The existing Free Zone at Schiphol has formally ceased and the cargo sector is working with a temporary solution. Currently, much work is being done on a replacement for the Free Zone. To this end a project has been started by ACN, the Smart Cargo Mainport Programme, including Customs, and parties operating in the air cargo sector at Schiphol. Martijn Kuiken and Frank Rotteveel make up the project team. They were both involved with the very first set-up of the Free Zone and may now, together with the sector, design its replacement. Time for an update!
What is the Free Zone?
The Free Zone Type II was introduced at Schiphol in 2005. In recent years more than 50 participating companies, together accounting for more than 80% of cargo volume, have used the Free
Zone. The Free Zone made it possible for goods to be transferred simply, under Customs control, between parties. This took place on the basis of standard digital messaging and the chain-wide
‘DGVS’ system. It avoided extensive administrative burdens, such as preparing customs documentation for every transfer of goods. This simplification allowed the import process after 2005 to become a lot quicker.
Why has the Free Zone been abolished?
With the issue of the new European Union Customs Code (UCC) the Free Zone Type II has been abolished. The UCC offers airfreight parties the possibility of using so-called Temporary Storage. Simplified transfers are possible between Temporary Storage areas. Different rules, however, apply for the UCC and Temporary Storage than for the Free Zone making replacement of the current system necessary. Goods may, for instance, be stored for a maximum of 90 days in (various) Temporary Storage areas and central monitoring of Temporary Storage is required.
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