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Modernised Community Customs Code

The Community Customs Code lays down and defines the legislation applicable to the import and export of goods between the European Community and non-member countries. This new code aims to facilitate trade whilst also guaranteeing a high level of border security.


Regulation (EC) No. 450/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 laying down the Community Customs Code (Modernised Customs Code) [Official Journal L 145 of 04.06.2008].


The Modernised Customs Code creates a new electronic customs environment. The new Code integrates the common customs procedures in the Member States while reinforcing convergence between the computerised systems of the 27 customs authorities. It will replace the 1992 Customs Community Code, once the necessary implementing provisions are adopted and made applicable, at the latest by 24 June 2013. In the interim period the existing code applies.

The Code’s provisions

The 2008 Modernised Customs Code covers:

  • general provisions on the scope of customs legislation, the mission of customs and the rights and obligations of persons with regard to customs legislation;
  • factors on the basis of which import and export duties and other measures in respect of trade in goods are applied (Common Customs Tariff, origin of goods, value for customs purposes);
  • customs debt * and guarantees of this debt;
  • customs treatment of goods brought into the customs territory of the Community;
  • rules on customs status, placing goods under a customs procedure, as well as verification, release * and disposal of goods;
  • release for free circulation and relief from export duties;
  • special customs procedures organised into four economic functions (transit, storage, specific use, processing);
  • customs treatment of goods leaving the customs territory of the Community (goods leaving the territory, export and re-export, relief from export duties);
  • the Customs Code Committee and procedures enabling the Commission to adopt the measures implementing the Code.

New provisions regarding the streamlining of customs procedures to facilitate trade and prevent new threats.

Thus through strengthening the common regulatory and operational framework of customs authorities, the Code introduces modern processes based on electronic techniques in order to:

  • guarantee as a general rule the simplification and uniform application of customs legislation;
  • improve customs controls, which are based primarily on a risk analysis as part of a common risk management * framework. Controls other than customs controls should, wherever possible, be performed at the same time as customs controls at a ‘one-stop-shop’;
  • facilitate clearance procedures, which will be fully computerised, will offer maximum simplifications and can be carried out centrally;
  • streamline current ‘economic and/or suspensive’ customs procedures , which have been reorganised into ‘special procedures’ enabling the transit (external and internal), storage (temporary storage, customs warehousing, free zones), specific use (temporary admission or end-use), and processing (inward or outward processing) of goods to better respond to the economic needs of the operators and to simplify access to them.

Following the 2003 Communication ‘A simple and paperless environment for customs and trade’, the use of information and communication technologies has become the rule.

Common information systems enable data exchange between customs authorities and compliance with data-protection provisions. In particular these systems are concerned with:

  • formalities carried out by economic operators *
  • customs procedures (centralised clearance in particular) and the registration/approval of economic operators (identification and registration of economic operators: EORI; granting of the status of authorised economic operator – ‘customs simplification’ and/or ‘security and safety’: AEO);
  • risk management through a common framework between the Commission and Member States. This will enable customs authorities to carry out controls based on national, Community and international analyses.

Common system of value added tax

The new legal framework will simplify customs procedures for trade in goods between parts of customs territory of the Community to which Council Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax applies and parts to which it does not apply.


The Community Customs Code has been modernised following the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and the two successive enlargements of the European Union. Furthermore, it now conforms with the International Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of customs procedures, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Key terms of the act
  • Economic Operator: a person who, in the course of his business, is involved in activities covered by customs legislation.
  • Release of goods: the act whereby the customs authorities make goods available for the purposes specified for the customs procedure under which they are placed.
  • Risk: the likelihood of an event that may occur, with regard to the entry, exit, transit, transfer or end-use of goods moved between the customs territory of the Community and countries or territories outside that territory and to the presence of goods which do not have Community status, which would have any of the following results: it would prevent the correct application of Community or national measures; it would compromise the financial interests of the Community and its Member States; it would pose a threat to the security and safety of the Community and its residents, to human, animal or plant health, to the environment or to consumers.
  • Customs debt: the obligation on a person to pay the amount of import or export duty which applies to specific goods under the customs legislation in force.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No. 450/2008 [adoption: Co-decision COD/2005/0246]



OJ L 145 of 4.6.2008


Decision No. 70/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on a paperless environment for customs and trade [Official Journal L23/21 of 26.1.2008].

Last updated: 21.01.2009
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