“Let’s get down to work on the Trade & Transport Gateway”

The Digipoort Trade & Transport platform will soon be making way for a new system. Customs officer Dick Romp explains why companies shouldn’t wait too long in making this transition.

Businesses send Customs and other government bodies all kinds of digital messages and notices relating to the shipment and logistical movement of goods. Right now this flow is all still going through the Digipoort Trade & Transport (DTT). In the coming six months this communications channel will be phased out in stages to make way for the Trade & Transport Gateway (TTG). Users will have to connect to the new portal before 1 July 2020, and Customs is offering guidance to ease the transition. “Our main point of departure is that customers should notice very little of this change”, discloses project manager Dick Romp.    

The Digipoort Trade & Transport is a central desk for electronic messaging traffic between businesses and authorities. This is the way market players exchange information with Customs, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), the Seaport Police, and NCA SafeSeaNet. These government bodies in their turn also use the platform to share information geared to their monitoring procedures and a well-oiled logistics. “Shipping companies send in such things as information about the crew members working on their vessels for the Marechaussee, who then check it”, Romp offers as an example. “And the NVWA lets Customs know using the DTT that as far as it’s concerned goods are in the proper order, which means we can release the shipment.”

Clearing disruptions faster
In the course of 2020, the Dutch government will end its contract obligations with the subcontractor of Logius (the government’s IT service provider) that supplies the technology for the current DTT. The choice has been made to develop an alternative portal within the walls of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration: the Trade & Transport Gateway (TTG). Customs will also be covering the service provision for the portal. “This is a choice that, as we see it, will ensure continuity”, Romp explains. “We as Customs consider it important to be constantly improving, especially when it concerns the accessibility of our systems. In the future, when there are disruptions to the TTG, we will be able to respond more quickly. Right now, if there is an interruption in service of the DTT, the National Customs Helpdesk receives a notification, which they then analyse. If the cause turns out not to lie with our service, then there’s immediate consultation with Logius and the supplier – and all this does take time. That’s not due to any kind of unwillingness on our part, it just happens because of the way things are set up. When we have the administration of the new TTG in our own hands, then we’ll be removing two steps from the procedure and we’ll be the only party involved. Then we’ll be able to solve disruptions much better and the system will be up and running again must faster.”

In recent months Customs has been working intensively on the TTG. Over the next six moths users of the DTT will all be connected in stages; the first companies will make the transition very soon. Romp: “We gave the preference to starting out with a few designated frontrunners: big companies who are testing out with us what the real impact of migration to the new system will mean. What kind of adjustments do they have to make, and are they equivalent to those we estimated? These experiences will help us in the further course of the process. Actually, our expectation is that for most of our customers the transition will not cause any major changes or require any kind of major effort on their part. That’s because our point of departure is we won’t change anything in the portal in terms of functionality. In terms of content, the messaging traffic will also stay the same. Most companies will only need to change an IP address or email address so that the information they send in is received by the TTG.”  

Tailoring to specific needs
Migration from DTT to TTG will be implemented in three phases, referred to as plateaus. First, Customs’ logistical streams (AGS, CID, EMCS, NCTS) will make the transition. In March 2020 this will be followed by the Single-Window Stream for the Royal Netherlands Marechausse, the Seaport Police, the port authorities and Customs. Another month after that the final transfer of the logistical stream for veterinary, phyto-sanitary and fishing (NVWA) will begin. All users of the new system have to be connected by 30 June 2020 at the latest – a fixed deadline; after that the Logius DTT will be shut down. Romp: “We’ve marked out what’s called a customer itinerary. Users of the DTT will receive an email from the mailbox noreply@htg-migratie.nl which contains a clear, detailed description of all the steps to take. The first step targets intake: Customs is collecting as much information as possible in order to be able to prepare the technical connection of each company as best as it can. That makes it very important that companies complete the intake form precisely and fully and return it quickly. Afterwards they can indicate within a specially designed planning tool when they would like to make the technical connection to the new portal. They’ll be choosing a time slot of one hour within which the connection will be realised. They can of course request help from Customs at any time; our technical experts deliver tailor-made solutions when necessary. If desired, they make company visits and offer on-the-spot advice and recommendations. Next it will be our turn to activate the functional connection. We have to make sure that messages and notifications are actually received by the TTG. We’ll be extensively testing this to see that all goes smoothly.”

Broad-scope operation
Romp understands that there are market players who send in information using two or three of the different streams that are being transferred to the new system. “It’s logical that they make the switch at a later stage, that means all at one time for their entire messaging traffic. This is of course possible, because all receiving authorities will continue to be capable of receiving messages via both DTT and TTG until 1 July 2020.”

Nonetheless, Romp advises companies not to wait too long with their connection to TTG. “Several hundred companies have to be transferred, so this is a broad-scope operation that demands strict time scheduling. It is really essential that all the parties interested and involved get up to speed with this transition.”

Want to know more?
Dutch Customs, NVWA, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, Seaport Police and Rijkswaterstaat organised a webinar this fall on the topic of the transition from DTT to TTG. Click here to view this informative programme (only in Dutch).

Send any questions about migration and connectivity to the TTG by email to douane.dlk.htg@belastingdienst.nl. You can also contact the Dutch Customs Helpdesk at tel. 0031-88-156 66 55.

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