UPU’s Customs Declaration System improves data quality and reduces labour

The UPU’s Customs Declaration System (CDS), developed by the Postal Technology Centre (PTC), facilitates the capture of electronic customs declarations made by the customers of posts, and exchanges of electronic data interchange (EDI) messages between designated operators and between designated operators and customs authorities.

The customs declarations stored in CDS are converted into EDI messages (ITMATT) and sent from the sending designated operator to the destination designated operator.
Each operator forwards, through EDI messages, the declarations to their customs authority for risk and fiscal assessment. CDS includes the latest version of the EDI messages developed by the UPU and World Customs Organization (WCO).

Stéphane Herrmann, technical account manager, UPU, says, “The first version of CDS was released in 2012 when Canada Post requested the PTC to develop a solution for the exchange of ITMATT messages with other designated operators. They wanted a software that could integrate with their other applications in a new fully automated office of exchange. Today CDS is used in production by 88 designated operators.”
Over the years, the PTC has regularly enriched the application following operator feedback. “This includes enhancements of functionalities to adapt with national or regional rules. Demand for the CDS accelerated in 2019/2020, as sending ITMATT messages became mandatory from January 1, 2021,” Herrmann adds.
CDS is easy to implement and interfaces with the International Postal System (IPS) mail management software developed by the PTC and used by more than 180 designated operators. “CDS can also interface with any mail management application used by designated operators or application used by customs authorities,” Herrmann adds. 
CDS can be deployed in three types of architecture – as a software solution, a web version, or a cloud-based solution. In order to facilitate the capture of customs declarations, the PTC has developed the ‘Kiosk’ – a webpage that contains a customs declaration form, and the Electronic Advance Data Customs Declarations application for Android and iOS. The customs declarations captured through the Kiosk and the mobile applications are stored in the CDS.
According to feedback from operators and customs, CDS has helped achieve fewer inspections and faster customs clearance, improved data quality and reduced manual work. “Having one application such as CDS for posts and customs allows real time information sharing,” Herrmann adds. “We are currently about to release the next version of the system, CDS 2021. This will include two additional UPU EDI messages: ITMREF and REFRSP.”