Belgium Launches Digital Customs Platform

Port of Antwerp
Port of Antwerp

Published Jun 7, 2019 2:14 AM by The Maritime Executive

Belgium launched a digital customs platform called BE-GATE on June 6 to simplify the import and export of goods. 

The portal, which was specially designed for the growth market of e-commerce, serves to accelerate and increase the efficiency of customs clearance in the cross-border flow of goods. Large last-mile players in e-commerce such as the Chinese logistics company Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited or 4PX, which belong to the Alibaba Group, use Belgium as an important crossroads to Europe. In addition, well-known companies such as Decathlon, LEGO and Nespresso have large distribution centers in the country.

BE-GATE was developed on the initiative of the Belgium Customs and Excise Department and is unique in Europe. The new platform is already supported by four important e-commerce hubs, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge and the airports of Brussels and Liege. 

It is free of charge, designed for processing large amounts of data and guarantees rapid clearance of customs applications. A high number of arrival notifications can be transmitted simultaneously via an officially customs approved form. For shipments of less than or equal to 22 euros ($25), this form also serves as a declaration of release for consumption. Retailers also automatically receive information on those shipments that have been selected for customs control. All other shipments are released immediately. 

In addition, the software solution provides a recommendation for the concrete determination of the customs value on the basis of defined criteria, if the customs value cannot be determined by an alternative method. Excise goods, goods subject to licenses and goods subject to special restrictions and control measures are excluded from the use of BE-GATE.

In export, BE-GATE can be used for shipments with a value of up to 1,000 euros (about $1,100) and a weight of less than 1,000 kilograms. Otherwise, an additional declaration is required

Luc Arnouts, Director International Networks, Port of Antwerp, said: "Digitalization is part of the DNA of Europe's second largest port. We expect BE-GATE to significantly simplify customs clearance and thus make Antwerp even more attractive as a location for e-commerce traffic."

Joachim Coene, CEO, Port of Zeebrugge, said: “The port of Zeebrugge will be able to play an ambitious, prominent role in e-commerce with the investment of the Lingang group in the Maritime Logistic Zone in Zeebrugge.”