Many people regard Customs affairs as either a black box or a source of headache. You won’t have to be one of them, provided you have the tools that give you better insight. Both you and your customer can profit from lower costs, faster throughput … and less headache.

If your business is logistics or international trade, you also deal with Customs or related government agencies in one way or the other. Customs take a pivotal role in international trade – they grant access to import or export, issue permits and have an advisory role.

You can improve your insight in Customs affairs and the Customs processes in your company by going through these 4 steps:

Know your product

It is important to be aware of the products that are stored in your warehouse, and to know its associated commodity codes and additional national or excise codes. Perishable goods are typically subject to inspections or tests from agencies such as Plantenkundige Dienst (PD) or Voedsel en Warenautoriteit (nVWA). Any products that have not been properly inspected or lack the appropriate documentation can be refused (and returned) by Customs in the Netherlands or at destination.

Inspection or test requirements are subject to change, so remain up to date on local and international requirements. Also, ensure your process is flexible so it can accommodate any such changes.

Know your role

The logistics process has multiple stakeholders, each taking on their own role.  Are you the submitter or representative in the Customs declaration, do you outsource to a Customs agent or are you staying clear from any involvement in Customs affairs?  The choice is yours. Each role has a different set of responsibilities and liability.

Outsourcing to a third party is a valid option. Less risk, but it adds another stakeholder to the chain.

Boltrics software

Choose your permits

Based on your customers’ Customs activities, you can carefully select the appropriate permits. These permits allow you for example to operate a bonded storage or submit simplified Customs declarations. With these permits you can reduce costs (import duties) and improve the throughput time. An AEO permit is a basic prerequisite to apply for most Customs permits.

Adherence to the conditions set out in the permits is vital, so make sure these conditions have been integrated in your warehouse process.

Control your process

Do you actually control your processes? This is the first and most important question Customs will pose to you when you decide to apply for a permit. Controlling your process means your employees are familiar with the process and can execute their tasks properly. Also, it means the process can be monitored and every relevant step can be logged for future auditing purposes.

Do yourself a favor and choose an ERP (administration) with integrated Customs module. This prevents common errors that lead to delays, extra inspections and possible fines. Avoid the headache and keep your customers and Customs happy.

These 4 steps lay the foundation towards better insight into Customs affairs and an improvement of your Customs process. In coming months this blog will further explore these themes. I invite you to share your experiences and questions!

These postings are provided “AS IS” with no warranties and confer no rights.
You assume all risk for your use.