Activation: When fiction becomes reality

In Ramsen, a border crossing at the northern edge of Switzerland, automatic activation using telematics is no longer a distant vision, but reality. Customs is thus adopting technology that is already widely used in the field of logistics, which helps to reduce costs. Video demonstration.

30.11.2021, Nicolas Rion

In a first for Europe, Swiss Customs is testing the use of telematics technology for the fully automatic activation of goods declarations at the border. To do this, Customs is using interfaces from existing commercial vehicle management systems. This will help to cut down on expensive investment in new technology solutions.

Launched in September 2021, the pilot project is taking place at Ramsen, in the canton of Schaffhausen. For the moment, only goods entering for transit are involved. It is planned to expand the use of telematics to other companies or border crossings.

How does it work? The Ramsen example

As illustrated in the video above, automatic activation at the border via telematics can be divided into four stages, corresponding to the new standardised basic procedure set up as part of DaziT:

  1. The person responsible for data, i.e. the person making a customs declaration on behalf of the person responsible for goods (e.g. consignor or consignee), declares the goods. Currently, this is done in NCTS (transit).

  2. The person responsible for transport, i.e. the person transporting the goods, specifies which mode of transport will be used to carry the goods. The transport declaration is done in the transportcockpit, which is available in the Federal Department of Finance's new ePortal. The transport declaration is then linked to the corresponding goods declaration; this is known as "referencing". This digital link between the goods declaration and the transport declaration is a key part of activation, which renders the declarations legally binding.

  3. As it approaches the border, the vehicle enters an activation zone: the lorry's telematics equipment signals to Customs that the vehicle and the goods it is transporting have arrived. This signal is entirely automatic and requires no action on the part of the driver. The activation triggers a risk assessment in real time.

  4. The results of the risk assessment (selection) are transmitted in real time to Customs, to the person responsible for transport (transportcockpit) and to the driver (traffic light). The final inspection decision is taken by Customs staff. These inspections may be carried out in situ, at some distance from the border (e.g. at an inspection centre) or at the place of domicile.

What is it? Activating goods declarations

Telematics is one of the technical solutions put forward to allow the automatic activation of customs declarations when crossing the border. Customs is thus adopting technology that is already being used increasingly in the field of logistics. Telematics supplements, but does not replace, the other solutions used as part of DaziT, i.e. the Activ and Periodic applications. Other technical solutions will be gradually introduced for rail, waterway and air traffic.
The use of automatic activation will truly take off once the first version of Passar, the new goods traffic management system, goes live in mid-2023.