The World Bank reports on the Logistics Performance Index that Germany has the most efficient customs clearance, taking first place in 2018, ahead of Sweden and Japan. In order to ensure that this remains the case with the continuing increase in clearance figures (according to the General Customs Directorate by 33.9 million from 2016 to 2018 alone), the Customs Administration has developed the new IT system ATLAS-ZELOS for electronic document transmission. The Information Technology Center Bund (ITZBund) reports in the Participant information 3586/19, that the new ATLAS application Zelos is intended to speed up the handling processes for both customs and economic operators as participants.
What is behind ATLAS-Zelos?
Instead of transmitting documents via existing channels such as e-mail and telephone, they are to be sent directly to a customs platform. With the IT application ATLAS-ZELOS (ZeThe exchange ofldocuments, enquiries or Sinformation) customs may request and receive documents (freight documents, invoices, other evidence) centrally electronically from the ATLAS participants. The aim of the new platform is the media-free exchange of documents, enquiries and opinions in the ATLAS procedure. And thus the acceleration of handling.
In addition, companies have the option to proactively hand over documents to ATLAS within a 60-minute window after receiving the registration number (reply message to the customs declaration). The ATLAS application Zelos is part of the ATLAS-Rease 9.0 and AE-Release 2.4.4.
For which process areas in ATLAS is ZELOS intended?
The ATLAS ZELOS messages and their error messages are included in separate message groups in the following procedures:
- Imports (SumA, customs treatment, AEGZ, customs warehouses and subsequent collection and refund)
- Export (transfer, monitoring and execution)
- EAS (ASumA and ESumA) and
- Shipping (transfer)
The post-collection and reimbursement procedures and SumA are excluded from the proactive submission of documents.
For which documents can ATLAS-ZELOS be used?
Customs will publish a code list I0255 “Zelos Documents” which defines exactly for which documents ATLAS-ZELOS can be used. This will include, for example:
- Documents from other authorities (Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control BAFA, Federal Institute for Agriculture and Food BLE)
- EU documents
- Fiscal documents such as commercial invoices
The customs authorities distinguish between documents which are still mandatory to be presented to the customs office in their original form and which can be transmitted as a copy purely electronically.
Is the implementation of the ATLAS-Zelos messages mandatory?
In contrast to the previous plans, all ATLAS technical procedures may be used in ATLAS Release 9.0 without the support of the respective ZELOS news groups.
Participants in the IT procedures ATLAS and AES will be awarded ZELOS in ATLAS release 9.0 and AES release 2.4.4 in 2020 (see also Participant information 3023/19) but as additional new and optional functionality. It is expected that the ZELOS messages will be obliged to use them from September 2022.
What do you need to do as a company to use ZELOS?
You need software that is certified for the desired message groups. Customs plans certifications between the end of 2019 and early/mid-June 2020.
What are the advantages of ZELOS?
Atlas ZELOS is intended to ensure media-free communication between companies and customs in the future. The more time-consuming and resource-intensive requirement and transmission of documents by telephone, e-mail and messengers is eliminated on both sides. Customs expects accelerated handling processes through the new ATLAS ZELOS platform.
At the same time, the use of the existing, secure communication channels via certified customs software and ATLAS ensures data protection at all times and a complete documentation of the processes takes place.
And last but not least, according to projections by the customs administration, 5 million paper printouts are also saved per year (see participant information 3586/2019).
dbh customs software is prepared for ATLAS Zelos
In the planning and implementation of the application, the customs offices at the local level as well as business enterprises and software houses, which have to create the necessary IT structures on the side of the parties involved, were involved. dbh was also actively involved here – already in 2017 there were extensive communication and rounds of ideas with Customs Hamburg on electronic document exchange.
On ZELOS, dbh is already in the customs software Advantage Customs for years integrated e-files well prepared. This enables us to offer our customers the digital exchange of documents with customs as early as the next ATLAS release in 2020. We will inform you about the detailed scheduling and design accordingly. Extensive information on the topic ATLAS ZELOS is also available to dbh customers in the Customer seminars 2020.