Electronic customs information

More countries are requiring electronic customs data to accompany imported items

Electronic customs information

More countries are requiring electronic customs data to accompany imported items

Specific regulations

Customs authorities around the world are taking different approaches to electronic customs data. We're keeping an eye on the notices they send to the Universal Postal Union (UPU) regarding new regulations being brought in by national authorities. Providing electronic customs data alongside your items will help you avoid any negative scenarios and help with quicker customs processing in the recipient country and reduced risk of items being delayed, returned or charged additional fees.

While we have been engaging with our postal counterparts, we cannot know to what degree the measures they state will be implemented. However, it is clear that electronic customs data is becoming increasingly integral to sending items overseas, and compliance with international customs requirements is essential for accurate and timely delivery.

Some key country requirements

The US Senate recently passed the STOP Act (‘Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act of 2018’), to help stop dangerous and illegal goods being posted through US borders. This new legislation will make sure that items sent to the USA from overseas will receive consistent and effective screening before clearing customs. The reform requires the United States Postal Service (USPS) to receive ‘Advanced Electronic Data’ (AED), from senders, on the contents of international items before they reach the US.

This legislation will bring the requirements currently enforced on private shipping companies to the US Postal Service. For example, private shippers like UPS are already required to provide AED on every item they import into America. The bill will eventually require USPS to supply AED to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on all international items, with USPS liable to refuse shipments or face civil penalties themselves.

As well as delivery implications, the bill will eventually establish a new fee on items being mailed to the United States from overseas, to cover the cost of additional processing.

Brazilian customs are prioritising postal items with electronic customs data over those without, as a result of a large increase in imports. They have also stated that recipients may be charged additional costs in the absence of electronic customs data. Customers have reported severe delays due to customs clearance taking longer, and more recently we have seen parcels being returned when they weren’t carrying a S10 barcode.

As with Brazil, the Federal Customs Service of Russia are prioritising postal items with electronic customs data over items without it. Additionally, Russia have said that items may be returned if they are missing the electronic customs data.

China Post have informed UPU members that complete electronic customs data is required for all postal items. This is to control the flow of inbound and outbound postal items and improve the efficiency of customs clearance on the mainland.

Inbound mail items will be delayed if they lack proper customs formalities, including electronic customs data. China Post will attempt to retrieve this data before items are delivered to the recipient, to comply with local customs authority procedures. Items will eventually be returned if this data cannot be obtained prior to delivery, if the recipient refuses the item(s), or if the items are not claimed within the time frame specified by Chinese Customs. If the item cannot be returned, it will be disposed of in accordance with the relevant provisions in the Customs Law of the People’s Republic of China.

Turkey have now informed the UPU that items received without the mandatory S10 barcode identifier attached may be returned.

Kyrgyzstan have now informed the UPU that items received without the mandatory S10 barcode identifier attached may be returned.

Consultation documents

We decided not to make the provision of electronic customs data mandatory until 1 January 2019 following consultation with customers over summer 2017.

We can provide advice, support and incentives to ensure that you are able to provide data to remain compliant with international regulations.

Customs products to help you

You can view the full consultation response here:

Customer pre-advice consultation response (pdf, 327.32 KB)

Customer Consultation August 2017 (pdf, 247.18 KB)

Need more information?

Contact your Account Manager or

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