Simplifying customs clearance procedures

Streamlining international customs practices

The OECD Roundtables on international parcel delivery (1996) and customs clearance procedures (1997) have produced the following conclusions on the benefits and approaches to streamlining customs procedures:

[Reasons for streamlining procedures] (1) The high cost of shipping parcels internationally as well as delivery delays hinder the growth of cross-border trade and, in particular, business-to-consumer electronic commerce. (2) National customs clearance procedures often contribute to higher delivery costs and on occasion to clearance delays, which may be a source of inconvenience to consumers. (3) The expected growth in volume of shipping tangible consumer goods purchased over open networks, such as the Internet, highlights the need for customs authorities to streamline customs clearance procedures. (4) Benefits from streamlining procedures For the protection of society, customs procedures are important because they control, for example, the import and export of restricted and prohibited goods (e.g. illicit drugs, endangered species). (5) Streamlined procedures might release customs resources which could be used for these higher priority activities. (6) Streamlined procedures may prevent increases in the cost to governments of collecting taxes and duties on goods imported by consumers directly from overseas marketers. (7) Consequently, increases in accounting costs to businesses and consumers might also be prevented. (8) Streamlined procedures should help to expedite clearance of packages, making borders more transparent and thus improving the quality of delivery service to consumers.

[Approaches to streamlining procedure] (1) Customs-to-customs co-operation to exchange information about alternative models and best practices should be encouraged to achieve streamlining to the greatest extent possible. The Canadian Low Value Shipment (LVS) Program is a model which should be reviewed and promoted, as it benefits customs authorities, businesses and consumers. (2) Communication and consultation among customs officials and industry, particularly distance sellers and public and private carriers, should also be promoted. (3) Current discussions on the revision of the Kyoto Convention provide an opportunity for WCO members to introduce modernized and streamlined customs clearance procedures and to develop mechanisms for their implementation. The OECD should encourage Member countries to adopt simplified procedures at an early stage. (4) The de minimis levels for low-value shipments should be reviewed and harmonized, wherever possible, taking into account the expected growth in business-to-consumer electronic commerce and the introduction of simplified clearance procedures. (5) The best available systems should be open equally to all compliant carriers.

[Additional provisions for best practice] should have the following elements: (1) opportunity for foreign marketers to charge consumers all import duties and domestic sales taxes at the time of initial order, for a one-step, transparent transaction; (2) consolidated reporting of goods to customs authorities in advance of arrival, thus allowing for the swift clearance of goods; periodic (e.g. monthly) and lump sum payment of taxes and duties by carriers and/or brokers, with process for refunds of duties for returned goods, where appropriate; (3) paperless procedures, for example the extensive or exclusive use of EDI.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies