through the Brunei International Airport (BIA) or through land and sea control posts – must comply with the existing regulations and SOPs.

These include obtaining a special Entry Travel Pass (ETP) for entry into the Brunei Darussalam; a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) swab test result obtained 72 hours prior to departure; and undergoing a second COVID-19 swab test (RT-PCR) and mandatory self-isolation upon arrival in the country, based on the guidelines, as well risk assessments by the MoH.

In the PMO’s statement on August 14, regarding the extended temporary suspension of permission for cross-border activities, approval has been suspended for the entry of foreign nationals through land and sea posts, including transit travel across the country, except for entry or transit travel, which has been granted permission by authorities.

The suspension came into effect on January 13, following an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 infection in neighbouring countries, and was extended again until
August 31.

“With the current COVID-19 outbreak, the PMO wishes to emphasise that all government agencies are always working together to ensure that regulatory measures to curb the spread of this pandemic have been further tightened and constantly monitored, including movement in and out of the country”.