New ASYCUDA system a boon for traders

HM Customs Gibraltar (HMC) will soon have a new IT system for processing imports, calculating duty and ensuring that reliable statistics are collected on a timely basis.

Until now HMC have been using the same system since 1993 and the age of the current platform (Sco Unix) means that it can’t deal with the increasing demands of a growing private sector with the accompanying year on year increase in imports.

The Automated System for Customs Data or ASYCUDA as it’s better-known, is a computerised system designed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), based in Geneva. Being an inter-governmental body the aim of the system is to automate as much of the processing of customs documents as possible. The main benefit of this is the avoidance of duplication or other data input errors which leads to more reliable duty forecasts and so assists government planning.

The new system is in use in 94 countries around the world. It is completely open source, which means that it can interface with software created by other designers.

For local importers and traders there are other benefits to the new system apart from those outlined above: goods will be able to be cleared through pre-submission without having to go to the EPU with physical paperwork. Provided all the paperwork is submitted electronically before the goods arrive at the EPU, Customs should be able to clear them without delay. As the new system is electronic it also creates an audit trail. The system will generate a unique barcode for each customs declaration, which will make document reconciliation easier. Other features of the system are an electronic mailbox, which will automatically notify users about the status of their customs declarations and easy identification of commodity codes by using a simple search tool.

The system is fully encrypted so security of individual traders’ information is maintained to the highest level. There are also a number of other security features built into the system so that importers can give different staff members more, or less, access to parts of the system depending on the level of permissions they set. Importers and traders will need to arrange this directly with the ASYCUDA unit at Customs.

Members will also be pleased to know that the recently introduced forms for imported electrical and electronic goods, as required by the WEEE legislation, have also been incorporated into the new system at the Chamber’s request.

Another useful feature for importers is that the system will now allow a simulation of a declaration to show details of product codes, any licences required and the all-important duty to be levied. As traders know only too well, sometimes their own calculations of duty payable have not always tallied with what Customs says is payable and sometimes the difference has taken months before it became apparent. This can have significant effects on a business’s cash flow.

Training for Chamber Members
The new system will be introduced some-time in the autumn. No date has been set but all companies who import physical goods into Gibraltar, whether as agents, wholesalers or retailers will need to be trained on how to use it. The Chamber is working with Customs to develop a training schedule for its members in time for the introduction of the new system. Members will be updated on a timetable for this in the next few months.

In the meantime though we would ask members to notify the Chamber of who in their company they will be nominating for training on the ASYCUDA system. If you have any questions please contact the Chamber on 200 78376 or by email to

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