North Macedonia: New Pre-Arrival Process has quickly proven itself in practice

North Macedonia started to regularly use the new pre-arrival process (PAP) in August 2020. This was, under Covid-19 restrictions, a success in itself. One year later, the question was “Have the expected improvements been realized?”.

Feedback from the companies and customs authorities involved confirms that expectations have been met. The data that could be obtained shows that significant time reductions were achieved. The storage times of express shipments before delivery (bond on stock) have improved by 15%. This data provided by DHL, one of the express companies, confirms what the stakeholders said earlier: The new process enables faster delivery and a higher quality of service for customers. Customs confirmed that cooperation with the private sector has been crucial to ensure that the process has quickly proven itself in practice.

The project has also demonstrated that it is not only about the digitisation of data transmissions, but that process changes are essential for the improvements. The new process allows an immediate transfer of the shipments from the airport to the operators’ temporary storage facility. A separate transit procedure for this transfer is no longer required and the clearance of shipments can take place at the express operators’ premises. Improvements also include Group 1 and 2 consignments (documents and g oods below the de minimis threshold for customs and VAT) can be released immediately after off-loading from aircraft. Group 3 shipments that are subject to VAT according to the value of the goods but exempt from customs duties can in turn be cleared in bulk. This is another process improvement compared to individual clearance of each item.

The project in North Macedonia was implemented by the GIZ Programme „Open Regional Funds for South-East Europe – Foreign Trade“, thereby replicating the successful project by the Alliance for Trade Facilitation from Montenegro.