Even though Switzerland is very poor in raw materials, exports have exceeded imports by about fifteen percent for years. Chemical and pharmaceutical products account for by far the largest share of all exported trade goods. Whether exporting or importing, the quantity of declarations to be cleared is high. Both declarations are part of the accompanying documents (besides invoice, air waybill, delivery bill, and others), which are used to determine import duties in case of import and to comply with export regulations in international trade in case of export. The processing of these is one of the central works of customs clearances.

In the period from 2009 to 2019, the cyclical total of Switzerland’s exports and imports (with the exception of the years 2015/2016) has increased continuously, which means that it can also be assumed that the declarations to be processed have become (and will continue to become) many times more each year. Switzerland is only one of the examples, worldwide there are numerous logistical hubs of customs clearances. To make their work easier and to minimize the time-consuming processing of import and export declarations as quickly as possible, it is necessary to switch from manual to automated work processes.

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The high volume of paper makes customs clearance a difficult task

As already discussed here, one of the central problems in the transport and logistics industry is still the large volume of paper documents to be processed, which includes customs declarations. The disadvantages of manually processing import and export declarations are clear:

  • Enormously time-consuming due to manual entry of data, line by line
  • Large number of customs staff required for the vast number of declarations to be processed
  • Delays in customs clearance and thus delays in the entire trade chain

In order to cope with the ever-increasing rush of goods and thus the processing of import or export declarations, a different solution is needed – an automated one

In order to process all the required data from the import or export declarations in today’s appropriate standard, a digital solution is needed. Automated collection of all relevant data from the declarations is the first step. Similar possibilities could be already hinted at in other areas of the transport and logistics industry and with the connection of Blockchain as well.

Automated data capture is the key to intelligent processing of import and export declarations

With intelligent, AI-based OCR to the intelligent processing

The special thing about import and export declarations are parameters defined by customs, as well as general and specific customs requirements and the various formats. Thus, for more efficient and optimized workflows in import and export declarations, a digital solution is needed. An excellent fit is an intelligent, AI-based OCR (Optical Character Recognition), as the following overview makes clear:

  • Import or export declarations are received, electronically or in paper form, and are automatically recognized and captured by the intelligent, AI-based OCR
  • Quality improvement and, if necessary, page separation follows
  • Import or export declarations are separated from other goods accompanying documents (air waybill, invoices, delivery bills) and automatically classified
  • Automated extraction of all relevant data from the import or export declarations, including important product information such as article number, name, quantity, and price
  • Structured data remains in the desired formats for automated further processing

Intelligent, AI-based OCR brings life to customs – or rather – customs clearances

A lot of added value for customs clearances thanks to intelligent, AI-based OCR

The added values that can be achieved by integrating intelligent, AI-based OCR and thus with automated data capture and processing for import and export declarations are numerous:

  • Fewer customs employees are needed for tedious manual and error-prone tasks
  • Strong scalability = resilient even with several thousand customs clearances daily
  • Fewer delays in general due to faster processing times
  • More new orders can be accepted = increased productivity with the same time resources

With intelligent, AI-based OCR, import or export declarations can be processed in no time at all in the future and contribute to a significantly optimized workflow in customs clearances – an all-round plus