Digital customs for faster clearances and trade facilitations

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There is tremendous trend towards digital in all aspects of government services. With rampant push towards free-trade and globalization, World Trade Organization (WTO) in its trade facilitation agreement in 2013 has demanded governments to simplify trade procedures and ensure transparency in trade regulations. 


The Korean economy has grown rapidly and is seeing multifold increase in trade volume, travel and cross-border trade.

“Through a careful analysis of the interplay between WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of 2017 and the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of 1996, governments can optimize complementarities at the intersection of technological change and the implementation of trade facilitation policy.”

The mission of Korean Custom Service (KCS) includes promotion of movements of legitimate international trade and travel. Understanding the growing challenges in handling enormous volume, Korean Custom Service computerized custom procedures and automated clearance processes. The system is also called UNI-PASS, wherein UNI stands for Unified, Universal and Unique Service, and PASS stands for Fast Clearance Service. UNI-PASS is composed of 77 modules and has five subordinate systems: a Single Window (SW) system; a clearance management system; a cargo management system; an information management system; and an administration system. UNI-PASS adopted international standards developed with World Customs Organization (WCO) and UN’s e-Document standards.

Key services and features of UNI-PASS

  1. Single Window system for custom clearance procedures: It integrates 169 government agencies, customs and other stakeholders. It also connect over 430 thousand entities such as trading companies, custom brokers, shipping companies, airlines, delivery companies and warehouses. This enables sharing of information for regulatory, statistical and decision making purposes.
  2. Faster clearance through Clearance Management System: UNI-PASS is a world’s first 100% paperless and fastest clearance system, and allows clearance of exports within 1.5 minutes, imports within 1.5 hours. It may be noteworthy that system collects one-third of Korea’s tax revenue. To address the difficulties faced by exporters in terms of providing many export declarations, KCS is setting up an e-commerce export platform which will convert online sales orders to export declaration. This e-commerce platform shall be connected to UNI-PASS. Other system in place to assist exporters include Harmonized System (HS) Navigation Service to search for correct HS code for goods to be exported. 
  3. Real-time cargo tracking through Cargo Management System: The Cargo Management System is connected to delivery companies, warehouses and other private entities moving goods. It allows custom officers access information on the process, status of cargo at each stage, location of cargo including necessary documents required during the custom clearance procedure. This helps to avoid logistic issues and other related challenges.
  4. Custom clearance of passengers through Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS): The APIS uses various data such as passenger list, reservation data and entry/ exit history to analyze risks prior to arrival of travelers so that high-risk travelers may be selected and controlled, while ordinary travelers can swiftly clear their goods or personal items. Over 50 million travelers are screened through APIS every year.
  5. Integrated Risk Management through IRM-PASS: The integrated risk management analyses customs data, data from other entities for statistical and analytical purposes. It also analyses data to create risk profile of travelers, companies and the goods to help customs officers in various stages of audit and inspection procedures.

International Cooperation on Digital Customs

The UNI-PASS system has found appreciation with customs administration of many countries such as Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Cameroon, Tanzania etc. KCS has also extended cooperation with foreign countries in modernizing their customs procedures.


Further Readings

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