Five partners for e-commerce
The small kingdom of Belgium is a major European foreign trade hub. Now four major maritime and aviation gateways have set up an alliance for faster and more efficient customs-clearance procedures in international trade. The innovative new customs platform, called ‘BE Gate’, creates valuable transparency, above all in the ever-growing e-commerce market.
6 June saw the official launch of ‘BE Gate’ at the Transport Logistic trade fair in Munich. A throng of invited guests and journalists were introduced to the innovative new Belgian customs portal there. The platform – called unique in Europe by its initiators – is free to use, was designed specifically to process large amounts of data and guarantees the rapid clearance of customs applications.
It enables a large number of arrival notifications can be transmitted simultaneously via an officially-approved customs form – which is an essential precondition for the ongoing and successful functioning of the global supply chain. It is already supported by four important e-commerce hubs today – the mari- time ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, and the airports of Brussels and Liège.
For shipments worth less than EUR 22 the form simultaneously serves as a registration for delivery into the market – aka a ‘declaration of release for consumption’. For all other shipments, an additional declaration is required in the Belgian customs authority’s software solution, called ‘paperless douanes et accises’ (paperless customs and excise, PLDA). Retailers automatically receive information on shipments that have been selected for a customs check. All other shipments are released immediately. The software solution additionally provides a recommendation for the concrete determination of the customs value.
Requirements and deployment
The requirements to use BE Gate are to have a registered office in Belgium and the status of customs agent. On top of this an intermediate warehouse or a location approved as a customs warehouse is required, as are authorisation for the use of simple declaration forms and a comprehensive guarantee. BE Gate can be used for export shipments worth up to EUR 1,000 and weighing less than 1,000 kg.
Belgium is already an crucial pan-European interface for substantial last-mile e-commerce players. In addition, some rather well-known companies – including Decathlon, Lego and Nespresso – also already run distribution centres in the country.
Liège airport’s vice-president for commercial affairs, Steven Verhasselt, knows that “you can’t grow smartphones in your garden. Making e-commerce substantially greener calls for ever-increasing efficiency. Our contribution to this is to now transform the entire country into a logistics platform.”