HAMBURG SÜD AND dbh Electronic EU pre-declaration in 11 countries.

As a result of the requirement introduced in 2011 to lodge entry summary declarations before bringing goods into the customs territory of the European Union, carriers needed to make drastic changes to their internal processes and therefore also to the IT environment.

THE CHALLENGE Entry and exit summary declarations in the EU

Shipping companies and other transport companies needed to put a system in place that would enable them to contact EU Member States. Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft KG (Hamburg Süd) tackled this challenge together with dbh Logistics IT AG (dbh) as consultant and software manufacturer.

The implementation and processing of EU pre-declarations has been realised in 11 countries overall. This was achieved using Advantage Pre-Declaration software from dbh.

Project overview:

Interface between the documentation system at Hamburg Süd and Advantage Pre-Declaration. Preparation of data for the customs systems of 11 selected EU countries.

Software used: Advantage Pre-Declaration

Duration: 16 months

THE SOLUTION EU pre-declarations: Connecting all countries using just one piece of software

All 27 countries in the European Union have their own customs handling systems. In Germany, for example, the system used is ATLAS. Although there is a European specification defining the technical framework for the process, each country can choose how their system is designed. For this reason, it was not possible to connect these customs systems to the carrier's software via a standard interface.

Ship owners like Hamburg Süd and other carriers needed to find a way to send the required information in the country-specific format that was as efficient, cost-effective and sustainable as possible.

Benefits for Hamburg Süd

  • One solution for all required customs systems in Europe
  • On-time implementation
  • Continuous monitoring of commodity flows
  • Consulting, software, support, development and hosting from a single source
  • Development of just one interface
  • dbh contact on site

THE REQUIREMENTS The solution should be "efficient, flexible and powerful"

A "one to many" solution was needed: just one piece of software for all customs systems. The program should also be controllable via a dashboard — a user interface that enables quicker access and fast control.

One piece of software for all countries

Hamburg Süd opted for dbh and Advantage Pre-Declaration. Not only had dbh completed a first prototype early on, the company also impressed with its profound customs expertise. One advantage for both companies was that both dbh and Hamburg Süd were able to draw on the expertise of on-site experts.


The ICS/ECS IT procedure (also known as entry or exit summary declarations for temporary storage) has been mandatory since January 2011. Since then, an entry summary declaration for temporary storage must be submitted to the customs office for goods that are brought into the EU. The customs office where the goods cross the customs borders of the EU for the first time is responsible.

This enables the customs office to carry out safety, security and risk analyses and implement any necessary hazard prevention measures in a timely manner.

Because the European customs systems are not standardised, there were some delays in the transition process. The law was originally meant to come into effect on 1 July 2009. However, it only came into effect in 2011 in the end and further allowed a transitional period running to the end of June 2011 (for entry declarations) and the end of December 2011 (for exit declarations).

IMPLEMENTATION On time and within budget — success across the board

The individuals involved in the project at Hamburg Süd and dbh started engaging in in-depth discussions about the EU pre-declaration project from the end of 2009, and the project kicked off in August 2010. All customs systems were connected within 16 months. The biggest hurdle was the fact that the ICS specifications of the individual countries were not available at the start of the project, and were only published on a gradual basis.

IT and logistics specialists meet professional carrier

Thanks to the excellent collaboration within the European partner network, it was nevertheless possible to incorporate the country-specific requirements at an early stage. By the end of 2011, Hamburg Süd had reported several hundred thousand entry summary declarations using the new system.

Strong partner

Paul Wenger, Senior Manager Marketing and eCommerce at Hamburg Süd, on the collaboration: "The specialist expertise and proactive commitment demonstrated by dbh Logistics IT AG are key reasons why we chose the company as our project partner." 

THE FUNCTIONS Just one product for all EU countries

Creation of following notifications:

  • Entry and exit summary declarations for storage
  • Diversion requests
  • Arrival notifications

Included as standard:

  • Multilingual user interfaces
  • Customer and master data management
  • Copy function, individual views
  • Country-specific plausibility checks
  • Creation of reports
  • Criteria filter (e.g. journey and/or port of loading)
  • Responses via email and/or interface


The Hamburg Süd Group brings together numerous services for achieving the perfect logistics chain under one roof. The Group is represented by two brands in the container shipping sector: Hamburg Süd as the German carrier and Aliança as the Brazilian shipping company with ships sailing under the Brazilian flag.

It also has a presence on the world's oceans in the bulk and product tanker shipping sector under the names Rudolf A.Oetker (RAO) and Aliança Bulk (Aliabulk). Another company under the Group's umbrella is Columbus Shipmanagement GmbH (CSG), whose complex area of activity ranges from technical management and crewing to materials management. All upstream and downstream logistics services for sea transport, including the necessary customs processes, are offered by Columbus Logistics Services GmbH (CLS).

The range of services offered by the shipping group is rounded off by Hamburg Süd Reiseagentur travel agency, which over the past three decades has evolved to become a specialist provider for business trips, cruises, events and much more.


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