Can you submit the customs declaration before the ship’s ATA?

Submitting import declarations has changed significantly with the introduction of the Container Release Message. Since 1 October 2021, customs no longer allow you to submit this declaration before the vessel carrying the cargo is in port. If you do so before the ATA (Actual Time of Arrival), customs will reject the import declaration. You may already have known that, but are you aware that there is an even easier way?

As the notifying party, perhaps you always waited until the ATA anyway. But if you did make use of the leeway offered by customs, you will have had to adapt your working methods. Including all the extra challenges of still getting cargo out of the terminal as quickly as possible.

Preliminary declarations can help

Customs has been offering the option of preliminary declarations for some time. They can be submitted before the ship’s ATA. Customs then process the declaration immediately. In addition, in Cargo Controller we show the ACCEPTED ATA, i.e. accepted by customs, so you can be 100% sure that you can go ahead and make your submission. There are other benefits too.

Benefits of using preliminary declarations

  • You can submit them before the Vessel ATA
  • Customs checks them directly
  • Get an MRN immediately for prenotification of cargo at the terminal
  • Prepare/buffer presentation notifications in advance
  • Prompt notification of any customs inspection (if AEO-certified)
  • Collect cargo immediately after the vessel’s arrival

There is one condition for using preliminary declarations – on the vessel’s arrival, you must confirm the preliminary declaration to customs with a presentation notification. Some notifying parties feel that amounts to doing the same job twice. As a result, preliminary declarations are still not very popular.

Avoid duplication of effort

This lack of popularity is unfortunate and misplaced. A software vendor can automate the presentation notification for you, the notifying party, very easily. This involves embedding a trigger for the vessel’s ATA into your notification software. Upon arrival at the port, the presentation notification then goes directly to customs. No action is required on your part. Employees will never have to monitor terminal websites for up-to-date ATAs again.

Embedding a trigger for a vessel’s ATA is something a software vendor can do for you using the Cargo Controller API from Portbase. Among many other features, this service offers up-to-date insight into the ATAs in the Dutch ports at all times. So why not do it when it’s so easy?! Automating presentation notifications has already allowed scores of Portbase customers to enjoy their weekends in peace and means they no longer have to submit declarations to customs in the evenings.

Tracking import loads at a glance

With Cargo Controller, you take control of your containers and trailers. Moreover, you can easily follow and see all import loads within the Dutch ports. Want to know how? Discover the possibilities and advantages in our white paper!