Belgium launches digital customs platform to simplify e-commerce

Belgium launches digital customs platform to simplify e-commerce
The portal is available to use at the Port of Antwerp, along with Zeebrugge and two airports

Belgium has launched the BE-GATE customs platform, specially designed for the growth market of e-commerce, in an aim to increase the efficiency of customs clearance in the cross-border flow of goods.

The portal was developed on the initiative of Belgium’s Customs and Excise Department and is supported by four e-commerce hubs, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge and the airports of Brussels and Liege.

The free-of-charge customs portal is designed for processing large amounts of data and is meant to guarantee rapid clearance of customs applications.

A high number of arrival notifications can be transmitted simultaneously via an officially customs approved form.

For shipments of less than or equal to €22 (US$24), this form also serves as a declaration of release for consumption.

For all other shipments, an additional declaration in the Belgian customs software solution PaperLess Douanes et Accises / Paperless Customs & Excise (PLDA) is required.

Retailers also automatically receive information on those shipments that have been selected for customs control while all other shipments are released immediately.

In addition, the software solution provides a recommendation for the concrete determination of the customs value on the basis of defined criteria, if the customs value cannot be determined by an alternative method.

Luc Arnouts, director of international networks at the Port of Antwerp, said: “Digitalisation is part of the DNA of Europe’s second largest port. We expect BE-GATE to significantly simplify customs clearance and thus make Antwerp even more attractive as a location for e-commerce traffic.”

Joachim Coene, CEO of the Port of Zeebrugge, stated: “The Port of Zeebrugge will be able to play an ambitious, prominent role in e-commerce with the investment of the Lingang group in the Maritime Logistic Zone in Zeebrugge”.

BE-GATE can be used within the framework of customs regulations for free circulation, customs warehousing and outright export. The prerequisites are that the economic operator has a registered office in Belgium and a status as a customs agent.

Excise goods, goods subject to licenses and goods subject to special restrictions and control measures are excluded from the use of BE-GATE.

In export, BE-GATE can be used for shipments with a value of up to €1,000 (US$1,100) and a weight of less than 1,000 kg. Otherwise, an additional declaration in PLDA is required.

Large last-mile players in e-commerce such as the Chinese logistics company Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited or 4PX, which belong to the Alibaba Group, use Belgium as a crossroads to Europe.