The World Bank has moved Italy from 56th, to first position worldwide, in the Trading Across Borders indicator - and for ease of doing business, Italy’s rank rose from 65th to 45th. One of the main criteria in measuring the efficiency of customs is that of control procedures for imported containers.
Inspection procedures of this type of freight must be effective but also fast, so as to avoid queues of trucks at gates and on highways, and to permit timely deliveries of goods (whether semi-finished materials or consumer goods) across the country.
Customs turnaround times, therefore, are a principal measure of efficiency. Ten years ago electronic customs declarations occurred for 70% of goods, but by the first half of 2016 they jumped to 97.3%. Under pressure from digitalization and streamlining of inspections, the turnaround time for a truck performing a typical delivery of an empty container and loading up with a packed one, now ranges from half an hour at the PSA Terminal Voltri-Pra (the most efficient facility in Europe) to an average time of between 45-50 minutes, up to one and a half hours in the slower ports.
Document inspection processes, when all customs papers accompanying the goods inside the container are examined, represent 1.5% of the total; on average, this procedure is carried out within one day, while just five years ago the procedure could extend to 3-4 days.
The actual goods inspection, where customs officers open the container to examine the goods inside, occurs in 1,06% of cases, and requires up to 48 hours, compared with up to 15-day delays just six years ago. Lastly, the time required for inspections with scanners ranges from 36 to 48 hours.
Speaking at the Naples Shipping Week, Teresa Alvaro, Director of Technology at Italy’s Customs, said that the times for the release of goods from customs in 2015, ranged between 12 seconds and 5 minutes in 84% of the over 18 million customs declarations. This turnaround time also applied to 84.2% of declarations processed in the first four months of 2016, while from 1 May to 14 June, that number increased to 90.1%, out of 2 million declarations; this was achieved thanks to the introduction of electronic filing (enabling document checks to be conducted online), which was employed in 22.8% of declarations. Finally, according to data from harbourmaster authorities, the two ports in which pre-clearing customs procedures before the ship has completed docking, were most employed, were Genoa and Livorno.