The European Union’s New Customs Code

With the coming into force of the New European Union Customs Code (UCC) last 1 May, 2016, new changes to customs legislation have arisen that affect all EU member countries. The new code, which replaces the previous Community Customs Code and its Implementing Regulation, in force for 25 years, aims to optimise, simplify and homogenise customs procedures in the entire Union.

However, the new customs legislation can also lead to problems in interpretation, as indicated by the Comisión de Carga Aérea y Servicios Aeroportuarios (Air Freight and Airport Service Commission) from the company organisation UNO (Organización Empresarial de Logística y Transporte – Company Logistics and Transport Organisation).

During a meeting with Customs Management and Sub-Management to analyse application of the new regulations, UNO expressed its concern that Spanish customs would become “a competitive disadvantage for the country’s international commerce.”

In this regard, the business organisation has requested that interpretation of the new customs regulations in Spain be the same as in the rest of the EU, “to have true fair competition between countries.”


An electronic customs setting

The UCC establishes creation of an electronic setting to exchange information between customs offices in the European Union, and between customs offices and economic operators. The implementation of this “unique virtual office” will be gradual over the course of 4 years (until 2020) and, according to Customs, shall be subject to re-evaluation processes after dialogue with operators.

To implement the new procedures, it is planned to create work groups that include representatives from the private sector. Furthermore, UNO will draw up a catalogue of proposals to help improve application of the regulations.

For the Organización Empresarial de Logística y Transporte, implementing a common framework for all European Union countries is a great opportunity for all Spanish ports to increase their international maritime trade quota.


Other UCC news

In addition to the application of simpler customs procedures and processes with electronic communications, the new code includes other news. For example, it sets forth an administrative procedure to make any decision regarding customs legislation and modifying criteria to obtain authorised economic operator status.

Furthermore, it establishes important changes in the guarantee scheme for clearance, the authorised exporter certificate and centralised clearance in Europe, as well as to the scope of guarantees for customs debts. In this regard, it establishes that it is mandatory to provide a guarantee for any customs procedure or scheme that must cover customs debts. With these measures, the European Commission aims to increase protection of the European Union and its member countries’ financial interests.

On the other hand, the New European Union Customs Code includes a new name for customs schemes with special schemes according to the following categories: transit (internal and external), warehouse (customs warehouse and free zones), special destination (temporary importation and final destination) and processing arrangements (inward and outward).

In order to make changes to the new customs code and transitional measures known, the Spanish Tax Agency has drawn up a list of questions that are especially relevant, along with a series of presentations to make it easier to understand. It may be viewed here.


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