Faced with the intensification of global trade, the European Union has decided to change its regulations concerning the entry of small goods from outside Europe. The aim is twofold : to combat fraud and to restore fairness between online and local trade.
As of 1st July, all small goods from outside the EU are now subject to :
> A paperless electronic reporting obligation.
> A Payment of VAT regardless of the value of the goods (until now, an exemption applied to shipments of less than €22) and payment of customs duties when the amount exceeds €150.
These provisions apply to all importers, not just La Poste.
"Two years ago, La Poste launched a major project to transform its customs processes by bringing together skills from across the Group," explains Eric Boissau, Viapost's Project Director.
"Two years ago, La Poste launched a major project to transform its customs processes by bringing together skills from across the Group." explains Eric Boissau, Viapost's Project Director and the pilot of this project.
"Viapost is at the heart of small international freight logistics for Asendia and Colissimo. Our business was bound to be impacted by this new situation, so it was essential for us to actively contribute to the design and implementation of this project.”
Within the framework of this project, the solutions proposed by La Poste to apply the new regulation meet two objectives :
> Automate customs declarations
1. Either from data transmitted electronically by the sending customers or by the foreign Post Office.
2.Or, in the absence of electronic data, by reconstructing the customs data from the information on the consignments.
3. If there is no data to declare the objects, they are returned to the sender abroad.
> Maximising recovery before distribution
1.By encouraging e-tailers to collect VAT when buying online: this is the most convenient and least expensive solution for customers. The largest e-commerce platforms (Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, etc.) offer this service to their customers.
2.By offering recipients the option of paying VAT on www.laposte.fr. For this, a notification is sent by email or SMS to the recipients to invite them to pay their taxes before the delivery of the objects.
3.Otherwise, recipients can pay the amounts due to the postman when delivering or handing over the items at the post office. The costs of customs clearance and collection are then higher.
The collection of VAT and customs duties for imported items by the postman or in the post office is not a new activity. It has been done until now, but for far fewer items. The procedures of postmen and post offices have been automated to facilitate the daily relationship of postmen with their customers.
With the new regulation on taxation from the first euro, the number of small postal goods declared will increase dramatically : by the end of the year, an average of 500,000 items per day will pass through postal customs. This figure is likely to increase if the unprecedented growth in online shopping, which has been observed for several years, continues in the coming years.
Processing processes are also evolving. Several years ago, La Poste undertook a complete renovation of its international mail processing sites based in Roissy for mail, and has just opened a brand new platform in Wissous for parcels.
Customs clearance operations use an advanced information system, combining advanced OCR and artificial intelligence solutions to declare up to 500,000 items per day.
As an industrial integrator, Viapost provided the system to read and interpret this information from the address label.
In addition, Viapost has developed a remote coding solution to complete missing customs data on declarations. Viapost will manage and coordinate the various postal platforms that will carry out this coding (2 for the moment, other platforms will be integrated into this process later).
Finally, all small goods that pass through the Roissy Postal Hub on arrival in France are then processed at the Viapost platform in Chelles. Since 1st July, a customs service has been present in Chelles to complement the work of the Roissy customs officers. These customs officers carry out the regulatory controls that allow goods to be authorised to travel on French territory. It is on this condition that the objects can be delivered.
These new European measures are very structuring for online commerce. They oblige all players to adapt quickly to a more level playing field, but also to be more rigorous in their application.
E-buyers will quickly see the change, either on e-commerce sites that integrate the taxes to be paid at the time of purchase, or upon arrival of the products, when they are asked to pay the taxes before the shipment is delivered. Consumers will therefore be well advised to choose e-commerce sites that integrate these taxes: items will move more easily, arrival procedures will be less complicated, and customs clearance costs will be reduced.