Changing customs: the new face of documentation, inspection, and scanning



Europe Container Terminals, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


A state-of-the-art container terminal demands state-of-the-art customs handling. Bert Wiersema, member of the management team for the Rotterdam Customs, explains how his organisation ensures that its operations at the Euromax Terminal are as efficient as possible. “Every step eliminated represents a saving.”

“We’ll soon do away with customs officials for the validation of customs documentation at the Euromax Ter minal,” announces Bert Wiersema. “We will step back from the logistics flow.” Through intensive talks with ECT, Customs has opted for a different approach, which centres on the automated processing of onward transport documents. As under the old system, these have to be in the new procedure, the terminal’s computer system will play a central role. Wiersema explains how it works. “The Euromax Terminal has RTO-status (temporary storage premises). Every container that arrives at the terminal is automatically blocked by the terminal system. The container can only be released once those responsible for the cargo complete the appropriate follow-up declarations and send the correct onward transport documents to ECT. As soon as a match is made within the terminal system, the container can depart.”

The new procedure is a next step in the ongoing automation of customs procedures. Wiersema is convinced that it will benefit the business sector. “Every step you eliminate represents a saving.” The customs man recognises, however, that this development won’t immediately be welcomed by everyone in the logistics chain. Many forwarders are attached to the tried and tested method of presenting documents at the terminal gate. And that, in spite of the fact that Customs has long since introduced a simplified procedure enabling forwarders to validate transport documents in house and sending them to the ter minal. “By withdrawing, we’re effectively forcing the parties involved to move in a direction we think is good for the port.”

Not a minute wasted
There’s no question of the Customs disappearing from view at the Euromax Terminal though. Alongside the administrative monitoring of all incoming and outgoing goods, the organisation also has a duty of inspection. One of the already standard checks involves testing containers for radioactivity.

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