As a large European foreign trade hub, Belgium wants to significantly simplify the import and export of goods. The new BE-GATE customs platform was developed for this purpose and officially launched on 6 June. The portal, which was specially designed for the growth market of e-commerce, serves to accelerate and increase the efficiency of customs clearance in the cross-border flow of goods. BE-GATE was developed on the initiative of the Belgium Customs and Excise Department and is unique in Europe. The new platform is already supported by four important e-commerce hubs, the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge and the airports of Brussels and Liege.
The free-of-charge customs portal BE-GATE is designed for processing large amounts of data and guarantees rapid clearance of customs applications. A high number of arrival notifications can be transmitted simultaneously via an officially customs approved form.
For shipments of less than or equal to 22 euros, this form also serves as a declaration of release for consumption. For all other shipments, an additional declaration in the Belgian customs software solution PLDA (PaperLess Douanes et Accises / Paperless Customs & Excise) is required.
Retailers also automatically receive information on those shipments that have been selected for customs control. All other shipments are released immediately. In addition, the software solution provides a recommendation for the concrete determination of the customs value on the basis of defined criteria, if the customs value cannot be determined by an alternative method.
BE-GATE can be used within the framework of customs regulations for free circulation, customs warehousing and outright export. The prerequisites are that the economic operator has a registered office in Belgium and a status as a customs agent. In addition, an intermediate warehouse or a location approved as a customs warehouse, the authorization for the use of the simplified declaration and a comprehensive guarantee are required.
Excise goods, goods subject to licenses and goods subject to special restrictions and control measures are excluded from the use of BE-GATE. In export, BE-GATE can be used for shipments with a value of up to 1,000 euros and a weight of less than 1,000 kilograms. Otherwise, an additional declaration in PLDA is required.
Belgium is an important gateway to the European consumer market. Large seaport locations like Antwerp or Zeebrugge and air freight hubs like Brussels or Liège connect Europe with the whole world. An extensive road, barge and rail network connects the Belgian sea- and airports to the hinterland. The main consumer markets can be reached within a maximum of 24 hours. Omni channel players require this integrated approach of combining sea, air and rail freight depending on urgency and transit time required.
“As partners we invest in platforms and procedures to optimize this network. That way we can meet the e-commerce players’ expectations about integrated gateways. Moreover, our sea- and airports are centrally located in Europe. This optimal location and connectivity make Belgium a unique hotspot for omni channel logistics”, says Werner Rens, Head of Marketing Department, Belgium Customs and Excise.
Moreover, available space and existing know-how offer companies the opportunity to take advantage of the hub function of these Belgian logistics locations and set up warehouses and distribution centers here. Large last-mile players in e-commerce such as the Chinese logistics company Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Limited or 4PX, which belong to the Alibaba Group, use Belgium as an important crossroads to Europe. In addition, well-known companies such as Decathlon, LEGO and Nespresso have large distribution centers here.