New developments in customs matters

The new Union Customs Code (UCC) will come into force on 1 May 2016, repealing the old Code of 1992.

Certain key measures should be taken into account in order to correctly advise businesses on their strategy:

  • Electronic customs declarations will become standard: all customs acts and procedures will become electronic; in France, the DELTA system (Dédouanement en Ligne par Traitement Automatisé, or “online customs clearance by automatic processing”) is already in place, but the National One-Stop Shop (French: Guichet Unique National, or “GUN”) is currently being deployed to cover all of the documents in the supply chain.
  • Using their status as Authorised Economic Operators (AEO status), businesses can request centralised customs clearance not only in France but also at a European Union level: this will allow a French business to clear in France goods presented to another customs office in the EU; businesses will thus be able to declare their goods electronically at an office different to that through which the goods pass.
  • Greater flexibility is expected in respect of transfer pricing adjustments: advance agreements for provisional values will be facilitated and adjustments should be able to make upwards and downwards according to the transfer pricing rules.
  • The only negative point is that the extension of the customs statute of limitations in France from three to five years has been adopted under the Amending Finance Law 2015. At the same time, a ten-year right of recovery has been implemented, similar to that for tax matters. However, in practice, this should have little impact on businesses acting in good faith and having concluded agreements with the customs authorities.

Overall, the developments of the UCC are favourable to businesses, who have every interest to review their supply chain and re-evaluate their customs strategy.

The actions within businesses will be varied, ranging from simple retraining to a supply chain review or putting AEO status in place.

Odile Courjon

Odile Courjon, Partner, has developed a strong expertise in indirect tax issues (VAT, wage taxes, excise taxes, export control and customs) in France and overseas. She advises her clients in […]