Customs: Union Customs Code has come into force – a reminder

Customs: Union Customs Code has come into force

New EU rules on the Customs Union came into force on 1 May 2016.


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The European Commission recently issued a press release entitled “New EU rules for a simpler, faster and safer Customs Union come into force” as a reminder of the new Union Customs Code (UCC) which came into force on 1 May 2016. This represents a major overhaul of existing EU customs legislation, which dates back to 1992. The UCC is the new framework regulation for the rules and procedures for customs throughout the EU. It reflects a move towards a more modern customs environment for EU countries, making European business more competitive and advancing the EU Strategy for growth and jobs.

The press release sets out the aims of the UCC which are to:

  • streamline customs legislation and procedures across the EU;
  • offer greater legal certainty and uniformity to businesses and increase clarity for customs officials;
  •  simplify customs rules and procedures to make customs transactions more efficient and modern;
  • complete the shift to a paperless and fully electronic and interoperable customs environment; and
  • introduce more speedy customs procedures for compliant and trustworthy businesses.

The UCC should be fully implemented by the end of 2020. During the transitional period, the new rules will apply by using existing IT systems and, in some cases, paper forms. Work to develop the new systems or to upgrade existing ones has already begun.

The EC’s dedicated web page has further information, including a press release and UCC Guidance documents.

There are wide ranging implications which will affect in different ways each and every importer and exporter of goods into and out of the EU, depending on the volume and sophistication of their international supply chains and customs processes.

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