How will GPA and SPA companies be filing their declarations soon?

Economic operators currently still submitting a GPA or SPA must submit a different declaration from 1 January 2023 onwards. This can be done in three different ways. Customs will help them make the right choice.

From 1 January 2023, economic operators can no longer submit an Automated Periodic Declaration (GPA) or Written Periodic Declaration (SPA) to Customs. The GPA and SPA will be discontinued on that date, because they no longer comply with current European customs legislation. Instead, economic operators with a GPA or SPA permit can file their declarations in three different ways, in the Customs Declarations Management System (DMS). This is the system replacing AGS. We will explain all this to economic operators in the coming months, so they can make the right choice for their company.

“Practically all our customers submit their customs declarations via AGS in advance. But a relatively small group of AEO-certified companies do this monthly in arrears. They still do this old school: on paper or a CD-ROM,” Harry Wonderman, a customs officer, explains. “However: the Unions Customs Code, the UCC, prescribes that declarations and messaging between the corporate sector and customs agencies must become fully electronic. That’s why the GPA and SPA will be phased out. The deadline set by Brussels for this is 1 January 2023. By then, all our GPA and SPA customers must have switched to an electronic method of declaring.”

Three scenarios
A GPA or SPA permit holder can opt from three scenarios. The company can switch to the existing ‘ordinary’ procedure for submitting declarations: in DMS 4.0. This is scenario A. A company can also opt to submit declarations in DMS 4.1, a part of DMS that is currently being developed by Customs. This in turn includes two options for which the company must have an Entry In the Records (EIR) permit. In that case, a company must submit a periodic supplementary declaration afterwards*. The company can choose to submit a so-called notice of presentation to Customs. In this notice, the company states that it intends to declare the goods, as required by European law. This is scenario B. However, it can also aim for the greatest possible exemption from that obligation to present goods. For this, the company must meet certain conditions** (scenario C).

Which of the three scenarios best suits a company depends on a variety of things. For example, the number of declaration lines that a company normally submits. And whether it is possible to ‘condense’ this number, for example, by changing internal logistics procedures.

Investment profitable?
“A market party must therefore hold an EIR permit to submit a declaration in DMS 4.1 for scenario B or C,” Wonderman explains. “Furthermore, adjustments are needed in the technical facilities, the administration and perhaps in the logistics processes as well. A company will soon have to submit declarations and possibly also notices of presentation that meet the requirements set by Customs. That of course requires an investment. Every economic operator needs to consider whether that investment is worthwhile. It is therefore not surprising that software suppliers and IT departments of companies are curious about the message implementation guide, or MIG, for DMS 4.1. We expect that the list of technical specifications you must meet will be ready and available for sharing in April of this year.”

Mapping out choices
That same month, Customs will organise a webinar. This is to inform GPA and SPA holders about the possibilities, to enable them to make the right choice. Wonderman: “Surely, there are economic operators who want to talk to us about this, and they can. After that, within three months, we want to map out which scenario each company opts for.”

The phasing out of GPA and SPA and the switch to other ways of declaring does not affect the corporate sector alone. “Customs must prepare for this too,” Wonderman says. “For example, because we soon have to check whether companies that want to submit a declaration in DMS 4.1 have made the correct adjustments and still meet the conditions of their AEO permit. And we must check whether they comply with the formalities associated with their EIR permit. We want to be able to make a timely estimate in terms of how much manpower this so-called review study will take up. We would also like to clarify how many GPA and SPA companies will opt for the ordinary declaration procedure in DMS. This is because an enormous number of declaration lines from GPA and SPA could be added to the regular declaration flow (see box, eds.). So much so that the performance of our automated systems could become strained. There is another factor at play here: in the normal procedure, a declaration is not made afterwards, but in real time. The goods can be checked in full or in part after being imported. This affects the enforcement capacity of Customs and its deployment. That is why it helps us if, by 1 July, we have an insight into how companies want to submit a declaration from 1 January 2023 onwards.”

* The supplementary declaration must be submitted within 10 days after expiry of the period (one calendar day) within which the goods are entered in the records. Companies can therefore no longer submit monthly declarations.

** Exemption from presentation is linked to the so-called ‘chain regulation’. This means that companies must hold several EIR permits, namely for consecutive (extraordinary) customs procedures. A second criterion is that the goods under successive permits are entered in the same business administration.

Huge volumes
In the normal declaration flow in DMS, around 6 million declaration lines are received at Customs each year. This is 30 times as much in GPA and SPA: 180 million declaration lines per year. Some GPA/SPA holders submit more declaration lines on their own than the total regular flow. These are figures that no other EU member state comes even close to. This has of course everything to do with the role of the Netherlands as a gateway to Europe. Half of all customs declarations entering the Union pass through this country. And 95% of that is in GPA and SPA.

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