Finnish Customs on the crest of the digital wave towards renewals
The most extensive development programme in the history of Finnish Customs focuses on renewing the customs clearance system and the related background services, and on enhancing Customs activity. The first significant service, the FINTARIC commodity code service, was introduced in October. The new data service helps customers in clearing their goods online.
In the framework of the digital programme of Finnish Customs (2015–2020), the currently used customs clearance system will be renewed and aligned with the new EU legislation. FINTARIC is a part of the renewal aimed at facilitating foreign trade.
The customs clearance of goods is largely based on commodity codes, of which there are about 18 000.
- Customers are responsible for filling out customs declarations and, from their point of view, the most challenging thing is to find the correct commodity codes for the goods they declare. The new FINTARIC service makes it easy to find the right commodity code, says Tom Ferm, Director of Customer Relations and Tax Collection.
Customers have already given positive feedback on the new commodity code service for its clarity, and for the fact that almost all information concerning commodity codes can be found in one place. For example, national information on restrictions is available at the same time as commodity code information.
In addition to introducing FINTARIC, Customs is in the course of developing new, easy-to-use digital customer services in the coming years. In spring 2018, the final digitalised declaration procedure for customs warehousing will be taken into use. The new web service is aimed at companies that store goods which are to be imported to Finland. Company representatives no longer need to visit customs offices when they place undeclared goods under customs storage.
Enhanced activities by Customs
In terms of international comparisons, Finnish Customs is at the top of world rankings. Customs is renewing its data systems as part of a major digital programme that runs alongside the customs clearance renewal. This is partly due to challenges posed by increasing online trade.
- We are renewing our systems, as we want to maintain our position as one of the most efficient customs administrations in the world. The growth of online trade volumes alone requires efficient processes and support systems. When we utilise information flows concerning goods efficiently, we speed up deliveries of goods from sellers to buyers, says Mr Ferm.
- In October, we introduced a centralised data storage service, as well as new tools for analyses and reporting. These solutions serve to harmonise and enhance the utilisation of data. Information in the data storage service is also used for customer reports, and in reports between authorities. Furthermore, customs activity indicators are already partly embedded in the new reporting solution. Like this, we are able to monitor activities by Customs more and more efficiently, says Marianne Vuolli, head of development for the Customs digital programme.
Increasing online trade volumes pose challenges also to customers of Finnish Customs. Goods purchased online from locations outside the EU must be cleared through Customs.
- At the moment, we are carrying out tests to find out if artifical intelligence can be of help to customers in clearing goods correctly. We analyse questions posed by customers to the Customs Information Service, and carry out testing to find out if computers can be instructed to act as help tools for customs advisors, says Marianne Vuolli.