Successful digitisation of customs processes

Successful digitisation of customs processes

Since 2021, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Customs, GroentenFruit Huis, and Portbase have been working together to further digitise customs processes and improve efficiency and safety in checking containers and reefer containers. Some steps that have been taken include the implementation of high-tech Customs scanners at all large container terminals on Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte. These scanners allow Customs to remotely analyse images of container contents, eliminating the need to move containers off-site or open them unnecessarily. As a result, 95 percent of containers are cleared within 36 hours of offloading, reducing turnaround times in the inspection process.

The digitisation efforts have yielded positive results, such as shorter processing times and a significant reduction in complaints. Cargo owners and end-users have reported benefits from the increased efficiency, and the reduction of excesses has contributed to a processing time reduction of over 30 percent. However, there is still room for improvement, especially considering the expected growth in the number of reefer containers.

Lessons learned from this collaboration include the importance of good communication and collaboration between all stakeholders in the supply chain. The focus on avoiding food wastage and increasing sustainability has driven the need for faster inspections and minimal wait times. Security concerns related to drug trafficking and crime have also emphasised the importance of efficient and secure customs processes for reefer containers.

To enhance efficiency, customs checks are registered digitally through Portbase’s Port Community System, and notifications are sent digitally to carriers, reducing turnaround times and making processes safer and less error-prone. The availability of data has increased, allowing for better insight and proactive responses to potential issues.

Looking ahead, the parties will continue to focus on further digitisation and data-driven approaches to improve processes. Potential next steps include prioritising reefer checks throughout the chain and further improving the filling out of digital customs forms. The goal is to reduce wait times, unnecessary expenses, and disruptions while ensuring the efficient and secure handling of containers and reefer containers in the Port of Rotterdam.

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7th November 2023