Belgium launched BE-GATE, a digital customs platform, recently as part of their efforts to streamline processes, facilitate cargo clearance and make trade more efficient for
e-commerce businesses. BE-GATE is a customs portal designed to accommodate the rapid growth of e-commerce. Developed by the Belgium Customs and Excise Department, the portal is already supported by the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge and the airports of Brussels and Liege.
BE-GATE is free to use for authorized participants. The platform can process large amounts of data for high-volume filers to guarantee fast and efficient customs clearance. Most e-commerce shipments can be processed through BE-GATE except for goods subject to excise duty, goods subject to licenses and goods subject to special restrictions and control measures.
Currently, BE-GATE supports the following functionalities:
- Bulk processing of arrival notifications accompanied by customs-approved forms. For low value-shipments (less than or equal to 22 euros), the customs form also serves as a declaration of release for consumption. All other shipments require an additional declaration in the PLDA (PaperLess Douanes et Accises/Paperless Customs & Excise) customs software. The PLDA system processes export declarations (AES), summary declarations, transits (NCTS), and declarations for release for free circulation.
- Automatic status notifications. Filers automatically receive information about shipments selected for customs control, while all other shipments are immediately released.
- Goods valuation. The software provides a recommended customs value based on specific criteria if the value cannot be determined by an alternative method.
- Export declarations. BE-GATE can be used for export shipments valued at up to 1,000 euros and weighing less than 1,000 kilograms. Otherwise, the filer must submit an additional declaration in PLDA.
Belgium Launches Digital Customs Platform: Import and Exports
Imports with BE-GATE
Import processing through BE-GATE is easy and straightforward. Businesses can submit multiple arrival notifications through a single transaction with a customs-approved data file. For goods valued at less than or equal to €22, the file can also be used as a declaration of release for consumption. For goods valued at over €22, an additional declaration must be transmitted in PLDA. The selection results containing detailed line-by-line information about shipments that must be presented to customs will be sent directly to the declarant. If it is not possible to determine the shipment value by the transaction value, the BE-GATE system will recommend an alternative method.
Exports with BE-GATE
Export shipments can also be processed through the BE-GATE platform, as long as the shipment is valued at less than €1000 and weighs less than 1000 kg. Otherwise, the additional declaration must be submitted in PLDA.
Requirements for Declarants
Trade participants can use BE-GATE free of charge for circulation, customs warehousing and export, as long as requirements are met. The operator or declarant must have:
- A registered office in Belgium as a customs agent
- A temporary storage facility or a place approved as a customs warehouse
- Authorization to use a simplified declaration
- A comprehensive guarantee
Why Use BE-GATE?
BE-GATE simplifies what can be a very complicated customs process for e-commerce businesses, especially for larger retailers/operators and high-volume traders. BE-GATE provides:
- A secure connection for electronic information exchange between trade participants and Belgium Customs
- Zero-cost support for high-volume transactions and large amounts of data
- Fast, electronic communication of packages selected for Customs control
- Immediate release of all packages that are not selected for control
- Fast processing of simplified declarations of release for consumption
- Support for import and export shipments
- An alternative valuation tool to determine value if this cannot be determined by the transaction value or secondary methods
Belgium’s New Digital Customs Platform: Omni-Channel Connectivity
Belgium is a key trade hub in Europe with its centrally-located seaports, freight centers and extensive road, barge and rail networks. Ports in Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Brussels and Liège also connect Europe with the rest of the world. Businesses can reach consumer markets from Belgium within 24 hours, often via multiple channels that combine rail, sea and air freight.
Antwerp port is Europe’s second largest port and the 17th largest in the world. Electronic processing is a foundation of operations there, and the addition of BE-GATE is expected to further simplify customs clearance and attract more e-commerce traffic.
Liège airport in Belgium started as a full cargo port 20 years ago and has now become Europe’s 7th largest cargo airport that is connected to 12 Chinese cities by air and rail. Express cargo processing is fully operational to absorb the huge amount of e-commerce shipments. BE-GATE will further optimize processing.
Brussels airport similarly offers a global network of passenger, express and full cargo aircraft. Ongoing expansion and new warehouses will accommodate growing e-commerce flows and make Belgium more attractive as entry point for global e-commerce.
Connectivity and location make Belgium a unique hub for omni-channel logistics. In fact, many multinational companies have warehouses and distributions centers in Belgium, including LEGO, Decathlon and Chinese last mile operator Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited or 4PX.
According to Werner Rens, Belgium Customs and Excise head of marketing, BE-GATE prevents delays in the supply chain due to lack of transparency and communication. BE-GATE is an effective solution for the Belgian customs authority as well as trade participants. It facilitates trade processing and helps Customs improve risk assessment.
BE-GATE continues to evolve. Optimizations to the platform are designed to meet the needs and expectation of e-commerce businesses when it comes to integrated gateways.
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