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What is Customs Data Quality Compliance?

In 2021, major regulatory changes will take place in Europe. The European Customs authorities are further enforcing the regulatory requirements related to the provision of complete and accurate Customs data. To avoid delays to transit time and clearance, as well as potential penalties, shippers will now be required to provide the EU with more detailed information about their shipments, prior to export.

What are the upcoming European Regulatory Changes and where can I find out more about them?

Three major European Regulatory changes will take place in 2021, i.e.:

  1. BREXIT: The United Kingdom has left the European Union (EU), and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end on December 31, 2020. This will result in the need for a Customs Declaration for all shipments from EU to UK and UK to EU as of January 1, 2021.

    For additional information, please consult the European Commission and UK Government websites below:
    EU: https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness_en
    UK: https://www.gov.uk/topic/business-tax/import-export

  2. Import Control System (ICS2): This new regulation (ICS2) will result in the need for certain data elements to be sent to the EU Customs authorities – prior to loading at the country of export on a flight into or transiting the EU, Norway or Switzerland.

    For additional information, please consult the European Commission website below:
    https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/general-information-customs/customs-security/ics2_en

  3. VAT De Minimis Removal: The EU will abolish De Minimis levels for imports into the EU (currently EUR 22 in the majority of the EU Member States). Therefore, all shipments imported to the European Union (EU) will require a formal Customs declaration, and VAT will be levied.

    For additional information, please consult the European Commission website below:
    https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/vat/modernising-vat-cross-border-ecommerce_en

DHL is exporting my shipments today. Isn’t this enough for DHL to process my shipments?

With the upcoming regulatory changes, a high level of data quality/accuracy will be required to clear the shipment. Therefore, before the end of 2020, improvement is needed in two (2) major areas of focus. These are:

  1. Commercial Invoice Electronic Data: Be sure to provide DHL Express with complete and accurate Commercial Invoice data electronically, including accurate line-item goods descriptions and Harmonized System codes and values. By receiving your data electronically, we are able to transfer the information to the necessary Customs systems, whereas PDF invoice copies would not be sufficient for this purpose.

  2. Waybill Goods Descriptions: Make sure that you provide complete and accurate goods descriptions on the waybill, following the examples given below:

    Unacceptable Example
    Acceptable Example
    Apparel
    Men’s Shirts, Lingerie, Girls’ Vests, Boys’ Jackets
    Electronics
    Computers, Televisions, CD Players, Tape Recorders, Mobile Phones, Monitors, Printers

What specific data is needed for a Customs declaration?

When preparing the Customs declaration, it is critical that all information submitted on the Commercial Invoice is complete and accurate, including (at a minimum) anything under the following categories:

  • Shipment Party information
    • Exporter and Shipper (can be the same party)
    • Importer and Receiver (can be the same party)
  • Shipment Content information
    • Line Item Goods Descriptions
    • Import and/or Export HS Code (at least 6 digits, ideally full set)
    • Value of the Goods (including currency)
    • Country of Origin
    • Quantity
    • Weight
    • Incoterm (and transport/insurance costs, depending on Incoterm)

In addition, it’s essential that you provide any supporting documentation, such as permits, licenses or certificates (e.g. Certificate of Origin).

I have just implemented Paperless Trade (PLT) with you, so you have my data. Won’t this suffice?

PLT will help us to receive the image of your Commercial Invoice more quickly, however we cannot extract the data elements from the image for Customs processing. We need to receive the data electronically.

Please contact your DHL Sales Representative to discuss the options available for your company to send us Customs data electronically.

How can I provide my Commercial Invoice electronic data to DHL Express?

Depending on the shipping system you use to create your shipments, there are different options for you to provide DHL Express with your Commercial Invoice data electronically – and preferably that will be sent together with your shipment data.

Please contact your DHL Sales Representative to discuss the options available for your company to send us Customs data electronically.

Can information from my current shipping system be used for the Customs clearance process?

If you create a Commercial Invoice through our shipping systems, then yes, we can use that data to support the Customs Process.

However, if you instead use your own, the Commercial Invoice must have a minimum set of data elements.

Why do you need the description of goods on both the Commercial Invoice and the waybill?

The Goods Description on the Commercial Invoice is an essential element used by DHL to prepare the Customs Declaration. In addition, it is critical to ensure that Goods Descriptions are accurate on the Waybill to help Customs authorities perform security/safety screening. For example:

Unacceptable Example
Acceptable Example
Apparel
Men’s Shirts, Lingerie, Girls’ Vests, Boys’ Jackets
Electronics
Computers, Televisions, CD Players, Tape Recorders, Mobile Phones, Monitors, Printers

As of March 2021, if screening determines that the Goods Description data is not accurate, that shipment will not be allowed on the plane at origin, which will of course cause processing delays.

Where can I find the HS Codes for my products?

There are multiple sources for finding HS Codes and product descriptions:

European TARIC website:
https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/dds2/taric/taric_consultation.jsp?Lang=en#

TAS (tas.dhl.com), you can search for the HS Code /Description based on the Goods Descriptions. After login, go to > TAS Resources > Interactive Classifier
https://tas.dhl.com/tas/servlet/dispatcher/classify

I do not send shipments to Europe. Are these changes relevant to me?

Most countries have similar requirements, and as a result, Customs authorities are increasing their focus on enforcing compliance globally. Therefore, in order to avoid clearance delays, always be sure to send accurate Customs data to DHL, regardless of your shipment destination/origin.

Why is the De Minimis for imports being removed in Europe?

With the VAT De Minimis Removal, the EU aims to level the playing field, protect its businesses and avoid unfair competition and distortion for EU companies.

Under current rules, imported goods bought from non-EU countries can be exempt from VAT if they cost less than €22. However, if products are purchased within the EU or in country, VAT is always levied, regardless of the value. The EU believes this exemption puts EU businesses at a disadvantage to non-EU businesses.

De Minimis
The De Minimis threshold for Customs duties will not change, remaining €150.

Please see additional information related to VAT Modernization in Europe (with Specific focus on eCommerce):
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEMO_16_3746