AI clears the way for faster customs clearance for UPS customers


UPS customers shipping to the European Union can now start using an AI-powered, in-house tool to automatically generate customs codes, demystifying a critical piece of doing business with Europe.

Based on the description of a shipment, the new tool uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to give customers the correct Harmonized System (HS) codes needed by European Union authorities.

With the EU accounting for around 15% of the world’s trade in goods, UPS’s AI tool becomes available just as Import Control System 2 (ICS2), an updated electronic import system, is rolled out across the EU. ICS2 requires businesses to provide a detailed list of data about their products. 

Small and medium-sized businesses outside of Europe, in particular will benefit, as they often do not have the time or expertise to quickly determine the right HS codes for their products.

This will also be of significant benefit to businesses in the UK, as the EU is the UK’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 40% of foreign trade in goods in 2022.

A pilot of the tool has been successful, generating compliant codes for more than 1 million shipments during a test period.

UPS’s new tool will mean customers can focus on their business rather than the complex processes of customs clearance. 

UPS is also helping make cross-border trade easier with:

  • UPS Export Assure, a smart tool to help customers generate correct descriptions for their products – another ICS2 requirement. 
  • UPS Paperless Invoice, allowing customers to electronically submit trade and customs documentation, resulting in less manual processing, reduced customs holds and removing millions of pieces of paper from the shipping process.

Stuart Lund, Brokerage District Manager in UPS, says: “With the right partner, shipping cross-border can be as simple as shipping in your home country. UPS’s solutions help our customers cut costs by reducing customs delays, removing unnecessary fees and putting international shipping within reach of businesses of all sizes.”

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