EU Postpones Modernised Customs Code and Makes Imports Safer

Laws & Regulations

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The Modernised Customs Code Regulation (EC) No 450/2008 was aimed at modernizing the Community Customs Code, now to be renamed as Union Customs Code. As a result legislation would be simplified and customs processes and procedures should be streamlined for the benefit of both customs and traders.

EU Postpones Modernised Customs Code and Makes Imports Safer

Part of the legal text has become applicable on 24 June 2009. The rest of the law was going to enter into force on 24 June 2013 at the latest. However, this implementation depended largely on a wide range of electronic systems to be introduced by the Commission, the national customs administrations and the economic operators.

Since it appeared that the deadline was not feasible, the Commission decided to propose a recast of the Directive. This recast also includes a number of amendments resulting from policy changes since 2008 such as renaming the Community Customs Code in Union Customs Code. If Parliament and Council agree with the Commission proposal, Directive 450/2008 will be repealed on 24 June 2013 and replaced by the recast Directive. The most important aspect of that Directive is extended deadlines, even up to 31 december 2020 for making the new electronic processing environment operational.

More specifically, this is what the modernised Union Customs Code is about:

  • introduction of the electronic lodging of customs declarations and accompanying documents as the rule;
  • provision for the exchange of electronic information between the national customs and other competent authorities;
  • promotion the concept of “centralised clearance”, under which authorised traders will be able to declare goods electronically and pay their customs duties at the place where they are established, irrespective of the member state through which the goods will be brought in or out of the EU customs territory or in which they will be consumed.
  • a basis for the development of the ‘Single Window’ and ‘One-Stop-Shop’ concepts, under which economic operators give information on goods to only one contact point (‘Single Window’ concept), even if the data should reach different administrations/agencies, so that controls on them for various purposes (customs, sanitary,…) are performed at the same time and at the same place (‘one-stop-shop’ concept).

Safer imports

In 2005, European Regulation 648/2005,, has become effective, imposing new and uniform obligations on imports from third countries. The measures have been developed with a view to ensuring security, especially in the light of international terrorism and to countering the proliferation of counterfeit goods.

Following the law, from 1 July 2009 onwards, economic operators will have to provide EU customs with a summary declaration of their goods before they enter the Union. The deadlines for such declarations are now specified in implementing provisions,, which have been published at the end of 2006.

The deadline for the declaration is generally set at 24 hours before loading at the port of departure for maritime transport by sea. In the case of rail and inland waters traffic the deadline is at least 2 hours prior to arrival at the customs office of entry in the customs territory of the Commission. In the case of road traffic, that is at least 1 hour. As for paper notification, normally a minimum of 4 hours applies. Electronic declarations are the rule, paper versions will only be accepted if customs’ computer or the electronic application is not functioning.

“Authorised economic operator”

If an operator meets certain conditions, he is able to obtain the status of “authorised economic operator”. As a result, he benefits from less exhaustive customs controls. For that “accreditation”, he has to show a good record of compliance with customs requirements and a sound system of managing commercial and transport records. He also has to prove financial solvency and that he has taken the necessary security measures.

The declaration has to be lodged by or on behalf of the person who brings the goods into the EU territory or the person who is responsible for the carriage of the goods after they have entered the EU. The Authorised Economic Operator Programme has entered into force on 1 January 2008. All further details can be found on the following page of DG Taxation and Customs Union website:

Comment on this article