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Release and Clearance of Goods

  1. 7.1 Pre-arrival Processing
  2. 7.2 Electronic Payment
  3. 7.3 Separation of Release from Final Determination of Customs Duties, Taxes, Fees and Charges
  4. 7.4 Risk Management
  5. 7.5 Post-Clearance Audit
  6. 7.6 Establishment and Publication of Average Release Times
  7. 7.7 Trade Facilitation Measures for Authorized Operators
  8. 7.8 Expedited Shipments
  9. 7.9 Perishable Goods

Pre-arrival Processing

What activity does this measure regulate?

Submission of the documents required for the release of imported goods to customs and other border agencies

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

• Other border agencies

What are the new requirements?

• Traders shall be permitted to submit the import documentation and other information required for release of imported goods, in electronic format where appropriate, prior to arrival of the goods in order to expedite release

1.1.  Each Member shall adopt or maintain procedures allowing for the submission of import documentation and other required information, including manifests, in order to begin processing prior to the arrival of goods with a view to expediting the release of goods upon arrival.

 1.2.  Members shall, as appropriate, provide for advance lodging of documents in electronic format for pre-arrival processing of such documents.

Electronic Payment

What activity does this measure regulate?

The means by which a trader can pay his duties, taxes, fees and charges

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

• Other Border Agencies

• Revenue Authority

What is the new requirement?

To the extent practicable, Members should allow electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees and charges.

Each Member shall, to the extent practicable, adopt or maintain procedures allowing the option of electronic payment for duties, taxes, fees and charges collected by customs incurred upon importation and exportation.

Separation of Release from Final Determination of Customs Duties, Taxes, Fees and Charges

What activity does this measure regulate?

Release of imported goods from Customs

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

What are the new requirements?

• Members shall allow importers to obtain release of their goods, under a guarantee, if required, prior to the final determination and payment of customs duties, taxes, fees and charges where the final determination is not done prior to, upon arrival or as rapidly as possible after arrival

• Any required guarantee shall be limited in amount to the equivalent of duties, taxes, fees and charges to which the goods may be liable, as determined by Customs

• If the importer commits an offense, Customs may require a guarantee for the potential fine or penalty as a condition for release of the goods (however, release of goods in cases of violations of law or fraud shall be determined by each Member’s law)

• Customs shall discharge the guarantee without delay when no longer required for its intended purposes/when all requirements have been met

3.1       Each Member shall adopt or maintain procedures allowing the release of goods prior to the final determination of customs duties, taxes, fees and charges, if such a determination is not done prior to, or upon arrival, or as rapidly as possible after arrival and provided that all other regulatory requirements have been met.

3.2       As a condition for such release, a Member may require:

(a)        payment of customs duties, taxes, fees, and charges determined prior to or upon arrival of goods and a guarantee for any amount not yet determined in the form of a surety, a deposit, or another appropriate instrument provided for in its laws and regulations; or

(b)        payment of a guarantee in the form of a surety, a deposit, or other appropriate instrument provided for in its laws and regulations.

3.3       Such guarantee shall not be greater than the amount the Member requires to ensure payment of customs duties, taxes, fees, and charges ultimately due for the goods covered by the guarantee.

3.4       In cases where an offence requiring imposition of monetary penalties or fines has been detected, a guarantee may be required for the penalties and fines that may be imposed.

3.5       The guarantee as set out in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.4 shall be discharged when it is no longer required.

3.6       Nothing in these provisions shall affect the right of a Member to examine, detain, seize or confiscate or deal with the goods in any manner not otherwise inconsistent with the Member's WTO rights and obligations.

Risk Management

What activity does this measure regulate?

The methodology or practices that Customs uses to determine which import, export or transit transactions or operators should be subject to control and the type and degree of control to be applied.

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

What are the new requirements?

• Members shall apply risk management to customs control in connection with import, export and transit of goods

• Members shall concentrate customs control on high risk consignments and expedite the release of low-risk goods

• Members shall use appropriate selectivity criteria in applying risk management

4.1       Each Member shall, to the extent possible, adopt or maintain a risk management system for customs control.

4.2       Each Member shall design and apply risk management in a manner as to avoid arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination, or a disguised restriction on international trade.

4.3       Each Member shall concentrate customs control and, to the extent possible other relevant border controls, on high risk consignments and expedite the release of low risk consignments. A Member may also select, on a random basis, consignments for such controls as part of its risk management.

4.4       Each Member shall base risk management on an assessment of risk through appropriate selectivity criteria. Such selectivity criteria may include, inter alia, Harmonized System code, nature and description of the goods, country of origin, country from which the goods were shipped, value of the goods, compliance record of traders, and type of means of transport.

Post-Clearance Audit

What activity does this measure regulate?

Customs verification of compliance with customs and related laws and regulations through examination of the trader’s books and records at his premises following release of the goods

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

What are the new requirements?

• Members must use post-clearance audit  "with a view to expediting the release of goods" and, wherever practicable, to inform risk management

• Audits must be transparent and the persons subject to audit should be notified with information about audit results.

5.1       With a view to expediting the release of goods, each Member shall adopt or maintain post-clearance audit to ensure compliance with customs and other related laws and regulations.

5.2       Each Member shall select a person or a consignment for post-clearance audit in a risk-based manner, which may include appropriate selectivity criteria. Each Member shall conduct post-clearance audits in a transparent manner. Where the person is involved in the audit process and conclusive results have been achieved the Member shall, without delay, notify the person whose record is audited of the results, the person's rights and obligations, and the reasons for the results.

5.3       The information obtained in post-clearance audit may be used in further administrative or judicial proceedings.

5.4       Members shall, wherever practicable, use the result of post-clearance audit in applying risk management.

Establishment and Publication of Average Release Times

What activity does this measure regulate?

Measuring the performance of customs and other border agencies with respect to the release of goods

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

• Other Border Agencies

What are the new requirements?

• Members are encouraged to measure and publish, on a periodic basis and in a consistent manner, the average time it takes to release goods

• Members are encouraged to share their experience in carrying out these measurements with the WTO trade facilitation committee.

6.1       Members are encouraged to measure and publish their average release time of goods periodically and in a consistent manner, using tools such as, inter alia, the Time Release Study of the World Customs Organization (referred to in this Agreement as the "WCO").[1]

6.2       Members are encouraged to share with the Committee their experiences in measuring average release times, including methodologies used, bottlenecks identified, and any resulting effects on efficiency.

 


[1] Each Member may determine the scope and methodology of such average release time measurement in accordance with its needs and capacity.

Trade Facilitation Measures for Authorized Operators

What activity does this measure regulate?

Special or preferential customs treatment provided to reliable traders

What authorities are directly concerned?

  • Customs

What are the new requirements?

  • Members shall provide certain additional trade facilitation benefits to "authorized operators," or those traders who Customs has determined present a low risk of non-compliance with legal requirements.
  • Members shall publish the qualification criteria
  • Members’ are encouraged to base authorized trader schemes on international standards, unless inappropriate or ineffective
  • A Member shall afford other Members the possibility to negotiate a mutual recognition of their respective authorized trader schemes.

7.1      Each Member shall provide additional trade facilitation measures related to import, export, or transit formalities and procedures, pursuant to paragraph 7.3, to operators who meet specified criteria, hereinafter called authorized operators. Alternatively, a Member may offer such trade facilitation measures through customs procedures generally available to all operators and is not required to establish a separate scheme.

7.2      The specified criteria to qualify as an authorized operator shall be related to compliance, or the risk of non-compliance, with requirements specified in a Member's laws, regulations or procedures.

            (a)        Such criteria, which shall be published, may include:

(i)         an appropriate record of compliance with customs and other related laws and regulations;

(ii)        a system of managing records to allow for necessary internal controls;

(iii)       financial solvency, including, where appropriate, provision of a sufficient security  or guarantee; and

(iv)       supply chain security.

            (b)        Such criteria shall not:

(i)         be designed or applied so as to afford or create arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between operators where the same conditions prevail; and

(ii)        to the extent possible, restrict the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

7.3       The trade facilitation measures provided pursuant to paragraph 7.1 shall include at least three of the following measures:[1]

(a)        low documentary and data requirements, as appropriate;

(b)        low rate of physical inspections and examinations, as appropriate;

(c)        rapid release time, as appropriate;

(d)        deferred payment of duties, taxes, fees, and charges;

(e)        use of comprehensive guarantees or reduced guarantees;

(f)         a single customs declaration for all imports or exports in a given period; and

(g)        clearance of goods at the premises of the authorized operator or another place authorized by customs.

7.4      Members are encouraged to develop authorized operator schemes on the basis of international standards, where such standards exist, except when such standards would be an inappropriate or ineffective means for the fulfilment of the legitimate objectives pursued.

7.5      In order to enhance the trade facilitation measures provided to operators, Members shall afford to other Members the possibility of negotiating mutual recognition of authorized operator schemes.

7.6      Members shall exchange relevant information within the Committee about authorized operator schemes in force.

 


[1] A measure listed in subparagraphs 7.3 (a) to (g) will be deemed to be provided to authorized operators if it is generally available to all operators.

Expedited Shipments

What activity does this measure regulate?

Documents and goods imported by air express-delivery operators and other expedited shippers

What authorities are directly concerned?

•  Customs

•  Airport owner/operator

What is the new requirement?

• Members shall establish special facilitative procedures (as described in paragraph 8.2) to allow expedited release of at least those goods entered through air cargo facilities

• Members may permit only those persons or firms who fulfil the criteria listed in the subparagraphs of 8.1 to apply for expedited release treatment

• Criteria for application for expedited release treatment shall be published.

8.1        Each Member shall adopt or maintain procedures allowing for the expedited release of at least those goods entered through air cargo facilities to persons who apply for such treatment, while maintaining customs control.[1] If a Member employs criteria[2] limiting who may apply, the Member may, in published criteria, require that the applicant shall, as conditions for qualifying for the application of the treatment described in paragraph 8.2 to its expedited shipments:

(a)        provide adequate infrastructure and payment of customs expenses related to processing of expedited shipments in cases where the applicant fulfils the Member's requirements for such processing to be performed at a dedicated facility;

(b)        submit in advance of the arrival of an expedited shipment the information necessary for the release;

(c)        be assessed fees limited in amount to the approximate cost of services rendered in providing the treatment described in paragraph 8.2;

(d)        maintain a high degree of control over expedited shipments through the use of internal security, logistics, and tracking technology from pick-up to delivery;

(e)        provide expedited shipment from pick-up to delivery;

(f)         assume liability for payment of all customs duties, taxes, fees, and charges to the customs authority for the goods;

(g)        have a good record of compliance with customs and other related laws and regulations;

(h)        comply with other conditions directly related to the effective enforcement of the Member's laws, regulations, and procedural requirements, that specifically relate to providing the treatment described in paragraph 8.2.

8.2       Subject to paragraphs 8.1 and 8.3, Members shall:

(a)        minimize the documentation required for the release of expedited shipments in accordance with paragraph 1 of Article 10 and, to the extent possible, provide for release based on a single submission of information on certain shipments;

(b)        provide for expedited shipments to be released under normal circumstances as rapidly as possible after arrival, provided the information required for release has been submitted;

(c)        endeavour to apply the treatment in subparagraphs (a) and (b) to shipments of any weight or value recognizing that a Member is permitted to require additional entry procedures, including declarations and supporting documentation and payment of duties and taxes, and to limit such treatment based on the type of good, provided the treatment is not limited to low value goods such as documents; and

(d)        provide, to the extent possible, for a de minimis shipment value or dutiable amount for which customs duties and taxes will not be collected, aside from certain prescribed goods. Internal taxes, such as value added taxes and excise taxes, applied to imports consistently with Article III of the GATT 1994 are not subject to this provision.

8.3       Nothing in paragraphs 8.1 and 8.2 shall affect the right of a Member to examine, detain, seize, confiscate or refuse entry of goods, or to carry out post-clearance audits, including in connection with the use of risk management systems.  Further, nothing in paragraphs 8.1 and 8.2 shall prevent a Member from requiring, as a condition for release, the submission of additional information and the fulfilment of non-automatic licensing requirements.

 


[1] In cases where a Member has an existing procedure that provides the treatment in paragraph 8.2, this provision does not require that Member to introduce separate expedited release procedures.

[2] Such application criteria, if any, shall be in addition to the Member's requirements for operating with respect to all goods or shipments entered through air cargo facilities.

Perishable Goods

What activity does this measure regulate?

Customs clearance and release of imported "perishable goods"

What authorities are directly concerned?

• Customs

• Other Border Agencies involved in the release of perishable goods

What is the new requirement?

Members shall adopt or maintain procedures for the importation of perishable goods that:

•  allow release within shortest possible time;

•  provide for release, where appropriate, outside Customs normal business hours;

•  give priority to such goods when scheduling examinations;

•  allow such goods to be stored in appropriate conditions for their conservation, where facilities approved by the relevant authorities are available;

•  where practicable, and upon request, allow release to occur at these storage facilities; and

•  require Customs to give a written explanation to the importer, on request, when there is a significant delay in the release of the goods.

9.1       With a view to preventing avoidable loss or deterioration of perishable goods, and provided that all regulatory requirements have been met, each Member shall provide for the release of perishable goods:

(a)        under normal circumstances within the shortest possible time; and

(b)        in exceptional circumstances where it would be appropriate to do so, outside the business hours of customs and other relevant authorities.

9.2       Each Member shall give appropriate priority to perishable goods when scheduling any examinations that may be required.

9.3       Each Member shall either arrange or allow an importer to arrange for the proper storage of perishable goods pending their release. The Member may require that any storage facilities arranged by the importer have been approved or designated by its relevant authorities. The movement of the goods to those storage facilities, including authorizations for the operator moving the goods, may be subject to the approval, where required, of the relevant authorities. The Member shall, where practicable and consistent with domestic legislation, upon the request of the importer, provide for any procedures necessary for release to take place at those storage facilities.

9.4       In cases of significant delay in the release of perishable goods, and upon written request, the importing Member shall, to the extent practicable, provide a communication on the reasons for the delay.