Complete and accurate electronic customs data has become a prerequisite to enabling improved customs clearance processes for cross-border e-commerce postal traffic. Missing or invalid data leads to extra efforts for postal operators and customs officials, and ultimately to delays for consumers. For improved customs processes to work, border authorities must be able to trust the quality of the electronic customs data provided by posts in ITMATT messages. Posts must monitor and improve the data quality of their ITMATT messages to build such trust. Posts must be able to identify ITMATT data quality issues and work with their customers to improve the source data used to populate ITMATT messages.

High quality ITMATT is now a legal requirement with the institution of legislation such as the United States Synthetic Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which seeks to reinforce the security of the international postal system and combat the rise of illegal, dangerous substances entering the United States through mail shipments. The STOP Act requires USPS to transmit electronic advance data (EAD), based on ITMATT, to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for 100% of incoming mail shipments from all countries as from 01 January 2021.

Similarly, the European Union has implemented a new advance cargo information system, the Import Control System 2 (ICS2), that also applies to postal traffic as from 15 March 2021. ICS2 supports implementation of a new customs safety and security regulatory regime aimed to better protect the EU single market and EU citizens. ICS2 requires data, also based on ITMATT, for all goods entering the EU prior to their arrival. EU postal operators must declare safety and security data to ICS2, by providing an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS). Posts were obliged to start filing such declarations as from 15 March 2021.

IPC has developed a number of tools and reporting systems, collectively ITMATT Services, to assist posts in meeting regulatory requirements by identifying and pinpointing which customs and other legislation-required data needs improvement.

How does it work?

ITMATT messages used for customs clearance

ITMATT electronic data interchange (EDI) messages are used to communicate attribute information about postal items. An origin postal operator collects postal item data and transmits the data in an ITMATT message to the destination postal operator, to be used for transport security and customs clearance purposes.

The ITMATT message contains the data corresponding to the content of the paper postal form CN 22 or CN 23 customs declaration, including critical data elements such as:
• sender and recipient’s full name, address and contact details, and tax code/VAT number;
• category, total value, and total weight of the item;
• the complete contents of the item including for each article contained within the item the description, quantity, weight, value, harmonised system (HS) tariff number, origin country;
• postal charges including insurance;
• information about associated documents such as a licence, certificate, or invoice.

The ITMATT message containing the item data is transmitted prior to export by the origin postal operator. Upon receipt of the ITMATT message, the destination post provides the data needed for border clearance to its local customs authority. Customs then examine and use the ITMATT data for security and fiscal customs clearance.

Analysis of data quality, timeliness, and availability 

ITMATT Services consists of several reports, tools, and support, all relating to different aspects of ITMATT messaging. Quality reporting on the content of the individual ITMATT data elements is provided in the ITMATT Data Quality Monitoring (DQM)
tool. ITMATT DQM analyses ITMATT messages for data errors and non-compliance issues, based on a complex set of data validation rules. The tool provides a dashboard where errors are reported based upon:

  • sending or receiving postal operator;
  • critical data element compliance;
  • error types such as invalid postal address, mandatory fields missing, or invalid monetary amount;
  • errors per individual item, per specific data element; and per sender, which can be prioritized by volume.

Charts provide a quick overview of performance related to:

  • items: percentage of items with errors and percentage of items without errors;
  • data value errors: number of errors for missing, invalid, and dubious data.

The dashboard also provides:

  • multi-selections across the different dashboard panels, allowing a customised view according to the needs of the user;
  • detailed data quality information for each postal item;
  • drill-down to individual sender to support focus on source data;
  • drill-down to the raw ITMATT message, in conjunction with other IPC tools, to isolate the specific location of the error in the message.

ITMATT DQM also provides for the export of reports and graphs in various formats. ITMATT Reports on the Business Intelligence (BI) platform checks validation at ITMATT interchange level from a technical perspective. ITMATT Reports also provides details on ITMATT availability, timeliness, and purpose-specific data completeness, in order to comply with regulatory regimes such as the European Commission H7 dataset, Preloading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) risk assessment, US STOP Act, and others. BI ITMATT reporting also includes reporting on the availability of ITMATT vs PREDES and PREDES vs ITMATT at item level.

 

Benefits

Through ITMATT Services, posts have access to an array of possibilities to pinpoint where data quality, timeliness, and availability issues exist. These issues can then be prioritised by highest impact on a successful customs clearance process. This allows the post to focus on the top issues overall.

By focusing on and correcting data quality issues in ITMATT, posts can leverage ITMATT to its full potential as the basis for electronic clearance of postal items. When advance electronic information is accurate and complete the following customs clearance sub processes can be reduced or avoided entirely:
• manual entry of custom declarations;
• opening packets and parcels to verify declaration;
• sending letters to or making other contact with the addressee to request additional information, e.g. invoices, proof of payment, etc.;
• customs-related over-labelling and routing;
• storage and material handling costs related to customs;

ITMATT Services supports the establishment of a secure supply chain by validating data quality, timeliness, and availability and enables the use of the ITMATT data to create new, more consumer-friendly methods of collecting charges and reducing costs related to such collection, comply with regulatory requirements, and provide an enhanced services to postal customers.

More information

To find out more about ITMATT DQM, please contact ITMATT.DQM@ipc.be.