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The new customs declaration



It remains mandatory for economic operators to lodge a customs declaration to place imported or exported goods under a given customs procedure. However, the format of this customs declaration is changing.

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The new customs declaration is laid down by the Union Customs Code (UCC) and its implementing legislation.


The 56 boxes of the SAD are replaced by approximately 120 data elements, broken down into sub-data.

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New data whose names have been changed must appear on your declaration

1. Why a new customs declaration?

Article 6§1 of the UCC (Union customs code) states clearly that all exchanges of information (such as declaration), shall be made through electronic data-processing techniques. As a consequence, the new customs declaration has been designed as an electronic message and is no longer based on an A4 format model document as was the SAD.

Changing the customs declaration tends to harmonise the information and data elements required between the different Member States, as well as sharing a common structure with other types of declarations and notifications (transit, temporary storage, ENS, etc.). It thus facilitate the linkage between the various customs processes. The aim is to define, structure, enrich and better organise all the data, in order to facilitate their collection and use.

2. What are the main changes?

There are several types of declarations, with their own data set, corresponding to specific uses. Each type of declaration is identified by a two-character alphanumeric code (listed in Annex B of Delegated Regulation 2015/2446). For example, on import, release for free circulation, placing under the customs procedure 42 or under the end-use procedure is done by means of an "H1" declaration. The "H7" declaration is also a declaration for release for free circulation but concerning only the low-value consignments (value of up to €150) benefiting from customs duties relief on import.

The organisation of the new customs declaration has been expanded from two to three segments, with the creation of a general segment “GS”. The different levels in a declaration in which the data is to be served are the following :

  • D:  Data element required at declaration header level
  • GS: Data element required at goods shipment level (general segment)
  • SI: Data element required at goods item level

In the new customs declaration, some data may appear in several segments. In this case, the rule for filling out the declaration is as follows: if the data is the same for the whole declaration, it must be provided to the general segment; if the data is different for each item, it will be mentioned at item level.

The data of the customs declaration are gathered in 10 thematic groups which are divided as follows:

11. Message information (incl. procedure codes) 16. Places/Countries/Regions
12. References of messages, documents, certificates, authorisations 17. Customs offices
13. Parties 18. Goods identification
14. Valuation, information and taxes 19. Transport information (modes, means and equipment)
15. Dates/Times/Periods 99. Other data elements (statistical data, guarantees, tariff related data)


The new customs declaration contains approximately 120 data for a complete declaration. Most of the information you currently provide in your customs declarations will remain the same (e.g. the tariff classification of the goods).

Nevertheless small distinctions can be made between:

  • splitted data elements,
  • modified data elements, and
  • some new data.

A descriptive guide to the new customs declaration [PDF] explains the content of each data group.

3. Examples of identical but modified or split data elements, and some new data elements

Box 44 of the SAD may currently contain disparate information. The new customs declaration includes each item under separate headings. 

For example, the data elements in the current SAD Box 44 has been split and is found in the following fields, among others:

  • special remarks,
  • accompanying document,
  • special tariff provisions,
  • national additional code (CANA),
  • (...).

The first three headings can be served at the general segment (GS) and/or the item segment (SI). The fourth is to be served at the SI level only.

Some data have been modified: 

  • representative and declarant are currently mixed up in box 14 of the SAD. They will be in distinct data elements in the H1 declaration: representative in heading 13 06 000 000 while declarant appears in 13 05 000 000 ;
  • data element "exporter" becomes mandatory in an import declaration, whereas it is currently optional.

Finally, the customs declaration contains some new data, among them: 

  • “transport document” with which the goods were brought into the customs territory of the Union;
  • concepts of “buyer” and “seller” also appear, but will only be used if they differ from the "importer" and "exporter" data. In some cases, you will therefore need to obtain more information from your trading partners or from your information systems.

However, it is important to note that the amount of new data is rather limited.

4. Will the new customs declaration be printable?

Yes. French Customs will maintain the possibility of printing a pdf version of the customs declaration, mainly for the declarations lodged in DTI via douane.gouv.fr. Its format will be determined at national level since the European Commission has not foreseen a harmonised form. This work is currently under progress.

As for the declarations filed in EDI, the editing format will depend on the choices made by the software developers, i.e. whether to use the format determined by French Customs or to develop their own format.

5. For further information

The data, their mandatory nature and the segment in which they appear into the declaration, as well as their format, are defined by Annex B of the Delegated Regulation 2015/2446. The cardinality of the data (number of times it can be provided in the declaration) as well as the related codes, if any, are defined by Annex B of the Implementing Regulation 2015/2447. You can find these texts on the EUR-Lex website: EU legislation.

The new mapping of UCC Annex B data requirements is available on EUCDM, a website managed by the European Commission and regularly updated. In addition, you will find many more details on the new customs declaration in the various documents and annexes of the operator service contract (CSO), which can be accessed here [ODT]

The Business Consultancy Unit (Pôle d’Action Economique) of the regional customs directorate of your head office is also at your disposal to provide you with any useful information on the new customs declaration. 

In order to stay informed on this subject and its future developments, we recommend that you regularly visit the pages devoted to the import-export overhaul on the French Customs website.