New customs regulations in the European Union

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The European Union has been trying for over a decade to modernize custom’s regulations. Todays regulations in form of the current Community Customs Code (CCC) originate from 1992. There have been political efforts to modernize the current custom law, the result being the Modernized Customs Code (MCC) whose main aim was to implement IT solutions in order to allow a simple and paperless environment for economic operators and customs authorities. However, customs authorities were not able to implement respective IT solutions. This resulted in a situation where the MCC was abolished before even coming into force. It was replaced by the Union Customs Code (UCC). The UCC will come into force on May 1st, 2016. By then the European Commission has to draw up Implementing Acts (IA) and Delegating Acts (DA).

The current situation contains uncertainties for international trading companies as well as for logistic providers such as transport companies, freight forwarders, warehouses and customs agents.

  • Above mentioned acts (IA and DA) have to be legally binding on May 1st, 2016 and if these acts are not implemented and adopted before that time then the UCC will also not enter into force.
  • More important is the fact that the acts are not available as final drafts. The UCC is only a general framework which requires specification. The Delegated and Implementing Acts will provide respective legal specification. It is therefore not easy for interested parties to plan anything at the moment. Certain organizational and administrative adjustments are required. However, as long as the final drafts are not available it is very difficult for businesses to take proper steps.
  • One main goal of the UCC is to implement an IT-solution which enable economic operators to conduct all obligations as summaries or custom’s declarations with one customs office. However, these IT-solutions will not be applicable before December 31st 2020. Custom’s authorities of the 28 member states will not be able to link their various IT-systems and provide interfaces before that date. Related companies will not be able to use self-assessment and centralized clearance before 2021. Whether European custom’s authorities will be able to provide respective interfaces by the end of 2020 remains to be seen.

In the next weeks and months we will provide you with information of any new developments. We will also answer questions such as:

  • Why will it be beneficial to become an Authorized Economic Operator?
  • What chances and risks will the UCC bring for logistics?
  • Will economic and legal risks increase or decrease with new European customs’ regulations?
  • What impact will the new customs law have on national VAT or excise taxes?
  • Will there be special issues to be considered within Germany?

Authors: Peter Scheller, German Tax Adviser – Master of International Taxation – www.scheller-international.com; Susanne Zaczek, German Customs Expert - www.zoll-service-kiel.de

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