What is a customs declaration?
The act whereby a person indicates the wish to place goods under a given customs procedure as provided for by the Community Customs Code (CCC) .
Who should lodge a customs declaration?
In general this task is performed by the owner of the goods or a person acting on his behalf (a representative). It may also be performed by the person having control over the goods. These persons may be individuals or companies, as well as in certain cases associations of persons. As a general rule these persons should be established in the Community.
Where should a customs declaration be lodged?
The declaration is to be lodged with the customs office where the goods were or will shortly be presented.
Why should a customs declaration be lodged?
In general to comply with obligations (and sometimes for seeking benefit from special procedures), as:
on importation, goods brought into the customs territory must be assigned to a customs-approved treatment or use,
goods intended for export must be placed under the export procedure,
and the lodging of a customs declaration is precisely the means of placing goods under a customs procedure.
How should a customs declaration be made?
In the prescribed form and manner, that is to say:
√ electronically, according to the specifications made for such purposes (Article 77 CC)
√ in writing, on a Single Administrative Document (SAD)
√ orally or by means of an act replacing a customs declaration. Travellers are notably entitled to lodge an oral declaration (as far as their personal luggage and means of transport are concerned) as well as private consignees (in respect of certain small consignments).
Beware that certain other acts may constitute a customs declaration, e.g.:
√ going through the green or "nothing to declare" channel,
√ going through a customs office which does not operate the two-channel system without spontaneously making a customs declaration,
√ affixing a nothing to declare sticker on the vehicle where this possibility is provided for, or
√ crossing the frontier.
Are simplifications available?
Yes, in accordance with Article 76 CC and Article 253 CCIP, declarants may be authorised to lodge:
incomplete declarations , which do not contain all the particulars required or which are not accompanied by all the necessary documents, simplified declarations for which commercial or administrative documents may be used instead of SADs and which may also be incomplete,
declarations under the local clearance procedure : in such cases, the goods are entered for the customs procedure at the premises of the declarant or any other place designated or approved by the customs authorities; the initial entry may at the same time be incomplete/simplified; moreover the declarant may be authorised not to present the goods to customs.
Normally, such declarations must be completed by a periodic declaration giving all the necessary information.